College Essay Examples

College Essay Examples

College Essay Examples That Worked

We are sharing with you college essay examples from successful applications to multiple top colleges and universities. College essays are an opportunity for you to bring to life your personality in front of the college admission committees. They are increasingly becoming more and more important as colleges become SAT/ACT optional or blind. As grades can vary significantly between high schools in different states and countries, college admission committees are relying more and more on essays to assess the applicant pool.

Cornell University

Cornell University

Common App College Essay Example

4) Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

I had spent almost three weeks in the Alaskan wilderness, and yet I hadn’t had any profound epiphanies about life that I thought a month-long backpacking trip might spur. Having had very little alone time on the trip––we had to stay in groups should we come across a bear––I was understandably very excited when our instructors announced that we would have over an hour to stare out at the landscape and reflect. We each found a nook in the hillside where we would be invisible from each other, leaving just myself and an expanse of untouched mountains. Being surrounded by such pure nature, it was impossible not to think about how this beautiful scenery came to be. My mind drifted to a dilemma I often wonder about: should I use a scientific or religious lens to contemplate the workings and history of the world around me? Being profoundly passionate about science and invested in Judaism, I am always thinking about how I can reconcile these two concepts in my life.

Science inspires in me a sense of curiosity that constantly has me asking questions about the things I experience. During that hour in Alaska, I watched the ground squirrels run and wondered how their bodies work to help them survive in the freezing winter. I focused on the mountain I was sitting on and thought about what processes must have taken place to shape the massive collection of rock and dirt that I saw that day, and how it might be different in a year. The fundamental intention of science is to understand how we interact with the world and use that to our advantage, and I want to use science to help people. It gives me a unique sense of purpose, knowing that the more I inquire and learn about the world, the better my ability will be to improve the lives of others. Every time I read an article about people using science to help people, whether its a new type of prosthetic being invented or a new form of water treatment being developed, I feel a spark of excitement knowing that in just a few short years I could be contributing to these amazing discoveries.

Despite this sense of agency I derive from science, it was difficult not to feel small when looking towards the horizon with nothing but towering mountains in sight. Being such a tiny speck in the universe, it’s sometimes difficult to feel that I’m truly in control of my life. As a teenager going into my last year of high school, there are lots of unknowns for me––socially, academically, or otherwise. In my world of often irrational uncertainties, religion makes me feel secure. Every time I get on an airplane or I take a test, I mutter a prayer for a safe flight or a good grade. The belief that God is watching over me makes me lift my head a little higher, take important risks with less fear, and know that I can make a difference in my life and the lives of others. Science might dictate how I interact with nature, but it is Judaism that has taught me how to interact with people. Growing up learning the moral and ethical principles of my religion, it is in the words of these lessons that I get the inspiration to go out and seek out problems in need of fixing.

Through so much reflection it has become clear to me that the intersection between science and religion is to help others. While religion teaches me the idea of tikkun olam––repairing the world––science provides me with the means to achieve this goal. This dilemma continues to change my perception of the world while shaping me into a better person.

Cornell Engineering College Essay Example (650 words max)

Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem solving that helps people, communities…the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem

One of the aspects of Cornell Engineering that appeals to me most and that would bolster my problem-solving abilities is the particularly large variety of engineering fields that I would have the opportunity to explore. I know that I want to study some form of engineering, but I’m not necessarily sure which specific major I’d like to pursue. I’m positive that out of the 14 different programs, I’ll find something that I’m very passionate about. I think there is incredible value in having a large array of classes to take outside of my major; when approaching any engineering problem, it is almost always necessary to approach it from different angles. For example, when building a robot, you need to think about the electrical, mechanical, physical, and programming challenges involved in the process. In the future, I hope to apply my knowledge of several strains of engineering to solve relevant and complex problems.

As important as it is to develop a diverse set of academic engineering perspectives, it is equally important to establish a varied set of social perspectives. I believe that in order to improve the world, it is necessary to fully understand the issues we face. The only way to do that is to be conscious of the experiences of people from all different backgrounds. I have Mexican parents and have been immersed, alongside my American upbringing, in Mexican culture my whole life. In going to Mexico often, I have been locally exposed to a very different culture than here in the United States. That being said, I’ve encountered relatively limited diversity in school so far. I think that Cornell’s Diversity Programs in Engineering would be the perfect way to mesh my intellectual passion with my desire to achieve an even more acute sense of social awareness. With DPE, and more broadly Cornell as a whole, so focused on collaboration, I really feel that I would get the experience necessary to fully analyze and tackle the engineering problems that our society faces from an array of social viewpoints.

Another facet of the Cornell Engineering program that I am excited about is the myriad of opportunities that I would have to explore engineering outside of the classroom. I believe that in preparing myself to help the world it is important to gain experience in a setting where I will likely find myself at some point in my career: doing research. Establishing a project with a professor would allow me the perfect chance to learn more about my favorite areas of science, develop a close relationship with some of the faculty, and learn what it’s like to work in a lab. From getting a project approved to properly write a research paper, I would become even better equipped for a future in the scientific world. Lastly, the part of Cornell Engineering extracurriculars that I am most excited about and interested in is the multitude of Project Teams that the school facilitates. Not only would my cooperative problem-solving skills be further improved, but I would also be able to directly apply the lessons that I learn in my classes in real life. Cornell is the only place I’ve seen that has such an incredible and vast system of projects for undergraduates that provides the opportunity to so directly help others. I am currently taking a Sustainable Engineering class that has made me more aware of the impact I can have on the environment as an engineer. I feel that joining one of the Project Teams could be the next step up from learning the theory of how to improve the world to actually designing and building something that can truly benefit society on a larger scale.

University of California (Berkeley)

College Essay Examples

University of California (UC) College Essay Prompts Example

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

Within my school, robotics had never been a significant aspect of the educational environment.  While sports and the fundamental academic subjects were stressed heavily, the ideas surrounding robotics never manifested themselves anywhere other than a one-month intercession class, which of course I took in 11th grade.  As someone extremely interested in anything related to STEM (especially programming and robotics), I wanted more than that.  Looking around at other schools, I saw that many of them had a robotics team or club. At my high school, I was determined to have the same – even if I had to create one. So, I decided to create/found the Robotics Club. After acquiring the appropriate teacher/moderator and getting the club signed off by my principal, I went on to officially begin. Sending out school announcements and spreading the word, it immediately started to gain attention from other students. We had our first meeting where I made known the mission of the club: to design, build, and explore robots in all their aspects and to work together to accomplish a common goal.  Our new members were excited to hear that we were starting up the club.  Finally, they could build robots and have an opportunity to compete in tournaments.  However, we were missing a key component: the robots.  I worked with multiple teachers asking if I could get the funding for the materials. This year, we received the hardware that we needed and are beginning our first project: a robot race! Though it is just beginning, I am aiming to make this a permanent club at my high school, corroborated by leadership positions and dedicated members. At the moment, I am collaborating with other high schools to possibly work together in tournaments, or even have regional tournaments with local catholic high schools. All in all, my efforts to build, design, and implement the Robotics Club at my high school have helped members develop a sense of teamwork and expand their knowledge on robots.

 5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Going into high school, I wanted to be in the accelerated math program. Math was my favorite subject and I had always been at the top of my class.  To get into the program you had to take Honors Algebra the summer before freshman year. I thought it would be a walk in the park, but boy was I wrong.  It soon became ‘Math Hell.’  I quickly found out that I was ill-prepared.  The other students had already covered the topics and I soon fell behind.  I always got A’s and now I was getting D’s and F’s. I was devastated.  I became more and more lost in the concepts. I couldn’t grasp certain ideas, and the course was progressing far too fast for me to truly understand them.  However, I didn’t let this stop me. I kept forging ahead to understand the math, asking my teacher questions on certain topics, and taking guidance from my father. I struggled immensely, but I simply would not give up. My parents advised that I drop the course, but I told them that I wanted to continue. I wanted to learn math and be in the accelerated program.  This wasn’t simply for the grade anymore; this was for my own understanding and passion. I was studying 6+ hours a night during the week and 12 hours a day on the weekend.  Through hard work and perseverance, I was able to bring my grade up.  By the end of the class, I had the highest grade on the final exam and got into the advanced math program.  Through my refusal to give up, I discovered my passion for mathematics along with the skills of determination and persistence.  Before this class I just did the minimum to get an A.  Now, I always do my very best in all my subjects.  This was a turning point in my life where I realized that my studies/homework were not just requirements for school, but rather to further my knowledge.

6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Throughout my high school career, my love for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has increased exponentially. However, in this vast area of subjects, the one academic subject that inspires me the most is computer science. During the past four years, I have independently worked on various projects, activities, and jobs relating to the field. In my spare time, I have created numerous different programs in many different languages (C++, Java, HTML, Python, etc.) to accomplish some task. Usually, it is some sort of a mathematical problem like accepting user input to list the number of primes up to a certain limit, listing abundant numbers, or testing the Collatz Conjecture. Besides just creating independent console applications using Visual Studio, I also enjoy researching and applying various aspects of computer science. A recent example is my creation of a blog/website dedicated to educating others about net neutrality and the controversy surrounding it. Another is my publication of the XYZ app, an online educational website that donates 10 grains of wheat to developing countries for every question answered correctly. I recently also published my new game QWE, an endless obstacle point-based game. At the moment, I am working to design and publish a website that offers “math trivia,” allowing students to practice their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division through the click of a button. In the workforce, I have had two internships that were both related to programming. Throughout my first internship at ABC Technologies, I worked with a program to transfer data files from one format to another while also debugging/testing other modules. During my second internship at DEF Inc., I designed, coded, and implemented a program to alter the decibel level of a utility camera to ultimately change the voltage level. As one can see, computer science has been an enormous part of my life and is by far my favorite subject. However, I don’t let it stop there. I want to expand my horizon by implementing computer science into different aspects of society, possibly resolving world issues and educating others, like in XYZ.

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

As a senior this year, I was elected as a Big Brother, helping to lead a group of 8 freshmen in their retreat, ultimately helping them feel welcomed to the school. As part of this retreat, I planned a full day and evening of activities and discussions with the new students.  We participated in a food drive, and I spoke to them on topics related to social issues they may encounter in high school as well as faith-based matters.  I found this experience to be very rewarding as I continue to see those freshmen doing well on a day-to-day basis at school.  Since my sophomore year, I have participated heavily in my local church, where I have helped extensively as a youth group leader. Every Sunday, I have attended meetings, lead small groups, played guitar in worship and helped with many other activities. In 11th grade, I was also a confirmation sponsor for one of the teens in my group. Through this, I have helped further students’ faith in their journey towards Confirmation while also sharing in the enjoyment of community service. On the global level, in 10th grade, I was selected to travel to Mexico by my high school.  Every year, the school chooses several students to participate as student helpers.  I traveled with a medical team from an organization called ABC International to supply free medical care to local villagers.  I spent 2 weeks in Mexico, helping to set up and take down a makeshift hospital, administering eye exams and eye drops to long lines or patiently waiting people of all ages.  The fact that I spoke some Spanish was comforting to the patients.  Knowing that I helped make a difference in their lives was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had.  I hope to do more volunteer service at this level in the future.

University of California

  1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

I have always been a natural leader, and this was particularly evident during my time as captain of the varsity basketball team. As captain, I was responsible for leading practices and organizing team bonding activities, but I also had to step in to mediate conflicts and disputes between teammates. One of the most memorable moments of my leadership experience was when two of my teammates got into a heated argument during a practice. Rather than letting the argument escalate, I took the time to listen to both sides and come up with a compromise that everyone was happy with. By demonstrating my ability to resolve conflicts and bring people together, I was able to earn the respect and trust of my teammates and help lead the team to a successful season.

  1. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

As a musician, I have always found creative expression through music. I have been playing the piano for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to perform in various concerts and competitions. Music allows me to channel my emotions and thoughts into something that can be shared with others. I also enjoy experimenting with different styles and genres, and I often find myself composing my own pieces. In addition to playing music, I also enjoy expressing my creativity through art. I have always been fascinated by the way that different mediums, such as paint, charcoal, and pastels, can be used to create something beautiful and unique. Art allows me to tap into my imagination and create something that is entirely my own.

  1. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

My greatest talent is my ability to communicate effectively with others. Growing up, I was always very outgoing and enjoyed meeting new people. As I got older, I realized that my ability to communicate and connect with others was something that came naturally to me. I have developed and demonstrated this talent over time by participating in public speaking and debate competitions, as well as by volunteering as a mentor to younger students. I have also taken several courses in communication and interpersonal skills, which have helped me to hone my abilities even further. In my current role as a student leader on campus, I am often called upon to speak to large groups of people and facilitate discussions, and I have found that my ability to communicate effectively has been a valuable asset in these situations.


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