When he was home, he had a parenting style something like a drill sergeant.
At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water. " he shouted, tossing me in the lake without warning.
The author starts with a very detailed story of an event or description of a person or place. Use interesting descriptions, stay away from clichés, include your own offbeat observations—anything that makes this essay sounds like you and not like anyone else. No spelling mistakes, no grammar weirdness, no syntax issues, no punctuation snafus—each of these sample college essays has been formatted and proofread perfectly.
After this sense-heavy imagery, the essay expands out to make a broader point about the author, and connects this very memorable experience to the author's present situation, state of mind, newfound understanding, or maturity level. Some of the experiences in these essays are one-of-a-kind. What sets them apart is the way the author approaches the topic: analyzing it for drama and humor, for its moving qualities, for what it says about the author's world, and for how it connects to the author's emotional life. You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again: you have to suck the reader in, and the best place to do that is the first sentence. They are like cliffhangers, setting up an exciting scene or an unusual situation with an unclear conclusion, in order to make the reader want to know more. In this case, your reader is an admissions officer who has read thousands of essays before yours and will read thousands after. If this kind of exactness is not your strong suit, you're in luck!
Someone picked a coat hanger out of the dumpster, handed it to me, and took a few steps back. More out of amusement than optimism, I gave it a try. (I actually succeeded in springing it.) The other was the realization that I'd been in this type of situation before.
"Can you do that thing with a coat hanger to unlock it? I slid the hanger into the window's seal like I'd seen on crime shows, and spent a few minutes jiggling the apparatus around the inside of the frame. In fact, I'd been born into this type of situation.
Don't take my word for it—check out these 22 first sentences from Stanford applicants and tell me you don't want to read the rest of those essays to find out what happens! All colleges advise applicants to have their essays looked over several times by parents, teachers, mentors, and anyone else who can spot a comma splice.
Your essay must be your own work, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help polishing it.
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve.
Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.