50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays

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With a family of seven, my home was loud, messy, and spottily supervised.

With links to 120 full essays and essay excerpts, this article will be a great resource for learning how to craft your own personal college admissions essay!

Even though in many ways these sample college essays are very different from one other, they share some traits you should try to emulate as you write your own essay. You'll see a similar structure in many of the essays.

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!

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