College Essay Samples

Would you like to see examples of great college application essays? Are you curious to read the story that helped tipped the scales for a student at Harvard, Penn, Stanford, Michigan, Duke, Columbia, North Carolina, Michigan State or UC-Berkley?

Stop looking, and start writing.

Each student’s voice is unique; each story is heartfelt and genuine, which is what college admissions counselors look for. Your job is to tell them something about you they will not be able to find out from your transcripts, activities and test scores. You can do that with genuine stories about YOU!

While Wow does not publish full sample essays, we love to share examples of great college essay openings and details. Here is a sampling of some of our favorites:

  • We first swarmed over the boats like ants on sugar cubes, taking off the riggers, stretchers and seats.
  • I told my very first fib in grade school at the tender age of six when my friend Grace accused me of stealing her crayons. 
  • No Nutcracker meant no tutu.
  • At that moment, with my hands smothered in dirt, I was overcome with bliss.
  • There were noises happening all around me, but I could barely hear anything except my own heartbeat. It was going off like bongos in my ears.
  • I saw his face as he felt the leaves trickle down his back, and he did not look pleased.
  • I burst into the dressing room, threw my bag into the corner, slipped on jazz shoes over my taped ankles and reached the stage just in time for the opening number.
  • My fingers slowed down, softly coming to a stop on a major 7th chord, finishing my therapeutic song of healing.
  • We sat together in a circle on the woven straw mat in the main room of the house.
  • After I found out the grade, I ran around the house and danced, feeling like I had hit my first home run.
  • I nearly crashed a plane.
  • I was 40 feet above ground, dangling on the end of a thick rope like a spider coming down a web.
  • I observed the scribbles in pen, stains on the pages from my sweaty palms, and the heavily annotated articles.
  • I peered into 35 faces of sweaty kids standing behind a black curtain; we were minutes away from our concert performance.

While these lines wowed our team of professional writers and teachers, they only worked for one reason: The great lines we have highlighted are genuine and each one sounds like the student who authored it.

Remember, don’t copy someone else’s style, and don’t ever ask someone else to write your essay for you. The best essays are the ones that sound like you. You are the only one who can succeed at this task. So ask for help before you get stuck.

Learn how to follow a tried-and-true process to get it done. Wow Writing Workshop offers a self-guided online tutorial for college application essay writing, plus classroom, private and small group workshops to teach you how to craft a powerful story about YOU in your own words and in your own voice.