College Essay Samples

Check out these college essay samples and find inspiration for writing your best college essay.

Last updated on July 17, 2024 by College Financial Aid Advice.

University of Illinois

University of Illinois

A Guiding Light

One of our college essay samples, written by Summer from Arizona. 

This essay helped me get into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

The fall breeze swiped my face as I stood in front of the bleak building. Cautiously, I followed my cousin up the steps. Inside, the hustle and bustle was overwhelming. Kids, pushing and shoving, were going in every direction. Yelling, chatting, and laughing. As security guard was calling for IDs, I was surprised by the presence of metal detectors and let out a silent sigh of relief when I went through with ease. I had officially stepped inside the infamous inner-city Chicago high school known as Gage Park.

Despite its lack of aesthetic appeal and financial affluence, the school I attend is known for its prestige and strive for excellence. Nonetheless, here I was, Gage Park High School known for its riots and shootings. Initially, this was meant to be a kind of social experiment, to find out how education is experienced in a different part of the United States, and to see beyond myself and the bubble that the little town of Tolleson, Arizona had accustomed me to. However, as soon as I stepped past those metal detectors I wanted to clap my little red shoes and yell “There’s no place like home!”

My collectedness at that moment was merely an affectation for my true feelings of alarm and discomfort. The topics of conversation among the students seemed to be consumed by relationships, sex, and drugs. Within one brief conversation with me, most of my cousin’s friends were able to peel away the layers to find only a simple, naïve girl who clearly had little experience in the real world.

When the warning bell rung everyone lingered in the halls and continued with their conversations. The security guards had started from the back of the hall moving towards the front herding the students like cattle to get them to go into their designated pens, or classrooms as they called it, but at that point I could see no difference between the two.

In the classrooms, most of the teachers were especially brusque and gave little attention to my presence. One teacher’s face was even buried behind a newspaper the entire period; one could only hear his muffled voice dictating assignments. Others looked over assignments, but with only a cursory glance, some students wrote down their favorite rap lyrics and got full points for their notes on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

There were, however, students I encountered who had more dedication and drive than many at my own school. What I remember most is the desperate hope and pure passion those few students had to simply learn as much as they could in that broken system. They made no plans beyond high school because they had long since seen the light at the end of the tunnel. No beacon in the gloom that was Gage Park. There seemed to be little hope for the students who didn’t want to spend their whole life in a factory or behind a rolling pin. They were held back with little means to change their circumstances.

That day I realized how much I have taken the exceptional education handed to me for granted. I recalled why I put myself through the rigors of a college preparatory program. I remembered the reason why I strive for excellence and knowledge. It was on that day that I rediscovered my desire to serve underrepresented minorities because what was happening at that school was truly an injustice. Gage Park’s impact will always with me because, above all else, dreams shouldn’t fall victim to circumstance.


My motivation to succeed!

One of our college essay samples, written by Trayana from Georgia

Faced with many obstacles at an early age, I didn’t anticipate making it to this point in my life. I am currently seventeen years old and a senior at Maynard Jackson High school in Atlanta Georgia. Growing up, I didn’t have many positive role models that I would want to pattern my life after. My mother was forced to drop out of high school when she discovered she was pregnant with my oldest sister. To date, my mother currently has four children of which I was born a twin. A product of her environment, my older sister also traveled a similar path that my mother did. Observing the daily struggles that they both encountered as a result of their lack of education and poor choices, I sought a different path in life. By doing this, I set goals for myself, I made wise choices that would yield rewards instead of consequences, and lastly I surrounded myself with positive individuals that could provide me with the guidance needed to achieve my goals. I often found myself re-evaluating and assessing my goals in life in order to remain focused and to assure that my goals aligned with my dreams and aspirations in life.

Often times, I reflect on my life and the many accomplishments that I have achieved thus far. I credit my success to my fear of becoming a product of my environment and repeating the cycle that my mother and sister created. This has taught me that regardless of an individual’s circumstance, the choices one makes can reshape their opportunities for what lies ahead. As I look towards my future, I visualized a life filled with promising tomorrows. I am now focused on my goal to graduate from high that will end one chapter and open another that will grant me the opportunity to open a new chapter in life as I advance my education by attending a four year college or university. Additionally, I have made a commitment to define myself and purpose in life through a deeper connection with God and becoming more spiritually in tune as I advance to the next chapter in life following high school graduation.

As I prepare for my next journey in life, I plan to make sure the steps that I take lead me down the path that will align with my dreams to one day start my own non-profit organization that will offer support to the homeless population that will provide services such as shelter, food, and resources that address the immediate needs of the homeless population. Additionally, I have plans to attend Tuskegee University where I plan to pursue a career path in biomedical engineering and obtain employment with General Electric.

Graduating from high school will make me the first of my mother’s children to graduate, along with my twin brother who is also scheduled to graduate in May 2024. Although, I recall several times of wanting to quit and give up as a result of so many socioeconomic challenges, the fear of repeating the cycle lead by my mother would not allow me to quit. Even further, my passion for helping others and benefiting from the help and support of others is what further defined my passion for wanting to give back to others.


My Experience of Growing Up With CMT

One of our college essay samples, written by Derek from Florida

My name is Derek. I am a first year student at St. Petersburg College in Florida. Currently I am seeking an Associate Degree in Information Technology Security. I will then transfer to the Bachelor Degree program for Technology Management with a concentration in Security Assurance. I hope to be able to continue on with a Masters Degree for further Computer Security training. I chose this field of study because of the rise in computer crimes, viruses, identity theft and the necessity for protecting sensitive information of businesses. Also, I needed to choose a career that could accommodate my diagnosis of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease and any physical disabilities that may be encountered in the future.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT) is the most common type of hereditary neuropathy. Hereditary neuropathy is a debilitating genetic disease that takes away one’s basic physical abilities, making life more difficult. CMT is an inherited peripheral neuropathy, also known as peroneal muscular atrophy and hereditary motor sensory neuropathy. This disease causes nerve damage and wasting away of muscles in the legs, feet, arms and hands. As result, muscle weakness, loss of balance and coordination, high arches and claw toes, drop-foot, foot bone abnormalities, poor hand functioning, scoliosis, numbness, tingling and pain in the extremities can occur. CMT is a slow progressive disease and severity varies, even within family members. There is no cure or effective treatment. Moderate physical activity, physical therapy, occupational therapy and sometimes surgery can be beneficial.

I was four years old when I started showing signs of CMT. I was walking and running on my toes due to having high arches. I tripped and fell frequently. My parents took me to see a neurologist for an examination. The neurologist told my parents that since my dad had CMT and it was in my grandmother’s family, chances were I had it too. I was referred to Shriners Hospital for Children. I was fitted for leg braces to wear during the day in hopes of stretching my Achilles tendons to flatten out my feet. My parents were told that I may need surgery in the future. A few years later I was fitted for night braces. I couldn’t sleep with them on, nor could I walk with them. I tried to do normal childhood activities such as: little league soccer, little league baseball, skateboarding, rollerblading, basketball, football, etc. I had a very difficult time doing these activities because my ankles were not flexible; I was slow, uncoordinated and not able to compete with my friends. My feet started inverting outward during my early teen years, making it more difficult to walk properly. I was now experiencing pain in my legs and feet. I ended up having posterior tibia tendon transfers and plantar fascia release done on both legs at Shriners Hospital. My feet are aligned more correctly, but I still have high arches and claw toes. The only time this causes me problems (pain in legs/feet) is when I stand in one spot, too much walking, on my feet for too long or participating in high impact activities. If I overdo any physical activity, I am sore and exhausted for the next few days. I know that when I start experiencing more pain than normal, I must take a break or stop the activity.

I feel that CMT has put limitations on what type of work I can do. I know that if the activity causes pain, nerves and muscles are being harmed. At the present time, the disease isn’t affecting my daily activities of living. The major impact from the disease is having the high arches. If I had normal feet, I probably would be wearing a man’s size eight. As it is, my shoe size is a kid’s size six. In order to find adult looking shoes I must order my shoes on line. This can be such an inconvenience as well as problematic.


What is the most pressing issue facing my community?

Sample College Admission Essay – Pressing Issue

The most pressing issue in my community is the abuse of prescription pills among teens and adults. It seems to me that everywhere I go it is a problem whether I am at school, work, or just hanging out with my friends. They are very easily abused because they are so easy to get. It is not unusual for me to go to school and have at least a couple of offers each day to buy some. Same goes for work. I have seen drugs damage families and friendships, and even cause people to take their own life. They also cause people to steal from the people they love just so they can get more drugs and it becomes an endless cycle of depression.

It is sad to look around yourself and see what is really going on. Peers that I have gone to school with and once shared similar hopes and dreams, have already spent jail time, quit school and are on probation. Some have become early mothers and do not take care of the child because they just want to keep drugs a part of their lives. Many take their own lives because they have been bullied and feel like they can’t talk to anyone. It really bothers me to see their hopelessness and how they have lost all ambition to grow into the life God intended for them.

 As for myself, it has personally affected me by causing me to break away from close family members. I have completely cut ties with my dad and step-mom because of drug abuse. They are now in jail for prescription pills. Last week, my step-brother went to jail because he beat someone up and robbed him so that he could get money to buy pills. My other step-brother used to steal everything from my jewelry to my iphones just so he could get another pill. He has now lost the trust of our family as well as his two kids. I think to make this issue to dissolve is for the law enforcement to really start cracking down on pain clinics, families who are on disability and Medicaid. There are a lot of families that abuse the government and the people that really need the help cannot get it because they do not meet the qualifications.

I know that God has a plan for me. I know that if I want to make something of myself, I need to stay in school and make good grades so that I can get into a good college. I am also very involved in my church. It helps me to be around others who are good role models. I am determined to be a Neo-Natal Nurse Practitioner so that I can help babies who are having difficulty thriving. Many of them have problems due to their parents abusing drugs. I have wanted to be a part of this profession since I was a little girl. I believe that getting my college education at your college would be an amazing experience and place me in a Christian environment.


Significant Accomplishment Essay

A significant accomplishment essay, one of our college essay samples,  written by Brionna from California

Drugs, alcohol, fornication, pregnancy, and dropping out of high school. I have witnessed these items, actions, and results of certain behavior ruthlessly seize hold of the reigns that helped steer the lives of my companions down a path that led to a bright future. Once these various elements dictated where their lives would go, they were led down a dark and dismal trail. Albeit it is never a joyful sight to become cognizant of the fact that I have left my dearest companions behind in regards to continuing the journey down the correct path to a promising future, I can say that I am proud of myself for slamming the door in the face of peer pressure.

This is a significant accomplishment because the aforementioned list and a fusion of myriad unlisted items and activities is prevalent in today's society; it can be difficult for myself and young adults to avoid falling under the influence of their peers. However, it is important for me to maintain hold of my reins because I have seen the results of one losing his or her grip on them. For example, one of my former classmates has been removed from our secondary institution twice partially due to substance abuse on campus. After the initial removal, the principal decided to be lenient and allow him to return. Recently, he was dismissed a second time and asked not to return. It is a pity because he is in his senior year. His expulsion record may or may not interfere with the prospects of being accepted to college. I, on the other hand, am not willing to take such a risk.

I have dreamed of becoming a heart surgeon for the past few years. Frankly, I obstinately refuse to enable avoidable circumstances to selfishly postpone or blatantly deter me from feeling as if I have yet to wake from my slumber because my dreams have intertwined themselves with my reality.


More College Essay Samples

Thanks to our readers for submitting their college essay samples. You can ready additional college essay samples by clicking on the links below.

Best College Essay Examples

100 Examples of Good College Essays

College Essays about Motivation

College Admission Essay

Scholarship Essay Samples

Scholarship Essay Examples

Help with College Essays

College Application Essay Topics

Personal Statement Essay

ChatGPT College Essay

ChatGPT Essay Writer

Home College Admission Essay College Essay Samples

Welcome!

Welcome to College Financial Aid Advice, a website full of information on scholarships and grants, student loans, and other ways to save money at college.


Important Things to Do

Scholarships for 2025 - 2026 - It is never too early or too late to work on your scholarship searches. If you are part of the high school class of 2025, you should work on your scholarship and college search now. See our list of Scholarships for High School Seniors

FAFSA - The official 2024 - 2025 FAFSA is available now. The 2025 - 2026 FAFSA will be available on October 1. FAFSA.


College Financial Aid Tips

Scholarship Lists An overview of the different types of Scholarship Money for College.

Grants Learn more about grants, the other free money for college.

Need Tuition Help? Reduce the cost of tuition with these college Tuition Assistance Programs.

Tax Credit Claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

College Savings Plans Save money for college with these College Savings Plans.

Need a Student Loan? Yes, you qualify for these college Student Loans.


Popular Scholarship Searches

Scholarships for High School Students

Scholarships for College Students

Easy Scholarships

Scholarship Contests

Weird Unknown Scholarships

Merit Based Scholarships

Scholarships for Minorities

College Scholarships for Women