College Essays about Challenges

Read these college essays about challenges in life, and get inspired to write your best college essay for admission or scholarships.

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

Rising Out of the Depths

College Essays about Challenges

College essay written by Santos from California

My journey through the quagmire of financial aid was quite an ordeal. I became homeless when I was 18 and went on to be homeless until age 22. Throughout this period I had struggled to continue going to a community college in an effort to meet the requirements to transfer to a university to continue my studies in the field of chemistry.

Having come from a low income Latino immigrant family, I had no idea what to do with college administration, much less the paperwork mountain that is financial aid. I had to pass through more hoops than a daredevil! Especially difficult was obtaining proof of my independent status, having no aid from my parents. Proving you are homeless is a lot harder than you’d think! I kept on pushing through, never giving up in spite of all the endless problems and bureaucracy.

My first success with financial aid came too late for me to acquire enough financial aid to overcome my homelessness, but it was enough to keep my head up and allow me to focus better on my academics. I went on to achieve a perfect 4.0 semester full of difficult math and science courses.

On my next attempt on filing my paperwork, everything went much smoother having had experience with the tedious process. Since I had done so well the previous semester, I was able to earn a prestigious scholarship from the National Science Foundation that came with professional development perks as well.

With that scholarship, in addition to gaining access to financial aid’s loans and grants I had initially, after 4 years of homelessness and instability, I gained enough financial aid as a full time student to get my own apartment. This has allowed me to excel greatly academically and I am set to transfer from my community college to the University of California, Davis as a junior! Without the help of financial aid I do not know if I would have achieved as much.


My Story Is Important

College Essays about Challenges

Overcoming challenges essay by Bria from Chicago, Illinois

I am a fighter because I never give up no matter what, I know that in life there are obstacles, I have faced a few myself, but it was not about the obstacle, but more about overcoming it. Every since I was a little child I always wondered, what was I going to become when I grew up? I know that’s kind of strange for a little child to think of those things. Most of them are worrying about playing, or their brand new toy. But I knew that one day I would have a career helping make the world a better place with my gifts and talents.

I was born and raised as a child on the south side of Chicago by my intelligent mother who was a single parent. Growing up without a father to some is an obstacle, but to me it was a reason to be strong, and make something out of myself. Statistics say that children who come from fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out of school, become emotionally depressed, and 82% of teenage pregnancies come from fatherless homes. But I am proud to say that I am not a part of this statistic. I am senior in high school getting ready to graduate I haven’t had an ‘f’ since I’ve been in high school, I am a very happy person, also I have been consistently in the top 100 of about three to four hundred student in my 2022 class. I also don’t have any kids, my mother has always encouraged me to stay on task, and do what she did not do and beyond. Not only do I want to make my mother proud but I also want to make myself proud, because I have worked so hard and I am only getting better.

I remember the time when I was in the eighth grade we had to take the PSAT. I had good grades, and I was a really good student who also helped my peers. I just knew I was going to graduate in June. However, after I received my scores I found out that I didn’t pass the test, and that I had to go to summer school to take it over. I was so devastated, and so sad that I wasn’t going to graduate on time; the worst part was going home and telling my mother I wasn’t graduating on time. I felt as though I let myself down and my mother. I started to doubt myself because I felt like everything around me was falling apart, but I knew I couldn’t give up. So I went to summer school and took the test over, not only did I pass the test I did above and beyond getting a very high score. I felt so proud of myself, and from that day forward every time something bad happens, or I fell like giving up I think about that time in my life, and I tell myself I can do anything I put my mind to!

I believe that one of the greatest things in life is gaining experience then sharing it with others. I am not only a student, friend, and family member; I am also a leader who never gives up. What you are reading is a person that gives their best, and helps others accomplish theirs. I take pride in my future because I understand that it doesn’t just affect me, but it also affects the world and the people around me. College is very important to me, because neither my mother nor father have a degree in college yet. However my mother who is a full time student just found out that she’ll be graduating with a degree in computer administration this summer. She sounded so proud and excited; this made me want to make her even more proud by also graduating from high school in 2022, and college one day.

Some of my talents and hobbies include writing, singing, giving speeches, and reading. I read African American literature, because it is inspiring to me, and also entertaining. The music I listen to varies on how I feel that day, but as long as the music is inspirational, or has a message it good. What inspired me to do poetry was a friend of mine who had a tough life told me she wrote poems as a way to relieve stress, so I thought I would try it out. I believe that in order for the brain to function you need to feed it positive stuff like reading, writing and doing things that you love and enjoy. I was once in a singing group and we got the opportunity to compete in the schools talent show, it was a fun experience because it helped me get over my stage freight and work with other people. I am a people person who enjoys having leadership and command, I like making my own rules. However, I know to also pay attention to what other people have to say to me because constructive criticism is helpful, if you use it the correct way. Another one of my achievements is Genesys Works which is a non for profit organization that give urban youth such as myself a chance to gain work experience, and IT, and professional skills. Being there has also taught me a lot about myself that I didn’t know like my leadership skills, and doing speeches. Not only did I gain skills, but I also received a paid internship for Aon the 3rd largest building in Chicago. I can genuinely say Genesys Works has been a learning experience for me that I’ll never forget.


I Am A Survivor

Sample College Admission Essay – Overcoming Personal Challenges written by Rosemary from Texas

“You have cancer.” From the moment those words left my oncologist’s mouth, I knew my life would change. I didn’t know how to feel; how to react; what to do. Most importantly, I didn’t know what was going to happen next. My first instinct was to look to my mother, who was sitting next to me. I will never forget the way she looked. Pale as though she had seen a ghost, my mother showed no signs of life. She sat there, numb and shocked. My only indication that she was alive and present was the tears falling from her face. That was the first time I had ever seen her cry.

In March 2022, I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. That day, everything changed not only for me, but for my family. For the next couple of days, I was numb. I felt as though my self-conscious had slipped into a black hole and was now looking for a way out. I was lost in a sea of emotion and uncertainty. The phrase “emotional rollercoaster” does not come anywhere close to describing the immense amount of hysteria I was experiencing. I felt like a ticking bomb waiting to explode. Unfortunately, no one knew that I was going through so much trouble.

I have never been very open about my emotions and so when I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t tell anyone. My parents were the same and did not tell anyone except for our immediate family because they felt like there was no need to worry the rest of the family. Their main reason for not telling everyone about my diagnosis was the fact that they felt that there was no need for others to know. It would only have complicated things. Eventually we did tell everyone but not until I was finished with my treatment.

The year that I dealt with cancer seemed endless, yet eventually in March 2023, I was officially cleared of cancer and titled as 'in remission'. I was not fully done with the process of frequent checkups and even another surgery, making it a total of two femur bone reconstruction surgeries that I have endured, until 2024. Not many can state that they have overcome such an experience as mine and that is something that I am truly proud of.

Now that I am a cancer survivor, I can use my experiences to influence others. I am now able to educate those who may not know much about cancer and share my story with them. I hope to open the eyes of many to the reality of cancer and its impact on its victims. If I can make the treatment process for other cancer patients easier, then I will feel like I have used my gift of survival properly.


The Story of My Life

College Essays about Challenges

This Life Story College Scholarship Essay Sample - Overcoming Personal Challenges, was written by Hilary from Texas

My story starts when I was twelve. On November 12, 2014 I underwent a craniotomy to remove the golf-ball sized brain tumor squashing my pituitary gland and pushing on my optic nerves. The days leading up to this surgery, my legs and fingers were going numb, I started going blind in my left eye, and I became violently sick from migraines. After this surgery, the doctors discovered that I had scoliosis. Next came the steroid-induced diabetes and insulin injections.

A few months later, after a follow-up MRI of my brain, the doctors discovered the tumor had grown back. June hosted the second craniotomy. Then my family and I flew to Virginia to receive Gamma Knife Radiation to completely obliterate what was left of the tumor.

After severe depression and an 80-pound weight gain, things simmered down. I was thirteen. I enrolled in a temporary program called Home Bound, where a teacher would come to my house and teach me what the other kids were learning in school. I maintained straight A’s and published a cookbook, From MRI’s to Lemon Pies. I felt terribly guilty for the financial setback my treatments were causing my parents. I knew that I had absolutely no control over what happened to me. But still, I felt so very guilty.

A few years passed, and I graduated high school a year early. I started college and began to experience the numbness in my legs again. I was terrified that the tumor had returned, so I was instructed to partake in yet another MRI to determine what the problem was. No tumor, just white matter. I was 19 at this point, having endured close to 50 MRIs already.

May 19, 2021 was the day I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. My initial reaction was, “Jeez! Something else?!” but it quickly morphed into, “Okay, God, use me; I can do this. I’ve had worse. Bring it on.”

The home health nurse came to teach me how to do the Copaxone injections, which were excruciatingly painful.

I continue to experience small relapses. Some days, I am so fatigued I can’t even get out of bed. I have to say no to friends’ requests to go out because I know my energy won’t last. In December 2021, I started feeling my left hand go numb again. I didn’t think much of it until it started spreading. I called my neurologist and she fervently suggested I start a three-day steroid IV infusion. When I got home (San Antonio) from school (Arlington), we set up a time for a new home health nurse to come out and begin the infusion. I now take Beta Seron, and have tolerated it fairly well, minus the flu-like days when I titrate up to the next dose. I am still not up to the full does; I have to take it slow due to my obvious sensitivity to the drug.

The IV infusion didn’t change anything about the numbness sensation covering the left side of my body. I was quite disappointed. This occurrence, as well as every time the home health nurse visits me in Arlington, the monthly bill for the daily injected drug, doctor visits, MRIs, and the cost of all the 13 other oral medications I take add up quickly until I realize I have very little left for groceries or other bills that must be paid.

I am already in a great deal of student debt, and I am only just going to start my senior year this fall. I intend to go to graduate school, but am seriously considering not even applying because of the amount of debt that has already accrued. My family isn’t rich, and I don’t want to spend my whole life paying off student loans because my medical bills took precedent. I am by no means saying I should put my education over my health, and if I can’t afford both, school is the obvious cut. Please help me pay for my education.


Social Networking in Today’s Society

College Essays about Challenges

This college essay on social media was written Ezimma from Georgia, United States.

Each day more users join in search of new friends and experiences. Seventy-three percent of all teens in America have profiles on at least one social media site. Websites like Facebook and Twitter (now X) allow teens to express themselves, in all their creativity. Although this is true, many young adults use social media sites for destructive purposes instead.

The decisions made during teen years directly affect quality of life in the years that follow. It is believed that the time spent in adolescence is the most crucial period in human development. During those years, teens identify their likes and dislikes and form their own identities. Social networking sites allow teens to articulate those identities. After forming preferences, teens begin to gravitate towards those with similar beliefs. Social media sites are a domain for self discovery, a virtual way to share ideas and connect with peers.

No teen readily accepts the idea of being stifled or muted. Each young adult wants to be taken seriously when their opinions are voiced. Blog sites like Tumblr, act as virtual portals of expression. Here bloggers post poetry, inspirational quotes, art (primarily photography), and even music, in an attempt to make a statement, take a stand, or even be discovered. Many talented musicians, artists, and writers post their material on popular social media sites, which offer several opportunities for networking. Although some social network users take advantage of social media sites in vocationally constructive ways, countless users simply access the sites for entertainment purposes. Teens upload pictures and videos and comment on others user profiles, while also posting status updates and chatting with fellow users. In addition to this, social media sites also allow users to participate in activities like games and surveys.

Social media sites are quickly transforming into a place filled with predators and bullies. Though social media sites offer several recreational advantages, certain issues leave much to be desired. Instead of using virtual domains to express their creativity, some teens use the sites as a tool for harassment. These teens post lies, embarrassing pictures, and sometimes even personal information in order to torment other users. These actions have a monumental affect on the victims. Some teens commit suicide, while others murder their attackers. Furthermore, several teen students are never bullied, but instead overuse social media sites. In effect, they neglect their studies and responsibilities, ultimately causing them to be less reliable.

Social networking sites can be a dangerous place for adolescents, but with the proper precautions and guidelines, teens can avoid any negative influence that may confront them. A majority of the issues teens face regarding social media sites can be solved with the click of a few buttons. By simply pressing delete or block, teens can avoid a bully almost entirely. Through sheer resolve, students can make the decision to turn off the computer and face their studies. Although these solutions may seem simple, it is important to remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.


More Sample College Essays

Thanks to our readers for sharing their college essays about challenges in your life. Please check out additional sample college essays below. Also, see more college essays about challenges on these pages: Overcoming Obstacles and Overcoming Challenges.

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