Examples of College Personal Essays

See examples of college personal essays to inspire you to write your personal statement for your best college essay.

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

UC Admission Essay

Examples of College Personal Essays

FAFSA UC Berkley

University of California, Berkeley

This college personal essay helped me get accepted into UC Berkeley and UCSD Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?

Guitar is the extracurricular activity that has helped me grow the most as an individual. A lot of my other activities are easy for me, but not playing guitar. I don't have the same natural talent in guitar that I have in things like martial arts. I have to put in a lot of practice time to be successful in music. I've learned that there's no substitute for hard work, because sometimes, a person can't get by on talent alone. When I feel overwhelmed, it's a huge help to have my guitar as an outlet for stress. Music is relaxing for me, and that makes it an intensely personal experience. I get nervous when I perform for other people, almost as if they could hear my most private thoughts and feelings.

In the summer of 2023, I was my school's delegate to the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) in Washington, D.C. I was apprehensive about going at first, because at 10 days, it was the longest I had ever stayed somewhere without my mother. I had little reason to worry though; my counselors and the other kids were really helpful and welcoming.

Due to my family’s financial limitations, we don't get to travel very often. I’ve never been able to visit a foreign country, even though Mexico isn’t more than a couple hours away. For the first time, I met people from all over the country. I was introduced to so many different perspectives, perspectives I had never imagined existed (like people who call soda "pop").

I credit my experience at the NYLC with helping me become more sociable. I created a Facebook account at the insistence of my new friends so we could stay in touch across the miles. It was a key moment for 

me, since I had a history of being shy and reclusive. Friends at home had pressured me into getting a Facebook, but I always refused and told myself I had no interest in social media. But at NYLC I found myself able to open up and expand my circle of friendship to include many more people, genuine friends from every corner of the country.

It was quickly apparent that I lived a sheltered life. When we discussed our communities with each other, I learned that many of the other kids came from neighborhoods with endemic gang violence or drug problems. A lot of them had friends who had been beaten or raped. I thought about how fortunate I was to live in California. I couldn’t imagine that kind of thing ever happening in my hometown. If these kids could come from such gritty places and still be the young leaders of their communities, I knew that I couldn’t complain about the relatively paltry issues in my own community. If they could deal with drugs and violence as a part of everyday life, I could never give up in the face of my own challenges. Being exposed to them and learning their stories taught me more than I ever could have learned in a classroom or from a book. The confidence I gained from my participation in leadership and team-building activities in NYLC has helped me both in school and my life outside the classroom. I am more sure of myself and I feel better about my decisions. Above all, I learned that no one has to be powerless; each of us has a voice.


You Are a Soul

Examples of College Personal Essays

College Admission Essay by Meaghan - 

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” C.S. Lewis - He was a three-year-old boy who had been bitten by a dog. I looked down and could see part of his bone under the broken skin. Even I had to look away. Oddly enough, his eyes were dry and it was he who was comforting his mother. He would be just fine.

He was around forty, but not acting very grown-up. When I got there, he was arguing with the state trooper and telling his mother how much he hated her. He was a drinker, a smoker, and had obviously overdosed on some drug. But he would live, in some sense of the word.

Being a part of the Ellington Rescue Post has allowed me to see and feel a lot of things that most people are never able to experience in their lifetime. I was medically trained as an Emergency Medical Responder as a freshman and by the beginning of my sophomore year of high school I was riding on the ambulance regularly. Being in EMS is not like playing a sport; if you miss the shot, you do not just lose a game; you could lose a life. Being so young and being able to handle doing such a job is extremely uncommon, which is why so much is expected out of us. I have experienced what it is like to be depended on.

If you called 911, you probably would not expect someone my age to show up. Ellington Rescue Post has taught me how much I am capable of doing and showed me that if I have confidence in myself, I will not be second guessed.

She was barely past the age of sixty five and had been fighting cancer for about half that time. Her thin hands were shaking and her eyes were wet, but she did not say a word. She held my hand the entire ride to the hospital. She knew she was going to die, but she had already accepted that fact. She had her time to live, and she had done so.

Riding on the ambulance has revealed to me that sometimes the choices that person has made has led them to their position, and sometimes life just hits them the wrong way; but it is not what happens to during your life that really matters, it is what you do to help improve the lives of others. I know that during my time with the Ellington Rescue Post, I have made a difference.


Personal Statement

Leonel, California

Every student experiences pressure in school, but I have faced two kinds of pressure in my life: peer pressure and family pressure.  Overcoming these challenges has shaped me into the determined person I am today.

My world has always been different from an American student’s world.  Peer pressure has been a big barrier in my life. I moved from Mexico to California in fourth grade, and I remember my first days in an American school as if they were yesterday.  I tried hard to blend in with the rest of the kids, but everyone saw me as the new kid who could not understand a word they were saying. During my final two years in elementary school, I did my best to learn English.  Even though they saw me trying hard, many kids made fun of me.

Two years later, I started middle school.  I knew I would have to try even harder to prove to those who teased me that I could succeed.  When I got my seventh grade schedule, I could not believe my eyes!  I had one less ESL class!   I worked incredibly hard that year and then, in eighth grade, I had no ESL class on my schedule.  My first thought was, “At last. I’m finally entering the real world”.

Even in my early years in Mexico, I always had the drive to be number one in my school.  I was among the top ten students in Math, and I always reached for the leading roles in Drama productions.  In my California school, there were many others that I had to compete with to be counted among the top students.  The peer pressure was intense, but I eventually found true friends who gave me the support I needed.  These friendships were a blessing to me and my academic skills improved along with my mastery of English.

But just when I thought the peer pressure was over, another kind of pressure began in my freshman year of high school.  My friends all thought I was a perfectionist who cared only about my studies, but they had no idea what was happening in my home life.  I was the youngest of seven children, and my house was full of siblings who argued constantly.  No one knew how hard it was to live under a roof where your parents would not talk to each other for weeks or months.  My friends also did not know that I escaped to my room every night because it was the only place I could go to avoid the sounds of arguing.  Family pressure was even worse than peer pressure.  But despite my family issues, I was determined to do well in high school.

I am now beginning to plan my life after San Clemente High School.  College is the next step.  I have worked so hard and overcome some difficult challenges, but I welcome the many new challenges and victories that a college experience will bring.  I will be the first member of my family to attend a university, and I am determined to select a college major, complete my degree, and find work that I love to do.  My parents and family will be proud of me, and I will be even more proud to have succeeded when many people thought I could not.


Personal Statement Essay

My name is Jacquelyn and I am a senior at Perth Amboy High School. As my senior year comes to an end I get excited for my future. I am excited to graduate, go to college and become independent. For years I had my older sister and my mother to teach me what to do but now that I am getting older the responsibility falls on me. My main goal is to succeed and success does not come easy. However, I am eager and willing to do whatever I have to in order to succeed.

I am going to college with an intended Sociology major because I want to be either a social worker or a guidance counselor so that I can offer help to those students who need help whether it is emotionally or physically. I want to give students what my guidance counselors never gave me, which was guidance and encouragement. I was not informed about financial aid information, scholarships and college help. I had to go out and look for help on my own and no student should have to do the duties of a guidance counselor.

Students in my school do not apply to out of state colleges and universities because they do not have the money or are afraid to leave home but they were never encouraged to broaden their horizons and I want to be the one that encourages the youth and to make a change in someone’s life. My responsibilities as a social worker are to improve the environment around me. 

I believe that I am the perfect candidate for this scholarship because African Americans are not always offered the same opportunities as other people but opportunities should be given to those who work for them. Financial status should not determine one’s success. African American youth need to rise up and help make a difference in the world but it is difficult without certain sources, such as money.

If I am awarded this scholarship it can help me pay for college and start my road to success. It changes lives and it encourages people to follow their dreams. My dream is to be a social worker and I am determined to be the best social worker by any means necessary.


Lessons Learned

An essay from our collection of Examples of College Personal Essays, written by Madeline from Michigan

Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of attending Powers. I watched the football games, went to Camp of Champions, and longed to be a part of the roaring student section. I considered Powers more than just a school. To me, it was a tradition. For the past two generations, my family has graduated from Powers. My grandparents in ’72, my parents in ’92, and now I will make it a third generation when I graduate next year in 2012. My experience at Powers has been an incredible journey. When one is a Charger, they are given the necessary tools to build a solid foundation of principles needed for the rest of their lives. Powers has had a tremendous effect on the development of who I am today.

Over the past three years, I have kept myself preoccupied by participating in numerous extracurricular activities. In some seasons, I play more than one sport. The fall is my favorite season because I play volleyball. As a freshman, I made the Powers Varsity volleyball team. This achievement was far from easy, and that is why I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments. I can recall being on the verge of dehydration during the two-a-day tryouts. Not to mention it was 80 degrees outside and the Powers gym felt like a sauna. I had no friends, and I was competing against upperclassmen who considered me a threat. Did I mention I am only 5’2”? Despite the odds, I challenged myself to play past the point of exhaustion. At the end of every practice, a few more girls were cut and I was given another chance to work even harder; given another day to prove myself. By the end of the week, the team was finalized and I was a part of it. Two weeks later, I earned myself a starting position.

The fall of my freshman year taught me several significant lessons. From tryouts alone, I realized what diligence can accomplish. I never would have been invited to try out for Varsity if I had not completed extra workouts throughout the summer. I sacrificed time out of my precious summer vacation to attend almost every conditioning session that was held. And because I am considered short, I completed plyometric workouts on my own. I wanted to do whatever was necessary to make the freshman team; I never even imagined being asked to try out for Varsity.

From that entire season, I learned the value of respect. Respect creates unity, and this is vital to any team. In the game of volleyball, one must perform physically but even more mentally. Affirmations are key after every play. By using respect, I created a positive energy that was beneficial in games. Although volleyball taught me these lessons, I learned to apply them in my everyday life. I owe many other accomplishments to these attributes, including my Captainship from this past season.

Sophomore year I was invited to be a part of the National Honors Society (NHS). This is considered a prestigious achievement at Powers. To be a member, one must maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA, complete an additional ten service hours every quarter, attend monthly meetings, and avoid any serious punishment until graduation. If any of these requirements are broken, a student is put on probation. A second violation results in the automatic discontinuation of the student’s membership. Although this is a demanding organization, I have enjoyed my time participating.

The requirements alone supply me with motivation, charity, and gratitude. Because I cannot receive detentions, it is imperative that I abide by the rules. Luckily, I rarely have to be disciplined- I barely get grounded at home. I have never had a problem with dress code, and I have never served a detention. I also complete my own homework and do not rely on others to cheat off of. As one of my teachers has stated, “No grade is worth the price of your integrity.” This quote means to stay true to one’s own morals, and not to be lazy.

The most difficult requirement for NHS is completing the service hours. Not only do I have to perform ten per quarter but I must complete a combination of school, tutoring, and community hours that have to be approved by the NHS officials. NHS sets these requirements because they want students to heartily reach out 

to their community. Washing dishes is nice, but waiting tables for a few hours meets the NHS standards. Performing these duties has made me appreciate the reward of gratitude. I feel good about myself when I assist others. It has helped me realize that as people, we should not need incentive to do good deeds within our community. Too many times have I witnessed people refuse to help because they would not get paid in return. Volunteering makes me feel wanted; I feel as if my efforts make a difference. The payment of gratitude is just as, if not more, rewarding as money. To some people, NHS is a punishment, but to me, it is a life lesson. I have learned to maintain an appropriate behavior and to serve others. NHS has taught me how to represent myself, and my school, in a positive way.

Every year at Powers has been great, but my junior year I consider most memorable. This past February I encountered a life changing experience. I attended Kairos- a religious retreat held by Powers. Although I cannot share every detail of this incident, I can assure you that it has changed my outlook on life.

Before Kairos, I would attend mass, say prayer before dinner, and sacrifice chocolate for the season of Lent; but I never felt like these actions were beneficial to me. I completed these actions because I was taught to do so, not because I wanted too. I was merely going through the motions in regards to my faith. At Kairos, I finally realized how close God is to me. He is literally everywhere, all the time. I learned how God has helped the people around me. For example, He has granted one of my friends another chance at life by curing her cancer. Like how He has saved my fellow classmate from tragedy, He will always be there to pick me up when I am down. My faith has been strengthened to a whole new level of maturity.

Besides developing a deeper relationship with God, I have realized how lucky I am. God has blessed me with my health, the loving relations I have, and the superior education I have received. Kairos opened my eyes. There are so many people around me who have suffered, and yet, I cannot fathom the amount of pain they have felt. I am fortunate enough to have a stable income, both my parents, and almost all of my grandparents. I have taken these gifts for granted, and I cannot imagine living without any one of them. I am so thankful for the blessings God has given me. I now make a great effort to attend mass every Sunday. When I am there, I actually listen to the prayers and sing along with the hymns. Sometimes I will go alone if the rest of my family cannot accompany me. I feel as if I can truly appreciate the gifts God has given me. I am so thankful that Powers offers this incredible retreat. It was such a humbling experience, and made me realize that I have so much to be thankful for.
If I never attended Powers, my life would be completely different. I doubt I would have grown into the same person that I am today. Being a Charger has molded me into a motivated, successful, and grateful young woman. My freshman, sophomore, and junior year have all been phenomenal, and I look forward to what my senior year will bring. As the end of my high school career approaches, I know that Powers has prepared me for the real world. I plan to use the lessons learned in the classroom, as well as, my own my personal experiences to thrive into adulthood.


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