Sample College Admissions Essays We have prepared this handout of actual essays written by current Harvard students who attended secondary schools in the UK (with names changed for anonymity) in order to provide some guidance to schools and applicants. Because the university admissions processes in the US and the UK are markedly different, we have received requests for some sample essays and tips for writing them and hope they will be helpful. Here is the official description of the personal essay requirement: Please write an essay (250 words minimum) on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below. This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself. 1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. 2. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. 3. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence. 4. Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence. 5. A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you. 6. Topic of your choice. Your essay for a US university might be the same one you would write for the UCAS system, but perhaps not. We are interested in your academic successes and future plans, but also want to understand what makes you tick as a person. What are your hopes, dreams and fears? Our advice is to think of two or three possible topics, write a quick first draft of each essay and then show them to your best friend, mother, teacher or anyone who knows you well. Ask that person if your voice and personality come through in the essays and which one sounds the most like you. Then take that essay and polish it off! As you will see from the following sample essays, these students have written about learning to ride a bike, culture shock at coming to the UK, music, public service, and a favourite book. What will you write about?
Sample College Essay #1 I never imagined that by swimming, a Vision Center in India would be built. And I certainly never thought so many people could be cured of blindness there. For the past twelve years of my life, my passion has been competitive swimming. Mile after mile I train almost every single day in the hope of becoming that much faster, that much more powerful in the water, that much closer to my goals. (My classmates tell me I am better adapted to live in the water than on land!) I have reached more athletic goals than I ever imagined when I first splashed into the water as a timid six-year old. I have won several Texas state titles, been ranked nationally in both the US and the UK, set numerous International Schools Tournament records, and captained both my school and club swim teams. This past year, I decided to combine my love of swimming with a fundraising target. My older brother worked as an intern on the Flying Eye Hospital run by the international sight-saving charity ORBIS. I was horrified by his description of the magnitude of curable, but untreated eye diseases. I knew I had to take action. To help those who have or will lose their sight for no fault of their own, my triplet siblings and I organized, planned, publicized, and successfully led a community-wide Swim-a-thon that raised funds for ORBIS. The goal of our event was not only to raise funds for this very worthwhile cause, but more importantly, to raise awareness about...
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