Successful Application Essays: Recommendations and Examples - Sample Essay

Writing Admission Essay that Worked

The question of the need to study at the university is beyond doubt among the overwhelming majority of modern youth. Indeed, the presence of serious knowledge in a certain field, confirmed by the diploma of a prestigious university, significantly increases the chances of building a successful career. The American system of higher education is one of the best in the world. However, it is not an easy task to enter one of the US universities.

Essay as the Main Element in Entering the University

A long list of properly issued documents is needed for this. It also includes two common application essays, one of which is a motivation letter. Here, the applicant needs to explain why does one want to enter this institution, what specialty has he chosen, what career plans does he have, and ideas for conducting research. The second one is an admission essay. In fulfilling this task, the entrant should reveal his personal qualities by choosing the topic himself.  This work should talk about the future student, his life values, and interests, explain how he differs from other candidates. In one or another form, this question is asked when entering almost any American university.

It forces the members of the Admission Committee to read thousands of essays that differ little from each other. As the employees of the Admission Committee say, the essay is the most memorable part of all the documents that high school student provides for admission. With the help of this type of work, a potential student is assessed as a person.

Thousands of applicants have the same points for exams, grades and the essay highlights the personality of a particular applicant. In addition, this paper shows a student’s ability to analyze information and communicate with other people in writing. The staff of the Admission Committee, when reading this work, not only learns information about the entrant and judges it by grammatical structures and used language units, but also draws attention to what he said and what ideas were presented in his essay.

Typically, universities provide a list of pre-approved topics, and also give the student the opportunity to come up with a topic on his own. Some applicants use this chance in the hope of standing out among others, but it is necessary to be careful with this decision.

So, how to write essays that worked and make sure that this paper would be noted in the ocean of the same stories? It all begins with the selection of a suitable topic, which will help to describe the personal experience in a capacious and sincere way while demonstrating the opportunity to write logically.

However, it’s easier said than done. Before making a final decision, it will be useful to know which topics should be avoided and why. Here are some of the most popular template topics.

Themes to Avoid

  • The story about the voluntary project demonstrated readiness to help. This topic certainly gives an opportunity to talk about yourself as a person who is capable of sympathy and is ready to help. This is a definite plus for the entrant. However, this topic does not help to present oneself in a unique light against the background of other candidates.
  • The inheritance of a certain profession in the family. Of course, this is a good reason for pride. However, the admissions committee evaluates the personality of the student himself. The story of his family also does not give significant advantages, since the main accent should be on the person of an applicant.
  • The story about a sports trauma and overcoming its consequences. Admission commissions of most universities agree that the choice of this topic indicates that the author simply does not realize that every day other people face much more serious problems. This speaks of the entrant as an immature person and reduces the chances of success to a minimum.
  • The description of a national disaster or tragedy. This topic is more than a cliché. Over the past decades, America has experienced a lot of similar catastrophes, and the admissions offices of all universities have long been tired of even the most colorful descriptions of these events. Moreover, this topic does not allow a potential student to talk about himself as a person. Tragic events do not provide an opportunity for this.
  • The story about personal successes in sport. Here you can make two mistakes that will lead to failure. Firstly, a member of the admissions committee may not be interested in this sport. Secondly, a sports activity is absolutely important, but the main task of the university is to gain knowledge. Sports achievements can not convince the commission that the student really wants to study.
  • The story about a certain person. Some applicants like to write in such a way. “My grandmother was born before World War I, and she is an example of courage, resilience, and fortitude for me.” This is excellent if the student is proud of relatives, but there is a possibility that he or she is simply unable to write anything important about oneself. Therefore student covers this shortcoming with a story about another person.
How to Choose a Good Topic

As it was already said, there are two possibilities of choosing a topic. The first one is an accepting of a theme already offered, and the second one is to write about yourself. If the student decided to write about himself, the following recommendations could help. The first step is collecting topics for the essay.

Collect all the topics for the essay and write them down. Start remembering examples from life experience that can
be summed up under these topics. Write everything that comes to mind. The following questions will help to concentrate:

  • What do you like to do most of all? What are your hobbies?
  • Do you have certain skills or talent?
  • Who influenced your life most of all? Who was the most memorable?
  • What was your best day? Describe it.
  • What has changed in your life in the past 4 years?
  • Remember the most memorable moment with your relatives/friends/teachers.
  • What achievements are you proud of?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What is your most important quality?
  • Whose philosophy of life do you adhere to?
  • Remember the most difficult task that you had to perform.
  • When and where did you demonstrate your leadership qualities?

It’s a good idea to ask your parents or teachers also to answer these questions because you could forget something that they remember.

Let’s move to the second step. Now the list of topics needs to be perfect. We have already said that most of the topics are too popular, and the task of each entrant is to stand out from the background of others. You need to demonstrate a unique approach to the topic. Your idea should be supported by good examples or stories. Experts of the Admissions Committee should analyze your essay, so it shouldn’t contain superficial ideas. It is also important to remember that members of the Admission Board might not have some specific knowledge, that is, there is no need to write specific terms or things that are difficult for to understand. Read your essay again and make sure that it shows you as a person, that the topic is really meaningful for you, that you managed to show interest in the topic, to find an original approach.

The third step is as follows. Listen to yourself when writing. Do not think about what the Admission Board would like to see. Select the topics that you can reveal and that matter to you. Express your ideas and share your experiences. Share information about yourself. The essay is a unique opportunity to communicate with the university. Your essay should show what you think, your attitude to life, goals and you as a person. Focus on yourself. Write things that will be remembered and will attract the reader. Put questions before the reader, share feelings, so that commission staff can feel what you felt. Ask yourself if it would be interesting for you to read this paper.

Show growth and development. Employees of the Admission Committee want to see how you grew up, when you went through some situation, how your life has changed. They also evaluate ways you can study at a university. Be sure to write about how you have changed and what difficulties have passed, what you have learned in the process.

Give clear examples. Do not just write that you are the absolute leader. Describe the situation, give examples, where you demonstrated leadership qualities.

Here is a piece of the example of a personal essay.

What philosophical views do I support?

Everyone has the right to certain views on life. They can change over time, however, the main basis remains unchanged. At the same time, society forces us to adhere to certain frameworks with the help of moral norms and legal laws. Freedom within the law is the fundamental concept of the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, whose views I adhere to in my life.

The basis of Sartre’s philosophy is the problem of understanding human existence as a conscious, free activity. Restriction of the philosopher’s interest in the issues of people’s spiritual life in their daily life is explained by the fact that he regards the sphere of labor economic activity as an area in which a person does not belong to himself, where he obeys the norms imposed on him. Adhering to this philosophy, I seek harmony between my personality and the laws of the society in which I live.

Sartre believes that man initially has freedom, which can not stand either reasons or grounds, it presupposes independence from both the past and the present. To be free means to be able to change and have the ability to act in the world. For Sartre, a man has freedom, regardless of the real possibilities of realizing his desires.

According to the philosopher, objective circumstances can not deprive a person of freedom. It can be preserved in any conditions and represents the possibility of choosing attitudes to the phenomena of the surrounding reality. Sartre’s understanding of freedom provides equal opportunities for a variety of lines of conduct. Thus, I believe that I am the only master of my life. All my desires can come true if I strive for this. The imposed frames and stereotypes are just conventions that do not really exist.

Sartre’s concept of freedom predetermines the nature of his ethics. He laid the free will of the person in the foundation of morality. Each of us independently decides what is moral. I agree with this statement, but I believe that the freedom of a certain person shouldn’t interfere or affect the freedom of another in any way.

Empowering people with freedom, the philosopher lays unconditional responsibility on them. This is expressed in a critical attitude towards the world and people, in the sense of anxiety in condemning injustice and violence, in the desire to free themselves from the detrimental influence of the environment, even by condemning oneself to loneliness and wandering. The philosopher wrote that he is on the side of those who want to change both the conditions of life and themselves. I accept this side. Thus, my philosophical views are as follows. A person who has freedom can do whatever he wants and achieve any results. However, one must not forget that other people also have the right to express their freedom.

If you are working on an initially defined topic, then you need to show your ability to think, analyze, draw certain conclusions and find ways to solve the problem. Universities check the student if he can reveal both sides of the question, extract the whole, create the opposite and criticize the statement. This example may help to understand this task.

Is illegal immigration a positive or negative phenomenon?

The problem of illegal immigration is relevant for many countries, including the United States. According to some estimates, the largest number of illegal immigrants lives there. Some sociologists express the opinion that the flow of illegal migrants has, to some extent, a positive impact on the economic of a certain country in the sphere of cheap labor distribution. However, it is possible to notice a lot of drawbacks of this statement.  Illegal immigration is absolutely negative phenomena since the presence of undocumented immigrants in the country creates a lot of negative factors affecting both the economy and American society as a whole. It can be proved by previous attempts to solve this issue, and present-day realities.

The presence of illegal immigrants primarily causes an increase in the level of illegal labor. This leads to a reduction in the wages of citizens forced to compete with aliens.  Moreover, illegal work does not bring deductions to the budget. Very often illegal immigrants are unemployed, which leads to their involvement in criminal activity.

A huge part of a drug trade is carried out by Mexican and Chinese cartels. At the same time, citizens of a certain country must pay taxes, which in particular are spent on the treatment and maintenance of illegal immigrants in prisons.

The second problem associated with illegal migration is the overpopulation of certain areas, which sometimes flows into the creation of isolated quarters for foreign immigrants. For the reason that they can not afford a decent standard of living, poor sanitation conditions, menacing the rest of the inhabitants are typical of such areas.

The phenomenon of illegal migration has negative consequences that the American government and society is forced to fight every day. It affects many spheres of public life and has a negative impact on the economy, forcing American citizens to live in close proximity to concentrations of illegal migrants. Taking into account these tendencies, it can be concluded that the deportation of illegal immigrants will be a reasonable solution for the society.

Essay Structure Should be Followed

As a rule, application essays structure includes four main parts: introduction, thesis, argumentation, and conclusion.

Introduction

The first task when writing any interesting text is to create a “hook.” This is a sentence that will awaken the reader’s interest and is directly related to the main topic. Here it is necessary to be original and find something that characterizes the thesis, or the problem posed most accurately. For example, it may be an opinion of a well-known expert in this field, or, at first glance, an unremarkable fact that suits a thesis as well as possible. Further, develop the idea to come to the main part of the work gradually. In a few words, describe the problem posed, but do not pour water – write only what directly affects a specific thesis.

Main Mistakes in Writing Introduction

  • Cliché usage. Most of the entrants use shocking facts from the press, the “rules of life” of famous people or rather specific jokes. Various Steve Jobs’ phrases have probably already plastered the eyes of the admissions committee, and they are unlikely to pay attention to another similar intro.
  • Text dryness. The main task is to draw and maintain attention throughout the text, and if the dry statement of facts begins already in the introduction, even with the hook, the attention of the reader will fade away even before the main part of the essay.
  • Inconsistency. Trace a clear connection of facts between the main theme, the introduction, and subsequent paragraphs. Do not burden the entry with unnecessary information; make the text structure as clear as possible.

Thesis

After choosing the topic, the first thing to do is to form a thesis. It is not a certainly proven fact and not the result of observations. It is also not argumentation, not a complex of cause-effect relationships and not a description of a particular phenomenon. The thesis is the main idea of the essay, the main essence of which lies in several statements. Imagine the situation: the applicant is sitting with an essay in one’s hands right before the commission member, who, without even reading the work, asks: “What is the main idea of this paper?”. Thus, the thesis is a few sentences that can answer this question without unnecessary clarifications and amendments.  The presence of the thesis in the text not only helps the reader to understand the basic idea of the work, but also helps to see the author’s personal understanding of a certain problem, and the consistency of the basic text with the thesis. As a rule, the given topic of the essay is usually controversial. This does not involve an unambiguous answer, so the task of a potential student is not to seek an objective solution, which, most likely, simply does not exist, but the formulation of personal statements and argumentation of one’s point of view.

Common Mistakes in Thesis Statement

  • Interrogative form. The main goal of the thesis is to express an opinion. If you use a philosophical approach and do not occupy a certain position, the essay will lose its sense of argumentation and turn into abstract reflections without a direct answer.
  • Large volume. An important criterion is the observance of the basic canons. Thesis by definition is capacious, but not a long statement. Distinguish the conclusion from the arguments and do not write the thesis on the whole sheet.
  • Uncertainty. Do not use the thesis for further polemics. The reader should easily follow the author’s stream of thought. The uncertainty of the thesis raises only additional questions and gives the impression that the entrant simply decided not to bring one’s thought to a logical conclusion.

Argumentation

At this stage, it is necessary to describe the reasons that determined the thesis. Devote a small paragraph to each of them and watch for the completeness of every paragraph. Try to make every next paragraph different from the previous one without violating the logical chain. The main criteria that should be observed in the argumentation are subject, sequence, chronology, and contrast. Formulate the main part on these principles.

How to Avoid Mistakes in Argumentation

  • Reiteration. Do not develop the same idea in two paragraphs. The new paragraph should contain a new argument.
  • Extra information. Make sure that all the sentences are directly related to the main topic.
  • Inconsistency. If it is necessary to use a link with another reason in the next paragraph, make sure that this reason was described above. Do not confuse the logical connection, running ahead.

Conclusion

In the last part of the essay, it is needed to finish the main idea concisely. Summarize the argument and briefly repeat the thesis.

Possible Mistakes in Conclusion

  • New arguments. The conclusion is inherently not informative, but the summary part. Do not add new causes at the end; it’s better to add one more paragraph.
  • Reiteration. It is not necessary to describe the structure of the written work and literally repeat what was written above. If the reader has reached a conclusion, your work has been already read.

Avoiding the Typical Mistakes

Unlike tests, essays do not imply a multiple-choice format (when you are offered several answers). Writing an essay is not limited in time, you can rewrite it many times. Checking its first version is of great importance in writing an essay. When a draft is ready, your main task is to develop an argument, refine the basic ideas and arrange them in a strict sequence, accompanied by illustrative materials or auxiliary data. After writing the first draft, leave it for a while, and then go back to work on checking and improving. Ask your friends or teachers to read your essay. Take advantage of all the opportunities and try to avoid common mistakes. Here are some typical ones:

  • Bad checking. Do not think that you can limit yourself to just checking the spelling. Reread your paper and make sure that there are no ambiguous expressions and unsuccessful figures of speech.
  • Tentative forewords and a lack of detail. Too often, a student’s work is a listing of statements without illustrating them with examples. Make sure that you give examples from your life or in extreme cases, came up with good ones.
  • Verbosity. This type of work is limited to a certain number of words, so you need to dispose of this amount intelligently. Sometimes this means giving up ideas or details, especially if they have already been mentioned somewhere or is not directly related to the case. Such things only distract the attention of the reader and overshadow the main topic of the essay.
  • Long phrases. Some candidates think that a long sentence is always better than a short one. Long phrases do not yet prove the author’s correctness, and short sentences often produce a greater effect. The best advice is to alternate long phrases with short ones. Try to read the essay aloud. If you feel that you are catching your breath, break the paragraph into smaller ones.
  • Excess of humor. Humor is certainly a good thing, but here it can play a cruel joke. Remember, every person perceives the written text in his own way. He reads it at his own pace and with his intonation. Even if your joke seems to be successful, the examiner can read and understand this not as you intended. It is not worth to test your luck in such a way. However, try to use all the means at your disposal to make your essays memorable.

Observing these rules and remembering about possible pitfalls, the task of writing an essay will not seem so overwhelming. The main thing is to remember about structure, grammar, and your distinctive features.