Middlebury College Essays That Worked

If you’re starting to give some thought as to what you should write about in your college application essay, remember: admissions officers have thousands of application essays to read. That means you need to have an essay introduction that will grab your reader’s attention, even if they just give it a quick glance. In the midst of the Class of 2020’s acceptance, we bring to you some of the best college essay examples that actually worked:


Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)

When I was six years old, I loved to lie down on a grassy hillside by my house and stare at the clouds, anticipating what animal or object I might be able to discern in the white, whispy wonderland. My mind swirled with these breathtaking figures; they were astronomical. As a rebellious child, I sought cloud-watching to escape my seemingly monotonous home life. Even now, I will never become bored from just staring at the blue yonder. Read on.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

All my life I’ve been stuck right in the middle between fitting in and feeling completely different from everybody else. It wasn’t easy making friends as that kid who got dropped off by his “abuela” every morning at a primarily white elementary school, and then again as the only “Americano” after my family relocated to Tlaxcala, Mexico……. At the time, I didn’t realize how many of my differences were actually strengths, but the real hindrance about this was that neither did anyone around me. View profile.


Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

.   .   . I recently helped clean up around Cody High School with my church. I had long looked forward to doing mission work in inner-city Detroit and this was the perfect opportunity. As I picked up litter from highways and around abandoned houses near Cody, I couldn’t help wondering about the kids there. Through some radio podcasts, I learned about the dire academic and graduation outcomes of Codies. Continue reading.



University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

It was a dark and stormy night — but actually, it was.

A new tradition arose a few years ago at our band camp, the Hunger Games (don’t worry, there is absolutely no murder involved); it is an amalgamation of small, seemingly-pointless minute-to-win-it games that pit the different sections of the band against each other, proving who truly has the most spirit. Continue Reading.


Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT)

Everyone knows the old saying “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice; Practice; Practice!” Never in a million years did I imagine that would ever be true for me. Maybe it was some arbitrary alignment of the cosmos, or maybe it was a choice. Choices as simple as what to have for breakfast can change our lives. They can affect us in ways we never imagined; they can change the very fabric of our existence. Read on

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About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

Working on application essays for grad school, fellowships or research opportunities? Thinking you might be applying for these in the future? Writing application essays is harder than it looks!

Tips for Writing Effective Application Essays

  • Give yourself enough time to research, write, seek help, rewrite, and submit on time.
  • Do your research.  
  • KNOW who they are and what they offer.  What do they want from you? What do you want from them? What can you offer them? Specificity matters.
  • Identify information essential for this application.
  • Read questions carefully and answer them all specifically.
  • Consider the story behind your resume. The personal statement is where the facts on the resume happen to a real person-- you.
  • Identify key ideas and experiences that have shaped you as individual.
  • Identify anecdotes and stories that are worthy of detailed retelling.
  • Identify concrete details that make the writing lively and original.
  • Identify an arc that connects your past experience to future goals.
  • Get in front of anything that doesn't paint you in a good light.  Have you grown, learned from this?
  • Engage in writing exercises to start writing immediately and to dwell in the concrete versus the abstract.
  • Kill clichés. Move beyond them. This committee will have heard them all and won't appreciate hearing them again.  You'll probably have some clichés in your first draft.  Take them out in your next draft.  
  • Remember this hard fact: your first draft is probably going to be boring.  That's O.K. You need to get your information down, and then you can work on an arc that captures highlights and makes your statement engaging.   
  • Make your first paragraph compelling. Don't let the first paragraph put your readers to sleep.  Look for a better first paragraph somewhere else in your draft.  
  • Be specific. Be specific. Be specific.
  • Proofread all essays carefully.
  • Meet deadlines promptly.

External sources for great advice regarding graduate school essays:






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