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Should You Be Funny In Your College Essay + Examples
Why are college essays important, should you be funny in your college essay, tips for adding humor to your college essays, essay examples, how to make sure your humor is effective.
College essays are an important part of your application profile. They humanize you and provide you with the opportunity to prove that you’re an interesting individual beyond your grades and test scores.
Some ways students humanize themselves include reflecting on their values, clueing readers into their backstory, showing off their personalities, or any combination of these.
One question that may come up with regards to showing off your personality is: can I be funny in my college essay?
Read along to hear our expert opinion on the subject and tips for writing a funny essay, the right way. You can also check out a few examples of essays that have successfully included humor to give you a good idea of what’s appropriate for your writing.
To put it simply, college essays are needed because top colleges have lots of qualified candidates and, to get accepted, you need to stand out. It is estimated that, at top schools, there are at least four academically-qualified applicants for every open spot. This means that students hoping to gain admission to top schools must supplement outstanding grades with other outstanding qualities.
Ways to make yourself stand out include extracurriculars, recommendations and interviews, and essays. At the nation’s top schools, reports tell us that these non-academic factors are weighted respectively as accounting for 30%, 10%, and 25% of your overall admissions chances. The fact that essays account for 25% of your admissions chances means that they could be your key to acceptance at your dream school.
If you are interested in the specific factors that determine how important essays are for individual candidates at individual schools, check out this post .
Essays are heavily weighted in the admissions process because they are the only place where admissions officers get to hear directly from you. An individual’s voice says a lot about them—how mature they are, how comfortable they are with their experiences, and even how likable they are. These are important factors for admissions officers who are trying to see how you would fit in on their campus!
The gist of our answer: if your personality is funny, feel free to be funny! As we’ve said, an important opportunity provided to you by the college essay is the opportunity to show your personality. Humor, if done correctly, can be an important part of that.
That said, if you are only attempting humor because you think it is what admissions officers want to hear or because you think it will help you stand out, abandon ship and find a way to shape your essay that is true to your personality. Try writing down how you view your personality or ask friends and family for adjectives that describe your personality, then show that personality through your voice. It will be more natural this way!
Some elements of personality that could define your voice, if humor isn’t for you:
Additionally, if you cannot follow some basic guidelines (listed below) for how to incorporate humor into your essay, you might want to change your course.
1. Be Appropriate
First things first: be appropriate. Humor is, of course, subjective, but make sure your subject matter would be considered appropriate by absolutely anyone reading it. Think about the most traditional person you know and make sure they would be okay with it. No jokes about sex, drugs, lying, crimes, or anything inappropriate—even if the joke is “obviously” against the inappropriate thing you are mentioning.
2. Don’t Be Overly Informal
You want your essay to position you as mature and intelligent, and the way you control language is a sign of maturity and intellect. That said, lots of humor—particularly the humor of young people and internet humor—are based on informality, intentional grammatical errors, and slang. These types of humor, while arguably funny, should be excluded from college essays!
As you write, remember that you know nothing about your admissions officer. Of course, you do not know their age, race, or gender, but you also don’t know their sense of humor. The last thing you want to do is make a joke with an intentional grammatical error and be perceived as unintelligent or make a joke with slang that confuses your reader and makes them think you don’t have a firm grasp of the English language.
3. Avoid Appearing Disrespectful or Inconsiderate
Humor often involves making fun of someone or something. It is very important that you do not make fun of the wrong things! In the last example, the student made fun of themself and their failed cooking experience. That is totally acceptable.
Things that you should not make fun of:
- Other people (particularly those in positions of authority)
- Political ideas
- Religious ideas
- Anything involving ethics, morals, or values
When you make fun of others, you risk sounding cold or unsympathetic. Admissions officers want to admit candidates who are mature and understand that they can never understand the struggles of others. That means you shouldn’t make a cutting joke about your old boss or an unintelligent politician who was running for your city mayor, even if they are the villain in your anecdote.
Similarly, avoid jokes about types of people. Avoid stereotypes in your jokes.
In general, it is hard to write a humorous essay about a controversial subject. Controversial issues are typically issues that require deep thought and conversation, so if you intend to engage with them, you should consider a more reflective approach, or consider integrating reflection with your humor.
Here is an example of a student successfully poking fun at themself with their humor, while alluding to controversy:
My teenage rebellion started at age twelve. Though not yet technically a teenager, I dedicated myself to the cause: I wore tee shirts with bands on them that made my parents cringe, shopped exclusively at stores with eyebrow-pierced employees, and met every comforting idea the world offered me with hostility. Darkness was in my soul! Happiness was a construct meant for sheep! Optimism was for fools! My cynicism was a product of a world that gave birth to the War in Afghanistan around the same time it gave birth to me, that shot and killed my peers in school, that irreversibly melted ice caps and polluted oceans and destroyed forests.
I was angry. I fought with my parents, my peers, and strangers. It was me versus the world.
However, there’s a fundamental flaw in perpetual antagonism: it’s exhausting. My personal relationships suffered as my cynicism turned friends and family into bad guys in my eyes. As I kept up the fight, I found myself always tired, emotionally and physically. The tipping point came one morning standing at the bathroom sink before school.
This student engages with controversial subject matter, but the humorous parts are the parts where she makes fun of herself and her beliefs— “ Darkness was in my soul! Happiness was a construct meant for sheep! Optimism was for fools!” Additionally, the student follows up their humor with reflection: “ However, there’s a fundamental flaw in perpetual antagonism: it’s exhausting. My personal relationships suffered as my cynicism turned friends and family into bad guys in my eyes.”
This student is both funny and mature, witty and reflective, and, above all, a good writer with firm control of language.
4. Don’t Force It
We have already mentioned not to force humor, but we are mentioning it again because it is very important!
Here is an example of a student whose forced humor detracts from the point of their essay:
To say I have always remained in my comfort zone is an understatement. Did I always order chicken fingers and fries at a restaurant? Yup! Sounds like me. Did I always create a color-coded itinerary just for a day trip? Guilty as charged. Did I always carry a first-aid kit at all times? Of course! I would make even an ambulance look unprepared. And yet here I was, choosing 1,000 miles of misery from Las Vegas to Seattle despite every bone in my body telling me not to.
The sunlight blinded my eyes and a wave of nausea swept over me. Was it too late to say I forgot my calculator? It was only ten minutes in, and I was certain that the trip was going to be a disaster. I simply hoped that our pre-drive prayer was not stuck in God’s voicemail box.
As this student attempts to characterize themself as stuck in their ways (to eventually describe how they overcame this desire for comfort), their humor feels gimmicky. They describe their preparedness in a way that comes off as inauthentic. It’s funny to imagine them carrying around a first aid kit everywhere they go, but does the reader believe it? Then, when they write “ Was it too late to say I forgot my calculator? ” they create an image of themself as that goofy, overprepared kit in a sitcom. Sitcom characters don’t feel real and the point of a college essay is to make yourself seem like a real person to admissions officers. Don’t sacrifice your essay to humor.
5. Make Sure Your Humor Is Clear
Humor is subjective, so run your essay by people—lots and lots of people—to see if they are confused, offended, or distracted. Ask people to read your essay for content and see if they mention the humor (positively or negatively), but also specifically ask people what they think about the humor. Peer feedback is always important but becomes particularly useful when attempting a humorous essay.
Essay Example #1
Prompt: Tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years. (350 words)
Cooking is one of those activities at which people are either extremely talented or completely inept. Personally, I’ve found that I fall right in the middle, with neither prodigal nor abhorrent talents. After all, it’s just following instructions, right? Unfortunately, one disastrous night in my kitchen has me questioning that logic.
The task was simple enough: cook a turkey stir fry. In theory, it’s an extremely simple dish. However, almost immediately, things went awry. While I was cutting onions, I absentmindedly rubbed at my eyes and smeared my mascara. (Keep this in mind; it’ll come into play later.) I then proceeded to add the raw turkey to the vegetable pot. Now, as any good chef knows, this means that either the vegetables will burn or the turkey will be raw. I am admittedly not a good chef.
After a taste test, I decided to take a page out of the Spice Girls’ book and “spice up my life”, adding some red chili paste. This was my fatal mistake. The bottle spilled everywhere. Pot, counter, floor, I mean everywhere . While trying to clean up the mess, my hands ended up covered in sauce.
Foolishly, I decided to taste my ruined meal anyway. My tongue felt like it was on fire and I sprinted to the bathroom to rinse my mouth. I looked in the mirror and, noticing the raccoon eyes formed by my mascara, grabbed a tissue. What I had neglected to realize was that chili paste had transferred to the tissue—the tissue which I was using to wipe my eyes. I don’t know if you’ve ever put chili paste anywhere near your eyes, but here’s a word of advice: don’t. Seriously, don’t .
I fumbled blindly for the sink handle, mouth still on fire, eyes burning, presumably looking like a character out of a Tim Burton film. After I rinsed my face, I sat down and stared at my bowl of still-too-spicy and probably-somewhat-raw stir fry, wondering what ancient god had decided to take their anger out on me that night, and hoping I would never incur their wrath ever again.
What the Essay Did Well
This essay is an excellent example of how to successfully execute humor. The student’s informal tone helps to bridge the gap between them and the reader, making us feel like we are sitting across the table from them and laughing along. Speaking directly to the reader in sentences like, “ Keep this in mind; it’ll come into play later, ” and “ I don’t know if you’ve ever put chili paste anywhere near your eyes, but here’s a word of advice: don’t. Seriously, don’t,” is a great tactic to downplay the formality of the essay.
The student’s humor comes through phrases like “ Now, as any good chef knows, this means that either the vegetables will burn or the turkey will be raw. I am admittedly not a good chef.” As this student plays on the common structure of “As any good (insert profession here) knows,” then subverts expectations, they make an easy-to-understand, casual but not flippant joke.
Similarly, the sentence “ I decided to take a page out of the Spice Girls’ book ,” reads in a light-hearted, funny tone. And, importantly, even if a reader had no idea who the Spice Girls were, they would recognize this as a pop-culture joke and would not be confused or lost in any way. The phrase “ raccoon eyes” is another humorous inclusion—even if the reader doesn’t know what it’s like to rub their eyes while wearing mascara they can picture the rings around a raccoon and imagine the spectacle.
As you can see from this essay, humor works well when you engage universal and inoffensive concepts in ways that are casual enough to be funny, but still comprehensible.
Essay Example #2
Prompt: Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History… a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here. —Inspired by Josh Kaufman, AB’18
When I shared the video of me eating fried insects in Thailand, my friends were seriously offended. Some stopped talking to me, while the rest thought I had lost my mind and recommended me the names of a few psychologists.
A major in Gastrophysics at UChicago is not for the faint hearted. You have to have a stomach for it! I do hope I am accepted to it as it is the only University in the U.S. with this unique major. My passion for trying unique food such as fish eye has made me want to understand the complexities of how it affects our digestive system. I understand that Gastrophysics started with a big pang of food, which quickly expanded to famish. Bite years are used to measure the amount of food ingested. I look forward to asking, “How many bite years can the stomach hold?” and “How do different enzymes react with the farticles?”
Gastrophysics truly unravels the physics of food. At UChicago I will understand the intricacies of what time to eat, how to eat and how food will be digested. Do we need to take antiparticle acid if we feel acidity is becoming a matter of concern? At what angle should the mouth be, for the best possible tasting experience? When I tried crocodile meat, I found that at a 0 degree tilt, it tasted like fish and chicken at the same time. But the same tasted more like fish at a negative angle and like chicken at a positive angle. I want to unravel these mysteries in a class by Professor Daniel Holz in gravitational gastrophysics, understanding the unseen strong and weak forces at play which attract food to our stomachs.
I find that Gastrophysics is also important for fastronomy. I want to learn the physics of fasting. How should we fast? Hubble bubble is a good chewing gum; an appetite suppressant in case you feel pangs of hunger. I have read how the UChicago Fastronauts are stepping up to test uncharted territories. Intermittent fasting is a new method being researched, and UChicago offers the opportunity for furthering this research. Which is better: fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8, or fasting for 24 hours twice a week? It is just one of the problems that UChicago offers a chance to solve.
I can also study the new branch it offers that uses farticle physics. It is the science of tracking farticles and how they interact with each other and chemicals in the stomach space. It could give rise to supernovae explosions, turning people into gas giants. It would also teach about the best ways to expel gas and clean the system and prevent stomach space expansion.
I want to take Fluid dynamics 101, another important course in Gastrophysics; teaching about the importance of water and other fluids in the body, and the most important question: what happens if you try to drink superfluids?
I hope to do interdisciplinary courses with observational gastrophysicists and work with environmental science majors to track how much methane is given by the human and animal gastrointestinal tract in the atmosphere and how much it contributes to the global climate change. I believe, with the help of courses in date science, they have been able to keep a track of how much methane is entering each day, and they found that during Dec 24-Jan 3 period, a spike in the methane and ethane levels could be seen. Accordingly, algorithms are being programmed to predict the changes all year round. I would love to use my strong mathematical background to explore these algorithms.
These courses are specially designed by the distinguished faculty of UChicago. Doing interdisciplinary research in collaboration with biological science students to determine what aliens may eat, with fart historians to know more about the intestinal structure of medieval Italians, Japanese, Chinese, Swedish and French people to better their lives is what I look forward to. The Paris study abroad program is an immersion course into fastronomy, where I will have the opportunity to test my self-control with all the amazing French food and desserts around!
My stomach rumbles now, so I am going out to try out new food – hopefully it will be in Chicago a few months later.
This is a fun essay! This student’s voice is present and their goofy personality is especially evident. Not only did they change the name of their major, but this student incorporated word play throughout the essay to showcase their imagination. Phrases like “ the big pang of food ”, “ bite years ”, “ fastronauts ”, and “ farticle physics ” keep the tone lighthearted and amusing.
Incorporating this style of humor takes a lot of creativity to be able to still convey your main idea while also earning a chuckle from your readers. While some jokes are a bit more low-brow—” farticles ” or “ fart historians ” for example—they are balanced out by some that are more clever and require a bit of thinking to get the A-ha moment (referencing the Hubble telescope as “ Hubble bubble chewing gum “). You might not feel comfortable including less sophisticated jokes in your essay at all, but if you do want to go down that path, having more intellectual sources of humor is important to provide balance.
Another positive of the essay is the continued thread of humor throughout. Sometimes humor is used as a tool in the introduction and abandoned in favor of practical information about the student. This essay manages to tell us about the student and their interests without sacrificing the laugh factor. Weaving humor throughout the essay like this makes the humor feel more genuine and helps us better understand this student’s personality.
Essay Example #3
Prompt: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? (650 words)
Scalding hot water cascades over me, crashing to the ground in a familiar, soothing rhythm. Steam rises to the ceiling as dried sweat and soap suds swirl down the drain. The water hisses as it hits my skin, far above the safe temperature for a shower. The pressure is perfect on my tired muscles, easing the aches and bruises from a rough bout of sparring and the tension from a long, stressful day. The noise from my overactive mind dies away, fading into music, lyrics floating through my head. Black streaks stripe the inside of my left arm, remnants of the penned reminders of homework, money owed and forms due.
It lacks the same dynamism and controlled intensity of sparring on the mat at taekwondo or the warm tenderness of a tight hug from my father, but it’s still a cocoon of safety as the water washes away the day’s burdens. As long as the hot water is running, the rest of the world ceases to exist, shrinking to me, myself and I. The shower curtain closes me off from the hectic world spinning around me.
Much like the baths of Blanche DuBois, my hot showers are a means of cleansing and purifying (though I’m mostly just ridding myself of the germs from children at work sneezing on me). In the midst of a hot shower, there is no impending exam to study for, no newspaper deadline to meet, no paycheck to deposit. It is simply complete and utter peace, a safe haven. The steam clears my mind even as it clouds my mirror.
Creativity thrives in the tub, breathing life into tales of dragons and warrior princesses that evolve only in my head, never making their way to paper but appeasing the childlike dreamer and wannabe author in me all the same. That one calculus problem that has seemed unsolvable since second period clicks into place as I realize the obvious solution. The perfect concluding sentence to my literary analysis essay writes itself (causing me to abruptly end my shower in a mad dash to the computer before I forget it entirely).
Ever since I was old enough to start taking showers unaided, I began hogging all the hot water in the house, a source of great frustration to my parents. Many of my early showers were rudely cut short by an unholy banging on the bathroom door and an order to “stop wasting water and come eat dinner before it gets cold.” After a decade of trudging up the stairs every evening to put an end to my water-wasting, my parents finally gave in, leaving me to my (expensive) showers. I imagine someday, when paying the water bill is in my hands, my showers will be shorter, but today is not that day (nor, hopefully, will the next four years be that day).
Showers are better than any ibuprofen, the perfect panacea for life’s daily ailments. Headaches magically disappear as long as the water runs, though they typically return in full force afterward. The runny nose and itchy eyes courtesy of summertime allergies recede. Showers alleviate even the stomachache from a guacamole-induced lack of self-control.
Honestly though, the best part about a hot shower is neither its medicinal abilities nor its blissful temporary isolation or even the heavenly warmth seeped deep into my bones. The best part is that these little moments of pure, uninhibited contentedness are a daily occurrence. No matter how stressful the day, showers ensure I always have something to look forward to. They are small moments, true, but important nonetheless, because it is the little things in life that matter; the big moments are too rare, too fleeting to make anyone truly happy. Wherever I am in the world, whatever fate chooses to throw at me, I know I can always find my peace at the end of the day behind the shower curtain.
While the humor in this essay isn’t as direct as the others, the subtle inclusion of little phrases in parentheses throughout the essay bring some comedy without feeling overbearing.
The contrast of elegant and posh Blanche DuBois and “ germs from children at work sneezing on me ” paints an ironic picture that you can’t help but laugh at. The ability to describe universal experiences also brings a level of humor to the essay. For example, the reader might laugh at the line, “ abruptly end my shower in a mad dash to the computer before I forget it entirely,” because it brings to mind moments when they have done the same.
This student also achieves a humorous tone by poking fun at themselves. Admitting that they were “ hogging all the hot water, ” leading to “ (expensive) showers, ” as well as describing their stomachache as a “ guacamole-induced lack of self-control, ” keeps the tone casual and easy-going. Everybody has their flaws, and in this case long showers and guacamole are the downfall of this student.
While the tips and tricks we’ve given you will be extremely helpful when writing, it’s often not that simple. Feedback is ultimately any writer’s best source of improvement—especially when it comes to an element like humor which, naturally, can be hit-or-miss!
To get your college essay edited for free, use our Peer Review Essay Tool . With this tool, other students can tell you if your humor is effective/appropriate and help you improve your essay so that you can have the best chances of admission to your dream schools.
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!
Related CollegeVine Blog Posts
How To Write: The Humorous Essay, for College Applications
There are all sorts of different essays that you can write for your college applications. The intellectual essay. The identity story. The tale of the underdog. Cardinal Education is here with a series on the different types of angles you’ll want to take in your writing. We’ll start with one of the most fun to write, yet one of the hardest to truly pull off: the humorous essay.
So, What Makes “Funny” Funny For College Admissions Officers?
There’s no doubt that funny essays can be wildly successful with admissions officers. The college application is all about showing off your personality, and what better way to show your personality off than by demonstrating that you know how to make a joke? Obviously, though, if you want to write a funny essay, it has to be funny. Here are our thoughts on how to achieve that.
Humor is so diverse and complex that there’s really no one way to define it. There’s self-deprecating humor, there’s slapstick humor, there’s wordplay, there’s satire, and more . Many will say that there’s no one formula to make something hilarious and that everyone has to find a way to be funny by themselves. While this is true to some extent, these are a few things that different styles of humor have in common:
Humor relies on the unexpected. This is the first thing that many will tell you in a how-to-be-funny guide: you can get your biggest laughs out of surprise twists and turns. Lead your audience to believe one thing will happen, then crack a joke about how the opposite actually occurred. Tell them how you expected a certain outcome, but something else happened and you couldn’t help but laugh. Or make a list where one of the items is not like the others. For example, things you learned while nature researching up North: the importance of biodiversity, the ability to work on a team, and…never leaving the house without an extra pair of socks. Think beyond simply telling a story to all the surprising things that happened along the way.
Humor is all about setup and delivery. Every punchline has a setup, and you’ll want to structure your narrative to set up for all the remarks you’re going to pepper through your piece. You don’t want to turn the whole thing into a joke after joke because then each one you write has less impact; instead, spend some time narrating the setups to your best punchlines in a way that makes them as—well—punchy as possible. Yet it’s not as though these narrations should be completely unfunny themselves. Think about the tone you’re trying to set, bring it ahead, and then yank the expectations right from under your readers’ feet.
Humor makes witty observations on the commonplace. This is part of the fact that it relies on the unexpected—it finds something new, fresh, and snappy to say about everyday things, from farming to fishing to the embarrassing moments that inevitably make up our lives. Poke some gentle fun at commonplace expectations and situations; stand-up comedians are experts at this. If you’re the type of person who can see something special in the mundane, admissions officers are sure to appreciate it.
Good humor punches up, rather than punching down. What is meant by this is that humor makes fun of those who are in a position of great power in society, rather than people who have relatively little power. You can joke about CEOs—that’s called satire—but not about janitors; that’s called classism. And you certainly can’t make jokes at the expense of students at your school that you don’t like—that’s called bullying. As you craft your essay, make sure to keep this in mind.
The Best Humor for College Essays Has a Point
Now you have a few pointers on how to write funny. You probably also have a few jokes in mind about your experiences. Once you start writing out what you’ve envisioned in your head, you then need to ask yourself: what is the overall point you’re trying to make?
This is the sort of thing that makes a lot of comedy great—it’s ultimately aimed at saying something deeper about society and about the way we do things. It would be good to learn from such comedy about how to tie your humor back to a deeper meaning behind it. Use your sense of humor to expose personal truths about what you’ve learned throughout the story of your journey. Use it to show admissions officers that you’re truly a better person, more ready for adulthood because of what you’ve discovered. If you can leave them in stitches while also leaving them with a profound takeaway, the beautiful picture you’ve created of yourself will be complete.
One Last Word of Advice: Don’t Force It
If you find yourself struggling too hard to write any of this, trying to force out jokes, then maybe the humorous essay is not your style. This essay can be a favorite at the admissions table if done right, but potentially disastrous if it’s not. Perhaps you’re not a natural comedian, and that’s perfectly fine. What matters most is that your essay reflects who you are on the page; maybe in our next installment of the How To series, you’ll find what’s best for you!
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12 Unforgettable College Application Essays
It's been a long time since I penned my college application essays, but that doesn't mean I don't still appreciate them. On the contrary: I think memorable college admissions essays are to be applauded. Why? Because anyone who can make theirs interesting, thus bringing a modicum of relief to those who have to actually sit there and plow through them all, definitely deserves some acknowledgment for their work. And hey, wouldn't you know it? That's the subject of today's AskReddit thread: “ College admissions counselors of Reddit , what's the weirdest/worst/most memorable essay you've read?”
As is wont to happen in an AskReddit thread, many — possibly even the majority, although I haven't actually counted them, so do with that what you will — of the responses did not come from their intended source; in this case, we're talking about college admissions officers. Some of them were submitted by the people who wrote them; others by people who knew the writers in question; and still others have the “a friend of a friend who dated my cousin's best friend” level of remove that can sometimes bring their veracity into question. Either way, though, they're all good for a laugh — and a few of them might even teach you something. Full steam ahead for a wide variety of lessons in what to do while writing your college application essays — and what not to do, too.
Here are 12 of the most notable examples; head on over to AskReddit for more . Oh, and for anyone who's waiting on their acceptance letters? Good luck! I believe in you!
1. The Theory of Cat/Toast Equilibrium
But… what does happen? I must know!
While we're on the subject, the University of Chicago seems like they've mastered the art of making college applications not boring for the people who actually have to read them. Check out some of essay prompts from this year's app:
Not going to lie: I am considering writing answers for them just for the hell of it. Because you know what? It actually sounds — dare I say it? — fun.
2. Law and Order: College Application Essays Unit
I would imagine that would be a pretty terrifying read. Quick, teach her to use her powers for the forces of good!
3. The Legendary Hugh Gallagher Essay
You may already be familiar with this one, but for the curious, here's the story behind it: Humorist, writer, and musician Hugh Gallagher penned the glorious satiric creation excerpted here for Scholastic Press' national writing contest when he was in high school. Unsurprisingly, he won. For some years, there was confusion surrounding whether or not he actually used it as his college essay; in 1998, though, Gallagher emailed University of York comp sci professor Susan Stepney , who had posted the essay on her website, noting that he did in fact send it along with his applications. For the curious, he ultimately attended NYU. Here's the permalink for the full comment — it's worth just for the final line. Trust me.
4. The Power of the Mighty Trombone
I was unable to discern whether or not this one actually happened or whether it's just an urban legend — but I'm willing to bet it's the latter. Either way, though, I think it's a terrible way to try to teach the “think outside the box” lesson; I feel like it encourages laziness more than anything else. But maybe that's just me.
5. How to Get Into Yale
That, though? That's pretty funny. Well played.
6. The Key to Effective Multitasking
Here's the thing with writing humorous college application essays: They only work if you're actually… y'know… funny. I feel like maybe the right person might have been able to make this idea work, but the execution of the idea this time around just wasn't up to par. However, this also happened:
Small world, no?
7. Art History Is Best History
Either the admissions officers loved it, or they didn't actually read it. The jury's still out on which one it is.
8. We Are Gathered Here Today…
To be fair, I'm not totally sure what's to be gained by sending your own obituary as a college essay; unless the prompt was something like, “Write whatever you want, as long as it is at least 500 words long,” it doesn't seem like it would really answer any questions the admissions committee might be relying on the essay to fill them in about. At the same time, though, clearly someone could have used a little Journalism 101.
9. An Act of Valor
This one was copied from another thread and pasted in this one , but I think it's definitely a winner.
10. The Importance of Proofreading
Ouch. Just… ouch.
11. The Legacies
Oh, come on. I wouldn't blame these two for using their legacy to help them get a leg up — but relying solely on it like this? That's cheating. Also, shame on the school that let them get away with it.
12. Hardboiled Washington
I hope this Redditor is planning on studying creative writing. You've got a great future ahead of you, kid — even if you do need a little work with your punctuation and grammar.
Images: churl /Flickr; Giphy (2); Pandawhale
The Ultimate College Application Essay
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Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application.
It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. But it's also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time. Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and your test scores . However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit. So they use your essay, along with your letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities , to find out what sets you apart from the other talented candidates.
Telling Your Story to Colleges
So what does set you apart?
You have a unique background, interests and personality. This is your chance to tell your story (or at least part of it). The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you. Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through.
Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable. Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves. Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers.
You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class.
Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay
1. write about something that's important to you..
It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life.
2. Don't just recount—reflect!
Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary. Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you.
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3. Being funny is tough.
A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. But beware. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different. We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off–color.
4. Start early and write several drafts.
Set it aside for a few days and read it again. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Do the ideas flow logically? Does it reveal something about the applicant? Is it written in the applicant’s own voice?
5. No repeats.
What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application–nor should it repeat it. This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores.
6. Answer the question being asked.
Don't reuse an answer to a similar question from another application.
7. Have at least one other person edit your essay.
A teacher or college counselor is your best resource. And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors.
Read More: 2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts (and How to Answer Them)
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Funny Persuasive Essay Topics: 177 Writing & Speech Ideas
Every one of us needs a little bit of laughter in our lives. In the academic world, working on a persuasive essay on a fun topic is one of the best ways to enjoy paper writing. By discussing something entertaining, you can connect with your reader on a more personal level.
If your readers or audience are enjoying themselves, it will be much easier to get their attention and impress them. This is the primary goal of a persuasive essay or a speech.
Coming up with a fun persuasive speech topic is often challenging for students. After all, most of their assignments tend to be more serious and informative. We understand this concern – and we want to help!
Our team has created an ultimate list of funny persuasive essay topics. You will find plenty of examples and prompts that you can use in your work. We have also included useful advice on how to find ideas for a paper. And check out our guide to making your speech or writing fun.
- ✨ Top Fun Topics
- 🧨 How to Find Topics
- 🌧 Topics on Ecology
- 🎭 Topics on Culture
- ⚖ Topics on Laws
- 💞 Topics on Love
- 🌭 Topics on Food
- 🍎 For Elementary Students
- 🏫 For Middle Schoolers
- 🗓 For High Schoolers
- ☕ For College Students
- 👩🏫 Making It Funny
✨ Top 10 Fun Persuasive Speech Topics
- Fast food – it’s not that bad!
- Education – students deserve a stipend.
- Recycling – does it work?
- Veganism – everyone should go vegan!
- Homework – we don’t need it!
- Writing – keeping a journal is great.
- Mental health – best way to cure phobias.
- Money- it can buy happiness!
- Taxes – classes for high school students.
- Alcohol – worse than drugs!
🧨 How to Find Impressive Persuasive Essay Topics
Try not to look only for persuasive topics that are funny. Search for the ones that aim to impress your audience. How do you choose the right one?
Determine an engaging subject area
Choose something thought-provoking, so you and your audience can have fun discussing. It is an essential thing to start with.
Get some ideas
Use lists on the Internet or have an ideation session. After picking your subject, start brainstorming for ideas. Ask for help from your friends and family or look at our list of suggested amazing topics! Look at some essay samples , too. They can be a great source of inspiration and fresh ideas.
Consider what interests you in particular
Find something that is going to be entertaining for the target audience and, most importantly, yourself. It is a significant advantage if the topic you are talking about is personally interesting to you.
Think whether you have anything to say
Choose an entertaining topic you will be able to talk about. Having an opinion about your subject is crucial, but stay open-minded for a discussion.
Research for possible arguments
Analyze what evidence and facts you can find on the Internet. Speculate on the arguments for and against your topic before writing. To include them in your paper, you need to ensure their high quality.
Exclude useless ideas from your list
Avoid using thoughts that do not correlate with your subject. If they are contradictory or there is simply not enough data on them, throw them away. Choosing the right ones will save you a lot of time.
Pick the one
After applying all of the tips listed above, do not hesitate to pick the one idea you prefer the most. Take a look at the list below to find impressive and interesting writing & speech topics!
🎇 A List of 103 Funny Persuasive Topics
Under this subheading, we have created an ultimate list of fun persuasive writing topics. There are five main themes with various ideas for your paper/speech.
🌧 Funny Persuasive Topics on Ecology
- Solar energy harvesting should be obligatory for every citizen.
- Water is going to be the most valuable resource in the future .
- We should teach the baby boomer generation about climate change.
- Can owls be domesticated?
- The sewage system is the most useful creation of urban ecology.
- Natural environments occur heterogeneously or exhibit patchiness .
- Is ecotourism better than the regular one?
- If humans had not discovered agriculture, our world would be completely different today.
- Overpopulation has severe effects on the environment .
- Biowaste is an excellent source of alternative energy.
- Can donating have a more significant impact than recycling?
- We should ban the usage of plastic bags altogether.
- Many of our environmental problems today come from human greediness.
- The most dangerous creature in the world is…a mosquito.
- Natural science can be fun if taught the right way.
- Deep-sea creatures have a completely different lifestyle from regular ones .
- A big pandemic can reduce the level of global death statistics.
- Both renewable and non-renewable electricity sources produce pollution .
- Global warming is a straight ticket to economic and geopolitical problems.
- Some animal zoos are no better than jail for humans.
- Unsustainable tourism can deeply hurt our environment .
- Animals understand nature better than we do.
- Why should we be more conscious of domestic water usage?
🎭 Funny Persuasive Topics about Culture
- Talk shows should be banned from television.
- The toxicity in social media should be punished by law.
- The Hollywood dream is fake.
- People in Western culture are obsessed with their looks .
- Should we stay off Facebook?
- Materialistic ideas heavily influence the nation of UAE .
- How would the Buddhist monk react to your shopping habits?
- Love portrayal in movies is far from reality.
- Why are dads in sitcoms so childish sometimes?
- Studying a nation’s pop culture is a great way to learn about its people’s values and beliefs.
- The expression of love is different in every culture .
- Beauty pageants are sexist towards women.
- Our culture changed drastically with the advancement of technology .
- A controversial public figure will get more media attention than a “quiet” one.
- White people tend to appropriate black culture .
- Modern social standards have a direct connection with our pop culture.
- Smoking is a big part of our culture .
- How do you make everyone want to befriend you?
- Celebrity idolization is pad practice.
- People are easily offended nowadays, but they have every right to feel so.
⚖ Funny Persuasive Topics on Laws
- The absence of gun control laws is the ultimate example of democracy in the United States.
- Taxes for individual businesses should not exist.
- The government should increase corporation taxation.
- Lottery wars are a real thing .
- Do female criminal gangs exist ?
- Honking in a traffic jam should be considered criminal.
- Online gambling is getting out of control .
- Why pay bills when you can live in the wilderness?
- Gun ownership should be illegal for people under the age of 21.
- Marijuana usage should be legal worldwide.
- America is misled about its rights to freedom of speech .
- We should contribute more to avoiding wars and international conflicts.
- International law is not really a law .
- Racial profiling is not an effective way of police work.
- The war on drugs has been the longest in US history.
💞 Funny Persuasive Topics on Relationships
- Creativity and dishonesty have a lot of things in common in a relationship .
- Your boyfriend should not be your reason to cry.
- What does not affect a child’s psychology?
- The couples’ therapy does not work.
- LGBT community confronts outdated conventions of society .
- What should be considered a family?
- The long-distance relationship is the worst kind of relationship.
- There should be boundaries in a marriage .
- Stop viewing relationships as a game.
- A mother-child relationship starts before that child is born .
- After a failed relationship, a simple conversation is sometimes better than finger-pointing.
- Can love between two people last forever?
- Online dating is worse than the real one.
- Rich couples have lower divorce rates .
- If you cannot respect your partner, you deserve to be alone.
- What is the proper way to ask a girl out on a date?
- How do you balance work and family ?
- Sometimes communication just does not work if you like someone. You need to take action.
- Honesty could ruin a good relationship.
- How to talk to your crush if you have anxiety?
- If you are having seconds thoughts about a date – cancel it.
- Choose your clothes carefully for the first date.
- The flirting ideal is different for males and females .
🌭 Funny Persuasive Topics about Food
- Junk food is not actually that bad for you.
- Why is food in Mexico so spicy ?
- Ramen is the greatest creation of humanity.
- Fish is the most valuable food resource for humans .
- A vegan diet could kill you.
- Your fresh meat from a local store is, in fact, not fresh.
- Hotpot is a new trend for restaurants worldwide .
- Farms use a lot of illegal methods to increase their production.
- Food science saves our lives daily.
- Curry is perfect for your health .
- Yogurt is the best among fermented foods.
- Sustainable food allowed our civilization to thrive.
- The fast-food business model’s primary aim is profit, not food.
- Opening a Halal restaurant is a profitable business model .
- Are we supposed to believe nutrition facts on packages?
- America developed its way of dining out .
- Globalization plays a significant role in a country’s food culture .
- Some things to do when you are offered food you don’t like.
- Ketchup can improve the taste of every dish.
- Are men better chefs than women?
- Technology has drastically changed the way we eat.
- Mediterranean cuisine is the best cuisine in the world.
😂 Persuasive Essay Topics: Funny for Whom?
This chapter is going to list funny persuasive topics for people of different age groups. However, remember that humor is a very subjective thing. Each and one of us (no matter the age) has different mentality and ideals.
We are going to try and speculate what funny things are worthy of discussion for each generation. Let’s go!
🍎 Funny Persuasive Topics for Elementary Students
- We should ban adult news and leave only cartoons on TV.
- Schools should include computer games classes in their program.
- Our schools should do activities more often, such as camping and excursions.
- Chocolate awards are the best demonstration of the teacher’s appreciation.
- A school classroom should have more toys.
- A lunch box is the most valuable thing in our backpacks.
- Writing an email requires concentrated group work.
- Teachers should have more rest from their pupils.
- Your yearly achievements should be read aloud by your parents.
- Homework is useless for elementary students.
- A pack of gum is more valuable than money.
- School cafeterias should be banned for their lack of good food.
- Family is the primary source of happiness in our lives.
- Collecting certain things is an excellent way to become popular in school.
- Domestic robots are going to make us lazy.
🏫 Funny Persuasive Topics for Middle Schoolers
Middle school is the place where students are only beginning to get acquainted with world realities. They form new relationships, discover sports, drama clubs, start new adventures, etc. First gossips and rumors spread. Middle school is also the first place where students first face bullying.
Here are some topics for this generation:
- Teachers should allow students to express themselves freely in middle school.
- We should ban books and only use iPads in classes.
- Public schools should be administered wiser .
- The efficiency of children’s literacy development must be increased .
- Building new relationships is the best thing about middle school.
- Every school has one craziest school story.
- Do boys gossip more than girls?
- The only thing you think about during classes is song lyrics.
- 7th grade is the time when you start having crushes.
- It is impossible to order at McDonald’s without staying “Ummm.”
- Teachers are the biggest motivators for students .
- Pen clicking is the most annoying thing during a test.
- Finding old pictures of yourself is the worst thing ever.
- According to teachers, grades are more important than your emotional and physical health.
- In middle school, you learn to hate people truly.
- They tell us sleep is essential, so why do the classes start early?
🗓 Funny Persuasive Topics for High Schoolers
This period is filled with excitement and many adventures. At the same time, students experience too much stress and anxiety. The finals, prom, separation from their parents, college, and adult life are looming.
- Don’t neglect your teachers; they should become your friends in the last year.
- Don’t like Shakespeare? Study him even more !
- Why is math so complicated in high school?
- “The Epic of Gilgamesh” is the best piece of literature studied in high school .
- Watching Ted Talks is better than studying.
- We should live according to the rules of High School Musical .
- Yearbook quotes are the reason why we go to high school.
- Senior high school students experience more stress in the last year than all the previous ones combined.
- Graduation is the happiest moment of your life.
- The concept of a zombie comes from Haitian culture , but it blooms in every high school.
- Waiting for a letter from a college is the most stressful thing during high school.
- There should be a gap year after high school to decide your future.
- Job interviews for high schoolers should be banned.
- Why is it so stressful to ask a person on a prom date?
- Monday classes should not exist.
- Household rules could tell a lot about someone’s family.
☕ Funny Persuasive Topics for College Students
Almost anyone could say that college is the most fun period in their lives. You can have independence, crazy parties, new relationships, etc. At the same time, college students have to get used to a different lifestyle living away from parents.
- College students are the best procrastinators.
- Fast food is bad for your mental health.
- You have to get a job in college.
- How do I not go broke in college?
- Doing your laundry is a waste of time.
- Parents can still control you even in college.
- Fraternities are not so cool anymore.
- If you want better grades, try to understand your professor.
- Is attending college worth it ?
- College jokes are the best.
- College students are the best liars.
- Memes is a fantastic stress reliever.
- The hypocrisy levels of professors are sometimes unbearable.
- What is the best hobby one could have in college?
- Adults can attend college, and we should support it.
- Colleges should be mandatory .
- Coffee is your best friend in college.
👩🏫 Guide to Making Your Speech or Writing Funny
So, you have already chosen your idea from our funny persuasive topics list. However, you also have to make sure that your speech or essay correlates with it.
Here’s a guide just for that:
- Think of your audience . What age group is going to listen to you or read your persuasive essay? What humor would they appreciate? This tip is an essential part of your success.
- Evaluate whether a humorous approach can contribute to the success of your essay or speech. Your final goal is to persuade. If jokes here and there will only interfere with your objective, don’t incorporate them.
- Consider your strengths . You’ve probably used humor before in your daily conversations. Which jokes were successful? Are you good at relatable comedy or anecdotes? Looking for an impressive funny topic, you have to take your skills into account. Otherwise, even the hilarious idea will fail. Always keep practicing.
- Try different techniques . If you’re good at various types of humor or at least willing to attempt, use a few methods. Storytelling, anecdotes, tags, ambiguity, self-deprecation—the list goes on! Try different approaches not to become predictable. Check online sources that speak on the many humor techniques.
- Use expressive yet simple language . It’s hard to laugh when you’re trying to understand what the author intended to say. If you are struggling with word transparency, check your dictionary for synonyms.
- Don’t forget to pause . Doesn’t matter whether you write or speak—give your reader or listener time to prepare for the next joke. Effective spaces between comedic moments are essential not to turn your persuasive speech into a standup. Throwing too many jokes around does not work. Aim for quality over quantity.
- Practice the jokes on your close ones. Try to find the age group similar to your future audience and ask for their opinion. Then you’ll be able to polish and improve your humor. Both essay writing and public speaking require some practice.
That is everything you need to know about funny persuasive writing topics! We thank you for taking the time to read our article. If you liked it, share it with your friends to help them find information on the subject.
- 414 Funny and Humorous Speech Topics [Persuasive, Informative, Impromptu]: My Speech Class
- 4 Steps to Finding a Speech Topic that Clicks: Michelle Mazur, Communication Rebel
- How to Use Humor Effectively in Speeches: Write Out Loud
- How to Add Power or Humor with the Rule of Three: Andrew Dlugan, Six Minutes
- 7 Tips on Writing an Effective Essay: The Fastweb Team
- Introductions and Conclusions: Writing Advice, University of Toronto
- College Essay Examples How to Write Your Story Best Colleges: Josh Moody, US News
- Essays That Worked: John Hopkins University
- How To Write A Persuasive Essay: Writing Guides, Ultius
- Tips To Write An Effective Persuasive Essay: Dr. Michael W. Kirst, The College Puzzle
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Can my college essay be funny? Or is it innapropriate?
<p>Hey I was wondering if you guys could let me know if its alright for my essay to have some funny, sarcastic notes throughout.. </p>
<p>dont worry, the whole thing is not a joke. </p>
<p>I promise it is not over the top. I just thought it would help to show a little bit of my personality, given the crazy situation I wrote about. </p>
<p>So, the big question: CAN MY ESSAY BE FUNNY?</p>
<p>Please help me! My essay is due for class tomorrow lol!</p>
<p>no takers? wah wah waaaah… where can a girl get some advice?</p>
<p>I think it’ll just give the paper some voice, which is a good thing. :)</p>
<p>I think it can be funny, if it is actually funny. You will have to test it out and get some feedback.</p>
<p>watch the line between funny and sarcastic. There are some people that are really turned off by sarcasm. Humerous is a good thing for anyone that has to read a million of these!</p>
<p>It depends on the school; probably not a good idea for West Point or some other straight laced schools but fine for most, assuming it is well written and tells the college something about yourself.</p>
<p>^^ This is true. Many people do not like sarcasm.</p>
<p>thank you all so much! im excited now!</p>
<p>It can be but of you over do out do believe the reader will know your just like all teenager s thinking college is a game</p>
<p>Sent from my SPH-M820-BST using CC App</p>
<p>Humor is fine, but there’s a major catch. Most adolescent writers are not very good at it. They simply aren’t very funny, and come off sounding like pimpled 15 year-olds, despite what they think of themselves and their abilities. Were I your counselor, English teacher, or admissions officer, I’d strongly suggest you may want to consider a different approach. I’d wonder if you could pull this one off.</p>
<p>And btw, humor or otherwise is not institution-specific.</p>
<p>^ I disagree. Adolescents, even young adolescents can be funny. I can still remember one of my fifth grade classmates delivering a hilarious speech about his Thanksgiving Day. His family did not celebrate Thanksgiving because his mom thought it was a huge pain in the neck. He had everyone rolling in the aisles, including our teacher. Funny can be funny, no matter the age.</p>
<p>Oh, I totally agree. Kids CAN be funny. And it’s not an easy thing to pull off. Having read many, make that MANY college essays, too many of which have failed miserably at this task, I’ll stick with my point. </p>
<p>It can be and has been done many times in winning fashion. I’ve even seen several who’ve done it well while applying to service academies and “straight laced schools,” whatever they may be? (Soldiers, sailors, engineers, and scientists are not prohibited nor discouraged from laughing or appreciating a humorous epistle.) And for more it’s missed the mark. </p>
<p>The point is if one chooses this route, failing to be funny can be fatal as it illustrates both poor writing and adolescent judgement. When you go this route, one risks conveying substantial insight about the writer, and that can be good or otherwise. I’d wonder if asking the question doesn’t in itself answer his specific question rather specifically.</p>
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The Weirdest College Essay Prompts Ever
- college application essays
- application strategy
Supplemental essays are often the most personal parts of college applications. Your essay lets you reveal aspects of your life and character that just don’t come across elsewhere. In some cases, though, the essay questions are so strange that they might seem more like puzzles than prompts. Take the following examples.
1. Tufts University
“Kermit the Frog famously lamented, ‘It’s not easy being green.’ Do you agree?”
Tufts University frequently supplies eclectic essay prompts, and this is obviously one of them. After all, it quotes someone who’s made of felt.
Nevertheless, it’s philosophical. It challenges students to define the existential condition “green” in their own way. No doubt many respondents will highlight a quirk that makes them distinct. It could be something physical like being tall, or it could be a personality feature like curiosity. Either way, applicants must decide whether that quality has caused them difficulties.
Check out our database of successful Tufts profiles for more inspiration!
2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“What do you hope to find over the rainbow?”
This UNC prompt is also framed through the lens of popular culture. It references a song from the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz.”
It’s asking students what they want their futures to hold once they cross a certain threshold. Again, applicants must define their own terms. What is that threshold, the rainbow, that they must pass? Is it school? Is it the search for a true calling? These questions would probably keep the Scarecrow up at night.
Here are UNC Chapel Hill essay examples!
3. University of Chicago
“What is square one, and can you actually go back to it?”
When it comes to asking offbeat essay questions, the University of Chicago is America’s reigning champ.
This one takes a familiar idiom ― “back to square one” ― and squeezes out its metaphysical implications. When people find themselves on the wrong path in life, to what extent can they go back and fix the problem? Can you really make amends with other people? Is there a point of no return in terms of decision-making?
Take a look at some UChicago success stories.
4. Wake Forest University
“Give us your top ten list.”
This request must inspire many different kinds of responses. Many students probably submit earnest lists of heroes, career objectives or the struggles they’ve overcome. No doubt others offer humor, perhaps naming their most embarrassing moments or favorite dance moves. Some brave soul might provide ten reasons he or she hates top ten lists.
Would you be sincere or irreverent with your list?
See what others did in their Wake Forest application!
5. University of Richmond
“Tell us about spiders.”
Here’s another question that’s wide open to interpretation. It also gives applicants the chance to display their unique sensibilities. You could opt for biological descriptions, an examination of how spiders have been perceived throughout history, an autobiographical story about childhood arachnophobia, an amusing look at the world from a spider’s point of view or something else entirely.
You have to wonder, though, how many admissions officers get the willies reading these essays.
Here’s a list of Richmond profiles to help you.
6. Brandeis University
“If you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs or aliens, who would you pick? Why?”
Given the absurdity of its three choices, this question seems designed to test creativity and reasoning skills. How do you construct a logical argument from an illogical premise? How do you advocate for an idea that’s appalling? On the other hand, maybe some people like the notion of robots changing diapers or aliens singing lullabies.
Check out Brandeis University profiles!
Unusual college application essays certainly aren’t for everyone. Many students prefer standard queries about inspiring books or extracurricular activities. However, if you have an urge to show off your imagination and unique writing style, you might start hunting for an essay question as bizarre as those above.
Which essay prompt has you scratching your heads? Let us know what other strange ones you’ve encountered this application season! If you still need some inspiration, check out AdmitSee’s database of 60,000+ successful college application files .
About The Author
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.
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11 College Essays That Worked
College essay examples: 11 that worked.
Bonus Material: 30 College Essay Examples
In this regularly updated post, we share the college essays that helped students get into their dream schools — including Ivy League colleges like Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and others.
But this isn’t simply a collection of college essay examples.
We also provide a link to in-depth profiles of the authors who wrote the essays, providing you with the most comprehensive picture available of the nation’s most successful applicants.
While you should always craft the best essay you are capable of, please remember that the essay is one component of the application process! The essays you’ll read below are all of varying quality, but each one of these students gained admission to the most selective schools in the country.
You can also find 19 more college essay examples below.
Download 30 College Essay Examples
Here’s what we cover in this post:
What is the College Essay? Our Expert Definition
- College Essay Example #1 – “It takes more than wishing upon a star”
- College Essay Example #2 – “I am an aspiring hot sauce sommelier”
- College Essay Example #3 – “You know nothing, Jon Snow”
- College Essay Example #4 – “I’m still questioning”
- College Essay Example #5 – “My place of inner peace”
- College Essay Example #6 – “So this is what compassion is all about”
- College Essay Example #7 – “I believe that every person is molded by their experiences”
- College Essay Example #8 – The California Cadet Corps
- College Essay Example #9 – “I never want to lose what we had in that corner”
- College Essay Example #10 – “It is the effort that counts, not the result”
- College Essay Example #11 – “The problem of social integration”
What These College Essay Examples Have in Common
- How to Write an Essay Like These Examples
- Bonus: 30 College Essay Examples
Most students will use the Common App to apply to U.S. colleges and universities. A smaller number of colleges require students to submit applications through Coalition .
Regardless, both platforms require students to submit a personal statement or essay response as part of their application. Students choose to respond to one of the following prompts in 650 words or fewer .
College Essay Prompts 2023-2024
What do these questions all have in common? They all require answers that are introspective, reflective, and personal.
Take a look at some of these buzzwords from these prompts to see what we mean:
- Belief / Idea
These are big words attached to big, personal concepts. That’s the point!
But because that’s the case, that means the college essay is not an academic essay. It’s not something you write in five paragraphs for English class. Nor is it a formal statement, an outline of a resume, or a list of accomplishments.
It’s something else entirely.
The college essay is a personal essay that tells an engaging story in 650 words or fewer. It is comparable to memoir or creative nonfiction writing, which relate the author’s personal experiences.
The college essay is fundamentally personal and creative. It is rich with introspection, reflection, and statements of self-awareness. It can have elements of academic writing in it, such as logical organization, thesis statements, and transition words. But it is not an academic essay that fits comfortably into five paragraphs.
Your task with the college essay is to become a storyteller–and, in the process, provide admissions officers with a valuable glimpse into your world, perspective, and/or experiences.
One of the easiest ways to understand what the personal statement is all about is to read through some college essay examples — essays that exemplify the 7 qualities of a successful college essay .
The 11 college essay examples below do just that!
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #1 – It Takes More Than Wishing Upon a Star
Author: Erica Class Year: Princeton University 2020 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement School Acceptances: Princeton University, Harvard University, Williams College, Duke University, College of William & Mary, Davidson College, Boston College, Johns Hopkins University, Texas Christian University
I hung up the phone with a smile plastered on my face. Never mind that I was barely eleven, that my portfolio consisted of a few half-page poems from elementary school, or that the contest was taking place on another continent, I was determined to write the most extraordinary fantasy novel ever created. For months afterward the sight of me was accompanied by the tap, tap, tap of my fingers flying across the keyboard, and the sharp glint of obsession in my eyes. The contest in London closed, a winner was chosen. I didn’t care. I kept writing. After a year I had stretched my writing project into a three hundred page novel. I scraped together a few dollars of allowance money, slapped it in my mom’s hand, and asked her to have Staples print a bound copy of the manuscript.
She handed me my magnum opus when I got home from school that day. I ran my fingers across the shiny laminate over the cover page, caressed the paper as if it were some sacred tome. After more than fourteen months fleshing out characters and cultivating mythologies, I was ready to publish. With the copy in hand I ran to my dad. “Read it and tell me what you think!” I said, imagining the line of publishing companies that would soon be knocking down my door.
Within two weeks my father handed it back to me, the pages now scrawled over in bright red ink. “You’ve got a lot of work to do,” he told me, with his typical soul-wrenching brusque.
I stared at him for a moment, jaw locked tight, eyes nearly brimming with tears. He proceeded to list for me all the things I needed to revise for my next draft. Less colloquial dialogue, vivid descriptions, more complex subplots, the list went on and on.
“A serious author doesn’t get offended by constructive criticism,” he said, “whether you take my advice or not will prove whether or not you are one.”
My dreams fell like the Berlin wall. What was the point of slaving over a novel if I had to start from scratch again? My father’s advice would force me to rewrite the entire novel. What sort of writer was I, that my work warranted such substantial alteration?
As I soon learned—a normal one.
Today, six years, 10 drafts, and 450 pages later, I am finally close to finishing. Sometimes, when I’m feeling insecure about my ability as a novelist I open up my first draft again, turn to a random chapter, and read it aloud. Publishing that first draft would have been a horrible embarrassment that would have haunted me for the rest of my life. Over the past half-decade, I’ve been able to explore my own literary voice, and develop a truly original work that I will be proud to display. This experience taught me that “following your dreams” requires more than just wishing upon a star. It takes sacrifice, persistence, and grueling work to turn fantasy into reality.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out Erica’s story here ]
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #2 – I am an aspiring hot sauce sommelier
Author: Emma Class Year: Princeton University 2021 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement School Acceptances: Princeton University, Duke University, Northwestern University, Cornell University, University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of California Berkeley, University of Michigan
I am an aspiring hot sauce sommelier. Ever since I was a child, I have been in search for all that is spicy. I began by dabbling in peppers of the jarred variety. Pepperoncini, giardiniera, sports peppers, and jalapeños became not only toppings, but appetizers, complete entrées, and desserts. As my palate matured, I delved into a more aggressive assortment of spicy fare. I’m not referring to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, the crunchy snack devoured by dilettantes. No, it was bottles of infernal magma that came next in my tasting curriculum.
Despite the current lack of certification offered for the profession which I am seeking, I am unquestionably qualified. I can tell you that a cayenne pepper sauce infused with hints of lime and passion fruit is the perfect pairing to bring out the subtle earthy undertones of your microwave ramen. I can also tell you that a drizzle of full-bodied Louisiana habanero on my homemade vanilla bean ice cream serves as an appetizing complement. For the truly brave connoisseur, I suggest sprinkling a few generous drops of Bhut Jolokia sauce atop a bowl of chili. Be warned, though; one drop too many and you might find yourself like I did, crying over a heaping bowl of kidney beans at the dining room table.
Although I consistently attempt to cultivate the rarest and most expertly crafted bottles of molten spice, like an oenophile who occasionally sips on five dollar bottles of wine, I am neither fussy nor finicky. I have no qualms about dousing my omelets with Cholula, dipping my tofu in pools of Sriracha, or soaking my vegetarian chicken nuggets in the Frank’s Red Hot that my mom bought from the dollar store. No matter the quality or cost, when gently swirled, wafted, and swished; the sauces excite my senses. Each initial taste, both surprising yet subtly familiar, has taught me the joy of the unknown and the possibility contained within the unexpected.
My ceaseless quest for piquancy has inspired many journeys, both gustatory and otherwise. It has dragged me into the depths of the souks of Marrakech, where I purchased tin cans filled with Harissa. Although the chili sauce certainly augmented the robust aroma of my tagine, my food was not the only thing enriched by this excursion. My conquest has also brought me south, to the valleys of Chile, where I dined among the Mapuche and flavored my empanadas with a smoky seasoning of Merkén. Perhaps the ultimate test of my sensory strength occurred in Kolkata, India. After making the fatal mistake of revealing my penchant for spicy food to my friend’s grandmother, I spent the night with a raw tongue and cold sweats. I have learned that spice isn’t always easy to digest. It is the distilled essence of a culture, burning with rich history. It is a universal language that communicates passion, pain, and renewal. Like an artfully concocted hot sauce, my being contains alternating layers of sweetness and daring which surround a core that is constantly being molded by my experiences and adventures.
I’m not sure what it is about spiciness that intrigues me. Maybe my fungiform papillae are mapped out in a geography uniquely designed to appreciate bold seasonings. Maybe these taste buds are especially receptive to the intricacies of the savors and zests that they observe. Or maybe it’s simply my burning sense of curiosity. My desire to challenge myself, to stimulate my mind, to experience the fullness of life in all of its varieties and flavors.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out Emma’s story here ]
You can read 19 additional college essay examples that earned students acceptance into top-tier colleges. Grab these for free below!
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #3 – “You know nothing, Jon Snow”
Author: Shanaz Class Year: Princeton University 2021 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement School Acceptances: Princeton University, Duke University, Williams College, Boston College, Brandeis University, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Stony Brook
“You know nothing, Jon Snow”
Being an avid Game of Thrones fanatic, I fancy every character, scene, and line. However,Ygritte’s famous line proves to be just slightly more relatable than the incest, corruption, and sorcery that characterizes Westeros.
Numerous theories explore the true meaning of these five words, but I prefer to think they criticize seventeen-year-old Jon’s lack of life experience. Growing up in a lord’s castle, he has seen little about the real world; thus, he struggles to see the bigger picture until he evaluates all angles.
Being in a relatively privileged community myself, I can affirm the lack of diverse perspectives —and even more, the scarcity of real-world problems. Instead, my life has been horrifically plagued by first world problems. I’ve written a eulogy and held a funeral for my phone charger.
I’ve thrown tantrums when my knitted sweaters shrunk in the dryer. And yes, I actually have cried over spilled (organic) milk.
Well, shouldn’t I be happy with the trivial “problems” I’ve faced? Shouldn’t I appreciate the opportunities and the people around me?
Past the “feminism v. menimism” and “memes” of the internet, are heartbreaking stories and photos of life outside my metaphorical “Bethpage Bubble.” How can I be content when I am utterly oblivious to the perspectives of others? Like Jon Snow, I’ve never lived a day in another person’s shoes.
Fewer than three meals a day. No extra blanket during record-breaking winter cold. No clean water. I may be parched after an intense practice, but I know nothing of poverty.
Losing a loved one overseas. Being forced to leave your home. Coups d’état and dictatorial governments. I battle with my peers during class discussions, but I know nothing of war.
Denial of education. Denial of religion. Denial of speech. I have an endless list of freedoms, and I know nothing of oppression.
Malaria. Cholera. Cancer. I watch how Alzheimer’s progresses in my grandmother, but I know nothing of disease.
Living under a strict caste system. Being stereotyped because of one’s race. Unwarranted prejudice. I may be in a minority group, yet I know nothing of discrimination.
Flappers, speakeasies, and jazz. Two world wars. Pagers, hippies, and disco. I’m barely a 90’s kid who relishes SpongeBob episodes, and I know nothing of prior generations.
Royal weddings, tribal ceremonies, and Chinese New Years. I fast during Ramadan, but I know nothing of other cultures.
Hostile political parties. Progressive versus retrospective. Right and wrong. I am seventeen, and I know nothing of politics.
Is ignorance really bliss?
Beyond my community and lifetime exists myriad events I’ll never witness, people I’ll never meet, and beliefs I’ll never understand. Being unexposed to the culture and perspectives that comprise this world, I know I can never fully understand anyone or anything. Yet, irony is beautiful.
Embarking on any career requires making decisions on behalf of a community, whether that be a group of students, or a patient, or the solar system.
I am pleased to admit like Jon Snow, I know nothing, but that will change in college.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out Shanaz’s story here ]
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #4 – “I’m still questioning”
Author: Aja Class Year: Princeton University 2020 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement – Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? School Acceptances: Princeton University, MIT, University of Maryland, Stern College for Women, Queens College and City College
I walked down the pale pink stone pathway, up a ramp, past the library building, and towards the Student Activities Center of the college campus, carrying a large brown cardboard box. People might’ve taken note of the load I was carrying, and particularly the other high school students with whom I ate my dinner. Out of the box I grabbed my meal, which was wrapped in two separate plastic airplane meal style trays; one container for the side and one for the main. I tried not to call attention to myself as I unwrapped the tight double wrapping of plastic around both trays.
My actions and practices were the same, but for the first time I stood out. While I was eating my meals, in the lab, or during the lectures, I began to ask myself some questions.
Was it worth continuing to strictly observe my customs in such an environment? I thought.
Could I afford to take time away from the lab to walk to the kosher restaurant to pick up lunch? Was continuing to dress in a long skirt, on hot summer days and with additional lab dress codes, worth the discomfort? Was it worth standing out from most other people?
The science experiment that I performed that summer in a way mirrored the experiment that I “performed” to test my practices. My lab partner and I researched the current issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria strains, which left certain bacterial infections without an effective cure; this was our observation. We then hypothesized that an alternative mechanism of destruction, by physically slicing the bacterial membrane, would be more efficient. Similarly, I hypothesized that an alternative life path without my religious practices might be an “effective” life path for me, as it had been for the students that I met, with the added social benefits of fitting in. I hypothesized that perhaps my own life would be “effective” or fulfilling without these practices, as it was for the students whom I had met. Wearing our purple nitrite gloves, our safety goggles pressing against our faces, my partner and I began to prepare our tiny metal chips, containing a thin coating of polymer blends, which would prick the membranes of the bacteria cells.
In my personal experiment, the “testing” stage became tricky. I didn’t put on my lab coat, and start spin casting my solutions or pipetting liquids onto surfaces. I didn’t even try eating some food that was not kosher, or actively violate my practices. My experiment eventually went beyond the scientific approach, as I questioned in my thoughts. I had to determine what my beliefs meant to me, to find my own answer. I could not simply interpret results of an experiment, but needed to find my own interpretations.
I found from my experiment and questioning within my mind that my practices distinguished me from others, thereby allowing me to form relationships on the basis of common interest or personality, rather than cultural similarities, that summer. I valued the relationships more, and formed a deep connection with my lab partner, whom I had found was similar to me in many ways. We talked about our very different lives, genuinely interested in one another’s.
I’m still questioning, and I think the process does not end, which is part of what makes my religious practice important to me – it urges me to constantly reflect on my values and the moral quality of my actions. I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish that “experiment,” but by experiencing and valuing the practices and lifestyles of other people, I also got to reflect on my own. That summer showed me that the questions themselves proved my practices were valuable to me, and left me with a stronger commitment to my religious faith than I had before.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out Aja’s story here ]
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #5 – My place of inner peace
Author: James Class Year: Princeton University 2019 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement School Acceptances: Princeton University
Simply put, my place of inner peace is the seat of that 50 foot sliver of carbon and kevlar called a rowing shell, cutting through the water in the middle of a race. This is the one situation in which I find myself to be completely comfortable; the one environment in which I feel most empowered, at home, and content, despite it being quite at odds with the conventional definition of the word “comfortable”. There is something special about a rowing race; that 6 minute, 2000 meter tour de force that many who have truly experienced one (and all who have emerged victorious) will describe as the most painful, and yet the most thrilling activity they have ever been a part of.
The pain of rowing 2000 meters is like nothing else I have ever experienced. It is a short enough distance so that there is no pacing (it’s all out, everything you’ve got, from start to finish), but at the same time it’s long enough to require every ounce of strength and will power to reach the finish. By the end, the lungs scream out for oxygen, and the legs, chest, and arms all burn as if boiling water has been injected into every pore. The mental toughness required to drag oneself through this ordeal, from the moment it starts to hurt 30 seconds in to the moment you cross the finish line, is immense. The psychological state that is entered into during a race is one of unparalleled focus, drive, and will to win.
The race begins with six boats lined up side by side, tensed and ready to pounce. The umpire then makes the call, “Attention. Row” in a tone that seems entirely too casual for the occasion, and the bows spring forward. What was moments before an atmosphere of complete silence is transformed into a world of noise. Here is a short list of things one hears at the start of a rowing race: the authoritative yell of the coxswains, the rhythmic click of the oars, the fluid swish of the water under the boat, the roar of the officials’ launches falling in behind the boats. I always find it funny though, that while the tense silence of the pre-race moments dissolves so quickly into noise from every direction, a rower can only actually hear any of it for a surprisingly short period of time. This is because at about two minutes into a race, a rower begins to lose his senses. Scent disappears completely, touch is negligible, hearing dissolves into nothing but the calls of the cox, and sight reduces itself to a portrait of the back of the rower in front of you. It is in this bizzare state of mind and body that I am truly in my “comfort zone”.
The pain is intense, yes, but I have felt it before. I feel it quite regularly, actually. The training a rower goes through to prepare for a race begins months in advance and consists of pushing oneself to the limit; repeatedly putting oneself in positions of pain and discomfort so that when crunch time comes, a rower is truly without fear of what lies ahead of him. This is how I feel when the going gets tough at around two minutes in: fearless. In these moments I feel invincible; I feel like I was born to do exactly what I am doing right then and there. In these moments I am completely and totally content.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out James’ story here ]
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #6 – So this is what compassion is all about
Author: Amanda Class Year: Princeton University 2019 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement School Acceptances: Princeton University, Rutgers University
So this is what compassion is all about? Piece of cake.
Joey was a sweet, ten-year-old boy who could derive pleasure even in the most prosaic of activities: catching a balloon, listening to music, watching other children run, jump, and play. But Joey himself was confined to a wheelchair – he would never be able to participate in the same way that his friends without physical disabilities could.
Joey was the first child assigned to me when I began volunteering for the Friendship Circle, an organization that pairs teenage volunteers with special-needs children. Right from the start, I was grateful for being matched up with this sweet, easy-going child; I felt immense relief at how effortless my volunteering commitment with Joey could be. Simply by wheeling my friend through tiled halls and breezy gardens, I simultaneously entertained him and inspired others with my acts of kindness.
Piece of cake.
Truthfully, though, during my time with Joey, I felt more than a little virtuous and pleased with myself. There I was, able to impress everyone with my dedication to Joey, with only minimal effort on my part. My experience with Joey led me to mistakenly believe that I had, by the age of thirteen, attained a complete understanding of what a word like “empathy” really meant. I was complacent in my comfort zone, confident that I understood what compassion was all about.
Then I met Robyn, and I realized how wrong I was.
Prone to anger, aggressive, sometimes violent (I have the scar to prove it). Every Sunday with Robyn was a challenge. Yoga, dancing, cooking, art, tennis – none of these activities held her interest for long before she would inevitably throw a tantrum or stalk over to a corner to sulk or fight with the other children. She alternated between wrapping her arms around my neck, declaring to anyone who passed by that she loved me, and clawing at my arms, screaming at me to leave her alone.
One day, after an unsuccessful attempt to break up a brawl between Robyn and another girl, I found myself taking dazed steps towards the administrator’s office. I was near my breaking point, ready to quit. In that moment, though, I vividly recall looking up and seeing Robyn’s parents walking down the hall coming to pick her up. Tired eyes. Weary, but appreciative smiles. A realization then struck me: I was only with Robyn for one day a week. During the rest of the week, Robyn was the sole responsibility of her parents. The same parents who once confided in me that Robyn behaved no differently at home than she did at the Friendship Circle with me.
Robyn’s parents undeniably loved her. There were even moments when Robyn transformed into one of the sweetest children I had ever met. But she was no Joey. Sweet, easygoing Joey. Joey who I thought had taught me true empathy. If I was such a saint, how could I give back to Joey’s parents, but not to Robyn’s? How could I not provide them a brief respite every week, from the labors of caring for her? Was I sincerely an empathetic person if I could only be so when it was easy? Was I truly compassionate because others thought I was? Complacency does not equate with compassion; true empathy is not an ephemeral trait that one possesses only when it suits him or her – when it doesn’t require him or her to try.
Progress exists in steps. The first steps were the ones I took with Joey, my earliest experience in volunteering. But the steps I took away from the administrator’s office, the steps I took back toward Robyn, were the steps of a different person, I like to think.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out Amanda’s story here ]
You can read 19 additional college essay examples that earned students acceptance into top-tier colleges. Grab these essays below.
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #7 – I believe that every person is molded by their experiences
Author: Martin Class Year: Princeton University 2021 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement School Acceptances: Princeton University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Davis, University of California Santa Cruz, CSU Sonoma, CSU Long Beach, CSU San Jose, CSU Chico, New York University
I believe every person is molded by their experiences whether they be positive or negative. I have been impacted by many events and challenges, both personally and socially, that have made me who I am today.
I was born in Concepcion de Buenos Aires in Jalisco, Mexico. My dad did not always live with us and worked doing manual labor in the United States every three months to provide income for us transitioning between the United States and Mexico when he could. When I was six, my Spanish-speaking family immigrated to the United States. Once here in the United States, I found English difficult to learn at school since it was brand new to me. English-speaking students always had to translate for me which motivated me to become fluently proficient by third grade.
In addition to the language barrier at school, my family would constantly move due to apartment rent increase, so I never grew accustomed to a group of friends. Because of this, I had social difficulties in elementary school. I remember hardly speaking in class and not playing any recess games unless invited. I recall playing tetherball mostly by myself and observing the children with longing eyes. In the sixth grade, my social life began to change; I met my best friend, Luz. We fostered a tight-knit bond immediately, and my confidence developed little by little each day. As each year passed, I acquired more confidence to become more sociable, but my awkwardness did not completely go away.
My earlier language barrier, my soft-hearted and quiet personality, and my social self-consciousness found me drawn to playing with girls and not sports with the other boys. I soon began to feel excluded by boys asking me why I played with girls; it made me feel small and different from the rest. Looking back, I have never been the “masculine boy” as society says my role to be. I have always thought I do not fit the social definition of a male as one who is “manly” and “sporty” and this alienating feeling of being different still persists today at times. However, I also have become more comfortable with myself, and I see my growth firsthand throughout high school.
In my freshman year I began to come out of my shell and develop self-confidence, largely due to my participation in choir and drama class. In these classes I could be myself and found my real voice. Here I felt a connection to a family not connected by blood but by a unifying passion in the creative arts. That connection allowed me to confide in my friend Luz my struggle with my personal identity. One day I messaged her: “I have something to tell you… I think I might be bisexual.” My heart pounded as I waited anxiously for her reply. She responded: “How long have you been thinking of this?” In her response I felt reassured that the she would not reject me. From that moment my best friend thanked me and said our friendship was now stronger as a result. I felt so relieved to get that secret off my chest; it was a cathartic moment in my life and a significant turning point!
Throughout high school, I have become more open about who I am, and my confidence and acceptance in myself has grown tremendously. Although I still have not told my parents about my sexuality, I will when I am ready. I am who I am today as a result of these experiences and personal challenges. In my short life so far, I have developed my soft-hearted and quiet personality to become more open, creative, and self-assured while preserving my identity. I know more challenges lie ahead, but I am open to those opportunities.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out Martin’s story here ]
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #8 – The California Cadet Corps
Author: Justin Class Year: Princeton University 2021 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement School Acceptances: Princeton University, Harvard University, Stanford University, UCLA, UCSD
During my freshman year at Cajon High School, I enlisted in the California Cadet Corps (CACC). The CACC is essentially a JROTC program based on a state level. Every summer, the CACC holds a summer encampment at Camp San Luis Obispo. A myriad of leadership schools are offered: Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) School, Officer-Candidate School (OCS), etc. I participated in OCS my freshman year, Survival my sophomore year, and Marksmanship last summer. Of those three, Survival was definitely my biggest challenge and marked my transition from childhood to adulthood.
Within the CACC, there’s an honor so admirable that those who receive it are inducted into an order of elites: the Red Beret. It signifies completion of survival training, the most rigorous and difficult training course within the CACC. With a heart mixed with excitement and fear, I stepped onto the bus headed for Camp San Luis Obispo in June of 2015.
After basic instruction, we were transported to arid Camp Roberts to begin field training. Upon arrival, we were separated into groups of four with one leader each (I was designated as team leader). We then emptied our canteens, received minimal tools, and set off. Our immediate priority was finding areas to build our shelter and latrine. Then, we needed to locate a clean source of water. After, we had to find food. It was truly a situation that required making everything from scratch. As the day drew to a close and night advanced, I felt seclusion and apprehension envelop me.
As the days drew on, constant stress and heat along with lack of food took a toll on my sanity and drove me almost to my breaking-point. At one moment, I remembered a handwritten phrase that had been on my desk: “Your biggest enemy is yourself.” At this moment, it hit me: I wasn’t going to quit. I was going to overcome this challenge and show myself that I have what it takes to survive for five days using nothing but my wits.
On the morning of the sixth day, my team and I reported to headquarters to complete training. With pride, I received the honor of wearing that glorious Red Beret on my head.
Through Survival, I learned many things about myself and the way I approach the world. I realized that I take for granted innumerable small privileges and conveniences and that I undervalue what I do have. Now that I had experienced true and sustained hunger, I felt regret for times when I threw away food and behaved with unconscious waste. Additionally, being isolated from mass civilization and relying heavily on my companions gave me an appreciation for my friends and for the absolute necessity of teamwork. Being the leader of my team meant that they all looked to me for motivation, inspiration, and a will to survive; I got first-hand experience on how important a leader can be in a situation of literal life and death. Most importantly, however, I gained priceless insight into the amount of effort and work my parents put in for me every day.
As demonstrated, survival training taught me essential lessons to survive successfully as an adult. Looking back, it’s absolutely unbelievable how one week affected me so profoundly. Even today, I remember the phrase that motivated me that day: “Your biggest enemy is yourself.” Thinking of that, I go to school and say to myself, “Justin, you truly are an amazing young man!”
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out Justin’s story here ]
You can read 19 additional college essay examples that earned students acceptance into top-tier colleges. Grab these essays for free below!
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #9 – I never want to lose what we had in that corner
Author: Jonah Class Year: Princeton University 2019 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement – Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you? School Acceptances: Princeton University, Swarthmore College
The squeaks of whiteboard markers have now replaced the scritch-scratch of chalk, but the hubbub of voices is always the same. For millennia, the great thinkers of their day would gather and discuss. In ancient Greece, it was Socrates debating about philosophy; centuries later it was Newton lecturing at Cambridge on fluxions and physics. This summer Paul Steinhardt and his eminent colleagues sat down for a panel about inflationary theory at the World Science festival- though there was neither chalk nor markers there. Though we make no claim to be the greatest thinkers of our day and our school in no way resembles the hallowed edifices of science, my friends and I have staked out a corner of our AP Calculus room where we can have our own discussions. We even have a whiteboard.
It started small: just myself, Avery, and Sam and a problem set that didn’t take us long enough. Appropriately enough, we were working on one of Newton’s problems: differential equations describing cooling curves. His solution is fairly simple, perhaps overly simple, which prompted me to ask Avery what he thought. We had both taken Chemistry the year before, and Newton’s equation didn’t take into account thermal equilibrium; (to be fair to Newton, adding thermal equilibrium doesn’t appreciably change the solution at normal conditions). Since we were slightly bored and faced with an empty hour ahead of us, we started to modify the equation. We had learned in Chemistry that both the surroundings and the actual cooling object both change temperature, which Newton had ignored. We wrote up a first attempt on the infamous whiteboard, paused a second, and then started laughing as we realized that our inchoate equation meant a hot cup of coffee could plummet Earth into another Ice Age. This disturbance in an otherwise fairly quiet classroom drew the attention of Sam. He too was amused with our attempt and together we began to fix the poor thing. Huddled around the back of the classroom, we all pondered. It wasn’t an important problem, it wasn’t due the next day, it wasn’t even particularly interesting. But we loved it.
The three of us had been friends since middle school, which in many ways seems astounding. Avery, a track runner, Sam, a Morris dancer, and myself, a fencer. Our interests could not be more diverse. Avery was an avid programmer while Sam was fascinated by the evolution of language. I always had a soft spot for physics. Luckily for us, we had found each other early on in middle school and our discussions started soon after. As we learned more math, read more books, and culled more esoteric facts from our varied experiences, the quality of our rebuttals has dramatically improved. The laughter is immutable.
In the back of algebra class in eighth grade, Avery taught me how to program calculators in TIBasic while I traded theories with him about the Big Bang. From Sam I learned the phonetic alphabet and more recently the physics of bell ringing. Since then our dynamic has always stayed playful no matter how heated the discussion; only our arguments have changed. I may have learned as much in the back of classes with my friends as I learned from my teachers. Joseph Joubert wrote, “To teach is to learn twice,” and I could not agree more. In the myriad hours Avery, Sam, and I spent together, the neuron-firing was palpable, the exuberance impossible to miss.
But not only did I learn linguistics, Python, and philosophy with Avery and Sam, I learned a little more about myself. I never want to lose what we had in that corner. Our interplay of guessing and discovering and laughing seemed like paradise to me. I looked for other opportunities in my life to meet brilliant and vivacious people, to learn from them, and to teach them what I loved. I co-founded a tutoring program, participated in original research, and taught lessons in Physics and Chemistry as a substitute.
I expected to be nervous, I expected to embarrass myself. Yet on every occasion, whether I’m facing the board or with my back to it, whether I’m in the ranks of my peers or addressing my teachers, I feel the same elation. In my friends I see Socrates, Newton, and Steinhardt. There’s no place I would rather be than in their company.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out Jonah’s story here ]
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #10 – It is the effort that counts, not the result
Author: John Class Year: Princeton University 2021 Type of Essay: Common Application Personal Statement – The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? School Acceptances: Princeton University
For as long as I can remember, wrestling has been an important part of my life. I can recall playing dodgeball after wrestling practice, summer wrestling camps, hard practices with my older brother, and hundreds of wrestling tournaments as cornerstones of my childhood. From a young age I was determined to be the best; and quickly concluded that meant winning a PIAA state championship. When I entered Junior High, I discovered that only ten wrestlers in the history of Pennsylvania had won a state championship each year of their high school careers – and becoming the eleventh became my personal ambition.
Entering high school, I centered my life around the goal of winning a state title my freshman year. I became disciplined in every aspect of my life: from how many hours of sleep I got, to what exact foods I ate. I was obsessed with my intensive training regimen, and fell asleep each night to the dream of my hand being raised in the circle of the main mat on the Giant Center floor.
As the season progressed, I experienced success. My state ranking climbed steadily and by the time the state tournament began, I was projected to finish third. I wrestled well throughout the tournament, advancing to the semifinals where I defeated the favorite 11-0. At last: I was to wrestle in the final match for the state championship. I prepared for my opponent, whom I defeated the week before. However, when the match began, I wrestled nervously, was unable to fully recover, and ended up on the short end of a 3-1 decision.
In just a few short minutes, my dream was shattered. For me, it felt like the end of the world. I had based my whole identity and lifestyle on the dream of winning four state titles. It felt as though the sport I loved most had ripped out my heart, and on live television, in front of thousands of people. I was upset after the match. I was depressed and felt worthless, devoid of my passion for and love of wrestling.
After a month or perhaps more of introspection, and some in depth conversations with the people closest to me, I began to realize that one lost wrestling match, at age fifteen, was not the end of the world. The more I reflected on my wrestling journey, the more gratitude I developed for all of my opportunities. I realized that wrestling had helped forge some of the most important relationships of my life, including an irreplaceable fraternity with my older brother, teammates, and coaches. My setback in the state finals also helped me to understand all of the lessons learned through wrestling, and that there was much more I could still accomplish. Wrestling helped me learn the value of hard work, discipline, and mental toughness. But most important, I learned that no matter how much we try, we cannot control everything, including the outcome of a wrestling match. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our reaction, attitude, actions, and effort. In the words of my father, “it is the effort that counts, not the result.”
Hence, through my experience of failure I learned an invaluable lesson applicable to every walk of life. In retrospect, I am grateful for the opportunity to compete, to represent myself and my school, and to lay all my hard work on the line. The process of striving to become a state champion taught me more than achieving this title ever could, and my failure in the state finals was a blessing in disguise.
[ Want to learn more about the author of this essay? Check out John’s story here ]
COLLEGE ESSAY EXAMPLE #11 – The problem of social integration
Author: Harry Class Year: Princeton University 2020 Type of Essay: Universal Common Application Personal Statement – How do we establish common values to promote harmony in an increasingly diverse society? School Acceptances: Princeton University
Establishing a cohesive society where common values are shared is increasingly difficult in multi-faith, globalised societies such as the one I’m part of in the UK. My studies in politics and philosophy have made me more sensitive to this problem and as I have a much larger number of friends from different ethnic backgrounds than my parents and the previous generation, I realise that the friction created by the presence of different ethnic and social groups is not going to disappear anytime soon.
Admittedly, the problem of social integration is one I feel can be widely overstated – for example, when I was looking into some research for a similar topic a couple of years ago, I found numerous surveys indicating that ethnic minorities (especially Islam) identify much more closely with Britain than do the population at large. Still though, I, like many others, find myself constantly troubled by the prospect of the war from within that seems to be developing. This fear is fuelled by events such as the brutal killing of the soldier Lee Rigby at the hands of two British Muslims a couple of years ago.
This cold blooded murder provides a clear example of what can happen when people lose their human connection to the society that they’re a part of and instead pursue hate and violence on a pretence to a higher purpose (killing in the name of religion). I think suggestible minds are undoubtedly most prone to this, and the two British men who killed Rigby, previously Christians, are examples of how minds devoid of any instilled social values are fertile ground for the fomentation of harmful ideas.
What I find particularly worrying is the distinct danger of allowing a largely atomised society to develop, where conflicts such as this one begin to characterise the interaction between the different parts. It’s imperative that we avoid this situation and work towards social unity, and so I think a long-term and complex solution to social integration must be found. Given the upward trends in multiculturalism and globalisation, it is going to be paramount that my generation takes on the problems of integration and cultural diversity to create a harmonious society.
The solution will no doubt be an ongoing process, involving years of detailed and thoroughly considered legislation, but I think that in working towards it, we should focus on certain things.
With regard to the role of religion, I think its relationship with the state needs to be clarified and communicated to everyone. As the case of Lee Rigby quite bluntly reveals, where religion triumphs over civic duty, there’s a potentially dangerous situation, especially when put into the context of radical fundamentalism. By the same token however, it’s neither desirable nor feasible to have a society where politics trumps religion, so I think that when addressing the issue of social cohesion there must be an overarching commitment to other people within society that’s established – humanity must transcend any form of politics or ideology, and bind the two camps so their incompatibility does not become entrenched.
I think that this has to be done primarily through education: both within the formal curriculum which all citizens of a democratic nation state should be compelled to follow until at least the age of 16, and in the wider sense through more promotion of cultural programmes nationally that encourage the nation’s population to participate in the continuing discussion and examination of our core, shared values. We have to work at this constantly since identity is itself always in a state of flux and accept that this continuing ‘conversation’ will always require us to confront some very difficult questions about freedom and responsibility. People need to understand these ideas not simply as abstract questions, but also as issues of practical, pragmatic relevance, deconstructing them into how we actually treat each other, the true test of how civilised and tolerant we are.
You’ve read through these 11 college essay examples. What do they all have in common? What’s the secret sauce that earned their writers Ivy League acceptance?
Remember: the college essay is only one part of the college application.
The admissions officers reading these essays thus were considering other aspects of the writers’ applications , including extracurricular distinction and academic achievement.
That being said, we’ve done the research and pinpointed the 7 qualities of successful college essays that all of these pieces exemplify.
- Introspective and reflective
- Full of a student’s voice
- Descriptive and engaging
- Unconventional and distinct
How to Write an Essay Like These College Essay Examples
What can you do to write a personal statement in line with these stellar college essay examples?
First, let’s talk about how to actually read one of these college essay examples.
If you’re at this point in this post, you’ve likely read at least one of the examples in this post at least once. Now, return to that essay and read it a second time with a more critical eye.
Ask yourself questions like these:
- What do you like? What do you not like?
- How does the essay make you feel?
- How is the essay structured?
- How does the writer craft the introduction? The conclusion?
- What’s unique about this college essay example?
- What value(s) does the writer express? Key takeaways?
- Is there anything unexpected or surprising?
- Do any writing techniques stick out to you?
Pay attention to your answers to these questions, and reflect on the qualities that surface. Compare them to the 7 qualities of a successful college essay . What do you notice?
Complete this exercise for several other college essay examples — you can download 19 additional college essay examples right here!
This can help you understand exactly what it it takes to write a compelling college essay, including what impact a strong essay has on a reader.
It’s also a great first step to take in the college essay writing process, which we’ve boiled down to these 10 simple steps .
You can check out even more college essay examples by successful applicants! For 19 additional essays, download PrepMaven’s 30 College Essays That Worked .
With this document, you’ll get:
- The essays included in this post
- 19 additional full personal statements of applicants admitted to top-tier institutions
Need some additional help? Check out our college essay service and work with one of our Master Consultants .
At PrepMaven, our mission is not only to help your child increase their test scores and get into a great college but also to put them on the right track for long-term personal and professional success.
Greg Wong and Kevin Wong
Greg and Kevin are brothers and the co-founders of PrepMaven and Princeton Tutoring. They are Princeton engineering graduates with over 20 years of education experience. They apply their data and research-backed problem solving skills to the test prep and college preparation process. Their unique approach places a heavy emphasis on personal development, character, and service as key components of college admissions success.
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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 53 stellar college essay topics to inspire you.
Most colleges and universities in the United States require applicants to submit at least one essay as part of their application. But trying to figure out what college essay topics you should choose is a tricky process. There are so many potential things you could write about!
In this guide, we go over the essential qualities that make for a great college essay topic and give you 50+ college essay topics you can use for your own statement . In addition, we provide you with helpful tips for turning your college essay topic into a stellar college essay.
What Qualities Make for a Good College Essay Topic?
Regardless of what you write about in your personal statement for college , there are key features that will always make for a stand-out college essay topic.
#1: It’s Specific
First off, good college essay topics are extremely specific : you should know all the pertinent facts that have to do with the topic and be able to see how the entire essay comes together.
Specificity is essential because it’ll not only make your essay stand out from other statements, but it'll also recreate the experience for admissions officers through its realism, detail, and raw power. You want to tell a story after all, and specificity is the way to do so. Nobody wants to read a vague, bland, or boring story — not even admissions officers!
For example, an OK topic would be your experience volunteering at a cat shelter over the summer. But a better, more specific college essay topic would be how you deeply connected with an elderly cat there named Marty, and how your bond with him made you realize that you want to work with animals in the future.
Remember that specificity in your topic is what will make your essay unique and memorable . It truly is the key to making a strong statement (pun intended)!
#2: It Shows Who You Are
In addition to being specific, good college essay topics reveal to admissions officers who you are: your passions and interests, what is important to you, your best (or possibly even worst) qualities, what drives you, and so on.
The personal statement is critical because it gives schools more insight into who you are as a person and not just who you are as a student in terms of grades and classes.
By coming up with a real, honest topic, you’ll leave an unforgettable mark on admissions officers.
#3: It’s Meaningful to You
The very best college essay topics are those that hold deep meaning to their writers and have truly influenced them in some significant way.
For instance, maybe you plan to write about the first time you played Skyrim to explain how this video game revealed to you the potentially limitless worlds you could create, thereby furthering your interest in game design.
Even if the topic seems trivial, it’s OK to use it — just as long as you can effectively go into detail about why this experience or idea had such an impact on you .
Don’t give in to the temptation to choose a topic that sounds impressive but doesn’t actually hold any deep meaning for you. Admissions officers will see right through this!
Similarly, don’t try to exaggerate some event or experience from your life if it’s not all that important to you or didn’t have a substantial influence on your sense of self.
#4: It’s Unique
College essay topics that are unique are also typically the most memorable, and if there’s anything you want to be during the college application process, it’s that! Admissions officers have to sift through thousands of applications, and the essay is one of the only parts that allows them to really get a sense of who you are and what you value in life.
If your essay is trite or boring, it won’t leave much of an impression , and your application will likely get immediately tossed to the side with little chance of seeing admission.
But if your essay topic is very original and different, you’re more likely to earn that coveted second glance at your application.
What does being unique mean exactly, though? Many students assume that they must choose an extremely rare or crazy experience to talk about in their essays —but that's not necessarily what I mean by "unique." Good college essay topics can be unusual and different, yes, but they can also be unique takes on more mundane or common activities and experiences .
For instance, say you want to write an essay about the first time you went snowboarding. Instead of just describing the details of the experience and how you felt during it, you could juxtapose your emotions with a creative and humorous perspective from the snowboard itself. Or you could compare your first attempt at snowboarding with your most recent experience in a snowboarding competition. The possibilities are endless!
#5: It Clearly Answers the Question
Finally, good college essay topics will clearly and fully answer the question(s) in the prompt.
You might fail to directly answer a prompt by misinterpreting what it’s asking you to do, or by answering only part of it (e.g., answering just one out of three questions).
Therefore, make sure you take the time to come up with an essay topic that is in direct response to every question in the prompt .
Take this Coalition Application prompt as an example:
What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What's the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
For this prompt, you’d need to answer all three questions (though it’s totally fine to focus more on one or two of them) to write a compelling and appropriate essay.
This is why we recommend reading and rereading the essay prompt ; you should know exactly what it’s asking you to do, well before you start brainstorming possible college application essay topics.
53 College Essay Topics to Get Your Brain Moving
In this section, we give you a list of 53 examples of college essay topics. Use these as jumping-off points to help you get started on your college essay and to ensure that you’re on track to coming up with a relevant and effective topic.
All college application essay topics below are categorized by essay prompt type. We’ve identified six general types of college essay prompts:
Why This College?
Change and personal growth, passions, interests, and goals, overcoming a challenge, diversity and community, solving a problem.
Note that these prompt types could overlap with one another, so you’re not necessarily limited to just one college essay topic in a single personal statement.
- How a particular major or program will help you achieve your academic or professional goals
- A memorable and positive interaction you had with a professor or student at the school
- Something good that happened to you while visiting the campus or while on a campus tour
- A certain class you want to take or a certain professor you’re excited to work with
- Some piece of on-campus equipment or facility that you’re looking forward to using
- Your plans to start a club at the school, possibly to raise awareness of a major issue
- A study abroad or other unique program that you can’t wait to participate in
- How and where you plan to volunteer in the community around the school
- An incredible teacher you studied under and the positive impact they had on you
- How you went from really liking something, such as a particular movie star or TV show, to not liking it at all (or vice versa)
- How yours or someone else’s (change in) socioeconomic status made you more aware of poverty
- A time someone said something to you that made you realize you were wrong
- How your opinion on a controversial topic, such as gay marriage or DACA, has shifted over time
- A documentary that made you aware of a particular social, economic, or political issue going on in the country or world
- Advice you would give to your younger self about friendship, motivation, school, etc.
- The steps you took in order to kick a bad or self-sabotaging habit
- A juxtaposition of the first and most recent time you did something, such as dance onstage
- A book you read that you credit with sparking your love of literature and/or writing
- A school assignment or project that introduced you to your chosen major
- A glimpse of your everyday routine and how your biggest hobby or interest fits into it
- The career and (positive) impact you envision yourself having as a college graduate
- A teacher or mentor who encouraged you to pursue a specific interest you had
- How moving around a lot helped you develop a love of international exchange or learning languages
- A special skill or talent you’ve had since you were young and that relates to your chosen major in some way, such as designing buildings with LEGO bricks
- Where you see yourself in 10 or 20 years
- Your biggest accomplishment so far relating to your passion (e.g., winning a gold medal for your invention at a national science competition)
- A time you lost a game or competition that was really important to you
- How you dealt with the loss or death of someone close to you
- A time you did poorly in a class that you expected to do well in
- How moving to a new school impacted your self-esteem and social life
- A chronic illness you battled or are still battling
- Your healing process after having your heart broken for the first time
- A time you caved under peer pressure and the steps you took so that it won't happen again
- How you almost gave up on learning a foreign language but stuck with it
- Why you decided to become a vegetarian or vegan, and how you navigate living with a meat-eating family
- What you did to overcome a particular anxiety or phobia you had (e.g., stage fright)
- A history of a failed experiment you did over and over, and how you finally found a way to make it work successfully
- Someone within your community whom you aspire to emulate
- A family tradition you used to be embarrassed about but are now proud of
- Your experience with learning English upon moving to the United States
- A close friend in the LGBTQ+ community who supported you when you came out
- A time you were discriminated against, how you reacted, and what you would do differently if faced with the same situation again
- How you navigate your identity as a multiracial, multiethnic, and/or multilingual person
- A project or volunteer effort you led to help or improve your community
- A particular celebrity or role model who inspired you to come out as LGBTQ+
- Your biggest challenge (and how you plan to tackle it) as a female in a male-dominated field
- How you used to discriminate against your own community, and what made you change your mind and eventually take pride in who you are and/or where you come from
- A program you implemented at your school in response to a known problem, such as a lack of recycling cans in the cafeteria
- A time you stepped in to mediate an argument or fight between two people
- An app or other tool you developed to make people’s lives easier in some way
- A time you proposed a solution that worked to an ongoing problem at school, an internship, or a part-time job
- The steps you took to identify and fix an error in coding for a website or program
- An important social or political issue that you would fix if you had the means
How to Build a College Essay in 6 Easy Steps
Once you’ve decided on a college essay topic you want to use, it’s time to buckle down and start fleshing out your essay. These six steps will help you transform a simple college essay topic into a full-fledged personal statement.
Step 1: Write Down All the Details
Once you’ve chosen a general topic to write about, get out a piece of paper and get to work on creating a list of all the key details you could include in your essay . These could be things such as the following:
- Emotions you felt at the time
- Names, places, and/or numbers
- Dialogue, or what you or someone else said
- A specific anecdote, example, or experience
- Descriptions of how things looked, felt, or seemed
If you can only come up with a few details, then it’s probably best to revisit the list of college essay topics above and choose a different one that you can write more extensively on.
Good college essay topics are typically those that:
- You remember well (so nothing that happened when you were really young)
- You're excited to write about
- You're not embarrassed or uncomfortable to share with others
- You believe will make you positively stand out from other applicants
Step 2: Figure Out Your Focus and Approach
Once you have all your major details laid out, start to figure out how you could arrange them in a way that makes sense and will be most effective.
It’s important here to really narrow your focus: you don’t need to (and shouldn’t!) discuss every single aspect of your trip to visit family in Indonesia when you were 16. Rather, zero in on a particular anecdote or experience and explain why and how it impacted you.
Alternatively, you could write about multiple experiences while weaving them together with a clear, meaningful theme or concept , such as how your math teacher helped you overcome your struggle with geometry over the course of an entire school year. In this case, you could mention a few specific times she tutored you and most strongly supported you in your studies.
There’s no one right way to approach your college essay, so play around to see what approaches might work well for the topic you’ve chosen.
If you’re really unsure about how to approach your essay, think about what part of your topic was or is most meaningful and memorable to you, and go from there.
Step 3: Structure Your Narrative
- Beginning: Don’t just spout off a ton of background information here—you want to hook your reader, so try to start in the middle of the action , such as with a meaningful conversation you had or a strong emotion you felt. It could also be a single anecdote if you plan to center your essay around a specific theme or idea.
- Middle: Here’s where you start to flesh out what you’ve established in the opening. Provide more details about the experience (if a single anecdote) or delve into the various times your theme or idea became most important to you. Use imagery and sensory details to put the reader in your shoes.
- End: It’s time to bring it all together. Finish describing the anecdote or theme your essay centers around and explain how it relates to you now , what you’ve learned or gained from it, and how it has influenced your goals.
Step 4: Write a Rough Draft
By now you should have all your major details and an outline for your essay written down; these two things will make it easy for you to convert your notes into a rough draft.
At this stage of the writing process, don’t worry too much about vocabulary or grammar and just focus on getting out all your ideas so that they form the general shape of an essay . It’s OK if you’re a little over the essay's word limit — as you edit, you’ll most likely make some cuts to irrelevant and ineffective parts anyway.
If at any point you get stuck and have no idea what to write, revisit steps 1-3 to see whether there are any important details or ideas you might be omitting or not elaborating on enough to get your overall point across to admissions officers.
Step 5: Edit, Revise, and Proofread
- Sections that are too wordy and don’t say anything important
- Irrelevant details that don’t enhance your essay or the point you're trying to make
- Parts that seem to drag or that feel incredibly boring or redundant
- Areas that are vague and unclear and would benefit from more detail
- Phrases or sections that are awkwardly placed and should be moved around
- Areas that feel unconvincing, inauthentic, or exaggerated
Start paying closer attention to your word choice/vocabulary and grammar at this time, too. It’s perfectly normal to edit and revise your college essay several times before asking for feedback, so keep working with it until you feel it’s pretty close to its final iteration.
This step will likely take the longest amount of time — at least several weeks, if not months — so really put effort into fixing up your essay. Once you’re satisfied, do a final proofread to ensure that it’s technically correct.
Step 6: Get Feedback and Tweak as Needed
After you’ve overhauled your rough draft and made it into a near-final draft, give your essay to somebody you trust , such as a teacher or parent, and have them look it over for technical errors and offer you feedback on its content and overall structure.
Use this feedback to make any last-minute changes or edits. If necessary, repeat steps 5 and 6. You want to be extra sure that your essay is perfect before you submit it to colleges!
Recap: From College Essay Topics to Great College Essays
Many different kinds of college application essay topics can get you into a great college. But this doesn’t make it any easier to choose the best topic for you .
In general, the best college essay topics have the following qualities :
- They’re specific
- They show who you are
- They’re meaningful to you
- They’re unique
- They clearly answer the question
If you ever need help coming up with an idea of what to write for your essay, just refer to the list of 53 examples of college essay topics above to get your brain juices flowing.
Once you’ve got an essay topic picked out, follow these six steps for turning your topic into an unforgettable personal statement :
- Write down all the details
- Figure out your focus and approach
- Structure your narrative
- Write a rough draft
- Edit, revise, and proofread
- Get feedback and tweak as needed
And with that, I wish you the best of luck on your college essays!
Writing a college essay is no simple task. Get expert college essay tips with our guides on how to come up with great college essay ideas and how to write a college essay, step by step .
You can also check out this huge list of college essay prompts to get a feel for what types of questions you'll be expected to answer on your applications.
Want to see examples of college essays that absolutely rocked? You're in luck because we've got a collection of 100+ real college essay examples right here on our blog!
Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar.
Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.
Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :
Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.
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For most college students, the opposite of the word EASY is not the word complex or complicated, but the word ESSAY. Yes, you read it correctly. It may sound funny, but it’s true. Writing a college essay topic is indeed a challenge for many students. Perhaps, you consider it as a challenging task too.
Now, the biggest question is why is it so difficult to write a good college essay topic? Is it because you simply don’t know anything about the topic or don’t know which one to pick?
Moreover, how many of you graduated from college without writing a single essay? College life is intertwined with college essays; take it from admission to the last year before graduation.
Why do we have to write an essay when it pains most students? The simplest answer is that it shows or reveals what your perception of the world is and who you really are.
Well, rest all your worries. In this article, we have chosen 100 best college essay topics that can surely help you write a distinguishable essay worthy of an excellent mark.
Let’s cut this long wait and go through them one by one.
In this article:
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1. What topic interests me the most?
2. Why is this relevant to me?
3. How meaningful is it to me?
1. tell us your story., 2. having a positive attitude towards obstacles., 3. standing up for what you believe in., 4. identifying a problem and solving it., 5. a growth in your personal life., 6. is there anything that fascinates you, 7. everything is fine as long as it piques your interest., what is the best way to write personal essays, writing tips for compare and contrast essay topics for college, parts of a persuasive essay, argumentative essay structure, quick tips to make your fun essay work., conclusion:, how to choose a college essay topic.
Choosing the best college essay topic is quite challenging. However, it is still possible and a lot easier if you know how to narrow down the broad ideas into specific ones. Occasionally, teachers will give you choices as to what topics to cover, but sometimes they will just let you choose. So, how would you end up on the college essay topic that you will write?
To make things easier to understand, you can try following the tips and tricks of past students who have passed these tests. Then, you will get your ideas flowing and your thoughts moving.
Take a look at these three questions that you can use in selecting the best essay topic for you:
If your teacher gave you options on what to write about, you choose the one that catches your interest. You would be motivated to do research and share more about it if you were interested in knowing more about it. The same rule applies when your teacher lets you pick a topic for your essay.
An essay reflects the idea of the writer toward a specific topic. If you write something that you can relate to, then writing won’t be as hard as you thought it would be. With a relevant topic to write about, you can also give more realistic examples or explanations that most teachers or readers love.
When writing essays, you should always share something that has influenced or changed you (whether in your thoughts or actions). It will raise your game if you manage to give a resolution to your college essay topic. It will be meaningful and enjoyable to you and not to mention, to your readers.
Now, let’s have an example regarding how it works.
Answer: Since I was a sophomore in high school, I have enjoyed it a lot.
3. How meaningful is it for me?
Answer: I realized that playing football is not just about fun. The game actually taught me the value of teamwork, friendship, and trust.
Answering the following questions will help you come up with a unique and interesting college essay topic.
Topic: “How Football Changed My Egocentric Behavior”
That’s how it works. What are you waiting for? Try it!
College Admission Essay Topics
Entering university is probably the most important moment in a student’s life. This is the time students choose their life path. Before that, though, students have to be assessed and one of those assessments is writing an essay.
College is a serious matter, so you have to undergo a series of assessments from the admission exams down to your admission essay. Each evaluation has a certain percentage that contributes to your total score. As you’ve probably guessed, the essay exam plays a vital role in your admission because it represents a high percentage of your total admission score.
So, how can you ace the college essay test? Well, rest all your worries because we are here to help you.
What are the usual college admission essay prompts that you should prepare for?
You should reflect on a personal trait or a meaningful relationship you have with someone. An honest personal statement will allow the admissions officers to see you for who you really are. Avoid picking something the admissions committee might already be aware of from your application form.
The idea of showing colleges your best self might seem counterintuitive, but overcoming challenges demonstrates strength, courage, and grit. Explain the impact of an obstacle on your life, no matter how big or small it was.
An excellent answer to this prompt might be a time when you challenged others or when your preconceived views were challenged. Choose this prompt if you can recount a relevant and specific experience. The admissions committee will not learn anything useful about you by reading thinly-phrased essays about a hot topic.
Provide a scenario or a dilemma and showcase the steps you took to resolve it. Admissions officers will appreciate knowing how you concluded that the problem was essential to you. They may also want to know how you solved the problem. Don’t forget to explain how it impacted your life.
A college admissions committee wants to see evidence of your growth and maturity. Share your sense of achievement or an event that shaped you. Colleges are seeking signs of personal growth, so share your learnings or moments of discovery.
Here’s a chance to write about something that matters to you. Don’t focus on what you think might impress the admission committee. Focus on what’s truly important to you. Colleges are seeking curious students, after all.
The question is entirely up to you. The topic you choose must demonstrate that you are much more than just grades and test scores. Research your topic deeply by asking why and how. There isn’t a single guideline to follow, except just one – be yourself.
After knowing the usual college admissions essay prompts, it’s time for you to choose the actual topic.
Here’s a college essay topic list that will help you stand out and ace that admission exam.
- A program you consider deploying at your college to respond to a known problem, such as a massive amount of trash on the campus.
- A time when you mediated an argument between two people.
- What do you do to make people’s lives easier, and do you develop apps or other tools that make this happen?
- An experience when you tried to resolve a problematic situation at school while working as an intern or as a part-time employee.
- The steps you took in detecting and fixing a programming error on a website or program.
- The advantages of an academic major or a specific program in helping you achieve your academic or professional goals.
- What kind of equipment or facility do you look forward to using on campus?
- An experience where you had a memorable and positive interaction with faculty members or students at your school.
- The purpose of your proposed club would be to raise awareness of a major issue.
- An exciting study abroad program or a similar experience you are really looking forward to.
Personal Essay Topics for College
The most unforgettable experiences in life, whether good or bad, always end with a lesson learned. These life-changing personal experiences are the best personal college essay topics. Why? Simply because these essays will show who you are and how much you know about yourself.
You are the speaker, so you should use pronouns like I, our, my, me, and we. The writing is always subjective. It reflects the writer’s thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences. It’s not just about personal experiences, though. You have to find something engaging and worth sharing.
There are several things you can discuss in your personal essay. Things like stating your opinion about an issue, talking about a documentary you saw, telling a story, making a comparison between individuals, events, or anything else you can think of.
Regardless of your choice of topic, a strong hook is crucial for grabbing the audience’s attention. An interesting title will engage your readers and draw them in. Your thesis statement will be the most important aspect of your introduction.
In your essay’s body, explain the topic and go over the key points. It’s best to outline your paper beforehand. This strategy will help you write clearly and concisely. Begin each paragraph with new ideas. Use strong verbs and sensory details wherever possible.
A thought-provoking conclusion will help you illustrate how your experience contributed to and shaped your development and personality.
If you followed the tips mentioned above, you could generate and craft a good personal essay topic for college.
Most of the time, these personal college essay topics can also be used as college admission essay topics. These tell real situations and authentic experiences.
Here are personal college essay topics that can help you stand out among the rest.
- A bad or self-destructive habit you kicked.
- A favorite book which inspired you to write or read more.
- Do you have a remarkable enthusiasm for international exchanges or learning languages?
- How do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years?
- Describe your most enjoyable hobby or interest and how it fits into your day-to-day routine.
- A movie star or TV show you genuinely liked but is less appealing to you now (or vice versa)?
- You became more aware of poverty because you (or someone you know) faced a change in socioeconomic status.
- Something someone once said to you that caused you to realize you were wrong.
- Documentaries that made you pay attention to a social, economic, or political issue happening in your country or the world.
- In terms of friendship, motivation, school, etc., what advice would you give yourself?
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for College
It can be more fun to draw parallels between two people or objects than to discuss a single issue. If you like doing that, then you might consider writing a compare and contrast essays topics for college . These kinds of essays allow students to express their thoughts regarding certain contradictory issues.
Similar to other essays, compare and contrast essays are also crucial for the cognitive development of an individual. Besides, compare and contrast essays are essential in helping students enlist the positives and negatives to any given subject. As a result, the learning process becomes more comprehensive.
Also, as its name implies, compare and contrast essays discuss two or more subjects. Therefore, the objective is to discover and analyze differences and similarities between the subjects at hand.
Here are some best tips on how to write college-level compare and contrast essay topics.
1. Brainstorm and Create an Outline
Brainstorm, do a little research, if necessary, and write down three different topics on a blank sheet of paper. Once you choose your subjects, organize your ideas. Create a table that lists both the similar and unique features of each subject. Then arrange the information and create an outline for your essay.
2. Relate to Relevant Facts or Literature
Write a hook sentence based on examples of compare and contrast essays. It will influence how the reader feels about reading your text on a specific topic. You can use statistics, facts, etc., to instantly grab the reader’s interest.
3. Master the Proper Formatting and In-text citations
Citations are powerful evidence that will support your compare and contrast essay. Also, they should be used to make your text more persuasive.
Here is a list of compare and contrast essay topics for college level.
- What is the connection between education and employment?
- How do Master’s and Doctoral degrees differ?
- Is being persuasive the same as being argumentative?
- Is it better to learn remotely or in traditional classrooms?
- 16th century pirates – heroes or a menace?
- Professional vs Vocational Courses: Which is the better option?
- Who has a tougher role to play: The UK Prime Minister or the US President?
- Hollywood vs Broadway: Which is more sophisticated?
- Unemployed Student and Employed Student: Who gets the best life in the future?
- Research Paper and Essay: What is more responsible?
- Which form of English is easier to use: American or English
- Saving Money: Worth it or not?
- Spending time partying vs getting a part-time job while in college?
- Which college is better, private or public?
- Electronic books or Printed books?
- Seminars vs. Webinars: Which is more effective?
- Written learning vs Oral learning
- Obtaining knowledge from books or finding it via the Internet?
- What is more productive: visiting a library or studying at home?
- EQ or IQ: Which determines success?
Persuasive Essay Topics for College Students
Arguments, research, and ideas presented in a persuasive essay should sway the reader into accepting your perspective. Readers often explore persuasive essay topics in-depth and find something new and interesting that makes them want to learn about a topic even more.
Moreover, persuasive essays are more powerful than narratives. To sound convincing with any interesting persuasive essay topic , you have to remain on top of the hottest issues, discoveries, and trends. Plus, college students must possess the ability to do solid research, write well, and be familiar with academic standards such as MLA referencing.
Knowing the parts of a persuasive essay will help you write it with ease and control.
This paragraph outlines the issue and why it should concern the reader.
2. Thesis Statement
This is still part of your introduction, and it is the point that you want your readers to believe in.
It is important to include the counterargument correctly at the beginning of your essay. Be sure to refute it with your main objections.
The body consists of paragraphs that provide credible evidence that support your thesis.
These last few paragraphs wrap up your essay by restating the thesis and summarizing the main points.
Here are some good persuasive essay topics for college that will make your reader get even more interested.
- Feminists devalued motherhood because of its nature
- The calorie content of meals should be disclosed
- There is an unfair tax system currently in place
- Patients with chronic diseases should not be placed in mental hospitals
- It is unacceptable to sell weapons to the rest of the world
- Distance learning is not for all
- Online learning or e-learning is dangerous
- The current High school system needs a reform
- Local terrorism is more important than international criminal activity
- Ads geared toward kids need to be restricted
- Surviving disasters encourages people to value their existence more than others
- Becoming more self-confident requires embarrassing moments in life
- We need to expel bullies from school
- A video game can be an educational tool
- Playing sports is a good way to improve your career prospects
- Life can be lived spontaneously for a number of reasons
- The most important personal quality is kindness
- Youth should make their own decision whether or not to join the military
- You can do homework faster by listening to music
- You should stay true to yourself in any situation.
Argumentative Essay Topics for College
Argumentative essays are probably the most common writing assignments. To begin an argumentative essay, you need to choose a topic you can either argue for or against. This type of essay assignment requires extensive research of previously published material or literature.
Furthermore, the chosen argumentative essay topic for college may also require empirical research. This means the student should collect data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. A strong thesis and sound reasoning go hand in hand regardless of the amount or type of research that goes into an argumentative essay.
The structure of the argumentative essay relies on the following.
1. The thesis statement should be precise, concise, and purposeful
To begin a persuasive essay, students should define the topic in general terms. After that, you should explain why the matter is important or why readers need to be concerned about it. In the last section, students should present the thesis statement. If the student fails to master this aspect of the essay, composing an effective and persuasive essay will be much more difficult.
2. The introduction, body, and conclusion are all linked in a logical way
Transitions are essential to the essay’s structure. Throughout the essay, they serve as a link between each section, allowing the coherence of the argument to be maintained thoroughly.
3. The evidence-filled body paragraphs to support your arguments
Every paragraph should discuss one main idea to ensure clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, this makes the essay easier to read. A strong argument must be made for how and why every paragraph in the body of the essay supports the thesis statement. Some paragraphs directly support the thesis statement with facts and arguments gathered during the research.
4. The strong supporting evidence that keeps your thesis credible
A well-written, accurate, detailed, and current essay supports the thesis statement with accurate facts, logic, statistics, and anecdotes. Some statistical, factual, or anecdotal evidence should also be used to support the thesis. Although different points of view are considered when collecting evidence, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not directly aligned with the thesis.
5. The conclusion that restates the thesis and most important key points
A good conclusion will leave a lasting impression on the reader because it should be interesting, but also practical and logical. There is no need to present new information here, but rather summarise what you have already written.
Here are some interesting argumentative essay topics for college students.
- Is it time to change how long high school students spend in school?
- Are schools giving students enough chances to be creative?
- Do school exams test knowledge or memory?
- Arts education: how important is it?
- Can gym help students perform better in every class they attend?
- Who should have access to student records?
- Does a child of an illegal immigrant have a right to public education?
- How much group work should a student do in school?
- Do you think your school day is too short?
- Are you in favor of a longer school calendar?
- Is it a good idea for schools to put tracking devices in students’ id cards?
- Would it be okay to skip the senior year of high school?
- How can you handle students who misbehave?
- Is it okay for schools to use corporal punishment?
- Should cyberbullying be punishable by schools?
- What should schools do about bullying?
- Would you say that standardized tests accurately measure your abilities?
- Does it make sense for schools to award cash bonuses for high scores on tests?
- Why should something you say on Facebook be grounds for getting fired?
- Are girls being pressured too much to have a ‘perfect’ body?
Fun Essay Topics for College Students
A college essay can be fun too, because you can try to find sense in topics that are a bit unusual. Teachers also get tired of seeing the same ideas, structures, and same topics. Going out of the box often works for teachers or admission officers because their interest is instantly triggered.
What can you do to grab your tutor’s attention? Well, grading papers can be quite boring, so keep it fun, and he or she will remember you when the exercise is done. Eventually, you’ll see that to your benefit. In your fun college essay topic, you can be sarcastic, humorous, or ironic. But you need to make sure what you are writing about makes sense and is well-thought of.
- Provide examples to support your ridiculous point.
- Instead of discussing what should be done, discuss what should not be done.
- When starting new sentences, remember to use effective transition words.
Here are some fun college essay topics that will make your readers laugh:
- Does your surname mean anything to you?
- Would you be an effective writer if you smoked pot?
- Teenage workers: why do they have the worst jobs?
- What is the best way to use your video gaming skills to get a good job?
- Here’s what your driving instructor isn’t telling you.
- The truth behind infomercials: is there any?
- What’s the deal with funny animal videos?
- Why should your parents support your gaming?
- Mistakes that can no longer be corrected.
- What do I like most about spam emails?
- Does your pet dog know what you are thinking?
- Health benefits of smoking.
- Why do I want to be older than my brother?
- Here are some reasons why you need your morning coffee.
- Is it helpful to drink before exams?
- Why do cats do what they do?
- Success can be quickly attained by disobeying your parents.
- It is always possible to read the minds of animals.
- Is it necessary for every teenager to own an iPhone or a smartphone?
- Students with little attention spans are the most successful students.
In a nutshell, we can say that college essay topics are quite hard to pull out, but with proper strategy it should not be a problem. Also, writing them is not as challenging if you know what you are writing and if what you are writing talks about you. You also learned in this article the interesting, unique and significant essay topics that your reader, teacher or admission officer will definitely love to read.
We hope that you don’t see essays as problems or challenges that you need to surpass at this point. Instead, look at them as an opportunity to show how you think, who you are, your beliefs, stands and points. Who knows, you might just become the great essayist of this current generation.
Let’s keep in mind that writing an ESSAY is an EASY task. What you think is what you become. If you will write an essay, and you feel negative, unhappy and uninterested, your output would be a disaster, and so would your assessment score. It’s better to be positive, happy and excited whenever you write essays, so your output would be as great as your feeling when you were writing it.
What do you think of this article? Did you find it helpful and interesting? Don’t forget to share it with your friends.
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They’re Tiny, They’re Toony, They’re Packing Off to Uni
In the reboot “Tiny Toons Looniversity,” Babs, Buster and the others from the original 1990s series head to college to learn how to be funny in 2023.
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By Laurel Graeber
First-year college students everywhere are now adjusting to campus life. Few, however, have to choose between classes like Banana Peel Placement and Whoopie Cushion Alternatives. Or suffer the crash of anvils on their heads when they give wrong answers. Or petition for a change in roommates by arm-wrestling the dean.
These experiences belong exclusively to the incoming freshmen of “ Tiny Toons Looniversity ,” a new animated series that begins streaming on Friday on Max and airing on Saturday on Cartoon Network. With Steven Spielberg as an executive producer, the show revives the characters and setting of the Emmy Award-winning early-’90s series “ Tiny Toon Adventures ,” whose own comic DNA descended from the “ Looney Tunes ” short films of the 1930s-60s.
When “Adventures” debuted in 1990, it had a rich conceit: A fresh generation of young toons was enrolling at Acme Looniversity, a kind of Hogwarts of hilarity, where they would learn from distinguished professors like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote. Now Warner Bros. and Spielberg’s Amblin Television — the same partners that revived the “Looney Tunes”-inspired “ Animaniacs ” series three years ago — are escorting the core freshman five of Babs and Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck, Hamton J. Pig and Sweetie Bird back to campus. They haven’t aged, but they’ve acquired more dimensions.
The successfully reimagined “Animaniacs” “helped us get the momentum to do our show, but also do it in a different way,” Nate Cash, a showrunner of “Looniversity” whose main focus is animation and production, said in a video call. The new series is not “as referential and adult as ‘Animaniacs,’” he added. “We’re going just for the straight, fun wackiness of old cartoons.”
Spielberg, long a fan of the “Looney Tunes” repertory, set a high bar, Cash said, even requesting that Plucky Duck spew more spittle during his motormouth lisping. The goal of such silliness is to draw in children ages 6 to 11, though the showrunners also hope that the series appeals “to their parents, or just adults who grew up on the original show that are looking for a nostalgia fix,” Cash said.
“Looniversity,” however, which has already been ordered for two seasons, aims to be more than just a reboot of a reboot. Instead of featuring short comic sketches like “Adventures” or “Animaniacs,” the new series devotes each half-hour episode to one central story. This format has allowed the writers to introduce more inter-toon dynamics and complicated plots. And in choosing to focus more on the five central characters than on the huge population of “Adventures,” the “Tiny Toons Looniversity” creative team brought in a new cast of lead voice actors — all fans, the stars said, of the original series.
Cash said that the comedian Erin Gibson , the series’s other showrunner, also wanted “Looniversity” to be more grounded in the toons’ classes and campus than its predecessor. The “Adventures” theme song now has new lyrics , and the episodes explore relationship and identity struggles that are familiar to children but places those conflicts in an educational environment that parents will recognize. (Gibson, who oversees the writers’ room, declined to be interviewed because of the continuing writers’ strike.)
“Erin pitched it as ‘the Harvard of stupid,’” Sam Register, president of Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios, said of “Looniversity.” And that, he added, “has been our mantra throughout.”
The college emphasis allows “Looniversity” to mine an inherent tension as well, Register said. Following something of a trend — witness Xavier’s school in the X-Men movies, Wednesday Addams’s Nevermore Academy and Godolkin University in the coming series “Gen V” — the show proves that trying to educate supernaturally gifted beings offers plenty of dramatic (and comic) potential.
“How do you put structure around the zany antics of animated characters?” Register said. “There’s something about those things playing against each other that we love.”
The longer stories and retooled setting have also allowed the series’s creators to focus on something rare in the classic cartoon universe: character arcs. “Looniversity” puts the five main toons in situations that lead to self-awareness and changed perspectives. In another shift, it has transformed Babs and Buster from a 1990s flirty couple into close-knit contemporary twins.
“I think maybe a younger audience doesn’t want to see cartoons making out,” Cash said. But, more important, he added, giving these characters a family history lets the show’s developers — the writer and actress Alison Becker (“Parks and Recreation”) is a story editor — delve into more facets of their lives.
It means “more adventure for Babs and Buster while they’re going off to college,” said Ashleigh Hairston , who voices Babs. She added that young viewers could expect “sibling moments all throughout the series.”
Gibson also gave “Looniversity” a feminist spin. Whereas Babs in “Adventures” lamented the lack of a faculty role model — the original “Looney Tunes” world is decidedly masculine — Gibson has introduced Lola Bunny (from the film “Space Jam”) as the university’s prizewinning chef and has anointed the Looney character Granny, a nurse in “Adventures,” as the motorcycle mama who is the university dean.
And Sweetie Bird has gone from what Cash called “a one-note character” in “Adventures” to a diminutive dynamo with a punk attitude and a determination to destroy the patriarchy.
“Erin pitched the reboot of her character as being a mix of Ronda Rousey” — the mixed-martial-arts fighter — “and Gloria Steinem,” he said.
Hamton J. Pig has also evolved, but not to subvert sexism. He has gained a Porky Pig-type stutter (a show writer who had grown up stammering insisted on this, Cash said) and an ambition to transfer to medical school. (Toons apparently don’t need a college degree first.)
A sensitive soul, Hamton wants to become a doctor to treat all the toons who have been born with a genetic anomaly: Their DNA does not allow them to bounce back into shape after being crushed by an anvil, blown to smithereens, run off a cliff, etc.
“I think it’s a really neat take on an element of the mythology, right?” said David Errigo Jr. , who voices Hamton and the narcissistic Plucky Duck. “You pick it out, and you go: ‘OK, why can toons do this? And what happens if they can’t?’”
The new series’s approach, though, hasn’t caused the characters to lose their essential Looniness. “Looniversity” features several “Adventures” voice actors reprising their original faculty roles, including Bob Bergen as Porky Pig, Candi Milo as Granny and Jeff Bergman as Bugs Bunny. It leans unabashedly into its cartoon violence, and more than one actor mentioned taking every opportunity to dial up a character’s reactions to emotional stress.
Eric Bauza , who voices Buster Bunny and Daffy Duck, explained that if he gave Gibson three deliveries of a line, she would usually choose “the loud, obnoxious crazy take.” (He demonstrated gleefully in his Buster persona.)
“It makes sense,” Bauza added, because this Looniversity class is trying to uphold the standards of “their wacky mentors, that being the Looney Tunes.”
But if “Looniversity” favors cartoon mayhem over the educational curriculums and developmental goals of so many animated children’s series, it still offers its young audience guidance in the tricky world of relationships.
“Compared to the original ‘Tiny Toons,’ the biggest difference to me with this show is that it really focuses on friendship,” said Tessa Netting , who voices Sweetie Bird. In the midst of campus antics, she added, “there’s something special about, like, finding your people, about, like, not being afraid to be yourself. There’s this joy there. And I really think that the show captures that joy.”
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Fans Rally Around Martin Short After Essay Deems Him ‘Desperately Unfunny’
Nonbelievers beware — Martin Short is a national treasure.
After Slate dropped an essay titled “ Why We Keep Putting Up With Martin Short ” on Friday, September 8, criticizing Short, 73, for being “desperately unfunny,” fans quickly took to social media to fiercely defend the comedian against the story’s harsh words.
The op-ed’s author, Dan Kois , labeled Short’s comedy as an “eager-to-please flamboyance” that proves he would do “anything for a laugh.” The critic deemed all of Short’s “over-the-top” characters — which have existed across the span of his more than four-decade career — “unbelievably annoying,” calling his “whole schtick exhausting, sweaty, and desperately unfunny.”
“Throughout his evolution from sketch-comedy standout to uneasy movie star to twice-failed talk-show host to enthusiastic song-and-dance man, I’ve wrinkled my nose,” Kois wrote. “Every time he dresses up in a silly outfit or says something outrageous or mugs for the audience, I want to shout at the screen: Why are you being like this?”
Related: Everything to Know About Season 3 of Hulu’s ‘Only Murders in the Building’
Upon the publication of Kois’ essay, Short’s name immediately trended across social media platforms. Fans began taking a stand against his critiques by sharing clips of Short’s days on Saturday Night Live , Arrested Development , Curb Your Enthusiasm and more.
“‘Martin Short isn’t funny’ doesn’t need argument because it’s not even a thing ,” one person wrote via X (formerly known as Twitter). “It’s like someone saying ‘The sun isn’t hot!’ You just smile at that person and hope they get the help they need.’”
Another said: “If you dislike Martin Short, I’m going to assume you also dislike kittens, chocolate ice cream, sunshine, butterflies and fluffy bunnies.” A third quipped: “You’re entitled to your open opinion. Unless you think Martin Short isn’t funny .”
Beyond denouncing Short’s earlier works — including 1994’s Clifford , in which he labeled Short’s performance as “grating,” “upsetting,” and “fully committed” — Kois also found fault in Short’s latest role as Oliver Putnam on Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building , in which he stars opposite Selena Gomez and longtime comedy partner Steve Martin .
Short’s portrayal of the failed Broadway director has nabbed him two Emmy nominations since the show premiered in 2021. While Kois admitted that Short’s season 3 performance — which premiered last month — plays as more “quasi-naturalist” due to Oliver’s heart attack, he claimed that “you can always see the mischievous glint in his eye.”
Fans disagreed. “Genuinely weird to write a hit piece on Martin Short when the most recent episode of Only Murders in the Building has him giving one of the best romantic dramedy performances anyone’s ever done since his costar [Steve Martin] also dated and smoked with Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated ,” one person argued. Another added: “Martin Short is truly one of the only comedians who not only has remained funny as he’s gotten older (which is already super rare) but somehow has only gotten funnier.”
On the personal front, Kois confessed that “despite this exhibitionist stage presence, it seems that in real life [Short is] mostly a calm, well-adjusted guy — friend to many, loving husband and father,” and someone he would find to be a “lovely gent” if the twosome shared a meal. That didn’t, however, stop fans and celebrities alike from gushing over Short’s personable and kind demeanor.
“When I was a kid, I walked up to Martin Short and told him I loved THREE AMIGOS,” Jerry O’Connell wrote via X on Friday. “He could not have been kinder to this annoying kid. I think about that exchange a lot .”
Others remembered a 2012 interview where Short didn’t correct Today Show host Kathie Lee Gifford after she failed to remember his wife, Nancy Dolman, had died a year prior. When Gifford, 70, asked if Short was “still in love” with Dolman, he simply replied: “Madly in love.”
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During a commercial break, Gifford learned of her gaffe and apologized on-air. “Martin just told me as he was leaving, he said, ‘Kathie, you probably didn’t know,’ but his beautiful, precious wife Nancy did pass away a year and a half ago … I feel so badly,” the remorseful Gifford told viewers.
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Days later, Short spoke to E! News about the awkward exchange — and made it clear he doesn’t hold it against Gifford.
“I think that it’s live television and people make mistakes and there’s no ill will intended,” Short said. “And I think it’s nice to aspire to be that way.”
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