College Admission Essay: Ten Great Essays to Inspire You
If you need a spark plug to get your essay-writing engine going, browse through a few of these gems. None were written as college admission essays, but all display fine writing from a personal point of view — the goal of your admission essay.
Because they’re so good, these essays are anthologized in many collections. If you can’t find them in a general book of essays, check with the librarian in your school or public library for alternate publications.
In no particular order, here are ten great essays.
"Letter from Birmingham Jail" by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the most eloquent essays of the modern civil rights movement, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was written in 1963 during King’s incarceration for a non-violent protest. The essay is an answer to a plea from several white ministers in Birmingham, Alabama. The ministers asked the black community to call off protests against Birmingham’s segregated bus system, contending that the protests did more harm than good and that the black community should patiently seek justice through the courts. King explains clearly why patience, nearly a century after the end of the Civil War and emancipation of the slaves, is not the answer. As you read this essay, notice how King builds his argument, fact by fact, to an inescapable conclusion.
"Of Studies" by Francis Bacon
Okay, I admit that Francis Bacon is an old timer; he was born in 1561. And yes, he sounds old. But if you can pick your way through some strange spelling and punctuation, you’ll find a gem. Bacon’s technique is compression. He makes his points with a minimum of words; you almost feel as though you are reading a series of machine-gun bursts, each bearing a short but deep message. In fact, Bacon’s style is so concise that every sentence could be the topic of another essay. “Of Studies” discusses education — a topic close to the heart of all college applicants who are not completely fixated on keg parties.
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