"You were pivotal in helping me get accepted..."

- BP
University of Florida '06

Starting your Essay with Pace and Clarity

A Draft of an Introduction

I never thought of how other people around the world were living until I visited the home country of my parents, Bangladesh, in 1998 for the first time. To this day, I can still remember how people were starving for food and freezing in the streets. My visit to Bangladesh was intertwined with another first experience as well: a death in my family. My uncle, whom I was very close to, passed away that year, and he had asked to be buried back home. It was for this reason that my family had traveled to Bangladesh in the first place. I was hit with two emotional milestones at once: the death of my uncle and the experience of seeing a kind of life I had never witnessed before.

A Revision

In 1998, for the first time, I visited the home country of my parents, Bangladesh, to attend the funeral of my uncle, who had asked to be buried back home. I found there both a death and a life I had never witnessed before.

From Sarah M. McGinty, The College Application Essay (College Board, 2003), p. 86.


Revising with Specific Evidence in Mind

Example 1

The job I had this past summer expanded my level of maturity and provided me with exposure to a world which I had not previously experienced. It involved a combination of a job as doorman and a custodial worker in a New York apartment building. This job allowed me to break out of my shell and see the spectrum of the world as a whole. I have learned balance and adaptibility. And I can empathize with the hard-working people of the so-called lower class for many of them are now my friends.

Example 2

The job I had this past summer introduced me to physical labor and some new attitudes. I worked a forty-hour week as a doorman and custodian at the Renoir, an apartment building with 120 units on East 78th Street in Manhattan. I had a black tuxedo with a striped vest for half my day and, for the rest of the day, a paint-spattered blue and white jumpsuit that said 'Howie' on the pocket. In either outfit, I often found I was ignored by the people I helped. I got a little more acknowledgement in the tuxedo. I never got a 'Hello' but I did get a few 'Thank you's' from the people I held the door for. As the custodian, I was invisible. I could go four or five hours without hearing a single word directly addressed to me. From this job, I think I learned something about New York, about furnaces, and about the human temperament when deprived of air conditioning. But I also learned something about how our society treats people who do manual labor.

From Sarah M. McGinty, Writing Your College Application Essay (NY: College Board, 1986), pp. 95-96.