Handcuffs, vomit, Dick Cheney, rap music and car accidents… these are the essay topics that got students into top colleges. Thousands of students uploaded their common apps to AdmitSee last year. Here are 10 incredibly shocking essay intros from students accepted to universities including Harvard, Duke, USC, Stanford and Scripps.
1. My parents named me after their dead dog. Honestly. Let me be clear: they did not simply recycle the name of an admired pet or panic after harboring a “Baby Boy Goodman” after several days in the hospital. My parents thoughtfully and intentionally named me after their beloved golden retriever. Read On >>
2. I’m tired. I’m tired of the dirty looks. I’m tired of the condescending comments. I’m tired of having to justify. I doth confess: I love rap music. Rap is, to use a scientific term, quite “dope.” Read On >>
3. “Welcome to Wal-Mart!” That’s what my father says when he greets people at his job. Similarly, my mom may ask a Sears customer, “How can I help you today?” Read On >>
4. Lying motionless, my body tensed up as I could hear the careful, yet quick unwrapping of needles. Read On >>
5. When I was young the world of men was frightening, a world where women cried on the couch because in the kitchen there were words thrown across the room like stones, words meant to hurt and maim, to tear the water from open eyes, eyes that looked like mine. Read On >>
6. I was thirteen years old when I ran away from home for the first time. Read On >>
7. We met in 2006—the year Dick Cheney shot some guy in the face, Twitter was launched, and Pluto was declared to no longer be a planet—at a SkateWorld birthday party. Rosa was hyper competitive, overly ambitious, loud, and sometimes crude: in other words, everything I was not. Read On >>
8. The first thing I remember about childhood is vomit, little me retching Wonderbread and grape juice on Calvary Preschool’s shag carpet. Read On >>
9. I shouldn’t be alive right now, but I am. My story almost ended when a drunk driver and two semis crushed my family’s car. Read On >>
10. I heard the click… click of the handcuffs as she locked them around my wrists and the wooden dining chair I was pushed onto. The smell of her cigarette breath stuck under my nose, carrying her irate words—”useless,” “stupid” ... grotesque breasts swinging above me as she stood back up from bending over. Read On >>
Wondering why these students shared such personal information? They get paid every time high school students view their application details and message them. If you’re a current college or grad student, upload your old application essays now. You get $10 upfront plus half of every dollar we make sharing your content. It’s anonymous and takes just minutes. Join the AdmitSee community to start earning now.
With so many options at USC, it might be a little overwhelming to choose a major let alone know how to pursue it. CollegeVine is here to help you narrow down your interests and find ways to express them at USC.
Before we dive in, here are a few facts about USC that will help you get started:
- USC is located in metropolitan L.A., the home of many large companies such as Deloitte, Bank of America, and Paul Hastings.
- USC has its own medical school, the Keck School of Medicine.
- USC has its own buisness school — the Marshall School of Business — that offers programs for undergraduates.
To approach this prompt, you should first evaluate your academic interests and your selected major. Next, you should ask yourself, “Why USC?” What does USC offer in your major that no other college offers? If you are interested in medicine, you might discuss the practical experience that the Keck School of Medicine can provide you. Perhaps you have a strong interest in stem cells, and will pursue this by conducting medical research at Keck. Or maybe you are more interested in clinical experience and are hoping to shadow doctors at the medical school’s hospital.
If you are interested in business economics, you can analyze USC’s optimal location in downtown Los Angeles, discussing how the school’s geography gives you access to internships with the nation’s top corporations. You can include a brief paragraph on the strengths of USC’s Marshall School of Business, raving about how an education there will provide you with the necessary leadership skills to succeed in business.
Avoid vague and cliché answers such as “USC has a good business school,” or “USC is prestigious and highly ranked.” These types of responses don’t particularly answer the question, nor do they show that you have done your research on the school.
No matter what subject you intend to pursue, the most important thing is to show the school what you will do at USC if you are accepted.Which professors do you look forward to working with? What special curriculum path do you hope to head down? What resource do you plan to take advantage of? There is no right or wrong answer; USC just wants to understand the academic path you intend to follow. You don’t have to be too creative or try to think of an outside-the-box answer. For this prompt, simple and straightforward is better.