38 Accepted Common App Essays

Example Common App Essays
Home Essay Database Common App Essays
Last updated on March 28, 2019
Common App Essay Examples

Introduction

Ryan Chiang
By Ryan

Below are some accepted Common App essays written by real students who were accepted to the top schools around the country.

Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in the essays and supplements have been replaced to keep the authors' privacy.

EssaysThatWorked does not condone nor tolerate plagiarism. Do not copy, reuse, repost, or modify any part of the written works posted on this site without express written consent.

Common App Essays (38)


Common App Essay #0

Written by Anonymous Student

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
(650 words max)

You are 7 years old. A girl you are trying to befriend tells you that she does not want to be friends with you because your eyes are “ugly and squinty.” Hot tears run down your face because you do not understand the reason for her ugly words.

You are 13 years old. It is Halloween and on Instagram you see two of your classmates dress up as Asians. Their faces are painted yellow

638 / 650 words


Common App Essay #9

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

“A plate of spaghetti, six pieces of chicken nuggets, a bowl of fish soup, and a plate of French fries covered in chili sauce. And, don’t forget the dessert, make it warm chocolate with milk. Oh… I could also use that 500ml lemonade as you process the order please.”

The disbelief printed in the face of the waiter as he scribbled my order confirmed to me that he definitely heard

641 / 650 words


Common App Essay #12

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

The judge called “the prosecution may begin to question the defendant.” I shuddered quietly to myself as I smoothed my skirt and rose slowly from the chair. As I began to speak, I gained my confidence. My statement rolled off my tongue, as I projected my voice throughout the courtroom.

“Would you please provide a rendition of events during this incident?” I asked. But, the test

593 / 650 words


Common App Essay #16

Written by Kathleen Carroll @kathleencarroll

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

His eyes stared back at me with contentment. Neither he nor I, the baby girl on his lap, are smiling, but there is a sense of peace, of quiet happiness about us. I hold his wrist in one hand, my other grasping a bottle of ketchup. He holds my tiny leg and my waist, propping me up. His wedding band gleams in the midafternoon sunlight.

That same ring catches the light in my bedroom, the b

656 / 650 words


Common App Essay #20

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

Step 1: Collect the ingredients

On the Saturday before Chinese New Year, the kitchen counter is cleared of its usual cluttering of letters, cups, flowers, and brochures and replaced with flour, soy sauce, meat, celery, and spices. These are the telltale signs of dumpling making.

Step 2: Marinate the meat

The filling of the dumpling includes a mixture of different ingredi

646 / 650 words


Common App Essay #22

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

Holton is my best friend. He may be a bit worn down, but he is an old soul with a story to tell. With him, I have enjoyed Russian folklore, romantic escapades, and renowned classics. With him, I have succeeded and failed. At times, we have had arguments, but when I look back on our time together, it’s the magical moments that resound. When I moved schools, I lost contact with many of my old f

654 / 650 words


Common App Essay #28

Written by Anonymous Student

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
(650 words max)

The initial sound of a distant ambulance didn’t cause my grandmother any worry as she relaxed and looked out over Eagle Lake in Acadia State Park. She only started to take notice when the third ambulance urgently made its way into the mountains behind them, causing her and her best friend to sit up from their beach chairs. They had been enjoying the afternoon on the beach while my grandfather

659 / 650 words


Common App Essay #37

Written by Anonymous Student

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
(650 words max)

A few weeks before freshman year of high school, I stood and stared wide eyed in front of the fortress that is Lincoln. I was there on a mission. Today, I would choose the language I’d take for the next four years.

The list of languages that Lincoln offered startled me. “There’s so many,” I thought, “Latin, Spanish, Chinese, and French.”

About an hour prior, my mom

670 / 650 words


Common App Essay #41

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

Piano Man plays on repeat in Used To Be’s Island Eatery, a high-volume bar and restaurant in the town of Mantoloking on the Jersey shore. Balding men and blonde women sway to the song as they sit on the wooden barstools, chatting and laughing about their lives. From my hostess stand I can see it all. To my left is the restaurant portion of the building. It is dimly lit but there is enough l

660 / 650 words


Common App Essay #43

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

The Notebook

My drooping eyes fluttered, biding time before my inevitable descent into a well-deserved slumber. My hand scratched on with determination as I reflected on the past VEX robotics season in my engineering notebook. As I penned my final entry, the once heavy strokes of ink regressed into nothingness, and the cartridge breathed its last, one final victim of my notebook. With a

633 / 650 words


Common App Essay #46

Written by Emmanuel Angomas

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
(650 words max)

"If I'll have to be around the old people, I'm not working there. I just don't feel comfortable around them. I mean, I can't even understand what they're saying half the time!"

Dismissively, I rejected my father's nagging proposal that I apply for a summer job at a local long-term care center, arguing that I'd lose my patience much too quickly in attempting to interact with elderly resi

650 / 650 words


Common App Essay #48

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

Sweaty from the hot lights, the feeling of nervousness and excitement return as I take my place on the 30-yard line. For 10 short minutes, everyone is watching me. The first note of the opening song begins, and I’m off. Spinning flags, tossing rifles, and dancing across the football field. Being one of only two people on the colorguard means everyone will see everything. It’s amazing and te

561 / 650 words


Common App Essay #51

Written by Saad Tajwar

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
(650 words max)

Watching my coach demonstrate the drill, it seemed so simple. But when I tried to do the Carioca drill (it sounds like “karaoke”, but doesn’t involve wailing into a microphone - it’s more like shuffling sideways while doing the Irish jig), everything fell apart. Left foot back, right foot in front, left foot...where does it go again? Too late, I realized - I tripped over my feet and fel

660 / 650 words


Common App Essay #57

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

The most beautiful part of my day is when I walk. Every morning before school, I put on my grandmother’s plush red coat, tie my white Keds, and begin on a fifteen minute journey. The rhythmic motion of my limbs, the caress of the sunlight upon my skin, this is what guides my mind to achieve clarity. My mental acuity allows me to conceive fascinating ideas, to spill through the infinitudes

650 / 650 words


Common App Essay #60

Written by Anonymous Student

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
(650 words max)

One in three victims of a heart attack don’t show any symptoms before it happens. Ninety-five percent of cardiac arrests that occur outside a hospital are fatal. These are not merely statistics. A heart attack redefined my life on November 21st, 2015.

It was a warm autumn morning, and I was raking leaves with my Boy Scout Troop to fundraise for our high adventure patrol’s 50-mile hike

655 / 650 words


Common App Essay #62

Written by Cristian Antonio-Santi @crisantonio08

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

The three, small, purple seeds sat on the brown soil. Ten feet from me I could see my grandpa with his yunta and donkeys. They were in unison: the two donkeys, the plow, and him. My grandpa commanded; the donkeys obeyed. I began to feel tired. Exhausted. My neck was being pierced by the Mexican sun as I dropped seeds for hours.

I can’t complain; I wanted to do this.

I plac

626 / 650 words


Common App Essay #63

Written by Anonymous Student

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
(650 words max)

I am a person of the woods, and every summer when I come back from my canoe tripping camp, I have transformed from the city dweller that defines ten months of my year to the wilderness man my friends jokingly call me. Canoe tripping is so much more than carrying a canoe or a pack, or paddling lakes bigger than my whole city; it’s about the people you’re with, the friendships you create, lea

658 / 650 words


Common App Essay #65

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

Younger Anna,

My advice is not scientifically-proven, mother-tested, or kid-approved. However, I think it will make your life easier. But take this advice — as anyone would from a 17 year old — with a grain of salt. It is only as reliable as my own experiences. So here it is:

1. Speak Portuguese. It’s frustrating to know that I lost such a valuable skill because I deemed it

603 / 650 words


Common App Essay #67

Written by Anonymous Student

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
(650 words max)

The night before I climb to the summit, I pack my bag carefully, making sure all my equipment is in its rightful place. Headlamp in the left pocket. Clif Bar (nauseating but necessary) next to my sleeping bag. Three unlocked carabiners on my harness. Extra layers, ropes, and ice axes diligently packed away. After a few hours of sleep, I wake up under the midnight moon, my brain foggy in the hig

657 / 650 words


Common App Essay #68

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

I was still high off the competition, poring over ballots by the soft streetlights as we drove. “Are you sure you want to do this?” My Dad was worried about me. Worried about my world crashing down around me, losing friends, being crushed by hate. Scarred by controversy. I laughed it off, and we rode in silence.

Forgive the melodrama: this is a story about being a dissident in an auth

638 / 650 words


Common App Essay #69

Written by Alessandra Fang fang.alessandra@gmail.com

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

An obnoxiously red banner with Chinese characters hangs in front of a small, unassuming diner close to home. I stroll inside Grand Lake, this bustling hive with waitresses scuttling hurriedly and tables shaking lightly, the din of laughter from families mixing with the aromas of Chinese food. A lady with a notepad impatiently beckons my family to sit at one of the free tables, and as soon as we

654 / 650 words


Common App Essay #72

Written by Magdalena Arias Vásquez

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
(650 words max)

“And you thought you could paint,” whispered the indistinguishable mass of colors in front of me, which was meant to represent a window. I looked down at the paint-stained printed image that I held with my trembling hand and back again to the unsuccessful attempts I had made to capture it on the canvas. My eyes scanned the wet paint avidly, attempting to find a solution to a problem I didn

655 / 650 words


Common App Essay #82

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

I close my eyes and find myself within a forest of lights.

The diamond leaves of gnarled oak trees throw spectrums of color onto mounds of frosty snow that gleam melancholily under the moonlight. The leaves chime as wind violently rustles them in a haunting melody. I splinter a leaf off its branch and inspect the shard of my illusion, eyes dancing with amusement.

I breathe a

580 / 650 words


Common App Essay #83

Written by Anonymous Student

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
(650 words max)

Chubby fingers outstretched and round cheeks flattened against the window, I leaned further into the plexiglass. Although I could feel a firm hand tugging at my shirt, urging me to sit back in my seat - at ten, I possessed little concept of manners (or sanitary awareness), both of which I abandoned as I refused to cease standing on the chair of the CTA train - at the moment, all that mattered w

659 / 650 words


Common App Essay #85

Written by Shena Durai

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
(650 words max)

If you are not the first, you are one of the rest. I always thought this was the key to happiness. Even when I was an infant, my mom used to say that I chose the people who could carry me. There were only two people: my mom and my sister, not even my dad.

Growing up, I always wanted to be the best in everything. And I was for the most part. I have a bunch of certificates: first in el

628 / 650 words


“Ice Cream Fridays”

Written by Henry Williams

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
(650 words max)

“Ice cream Fridays!” “Two hours of recess!” 500 middle schoolers stood and cheered, pounding their feet on the bleachers. [Chris] was the popular star quarterback and my opponent for school president. He looked like an adult in a tailored suit, gesturing with his hands, never checking his notes, casting looks at the girls sitting in the front row. He had long wavy hair, a smooth complex

661 / 650 words


Common App Essay #96

Written by Anonymous Student

Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
(650 words max)

“If you care about your future, you shouldn’t allow yourself to think such things.”

My mom used to tell me this a lot. She’d always disapproved of my passion for the arts.

My dreams are a few sizes too big for me and my parents make sure I’m well aware of it. In an ideal world, I’d have a knack for composing and singing sappy ballads and I’d be well on my way towar

665 / 650 words


Common App Essay #98

Written by Anonymous Student

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
(650 words max)

When I watched the Patriots and Falcons play in the Super Bowl in February of 2017, I had no idea that the next time I watched a football game I would be on the sidelines, right in the middle of all the action. However, that’s exactly what happened, and my experience as a football manager is not one that I will ever forget.

At the end of my junior year, the head football coach, Coach Co

633 / 650 words


Common App Essay #105

Written by Anonymous Student

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
(650 words max)

I remove the latex gloves from my hands. I oscillate between looking at the rats enclosed in the acoustic startle chambers to my right, and my team project advisor to my left. A silver lab table, cluttered with syringes, vials, and countless notes, separates me and him. A lab rat’s cage sits at the center like a cornucopia. I begin to sit on a cold lab stool, and upon confirming that the Star

649 / 650 words


Common App Essay #107

Written by Anonymous Student

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 max)

I have seen 2017’s Power Rangers exactly five times in theaters, and it was the best 50 dollars I ever spent.

There is nothing extraordinary about a movie filled with gaping plotholes, inconsistent writing, and cheesy cliches: what makes Power Rangers unique is its diversity. The content we consume should properly represent our world, and Power Rangers does just tha

654 / 650 words


Common App Essay #110

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

I was 4.

Blue blanket in one hand, cookie monster in the other, I stumbled down the steps to fill my sippy cup with coffee. My diplomatic self gulped down his caffeine while admiring his Harry Potter wands. My father and I watched the sunrise through the trees and windows. I cherished this small moment before my father left, disappearing in and out of my life at the wave of a wand, ha

644 / 650 words


Common App Essay #118

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

My head was contorted to the left in a painful, awkward position in which the tip of my head brushed the top of my chest. It was as if a puppeteer had gained control of my now jerky, wooden-like legs; I could not walk without aid. My whole body was so weak that simple movements like lifting a glass of water exhausted me. Therefore, I had to be fed, bathed, and clothed as if I was an infant. My

660 / 650 words


Common App Essay #122

Written by Anonymous Student

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
(650 words max)

As I sat alone in a crowded airport, I felt both excitement and nervousness. I took my laptop and opened it to the Facebook profile of my third cousin [Chris]. I remembered how curious I was the first time I learned about his existence. He seemed just like me. I could not have been more excited, for I was on my way to New Jersey to spend spring break at his parents’ house.

It may seem s

575 / 650 words


Common App Essay #148

Written by Anonymous Student

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
(650 words max)

Right, Up, Right inverted, Up inverted was what went through my mind when solving the Rubik’s cube. Years of solving the Rubik’s cube allowed me to hone my skills making the puzzle almost as easy as puzzles from my childhood. I remember when I first started tackling puzzles they were very simple. Word Searches were my favorite and I could do them for hours and hours. Once, I finished a whol

650 / 650 words


Common App Essay #158

Written by Magdalena Arias Vásquez

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
(650 words max)

“And you thought you could paint,” whispered the indistinguishable mass of colors in front of me, which was meant to represent a window. I looked down at the paint-stained printed image that I held with my trembling hand and back again to the unsuccessful attempts I had made to capture it on the canvas. My eyes scanned the wet paint avidly, attempting to find a solution to a problem I didn

654 / 650 words


Common App Essay #159

Written by Anonymous Student

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
(650 words max)

Uncomfortable Truths

People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is…uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable. A couple of examples are that an equal number o

648 / 650 words


Common App Essay #160

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

For my entire life, I have had the itch: the itch to understand.

As a kid I was obsessed with a universe I knew nothing about. In elementary school, my favorite book was an introduction to fulcrums for kids. Like the Pythagoreans who had marveled at the perfect ratios of musical notes, I was enamored with the mathematical symmetries of fulcrums. The book inflamed my itch but I had no

610 / 650 words


Common App Essay #178

Written by Anonymous Student

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
(650 words max)

First impressions are everything—even in kindergarten.

I was born with Nonsyndromic Aplasia Cutis Congenita. Basically, I have had a scar on my head since birth, and hair couldn't always grow over it. Up until fourth grade, when I underwent two hair transplants that would allow me to slowly grow hair over my scar, it was definitely noticeable.

What I remember vividly about

663 / 650 words


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