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Finding Inspiration in College Essays by Accepted Students

by Story2 Guest Author, on Oct 16, 2014 11:35:00 AM


Ask anyone who has applied to college and they’ll tell you the college application process takes a toll on you. But what is it about the application that’s so difficult?

For most students, the most frustrating part of the college application is the essay. Grades and test scores are straightforward, and extracurricular activities and awards can easily be listed in a resume. But who you are and what you stand for? Only an essay can properly convey that.

But, what should you focus your essay on when you have a word or page limit? What’s a good hook when you’re trying to get an admissions officer to read past the first sentence? How introspective should you get? What tone should you use? How do you best express what makes you unique or why you want to attend a particular school?

My co-founder and I asked ourselves these questions and plenty more when we were applying to college. We searched the web for answers, only to find conflicting advice and outdated examples of ”essays that worked.” Inspired by our own frustrating experiences, we founded is a platform where college and graduate students upload their entire applications (including essays!) into resume-style profiles. Applicants can browse these application examples, filtering by school or by essay topic. The site features approximately 4,000 application essay examples – with dozens more added every week. These personal statements range from lighthearted creative stories to difficult discussions of complicated family relationships.

How to create a winning college application is not intuitive because writing a personal statement is not just listing your accolades; it requires you to dig deep and bare who you are to people who are evaluating you. The AdmitSee database of accepted students’ essays gives applicants insight into how to tell their story and how to best express what makes them unique. Similar to the way professionals browse resumes and LinkedIn profiles of other professionals when developing their own, AdmitSee allows applicants to browse successful applications of students just like them.

Whether you’re an international student looking for guidance on how to write a personal statement that showcases your authentic voice or you’re a student worried about how to write an addendum explaining low grades or a disciplinary action, AdmitSee believes in the creative inspiration that comes from learning from and referencing your peers.

Every student has a powerful story within him or her.  The goal of AdmitSee, much like the goal of Story to College, is to help the student embrace that story.

Stephanie Shyu is the co-founder of AdmitSee. She brings her experience as a former test prep tutor, admissions interviewer, and founder of an educational nonprofit to the edtech startup. Her passion for access to education fuels AdmitSee's mission to bring transparency to college admissions and increase higher ed access for all.

Topics:college admission