5 Excerpts From Successful Admissions Essays at Liberal Arts Colleges

August 04, 2016

Liberal arts colleges offer a unique higher education experience other schools don’t. Read how these 5 students from Middlebury, Bowdoin, Vassar, Amherst and Swarthmore impressed the admissions counselors at each school:


Swarthmore ‘20

In a world of black and white, I am a strange instance in which the universe created gray.

Picture the perfect blank canvas, a town unstained by shades of crime. Summer vacations are synonymous with weeks spent abroad traipsing through cobblestone alleys in Barcelona or fine art-meets-fine dining by the Louvre. Bat mitzvahs, sweet sixteens, and quinceñeras are rites of passage, not into religion, maturity, or culture, but into the world of lavish spending. View full profile


Vassar ‘20

Before my mother’s unemployment, I lived the stereotypical life of an adolescent in suburban Las Vegas. Dad was off in San Francisco doing who-knows-what, Mom worked most days out of the week at Wal Mart pharmacy, and Jane, my older sister, took the responsibility of taking care of me at home. Even before Dad left, I was very tightly sheltered and protected. I never walked home alone, I never went to sleep in an empty house, and I never woke up without a warm meal waiting for me downstairs. I’ll admit it: I was spoiled. Continue reading


Middlebury ‘19

Navigating McCool’s ice cream parlour has become as familiar to me as wandering through the rooms of my childhood home. After almost three years of working there, I know exactly where to find everything, from the hand-held sprinkle vacuum (next to the washing machine in the storage room) to the boxes of granola (which no one even knows we sell as a topping). I’ve memorized the consistency of each ice cream flavor so I can determine the perfect amount of milk to add in order to produce the creamiest milkshake, and I’ve learned exactly how to position myself in front of the sink so the customers think I’m doing the dishes instead of sneaking a bite of my favorite flavor - Coconut Chocolate Almond. Read on


Bowdoin ‘19

“This is something people need to hear,” my coach told me. “You need to give this speech.”

I certainly agreed on principle, but at the time, I wasn’t sure I had the skill to do my topic justice.

It was the early winter of my freshman year, and I had been spending the previous several months researching America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for a debate case. As I pored through statistics and government reports, I was struck by the sheer number of civilian casualties caused by unmanned drones, especially when compared to the low rate of strikes that successfully hit their targets. I wondered just how the United States government could rhetorically justify these initiatives that, to me, seemed wasteful and ethically wrong. View full essay


Amherst ‘20

I had forgotten about the plastic bowl of greasy, buttery popcorn in my hands. I’m left staring at an empty expanse of screen, mouth open at the gray-scaled room. The DVD case for The Usual Suspects taunts me, sitting on the worn coffee table. The film was far from Usual and nothing I would have suspected. Keep reading.


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About The Author

Frances Wong
Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.


Browse Successful Application Files

Amherst ‘21

Accepted to Amherst, UCLA, USC, Pomona, UMich, Hamilton, Arizona State, Case

Hello! I am a student at Amherst College in Massachusetts with a major in Chemistry.
Bowdoin ‘23

Accepted to Bowdoin, Wellesley, NYU, Carleton, UChicago, Stanford, Claremont (CMC), Scripps, Columbia, Smith, Kenyon, Bryn Mawr, Oberlin, Grinnell, St. Olaf, Holyoke, Reed

Hi I'm Alex I'm from Montana and love marine biology.
Middlebury ‘19

Accepted to Middlebury, GWU, Binghamton, SUNY Geneseo, Skidmore, BU

I'm a Middlebury College junior whose general life trajectory is best described as "happy flailing."
Swarthmore ‘20

Accepted to Rutgers, Fordham, Northeastern, Wellesley, Swarthmore, Davidson, Scripps

Fashion blogger that loves to program cool s***.

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