The New and Improved 50 Successful College Admissions Essays

October 21, 2016

The college application essay anthology, “50 Successful Harvard Application Essays,” was published over a decade ago. I remember reading my copy and being stunned that there were so many different ways to tackle the college essay. I had no idea you could be so creative and honest. I was enthralled. It remains one of the staples of college application resources.

Remembering how much that book of essays opened my eyes to what makes for a successful college essay, I wanted to recreate that spark of inspiration for AdmitSee users but with a broader range of schools and more updated essays.

We partnered with two high-end boutique New York City college essay experts to bring you “25 Successful Ivy League Admission Essays” and “25 Successful College Admissions Essays from the New Ivies.” In this collection, you can read real essay examples that were admitted to the Ivy League and to top schools, such as Stanford, Duke and MIT. The best part is that each essay is accompanied by thorough commentary from our two experts, HereToEdit and Pithy Edits. They explain what the essay does well and what could be improved.

They include deeply personal, difficult stories about struggling with the guilt associated with the suicide of a parent, overcoming a needle phobia in order to care for an insulin-dependent sibling, and an applicant grappling to find inner acceptance and embrace his sexual orientation. They include uplifting and inspiring stories about an applicant’s quirky prom proposal, a narrative journey through a favorite book, and another’s lifelong love for the Beatles.

Each of these essays was a unique and immersive read. I hope you get as much out of these exemplary pieces of writing as I, as our two experts, and as the admissions officers clearly did.

About The Author

Stephanie Shyu
Stephanie Shyu

Steph is our founder and the most prolific consumer of Easy Mac™® within a 3-mile radius of our office. She attended Duke where she was a Div 1 fencer, then picked up a J.D. and a Wharton Certificate focusing on Entrepreneurial Studies from UPenn plus an LL.M. from the University of Hong Kong. She founded an educational charity in rural China and was once an aspiring journalist (as is clearly evident from this artfully crafted author bio). Named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, she gives interviews and talks about startups and education – email her at steph@admitsee.com.




Browse Successful Application Files

elle2020
Brown ‘20


Accepted to Brown, UPenn, Wellesley, Kenyon, Macalester, Holyoke, Harvard, Bowdoin

Just another girl finally through the college apps rat race. I'm happy to share with you what I did to get through it! Currently I'm pre-law and possibly majoring in Public Policy.
uhoh29
JHU ‘19


Accepted to JHU, Cornell, Northeastern, Fordham, UMD, Wisconsin, Temple

Junior Woodrow Wilson Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins majoring in English and Writing Seminars
ltan98
Fordham ‘20


Accepted to American, Fordham, Skidmore, Syracuse, UC Irvine, UCSB

Hi there! I went to an American school in Hong Kong from K-12 and will be starting my freshman year at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in the fall. If you're interested in theater and come from overseas, I would be of particular help to you!
Ves_Nanov
Dartmouth ‘20


Accepted to Dartmouth, Vassar, Kenyon, UVA

I am an incoming freshman from Bulgaria. I have spent one year as an exchange student in Chicago and look forward to returning to the States this fall.

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