College Application Essays


To welcome in spring, I’m offering my inspiring collection of sample college application essays free to all teachers now through the end of this month (April).

In recent years, I’ve had English teachers from all over the country contact me about my blog and writing resources. Apparently, many Language Arts programs now teach units on how to write these essays, either in the spring for high school juniors or during fall for seniors.

(One teacher in California has her students pick several posts from my blog and then write what they learned from them on her class blog. Kind of a cool idea, I thought. Also, last year I wrote this Lesson Plan for teachers.)

I know many teachers are strapped for time and resources when teaching, and I’m hoping they might find these narrative-style, “slice-of-life” college admissions essays—and my analyses of them—helpful in their classes. I believe students can glean ideas for their own topics by reading the work of other students, and also learn the style of a narrative, personal essay.


Joan Didion


In English classes, we usually read the work of the masters. For essays, these include: Joan Didion. E.B. White. Jo Ann Beard. David Sedaris. Cynthia Ozick. George Saunders. Phillip Lapote. Annie Dillard. It’s a large and impressive crowd, and reading their essays can’t help improve students’ writing. But I think it helps students understand that they can find and tell their own stories when they also see what their peers have done.

The personal statement-style pieces in Heavenly Essays are not perfect. And they aren’t supposed to be. But they are a strong sampling of students who took a hard look at themselves and what they believe and value, and shared their most personal stories with the world. Not only that, most of them landed in great colleges.

If you are a teacher, any kind of English, language arts or writing teacher, just send me an email to: by the end of the month, and tell me your name, where and what you teach, and I will zip you an ebook version of Heavenly Essays. (I shared some of the essays on this blog.) Good luck to all you teachers who will be helping students nail their college application essays this year!