Person icon


February 19, 2024


Sample Essay: Unveiling the Essence of Writing a Winning College Essay

 A female typing on a laptop

Embarking on the journey of college applications is akin to painting a self-portrait where every brushstroke represents a fragment of your life's canvas. This series delves into the artistry behind crafting essays that resonate - the why. These essays have not only succeeded but have done so by telling a story that is deeply personal and profoundly human. Through the lens of winning essays, we aim to unravel the intricacies and strategies that transform ordinary narratives into gateways of opportunity. Each essay in our series is a testament to the power of authentic expression, serving as a beacon for aspiring applicants. Join us as we explore these exemplary narratives, dissecting the elements that elevate them from mere submissions to reflections of individuality and purpose.

Essay by Gabby DeMott for Going Merry Scholarship

Essay Prompt: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Essay: We stared at the TV screen with only a few minutes to go in the game. On the edge of our seats, clutching whoever was next to us, we watched as the referee blew his whistle and the German players took their free kick. The German player hit the ball with precision and skill; it flew up over the Swedish players, past their goalie, and was caught safely in the back of the opposing team’s net. We all jumped up and screamed, a mixture of German and English, excitement and relief, pride and anticipation.

We stood, enraptured, for the last several minutes of the game as Germany kept its 2-1 lead over Sweden. The horde of us, Germans and Americans alike, hugged and cheered and made our way out onto the balcony, where we chanted “Deutschland! Deutschland! Deutschland!” for the whole village, the entire country, the whole world to hear. Never have I felt so accepted as an outsider, so proud of a country that isn’t even mine and part of something I didn’t belong to.

My German friends didn’t care that we were from different countries; they didn’t care that we would only be staying for three weeks. They accepted us into their homes and daily lives, traditions, and celebrations. In watching that World Cup game, it didn’t matter that we were from different places; we were all cheering for the same team. The acceptance I felt in Germany extended beyond that living room. I came to the country on a three-week exchange with ten other students from my school.

We each stayed with host families and attended the Wildermuth Gymnasium, surprisingly accommodating a gaggle of loud American teenagers. The teachers were friendly and welcoming, the students treated us like ordinary peers, and even the people I interacted with in public were understanding.

Before coming to Germany, I feared judgment based on my level of the language (which is nowhere near as good as the German students’ English) and American politics. Being in a country with limited language and customs knowledge was intimidating, even though everyone was welcoming. People asked me and the other students about the US’s political climate, but no one blamed us. They recognized that we were outsiders, that the place we came from had flaws, and accepted us anyway.

Since that trip, I’ve found myself trying to provide that acceptance to people in my country. For example, I work at a canoe livery, and we receive a lot of visitors with limited English. Some of my coworkers will avoid such customers because they don’t want to take the time to explain things to exercise patience with someone who may not understand them. If people had done this to me in Germany, my time there would have been much less enjoyable; I would have been offended.

So now, when someone walks up to me at the livery and asks a question in English that isn’t perfect, I smile and welcome them. I take my time to make sure they understand, that they can have a good time, and that they feel accepted. It’s a small action, but I know firsthand that it can make a significant impact at my place of work and in the world.

What makes this essay successful?

Two female colleagues Discussing

This essay effectively illustrates a moment of significant personal growth and new understanding through the experience of international friendship and sportsmanship. Here are the key strengths that contribute to its success:

  • Vivid Storytelling: The essay opens with a captivating scene that places the reader in a moment of excitement and unity during a World Cup game. The detailed description of the atmosphere, the anticipation, and the celebration after the goal creates a vivid narrative that draws readers in, setting the stage for the themes of acceptance and personal growth.
  • Theme of Cultural Acceptance and Unity: The essay's core revolves around cultural acceptance and unity, showcasing how a shared experience of supporting a soccer team transcends national and linguistic barriers. The author's realization that joy and celebration can create a sense of belonging, even in a foreign country, is a powerful testament to the unifying power of sports and shared human experiences.
  • Personal Reflection and Growth: The essay effectively communicates the author's personal growth from the experience. The realization that acceptance and effort to understand others can profoundly impact reflects a significant shift in perspective. This reflection on the importance of empathy and open-mindedness in a global context indicates a deep level of personal development.
  • Application of Learned Insights: A vital strength of the essay is how the author applies the insights gained from their experience abroad to their life back home. The commitment to offering the same level of acceptance and understanding to non-English speakers in their workplace demonstrates the practical application of their growth. They highlight their transformation and contribution to creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for others.
  • Demonstration of Global Citizenship: The essay showcases the author's development into a more globally aware and compassionate individual. By embracing the values of acceptance and understanding across cultural boundaries, the author embodies the ideals of global citizenship. This evolution from a spectator at a football game to an active participant in fostering inclusivity in their community illustrates a profound understanding of the impact of one's actions on others.

Overall, the essay conveys a transformative experience that led to significant personal growth and a new understanding of the importance of cultural acceptance and unity. It demonstrates the author's maturity, empathy, and commitment to making a positive difference in the world, making it a compelling and inspirational narrative.

Empowering Your Journey with GoodGoblin

As we dissect the components that contribute to a successful essay, it's evident that the journey of crafting such a narrative is both personal and complex. However, there are others on this path. GoodGoblin is a pioneering ally, offering personalized guidance and innovative tools to illuminate your college application journey. Our platform harnesses the latest AI technology to provide real-time, tailored feedback on your essays, ensuring your unique voice resonates with clarity and impact.

GoodGoblin's AI-driven insights draw from a rich tapestry of successful applications, offering you a compass as you navigate the intricate college admissions process. From generating essay outlines to refining drafts with granular feedback, GoodGoblin is designed to elevate your narrative, ensuring that your application speaks to who you are and the potential you bring to your dream colleges.

In the spirit of the essays we've explored, your story deserves to be told with authenticity and elegance. Let GoodGoblin be your guide, empowering you to craft narratives that are not just successful but genuinely your own. Discover how our platform can transform your college application experience by visiting us at Let's turn the page to the next chapter of your academic journey, where your voice is heard, and your dreams are within reach.