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Samples of College Essays

Introductory Paragraphs


The New York Times crossword puzzle has been a fixture in my family for as long as I can remember. Some families’ Sunday traditions center on watching football games; ours is all about working the Sunday puzzle.  While crossword puzzles did not come to fill a central role in my life until I was fifteen, if you see me now, chances are I’ve got the Arts section folded up under my arm, a pen in my hand.  As I was leaving the library one day in 10th grade, I noticed a stack of crossword puzzles that wasn’t there before. I threw one in my bag and took a stab at it when I got home.  While utterly unsuccessful at completing it, from that moment on I was hooked.

I am paddling down the fast-flowing Deschutes River in a five-person raft when the raft pitches violently in a rapid throwing me out. All of a sudden, I am submerged, and then bobbing, and thrashing around in the water. The churning and rushing current propel me full speed ahead for one of the many drops that the river is known for, water falls of five to ten feet that had been so much fun in the raft. With the goal of not shooting down a waterfall, I start battling across the current to swim to the rocks and low-lying trees. Grabbing at slippery rocks, I claw my way to a low hanging tree branch, my life line. I wonder how my group will manage to make it upstream to retrieve me and why I got myself into this mess.  Several months before the bucking raft, I had recognized that my life lacked adventure, a realization in part spurred by the documentary Meru. I was not inspired to train to climb Mt. Everest and risk amputation of frost-bitten toes and avalanches, like the heroes of Meru, but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and live life differently for a while.  I did some research on climbing trips and found one that included scaling Mt. Washington and one week of white-water rafting.  From a distance of several months, I found it easy to take on this adventure.  As the day got closer, I had my doubts.

Concluding Paragraphs

 I think that Disney was so influential on my life because it unleashed the power of my imagination.  From my first exposure to Disney, I entered the world of make-believe in which idealism flourishes and expectations of goodness and truth prevail. I learned from indulging my imagination in a Disneyesque world that reality can be what you make it. Fairies may not exist, but one of my best memories comes from building lures in my backyard with my dad to entice a fairies to show themselves: in the hedge, we placed offerings of flowers and clipped notes to the bushes welcoming them to our yard and expressing my curiosity about their world. Even when they didn’t show up, I was inspired by the idea of what is possible. In the imaginary world I am free to wish upon stars like Jiminy Cricket, and I can believe that, as Peter Pan says, “Dreams really do come true.” 


After two weeks of camping by the side of the river and in the woods and mountain climbing for eight hours a day, I finally stood 7,795 feet above the ground with my group one morning under a clear blue sky. I will always remember looking down on a bald eagle in flight; I was above an eagle gazing for miles in all directions. I signed my name in the book at the summit with a feeling of accomplishment greater than I have ever had.

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