Famous College Essay
NYU received what would become the most famous college essay many years ago.
We’ve never written about this essay on our college admissions blog before. But we figured…why not? If one were to ask us what is the most famous college essay ever written, we know the answer hands down. It’s this NYU applicant’s essay from many, many years ago. To this day, it remains well known in the highly selective college admissions community. But, today, we’d like to discuss it. Look, it’s extremely well written. Rarely — and we mean rarely — have we seen students with this kind of writing ability. Did we say rarely yet? Because we do mean rarely. And it’s quite funny. The guy can make 30-minute brownies in 20 minutes.
And while it was a great essay at the time and the writer definitely has a sense of humor, we strongly discourage students from writing essays in this style. For one, every single admissions officer — from the ones who are first out of college to the veterans of the departments — will know from where you’re taking inspiration. Also, this essay is kind of mocking the entire college admissions process. The writer is essentially saying that he has done all of these amazing things in life and he hasn’t even yet gone to college. Sure, it’s written tongue and cheek but, at the end of the day, the essay says little about the actual applicant. Because, presumably, little or none of it is true. That’s the whole point.
Look, this was a great essay all of those years ago. There’s a reason it’s a famous essay. What we’re saying is don’t even think about taking inspiration from it or writing anything stylistically similar because that is not a good idea for you. Here’s the essay:
“I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.
Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing. I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook 30-minute brownies in 20 minutes.
I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello. I was scouted by the Mets. I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire.
I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life, but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven.
I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
But, I have not yet gone to college.”
What do you think about this college essay? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you! Oh, and if you’re a rising high school senior, now is the time when you should be working on your college essays. So contact us today to get started!
College Essay Example Five from an accepted NYU Student
I stared at the reflection of myself on the glass window for what seemed over fifteen minutes, and all that I saw was a face filled with disbelief and frustration. There I was, standing on the corner of 35th and 5th Avenue in freezing cold weather completely mortified, feeling as if all the luminous lights of New York City were shining on me in the spotlight of shame. I had committed one of the age-old sins of driving: a sheer rookie mistake. I had locked my car keys inside my trunk.
To explain myself, I should start by saying that ever since I first sat shotgun in my uncle’s 1997 Green Honda Civic, I have always yearned to drive a car. As the years progressed I went from practicing driving with a Fisher Price Jeep 4x4 around my block to handling a Nissan Maxima down I-95. In each instance, the rushing of adrenaline feeling that I savored from driving was mutual and can only be described by Andrew Malcolm’s quote, “a driver is a king on a vinyl bucket-seat throne, changing direction with the turn of a wheel, changing the climate with a flick of a button, changing the music with the switch of a dial.” But on that Manhattan corner, I was a dethroned king thrown from his kingdom because of his foolishness.
After gawking at my car to know avail, I went through a list of possibilities to successfully retrieve my keys. I sat down on the hood of my car and contemplated on the idea of breaking the window and hot-wiring the car. Such an option just wasn’t viable enough. However, after scrolling through the internet on my phone, I came across a page on Google search, that led to a link to a Yahoo answers page which suggested that I call a locksmith. However, after I read the price quote, that suggestion was no longer feasible: what could they possibly do that would cost me $205? That inquisition led to my next brilliant idea, and so for the next fifteen minutes, I explored the wonders of YouTube and continuously watched videos of locksmiths popping open car doors; the ambitious side of me thought, “I can definitely do this.”
With a little improvisation, I meticulously concocted a solution to my problem. For supplies, I rummaged through a nearby tourist gift shop and bought two “I heart NY” soccer balls, a hanger, and borrowed a ball pump. I took the soccer balls and wedged them in between the crack that I was able to make from pulling the door. With that, I began to inflate the soccer balls. The entire thing could have been a scene from “Gone in Sixty Seconds.” To my pleasant surprise, it was working! The inflation of the soccer balls created a small gap in the crack that allowed me to tick the hanger inside and unlock the door. The car alarm blared, but never was such a sound so soothing. I climbed into the back seat and folded the seats down to unveil the small entry into the trunk. I placed my feet on the dashboard and squeezed my way through the hole. With my right hand I reached out and immediately I felt mesh cloth, quickly realizing that it was my basketball jersey. I reached further and my fingers came upon cold metal, evoking a feeling of relief.
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