After 19 years in college admissions, college-entrance consultant Abby Siegel is a prolific reader of essays.
When she talked to Business Insider last fall about the best admissions essay she’d ever read, we listened.
Her example surprised us, even though we’ve read our fair share of stellar admissions essays.
The essay question was specific to Tufts University, but the student who wrote the essay was accepted at UPenn, Georgetown, Columbia, and Brown.
Read on to get Siegel’s inside scoop on the best admission essay she’s ever read:
I had a student, and this was my favourite essay ever. The essay topic was, “Why did you do it?” and it was open-ended. You could really write about anything.
She wrote it without talking to me first, and it was far and away the best essay I have ever read in 19 years of doing this. It was absolutely hilarious.
She wrote this essay about how she goes to France for three months as a foreign-exchange student. Some kid starts teasing her and picking on her, and she was, like, “It was annoying, but he’s 15 years old. He’s just a boy.”
Until one day he spit apple chunks into her hair. So she was pissed. She had just washed her hair. And being an Indian woman, she made a comment about how difficult and how thick her hair is and it’s very difficult and time-consuming to wash. So he spit in her freshly washed hair, and that was not going to go over well with her.
So she took a banana from the cafeteria and she let it rot. And the next time she saw him, she smushed it up in his face. She’s telling this story — I’m hysterically laughing — I was thinking this is the nicest girl I’ve ever met, she’s adorable. I can’t believe she did that.
She wrote about how she is very tolerant of other people. She herself looks different from other people. She’s travelled all over the world; she’s very open-minded. But the one thing she will not stand for is bullying, especially after her hair has been messed with. It was hilarious.
I sent it to 20 college counselors, with her permission, and they all asked if they could send it to their students. It was perfect.
The point is, students pigeonhole themselves and write about topics they think are what colleges want to hear. Just tell a story about something. It can be as silly or serious as you want it to be.
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