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College Essays About Growing Up

What Is a College Essay?

A college essay is a written composition of moderate length about the writer who in most cases is a college applicant. Most selective colleges require applicants to put down a college essay as part of their application. College essays take a substantial amount of work or effort from the applicants and may seem like a burden, but it is indeed a privilege to them. It is an opportunity of a kind that can make a huge difference during decision time.

If you are looking for college essay examples here is a winning one below.


Growing up as the youngest child in a family is a hard thing to do. A lot of people think it’s all fun and games for the youngest child; it’s presumed they always get what they want, that they can get away with everything, and they never get in trouble. Although it was a unique experience, it was also a difficult one to have to deal with. This was the case for me… my journey being the youngest child of my father that was well known and loved; while it was an interesting way to grow up it was still a difficult process for me. My life, being the youngest, was different from anyone else I grew up knowing… and the only ones I could empathize with being the young kid were my older siblings; but, still, none of them knew how it felt to be the youngest.

As the youngest, it was difficult to have my brothers and sister spend time with me… I would hear things like: “I don’t want to play with you, you’re just a baby”, “that’s stuff babies do, go play by yourself” and even “you get your way all the time, go have mommy play with you”… yes, it was hard. I wasn’t too far behind my siblings of age with the exception of my oldest brother. He’s eight years older than I am, my sister is 3 years older than I am and my other brother is only two years older than me… that didn’t make them want to play with me, though. We had our moments where we did things together and they were great times, but few and far between. Of course, we all had different activities we enjoyed so that made things hard too. But one thing that brought us together was when my dad became a pastor.

People often say no two children are the same… clearly, the adults didn’t know this. Everyone expected me to act just like my older siblings. I would always hear “your brothers and sisters don’t act like that… they wouldn’t do the things you are doing; or even, they wouldn’t say that so you shouldn’t either”. It was often hard for me to take… didn’t these people know I was an individual? Weren’t they aware that I had my own thoughts and opinions on things? I’m sure they knew this… but they didn’t really care. 

It quickly became clear to me that people didn’t see me as a child or even an individual. I couldn’t drink water without it being an issue… well, maybe not that far, but that’s the way it seemed. Growing up being the youngest in the family was hard. That’s one world that I wasn’t prepared for at all. I could handle being the youngest, but having a huge spotlight placed on you because of the status your father was thrown into was totally different and difficult to handle… but I slowly found out it wasn’t impossible. My siblings and I had different stories and different experiences… but one thing we knew we’d always have was each other. Yes, to this day I’m the youngest child to my parents and I always will be…It was really hard for me, but it taught me so many things that help me out even today… and most importantly it was able to make me close with my siblings.


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This is the actual essay a student submitted with her application to The University of Tampa in Florida, and it helped her gain admission there. 

Morgan Schondelmeier, Personal Essay

The University of Tampa

Living in a small town can limit the perspective of one’s mind, leaving one to believe that hardly anything exists beyond the borders of one’s town. Old Saybrook is a town that I love; filled with beaches and restaurants, a quaint Main Street and green parks, it is quintessential Smalltown, New England. But in addition to its charm, growing up in Saybrook has had its challenges. Now, I’m not talking inner-city slum challenges, but as challenging as growing up in upper middle class suburbia can get. A lack of cultural experience and awareness seems to permeate my town of Old Saybrook, leaving the kids of this small town with little knowledge of what the world truly has to offer.

Being confined to a community with an area of 15 square miles has left me with a desire to see what lies beyond the borders of Old Saybrook. It began the summer before ninth grade when I took a trip to Europe through the program People to People. I, along with 44 other teens, traveled from the beaches of Greece, through the countryside of Italy, up to the center of France. This three-week-long complete immersion into travel and the European way of life left me thirsty for more. In the years that followed, my desire slowly morphed and developed, grew and transformed into a need, an obsession. I plastered my walls with pictures of the architecture of Rome and the beaches of Brazil. I spent hours on my computer searching for more opportunities to travel—counting my pennies, calculating how long until I could dive into another culture. I became committed to learning new languages, taking French in school and scrounging the library for audiotapes that could teach me a new language. And after a failed attempt at mastering the difficult accents used in German and Russian, I realized that it would be years before I could truly escape this small town.

My calling came sophomore year when another international travel program entered my radar. Walking Tree Travel presented to my French III class one of its programs: a trip to Senegal. I, however, was entranced by the Costa Rican trip, Walking Tree’s fledgling trip. I immediately signed up and four months later, armed with a borrowed Spanish I textbook, I was in Costa Rica. While I spent two weeks cliff diving, hiking, and zip lining, my 14 companions and I spent two weeks living and working with the inhabitants of Las Brisas. Las Brisas has a whopping population of 500—that’s a small town! My life began to revolve around life and work in Las Brisas. I would wake up every morning and walk a mile to the school where we were building a new support wall and mixing cement by hand for hours before being refreshed by a hot cup of coffee. The physical requirements of building a seven-foot high cement wall are extensive, but the rewards were even greater. I made new friends with the Las Brisas natives, began learning a new language, and really connected with the dozens of individual personalities and relationships that existed in this small farm town. Everyone had their own stories to tell and dreams to share, from the littlest chica to the oldest hombre. I gained so much more insight into culture in my two weeks in Las Brisas than I ever expected. They come from a different world than I do, but we share so many similarities! They like watching TV and playing sports. Others love traveling to see the wonders their small country has to offer. Some even love texting and, like me, some dream to escape their small town and see the world. And while living and working with the warm-hearted people of Las Brisas, I realized that it’s not the size of the town but the hopes and dreams of those in it that really determines the life they will lead.

While Saybrook gets quite boring in the dead of winter, growing up in what I thought was a “small” town has given me the perfect launch pad to make my life whatever I want it to be. My experiences in Europe and Costa Rica have given my life purpose and focus. I study hard in French and now take Spanish as well to build a foundation of knowledge that I hope will grow during and after college. I’ve made amazing international connections and friendships that I know I will keep for my whole life. These friendships have changed my perspective of humans and cultural differences as a whole. My interest in travel and foreign cultures has grown from a desire to an obsession to a virtual need for new experiences and relationships. I hope to fulfill this need in college and my career after, traveling and meeting new people and working to build a better world. But now, as I mature, I know that I will not forget the small shoreline town that I dreamed of leaving, knowing that one day, I will dream of returning.

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