College Essay Examples: Writing Essays in College


When faced with the task of writing your first ever university paper, there are some key differences between high school and university level essay writing that should be taken into account. Moreover, it may be useful to examine several college essay examples as a way of preparing for university level essay writing.

How College Essays Differ from High School

Typically, high school students are taught to follow a fairly rigid and formulaic form of essay writing known colloquially as the sandwich method. The sandwich method essentially states that your essay should consist of a one paragraph lead or intro, followed by three to four paragraphs of body text, each representing a distinct argument, and finally a conclusion that summarizes all of the points in the essay. While this template is not necessarily wrong, what new university students will typically discover, especially when entering an arts program with a heavy emphasis on writing, is that essays are much more free form and varied in nature.

The end goal with essay writing in university is to be able to successfully articulate your points in a lucid and convincing fashion. Given the wide array of topics that you might be covering, it becomes apparent that while one template may be appropriate for a class on comparative literature, you would be be better served following a different structure when writing a paper on Canadian history or contemporary media theory.

Moreover, there is a uniformity to the sandwich method taught in high school that can often be misleading. While the sandwich method would have you write three paragraphs of similar length to make up the argumentative section of the paper, in reality more flexibility is required when formulating a successful paper. One argument in your paper might involve a fairly complex idea that requires you to break it down into smaller pieces in order to communicate it effectively to the reader. Meanwhile, an equally valid argument might be more straight forward and would be more salient if written plainly in your paper with just a few lines.

Apart from conceptual differences between high school and university writing, another major difference that you have to adapt to is the use of fixed writing styles. The three major writing styles, MLA, APA,  and Chicago, all feature different conventions that you will often have to learn and rigorously apply based on your professors preference for a particular style. The best way to become accustomed to these styles is to consult official writing manuals that are available both online and in every campus bookstore.

How to Find Good College Essay Examples

Study Academic Journals

One of the best ways to get a gage on the type of writing that would be required of you in university is by doing the various readings that you are assigned in your first year courses. Although the wording in academic journals might initially appear intimidating, the point is not to imitate the vocabulary of the authors you are reading. In fact, doing so might make your papers appear pretentious, or give the impression that you do not understand what you are writing and are trying to impress the reader with flowery language. Instead the goal of carefully reading academic writing should be to gain a firm grasp on syntax and understand how academics formulate their arguments and express their ideas.

Visit Credible Sites

Most universities have extensive libraries of online and offline resources available to help student learn the craft of writing and to improve their essay skills. As a tuition paying student you should take advantage of the bulk of resources you have at your disposal from credible academic sources. Some universities even offer in-depth comprehensive guides to writing completely free of charge to the public through websites, such as the Harvard College Writing Center. Just be wary of dubious websites with questionable credentials, or sites that offer writing services for a fee. Most often these services are created to sucker students out of money and offer little in terms of actual educational value.

Consult with Older Students and High Performers

Another useful strategy would be to reach out to upper year students who are already seasoned university level essay writers and have clear understanding of what is too be expected from academic papers. That said it would be best to approach the students who are high achievers and are generally well regarded for their writing abilities, as they would more likely be more capable and willing to help out. There are many students in university that scrape by with sloppy writing, thus it is better to consult someone who cares about the craft as they will be more effective in giving you pointers.

Moving Past Examples of College Essays

Reaching out to Teaching Assistants and Professors

Yet perhaps the single best resources that you might have at your disposal in university are your professors and their teaching assistants. As these individuals have either completed, or are in the process of completing graduate school, they have proven their competency with high level academic writing.

In my experience during the first couple of months as a freshman at Western University, I initially noticed a considerable drop in my marks. While in high school I was accustomed to receiving eighties and nineties in many of my writing assignments, my first semester of university started off with a couple of sixties and one essay assignment that I barely passed. After spending a considerable amount of time going to the office hours of my teaching assistants and professors, not only did my marks subsequently rise, but the quality of writing that I produced dramatically improved after my first year of university. Often the best way to improve in the craft of writing is to  keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your instructors.

Freshman 15: 7 Reasons You’ll Likely Gain Weight in First Year


As many first year students fall victim to the infamous freshman 15 phenomenon, a key to fighting back excessive weight gain when you enter university is understanding the causes and planning ahead.

What is the Freshman 15

While it is unclear where exactly the term “freshman 15″ originated, it generally refers to the tendency of students in North American universities to put on weight during their first year of studies (sometimes around 15 pounds of fat!). Although this tendency varies from student to student, and is by no means unavoidable, it can largely be attributed to several lifestyle changes that most students tend to experience when entering university.

Top 7 Reasons for Weight Gain in First Year

1. Cafeteria Food

It is no great secret that the typical dorm cafeteria is replete with unhealthy food options.  While you might find a small salad bar or assortment of veggies, the overwhelming majority of food you will be exposed to consists of processed carbs and greasily cooked meat. As well, since most cafeterias are all you can eat (allowing you to stuff as many items on your plate as you desire) it is quite easy to go overboard and consume more food than your body can properly process.  If you were used to eating clean home cooked meals growing up, this change will likely lead to weight gain unless you are very strict about the cafeteria items you select.

2. Late Night Snack Bar/Vending Machines

Not only is cafeteria food often a bad substitute for your traditional meals, but many dorms also tend to feature a late night snack bar including delicious goodies like pizza, chicken nuggets, fries, and hamburgers. If you fall into the nasty habit of making regular use of your dorms snack bar, then you will be consuming countless empty calories and most likely packing on excess weight. As well you will likely have easy access to vending machines with various sweets and chips to further compound the problem.

3. All-Nighters

All-nighters have a nasty habit of derailing your eating regimen and throwing your hormonal system out of wack. Basically as your body becomes sleep deprived, it tends to become increasingly hungry.  Moreover, when you are staying up all night to finish of that term paper due the next morning, chances are you will trade in the time needed to prepare a healthy meal for something quick and greasy. The effects of sleep loss carry on through the rest of your week as your body seeks to recuperate by taking in more calories. Neglect your sleep long enough, or pull frequent all-nighters, and your will most certainly gain unwanted weight.

4. Changes in Exercise Regime

If you were physically active prior to entering university, then you might fall into the bad habit of making up excuses for not exercising due to your increasingly busy and stressful new life. Yet a decrease in exercising equals a reduction in the amount of calories that you burn. And if you burn less calories, while taking more in due to the other factors on this list, then you have a recipe for fat gain!

5. Drinking

Often cited as the most common reason for weight gain in university, frequent nights of binge drinking are sure-fire ways to pack on the pounds. A drink of any alcoholic beverage usually contains upwards of 100 calories. Thus a night of hard drinking, usually followed by the munchies and some late night binging on greasy fast food, and you may very well come close to doubling your daily intake of calories. By doing this often for a couple of weeks, typically during the start of your semesters when the workload has not piled on yet, you could easily pack on five pounds of fat!

6. Peer Pressure/Surroundings

Sadly even if you go into university knowledgeable about the aforementioned pitfalls and health risks, you may be unwilling to resist the peer pressure you will encounter. When your surroundings are full of your new friends splurging on junk food and drinking, then it is quite understandable that you would like to join in on the fun while you are still young. That said it is up to you to decide where to draw the line, and to take responsibility for your own health.

7. Maturing Metabolism

For some of you, your eating habits might have been far from ideal before heading off to university. Yet what might have kept your body relatively lean during your adolescent years, was the fact that you were still experiencing growth spurts and the benefits of a high teenage metabolism. Yet as your body begins to settle down around the age you enter university, you will find that you might experience weight gain simply by carrying on the same as you had in the past.

Preventing the Freshman 15

By understanding the root causes of your likely weight gain in university you will be much better equipped to deal with issues of unwanted fat build up in your body. Granted you will still want to enjoy the occasional night out of drinking with friends or splurging on fatty food after a stressful week, you can work to minimize your weight gain by taking simple actions such as, exercising regularly, avoiding late night snacking, and planning ahead to prevent all-nighters. Even if you ultimately do fall victim to this trend (as did the author of this article) do not stress about it too much. With a bit of time, and a lot of work it is always reversible!