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.

Peer Pressure: Top 5 Sources of Peer Pressure in University


A look at the prevalence of peer pressure in university and the most common forms that students experience.

Does Peer Pressure Really Exist in University?

Yes, like any other social environment that you will enter throughout your life, pressure to conform to certain norms and trends that the crowd around you practices is going to exist. Since university for most students takes place at a time when they are leaving adolescence and finally entering adulthood, there are various forms of peer pressure that seem to prevail in most university campuses. Below are some of the top sources of peer pressure that you will encounter in university.

Top 5 Sources of Peer Pressure in University

1. Alcohol and Drugs

Drinking has for a long time been a deeply engrained part of university culture on many campuses. For schools that are located on college towns, where most of the students are not from the area and are living away from home for the first time, university is often the time in many students lives where they first begin to experiment with alcohol and recreational drug use.

While alcohol will become increasingly common at many of the social functions that you attend in university, you should always do what makes you comfortable and participate in drinking for your own enjoyment, not because other people are pressuring you to. The same general principle applies to any drug use, although it is highly advised that you stay away from hard illegal drugs as there might be dangerous repercussions.

2. Unhealthy Eating Habits

Throughout your time in university there will likely be a great deal of pressure on you to develop unhealthy eating habits. From late night binge eating during all-nighter team projects, to munching on fast food after the bar, to ordering pizza during group study sessions, there will be ample opportunities for your peers to pressure you into eating unhealthy food and developing bad habits.

More than anything else, this form of peer pressure in university requires a tremendous amount of discipline. The most effective way to combat this problem is to develop a solid eating and exercising regimen so that the nights where your friends and classmates pressure you to eat unhealthy are outliers rather than the norm. Being on top of your academic workload and planning ahead is also a great way to avoid late night cram sessions and the possibility of unhealthy food binges every now and then.

3. Club Initiations

Many clubs and student organizations in your university may have all sorts of long-standing histories and traditions that go along with them. Fraternities in particular are notorious for their club traditions that often involve initiation ceremonies. Initiations are essentially rights of passage that signify that a person has accepted their new adopted group and is willing to become one with that organization and its customs.

The issue with certain fraternity initiations in particular, however, is that they often involve various forms of hazing. Hazing is essentially any form of initiation that involves either physical or psychological harassment. Thus if it is a prerequisite for the club you are interested in joining that you endure some form of pain or sexual humiliation, it is wise to seriously reconsider whether you want to associate yourself with a group that promotes those types of values. Always do your research before rushing to join a fraternity or sorority.

4. Skipping Class

One of the freedoms that becomes immediately apparent when stepping inside your first university lecture is that this is no longer the tightly monitored environment that you have grown up accustomed to until the end of high school. Most classes in university do not take attendance, and from attending club meetings, to waking up hungover, you will continually find more and more reasons to put off going to class.

It is best to always keep in mind what the primary purpose of going to university is, as well as to remember that either you personally or your family is literally investing ten of thousands of dollars into your education.  While all sorts of social pressures might encourage you to skip class, you should always think about your long term goals.

5. Conforming to Political Views

This form of peer pressure differs somewhat from the aforementioned points as it is more likely to come from your instructors than any of your fellow students. Nevertheless, the pressure to conform to, and to adopt various political views is prevalent in many university faculties. While there are many professors that are open minded thinkers who encourage seeing issues from multiple viewpoints, the sad reality is that many times you will discover that the instructors in various faculties often share similar worldviews.

In arts and humanities faculties that place a strong emphasis on teaching ethics and socially progressive values it is not uncommon to run across professors with strong left-wing tendencies. Meanwhile, in business faculties professors are often much more conservative and much less inclined to teach students about ethics.

While there are intelligent and thoughtful arguments to be made on any side of the political spectrum, and while some of your professors may very well be brilliant, the problem with having one particular viewpoint expressed over and over again is that it can become very dogmatic. Moreover, when it appears that all of your professors are rooting for the same side, it can create a bit of a relay effect and convince you that all educated people have one way of thinking or viewing the world. Because these people also happen to have PhDs and are standing in front of the classroom it may also appear very difficult to challenge them.

As a result, you may very well convince yourself that they are right and that your view point is less important. However, the point of higher education should always be to learn to think for yourself and question other people’s viewpoints. Therefore when you are confronted with such pressure from academics you should always question everything you are learning and stick to what you feel makes sense to you personally and not what it appears the crowd supports.

Getting Past Peer Pressure in University

Throughout your four years in university you will likely experience a great deal of growth as an individual. It is quite likely that you will conform to some of the peer pressure that you face and that your attitude on these issues will change. Above all else it is important to do what feels right for you and to refuse to take part in any activity that you wholeheartedly disagree with and might regret in the future. University, above all else, is about finding yourself and strengthening your identity as an individual.