How to Write a College Admissions Essay

The essay below appeared on Reddit and purportedly succeeded in getting the student accepted to NYU. I hope it is true because is a great admissions 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 Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty 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 travelling 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.

This essay purportedly was used by “Hugh Gallagher wrote to get into NYU in the early ’90.”

16 thoughts on “How to Write a College Admissions Essay”

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  2. Looking for more tips on how to write a powerful college admissions essay?
    check out my blog:

    i am a former journalist and high school english teacher who tutors students on how to write these personal narratives.

    best of luck!

  3. I’m opposed to college admission essays at colleges and universities which receive federal government dollars to the school per se and to the students through loans and grants. (I know, I’m always the party pooper).

    Before any knee jerks, please let me explain.

    Essay permit discrimination based on sex and race.

    In Michigan, for example, admissions based on race had been allowed for a very long time until (slap forehead) it has been struck down by the court as being not the right thing to do.

    So how can those fully dedicated to discriminating against whites and Asians figure out if a person is not?

    Through the college essay. Essays about how the student watched grandma-ma Juanita bake floor tortillas on stones in the dessert while they waited for night to cross the border….and blah, blah, blah, blah.

    What also needs to be withheld from the decision committee is what high school the student attended. This is another sure fire way of discriminating against whites and Asians and the wealthy.

    If a student reaches even the best of colleges or universities with high enough SAT or ACT it can be presumed they can write well enough to enter college. If they need to improve their writing after entrance, there are plenty of programs to meet that need.

  4. It reads just like the “most interesting man in the world” commercials.

  5. ‘I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.’

    ‘full contact Origami’

    ‘Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. ‘

    ….uh oh…I think I’m in love….again

  6. Hugh Gallagher:

    Gallagher was born in New York City and grew up in Pennsylvania. While in high school, he won Scholastic Press, Inc.’s national writing contest in 1990 with a satiric personal essay titled “3A Essay”.

    The essay starts with “I am a dynamic figure”, and contains many humorous, hyperbolic statements of his accomplishments, ending with the line, “But I have not yet gone to college.” The essay, which he did apparently submit to some colleges[1][2], has become an urban legend among high school students undergoing the college admissions process. It also became a popular Internet phenomenon in the late 1990s. The essay was also recorded as a spoken-word piece by Gang of Seven Productions.[3] A line from this essay was adapted by Full Contact Origami for the company’s name.

  7. “I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.”

    This guy and I have a few things in common. 😉

    PS. BIL, I see you floating by my window now…nice shirt!

  8. Hey! How’d you get my admissions letter?

    I worked a long time to be free of the laws of physics and take pride in the accomplishment.

  9. There was a guy on a dating site who used this as his profile. Although the man wasn’t exactly attractive, I copied his essay to my desktop because I thought it was clever, and clever always trumps attractive, right?

    Now I read this, and I am glad I never contacted the guy. Because apart from not being attractive, he obviously was a cheat… Oh well!

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