What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

A Great Colorado School of Mines Essay Example

Sophie Alina, an expert advisor on CollegeVine, provided commentary on this post. Advisors offer one-on-one guidance on everything from essays to test prep to financial aid. If you want help writing your essays or feedback on drafts, book a consultation with Sophie Alina or another skilled advisor.


Colorado School of Mines is a public research university located in the mountainous state of Colorado. Colorado School of Mines is noted for its rigorous engineering and STEM programs. As a moderately selective school, strong essays are key for admission into this great university. In this post, we will examine a real essay that a student submitted to Colorado School of Mines and examine what they did well and how they could have made it even better. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).


Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 


Read our Colorado School of Mines essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.




Prompt: Florence Caldwell was the first woman to graduate from Mines. She enrolled in 1895 and found that her fellow classmates discouraged her attendance. She persevered through that discouragement and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1898. She was described as a problem solver who was loyal, kind and sympathetic to others and displayed unwavering courage. Describe a time when you overcame an obstacle, persevered through a situation or displayed characteristics similar to Florence Caldwell.


Fear, panic, and sadness. Those are what I felt three consecutive years in a row. I feared change, and it held me back each time I started at a new school. For me, change meant unknown environments and the unexpected. I was unable to see anything but the negative aspects of a new situation.


For three years in a row, I attended different elementary schools. On the first days of each, the overwhelmingness of the huge changes hit me like a stack of bricks. In fourth grade, my stomach churned with the anticipation of the fear, amplifying it. By fifth grade, I thought I had adapted. Despite this, once I got to class the bricks hit once more. I could barely focus on what was going on. The teacher called on me but all I could do was choke on the words that managed to reach my mouth. Tears poured out of my eyes as I attempted to hide my distress, but to no avail. I was crumbling under the pressure of a new environment.


I criticized myself for getting upset because it seemed irrational. It was as if my brain was functioning without thought and becoming upset without external factors. This often frustrated me, but in middle school I was able to overcome this fear of change. Not only did I learn to adapt to the new environment through experience, but I also changed my perspective. I realized that change is not bad, and that it can bring on positive experiences if you are willing to look in that direction.


An example of this is the leap from middle school to high school. It was something I was dreading as soon as I finished eighth grade. Going to a larger school terrified me and all I could think about was how I reacted to the same situation in elementary school. However, by putting my fear aside, it occurred to me that the more people there were, the more possibilities to make friends. In addition, it meant the school offered a larger variety of classes compared to middle school. Overall, looking at a new situation with hope is a lesson I have continued to take with me and apply everywhere.


I have discovered it is best to focus more on the new opportunities rather than the anticipation, therefore allowing me to think more optimistically in general. By looking forward to the future and focusing on the positive, I fear it less. Currently, I imagine the future as a bridge filled with infinite possibilities. The fear of change has dissipated and is now a mere dot in my vision when an adjustment is necessary.


What the Essay Did Well 


The writer effectively brings us into their essay by narrating their feelings in a short, powerful sentence (“Fear, panic, and sadness.”) The writer then introduces their topic, of changing schools, but broadens this to more of a characteristic about how the writer responds to situations – only seeing “the negative aspects.” By using a situation to tell about a larger characteristic of who this writer is, the writer can then take a lesson about what they learned through transferring schools and apply it to how they should act when encountering new situations. This is a clever device! 


Later, we learn that the writer’s life lesson is to focus optimistically on the new opportunities that lay ahead. By an imaginative image of a bridge, the writer can visualize the future. 


The writer also reflects on their emotions in a way that allows the reader to connect to them. This is evident especially in the third paragraph. By diving deeply into their emotional responses, the writer can create empathy within with the reader, and it’s always advantageous to connect emotionally with the reader of your essay, especially if that reader happens to be an admissions officer. 


What Could Be Improved 


This essay could be improved through eliminating filler words, using active language, and dividing up run-on sentences into shorter, more powerful sentences. 


While these are useful when one is learning to write essays in school, stronger writing moves to only use these words when necessary. These words include “An example of this…,” “However,” “In addition,” and “Overall.” Through eliminating these words, the writer can just say what they want to say in a more clear and effective way. The writer could also use active language, instead of passive, such as “it occurred to me,” and “by putting my fear aside.” Finally (like I said, transition words are okay sometimes!), the writer could have separated out a shorter sentence such as “I was terrified” to put more emphasis on that feeling. 


Instead of using those words, the writer could have written, “As soon as I finished eighth grade, I began dreading the move to high school. I was terrified. All I could think about was how I reacted to the same situation in elementary school. But I put my fear aside; I realized that the more people there were, the more possibilities to make friends. The school also offered more classes compared to middle school. I decided to look at the new situation with hope.” 


Where to Get Feedback on Your Essay 


Want feedback like this on your Colorado School of Mines essay before you submit? We offer expert essay review by advisors who have helped students get into their dream schools. You can book a review with an expert to receive notes on your topic, grammar, and essay structure to make your essay stand out to admissions officers.


Haven’t started writing your essay yet? Advisors on CollegeVine also offer expert college counseling packages. You can purchase a package to get one-on-one guidance on any aspect of the college application process, including brainstorming and writing essays.

Short Bio
Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.