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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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4 Excellent Emory Essay Examples

What’s Covered:


Emory University is a private research university in Atlanta, Georgia. The school is commonly referred to as a “ Southern Ivy” due to its academic prestige. In fact, Emory consistently ranks among the nation’s top 25 schools. The university also boasts a selective admissions process, so it’s important that you submit engaging essays that will make your application stand out.


In this post, we will walk through some essays that real students submitted to Emory. By noticing the strengths and weaknesses of these essays, you will be more prepared to write impressive essays to submit to the Emory admissions committee.


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 Emory University essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 


Essay Example #1 – Book, Character, or Song


Prompt: Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or nonfiction) represents you, and why? (150 words)


Never has a song resonated with me the way ‘My Shot’ did.


In the song, I saw a person who was motivated by nothing more than passion. Who had big dreams, and a stronger will to get it done. I saw someone who would stay up for nights on end to understand the inner workings of a seemingly-simple software to create a truly great website. Who would forgo meals because she had ideas in her head and a desire to write them down. Who would teach herself a subject her school refused to let her pursue. Who would take Machine Learning courses for fun. I saw someone with goals, with plans, and with the mettle required to reach them. I saw myself.


Applying to Emory is me thinking past tomorrow. It is me fanning my spark into a flame. Applying to Emory is me not throwing away my shot.


What the Essay Did Well


This essay is strong because it utilizes more sophisticated writing to express how this song represents the student. There is no generic sentence “The song ‘My Shot’ represents me because of x, y, and z.” Rather, there is a seamless transition from the subject of the song to the student: “In the song, I saw a person who was motivated by nothing more than passion. Who had big dreams, and a stronger will to get it done. I saw someone who would stay up for nights on end to understand the inner workings of a seemingly-simple software to create a truly great website.”


The student tells us that her song focuses on a person with strong passions and a stronger will, and then she goes on to demonstrate how she is that person. She doesn’t tell us outright that she is passionate about anything, but she shows the reader through her descriptions of “staying up for nights on end,” “forgoing meals because she has ideas in her head,” and “teaching herself a subject” she couldn’t learn in school.


The conclusion is also well done because it brings the song back into the essay. Any Hamilton fan can hear themselves singing those last lines in their head, which is a great way to make your reader feel engaged! Returning back to the song emphasizes the student’s attention to the prompt and provides a satisfying sense of closure.


What Could Be Improved 


One way this student could bring more nuance to her essay is through rewriting the beginning. The first sentence restates the prompt, wasting space that could be used to bring more action to her writing. To fix this, the student could integrate this introductory line with their first paragraph like this:


As I frantically danced around my room, I let the vibrant rhythms control me. I screamed out “We’re gonna rise up. Time to take a shot!” The intensity of the song ‘My Shot’ reminded me of my passionate motivations. 


In the song, I see…


This hook brings the passion and intensity of the song to the reader. By integrating information about the tone of the song or a lyric from the song, readers will feel more connected to the work you are describing and thus, your essay as a whole.


Essay Example #2 – Cultural Awareness


Prompt: Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness. (150 words)


“Mama, there’s HOLES in the floor!” 


Utterly culture shocked, five year old me was horrified to learn that the sitting toilets of America were not a guarantee in China.


I can’t say I like squat toilets, but they’ve made me realize that many things I see as “ordinary” might be completely different in a different culture or country. 


Since my little fiasco, I have in fact spent time researching toilets: bidets, heated seats, ancient Roman sanitation systems (actually not very sanitary but A+ concept), the works. I find it fascinating to think about how the economic status and cultural standards of different countries affect their bathrooms. It’s shocking how something as universal as a toilet can have such deeper implications. Though I can’t say it’s something I think about every day, in my mind it’s a small testament to the diverse yet similar ways we live as a global community.


What the Essay Did Well


The introduction is a major strength of this essay. The image of a little kiddo, with the best intentions, saying “Mama, there’s HOLES in the floor!”  gets us hooked. Through the sweetness behind the word “Mama” and the use of capitalization to articulate the young person’s astonishment, this student’s intentional writing creates a picture that has us interested right off the bat. They show their cultural experience, instead of just telling us what happened.


As we continue reading, we get to learn about the student’s thoughts. They position themself as the kind of student who is drawn to deep thought and can see the importance of small details and differences. This capacity for critical thought—especially as it relates to cultural differences—is appealing to admissions officers. Additionally, as they describe their critical thinking, they continue to highlight their endearing personality through humor, with parenthetical jokes like “ancient Roman sanitation systems (actually not very sanitary but A+ concept).” This works great.


Finally, the student ties up their essay simply. This is important because they already did a bells-and-whistles introduction with dialogue. In a short essay like this, including an engaging introduction and a creative conclusion can make the essay feel overwhelming and forced in its attempt to engage readers. Sometimes the simple answer is best—and this student does simple so well!


What Could Be Improved 


The biggest improvements this essay could make are mostly related to grammar. For example they could tighten up some of their prose. Words like “many,” “might be,” and “in fact” can be changed or eliminated to achieve concision and clarity.


Additionally, there are some small, but not insignificant, grammar issues that could have been caught with more thorough proofreading, including:


  • “culture shocked” → “culture-shocked”
  • “five year old me” → “five-year-old me”
  • “such deeper implications” → “much deeper implications”
  • “in my mind it’s” → “in my mind, it’s”


Essay Example #3 – Historic Event, William Henry Harrison


Prompt: If you could witness any event (past, present, or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why? (150 words)


Watching an old white man speak might not be the best way to spend my one chance to time travel, but something about William Henry Harrison’s inauguration has always piqued my curiosity. Not only did Harrison stubbornly refuse a coat, hat, and carriage on a disgustingly dreary day, but also gave the longest inaugural speech in US history—I imagine some were bored out of their minds. But it’s not the speech itself I’m interested in; it’s the desire to let the world hear all that you have to say, even if no one is listening. I often find myself bursting to share my thoughts on all kinds of issues: climate change, class, capitalism, but stop myself when I can’t find eager ears. Mr. Harrison died after (stupidly?) braving the elements to share his mind; I want to see that conviction with my own eyes.


What the Essay Did Well


This essay is bold, but it definitely pays off!


It can be risky to write your college essay in a casual style, but this student pulls it off. In the first sentence, they use the phrase “old white man” to describe William Henry Harrison which, while descriptive, has become a colloquial assemblage of descriptors. That being said, for this student, it works because it makes their essay feel authentic. When reading this essay, we get the opportunity to walk through this student’s thought process with them:


  1. I’m not crazy about old white men
  2. But William Henry Harrison is pretty cool
  3. I think William Henry Harrison is so cool because he spoke his mind fearlessly
  4. It’s important to me to speak my mind fearlessly


Through this progression, we learn so much about the student—which is the entire point! The essay is your main opportunity to humanize yourself to admissions officers and this student really shows who they are as a human aside from test scores and extracurriculars.


What Could Be Improved 


This essay is fabulous—it’s clear and engaging, shows the student’s personality and values, and answers the prompt. 


The main change this essay could use is replacing the word “stupidly”. While some students can make a casual tone work, presenting yourself as disrespectful to authority through such a harsh word (even if you really believe he is stupid!) isn’t ideal for admissions. Instead, this comedic parenthetical could have read “carelessly?” or “foolishly?” These words would’ve gotten the student’s point across without being negative.


Essay Example #4 – Historic Event, Nikola Tesla


Prompt: If you could witness a historic event first-hand, what would it be, and why? (150 words)


I would love to join Nikola Tesla during one of his pigeon-feeding ventures. I’ve always had an affinity for scientist trivia, and this bird aficionado/innovator is undeniably my favorite. However, I’ve discovered that history accentuates so strongly on such scientists’ laboratory accomplishments that we perceive them as mythical beings rather than humans – to the point that we’re surprised whenever they participate in commonplace activities. We all know Tesla’s multitude of revolutionary inventions that are still ubiquitous in modern technology. Nevertheless, I aspire to go a step further; I believe there is a beauty and inspiration that can only be found by understanding scientists outside the lab, movie stars off-camera, and politicians away from microphones. Great minds aren’t necessarily defined by the moments that history records; many times, the most remarkable people are found lurking in the park with a handful of sunflower seeds.


What the Essay Did Well


This essay is ripe with potential because the student picked an interesting topic—important people doing unimportant things! And, to articulate this topic, the student chose a great example—Nikola Tesla feeding pigeons. 


Choosing a simple event that represents a larger curiosity of the student is a great way to bring an essay topic that can get very lofty and aspirational back down to Earth. The essay is more about the question of who celebrities are outside of the public eye, which demonstrates the depth of this student’s critical thought. They search for deeper significance, hidden truths, and non obvious answers. 


Admissions officers admire a student with these skills, but there’s no one way to convey it in your essays. That being said, a good place to start is to dig deeper and go beyond what the prompt explicitly asks for, as this student did.


What Could Be Improved 


While this student has the perfect set-up for an outstanding essay, their execution needs work for this essay to be truly effective. In its current state, the point gets muddled. Though readers ultimately understand what this student is getting at, it takes too much work to parse through all of the elevated prose, transitions, and sentences. To articulate the idea we don’t truly know our heroes more clearly, the student could have written something engaging like:


On the news, in my classes, and even at my family’s dinner table, I constantly hear Tesla referred to as “the innovator of the future,” “our generation’s Einstein,” “the most brilliant man on the planet.” While I don’t deny his extensive list of scientific and engineering accomplishments, I am inclined to wonder when he stopped being seen as human. Is the Tesla on our screens a man or a mythical being?


Finally, the student’s reflection should be more reflective! The first sentence of the reflection reads “I believe there is a beauty and inspiration that can only be found by understanding scientists outside the lab, movie stars off-camera, and politicians away from microphones.” This is a valuable point, but it goes entirely unexplained. Is the student saying that these well-known individuals gain their inspiration through their daily activities? Or is the student trying to say that the fact that these well-known individuals are just ordinary people inspires them as a student?


The topic of “important people doing unimportant things” is perfect for reflection, but this student misses the opportunity. The essay needs to relate back to the applicant—Where do they get inspiration? Why is inspiration important? At the end of this essay, we still don’t know why Nikola Tesla’s pigeon-feeding matters to the student. We need more.


Where to Get Your Emory University Essays Edited


Do you want feedback on your Emory University essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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.