4 Great Georgetown Essay Examples
- Essay Example 1 – Special Talents
- Essay Example 2 – Personal Statement
- Essay Example 3 – The Meaning of Being Educated
- Essay Example 4 – Speech and Debate
- Where to Get Feedback on Your Essay
Georgetown is a prestigious university located right outside of Washington D.C. that is known for its great public policy and international relations programs. With so many eager applicants wanting to attend this highly-selective school, you need to have strong essays to stand out from the crowd. In this post, we’ll share real essays students have submitted to Georgetown, and share what they did well and how they could be made 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 Georgetown essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.
Prompt: Please indicate any special talents or skills you possess. You should write in either paragraph or bulleted-list format. (200-250 words)
Bending down, I pluck a four-leaf clover from a sea of genetically identical Trifolium. After capturing this anomaly on film, I press it, adding it to my collection. Ever since I first discovered four-leaf clovers, I honed my observational skills until I could find them with ease. Now, I am a master of small details and the proud owner of 22 four-leaf clovers.
My memory for special occasions is unrivaled. Within my brain, I categorize and store dates: birthdays, anniversaries, check-ins, etc. I take pride in remembering my friends’ and family’s important days and being there to celebrate or support, listen or laugh, or simply spend time with them. Attentiveness and thoughtfulness are at the foundation of who I am.
When I saw the unicycle under the tree, I was elated yet apprehensive. All-day on Christmas, I practiced riding it: I waggled my arms as I sought my balance, caught myself each time I fell, and continued to stand up to try again. Through perseverance and determination, I eventually found my balance, and five months later, I could easily ride alongside my sister’s scooter through the park.
My party trick is walking on my hands. With a beet-red face and dirty palms, I carefully fall out of my handstand and back into an upright position. I always giggle when I do so, observing the shocked, entertained faces of the people around me. My unusual talent facilitates joy and laughter, and inevitably, connection.
What the Essay Did Well
This essay is successful because of how random it is! When a prompt asks for a special talent or skill, many people might be tempted to write about some extracurricular they excel at or a characteristic they have like leadership or perseverance, but this student chose to share a collection of unrelated fun facts about themselves. We would never know about their collection of four-leaf clovers or how they walk on their hands from the rest of the application. This essay really takes advantage of the prompt to humanize the applicant and share the little details that make them unique.
Another thing this essay does well is combining the suggested structures. The disjointed paragraphs describing a new talent give the effect of a bulleted list, but each skill is contextualized in its own paragraph. They could have just written “I can ride the unicycle”, but instead we learned about this student’s perseverance through their explanation of riding a unicycle.
Even if they chose to only write about one special talent, this student does a great job of drawing the reader into the moment. We are there, crouching down and looking into the sea of green clovers. We are there, watching them struggle to balance on the unicycle. We are there, hearing them giggle as they dust off their hands and stand rightside up. The inclusion of sensory details like these really brings the reader into the story, making it so much more enjoyable to read.
What Could Be Improved
Since each paragraph is completely unrelated to the others, this essay could benefit from a few transitions to make it clear there’s a jump from one skill to another. If the student wanted to keep the list-like feel, they could start each paragraph with a quick recap and then jump into the rest of the paragraph. For example, the first paragraph would start like “An eye of four-leaf clovers.”, and then go into the paragraph.
Prompt: As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you. (Approximately 1 page, single-spaced)
Faded dye. Loose threads. Peeling rank stripes.
On the surface, my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belts are a display of my martial arts progression. But in each worn belt there are stories of sweat and tears, triumph and loss, challenges and growth. Like the changing colors of a seasonal rank promotion, I myself have changed, adopting new skills with each belt added to my collection. These scraps of fabric are more than my prized possessions; they’re an album of my life’s most defining moments.
Crisp white and too small, my first belt was worn by a girl who was eager to learn self-defense, but was anxious to try something new. Enraptured, I’d watch higher ranked students grapple, excitedly envisioning myself performing the same graceful Kosoto-gari throws and powerful rear-naked choke holds that I saw on the mats. However, expectations can be a harsh antithesis to reality: any visions of my future martial arts prowess crumbled upon encountering dive roll drills.
Deceived by its simple, somersault-like appearance, I vaulted my crouched body with gusto, only to flop onto my side like an exhausted cat. No problem. I positioned myself for another attempt. The same “floppy-cat” predicament ensued. Again! This time I rolled into my teammate. Frustrated, I began to ask my coach for pointers, but stopped upon realizing I was holding up the drill line. Over and over, each effort yielded the same undesirable results. Shame coursed through my veins as I returned to the back of the line.
Now, when I watched my classmates spar, I looked on with envy; it seemed like they were speeding towards a rank promotion while I was drowning in my own incompetence, marked to forever remain a white belt. This dismal attitude followed me until I met my training partner, Ann. She was a higher-ranked teammate and seasoned athlete, so I was flustered by the thought of her seeing me struggle. But when it came time to practice our dive rolls, I was surprised to see her fumble like me. Unlike me, Ann wasn’t one to struggle on her own: she shot her hand into the air, immediately getting our coach’s attention. With a patient smile, he walked us through the technique, occasionally allowing Ann to stop and check that I understood; within minutes, both of us could perform solid dive rolls. While this moment brought a surge of pride, it also opened my eyes to my biggest shortcoming – lacking the courage to advocate for my needs.
Realizing this problem, I set on the path to correcting my mistakes. Whenever I struggled with a move, I made an effort to consult my coaches and teammates, working to build both my skills and rapport. Forging bonds with my teammates also allowed me to adopt moves from their grappling style, sparking an appreciation for the lessons learned from each training partner. With each week that went by, my progress became more noticeable. Where there were previously gaps in my technique and hesitation in my movements, I could now see my skills improving and my desire to speak up develop. No longer was my white belt crisp and new; it was now faded and grayish, hiding memories of difficult, yet rewarding matches in its stitching.
Ultimately, my biggest mistake was struggling by myself. While jiu jitsu is an individual sport, it’s not an isolated one. Ann, my coaches, and my teammates were more than my competitors; they were my best learning resources and closest supporters.
Since wearing my first belt, I’ve learned to change my despairing attitude to one of openness and determination. Challenges will continue to come my way, whether they come in the form of a jiu jitsu opponent or a grueling exam. Only I can put in the work to achieve my desired outcomes, but I’ve come to see that I don’t have to face my difficulties alone. Now, I look to the future with anticipation for the next obstacle to overcome. Who knows? Perhaps a black belt awaits.
What the Essay Did Well
For a prompt that asked to get to know the applicant better, this is an amazing essay. We learn so much about this student from her response. We know one of her main passions is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we get to see her biggest weakness stand in the way of her success and then watch as she overcomes that, and we learn about how she approaches challenges both on and off the mat.
How is this essay able to convey so much information while still being interesting to read? The author does an excellent job of placing us in the moment by showing us what is occurring. Right from the beginning, we see a little girl with a brand-new belt eagerly watching tumbles and choke holds. Then, rather than just telling us she struggled with dive rolls, she describes the process in detail and compares her failures to a “floppy-cat”. These depictions help bring the reader into the story and make it so much easier to envision what she went through. She also brings us into her mind, telling us about the shame and envy she felt when she originally struggled and how she now understands the importance of getting help.
Also notice how the essay doesn’t come to an end once she has her “aha” moment and her mindset towards approaching challenges shifts. She takes two paragraphs to bring us down from the climax of the essay and continues to show us how she took time to grow once she started asking for help. We aren’t led to believe she immediately became a jiu jitsu master after her one experience, which is a common mistake students make in their essays. It took months, if not years, for her to get to where she is now, so although her mindset shifted when she was younger, we get to see how her new perspective influenced her after that one example.
What Could Be Improved
One way this essay could be made even greater is by including an internal monologue to show us her emotions. This student already did an excellent job of showing us what happened externally, but when it comes to her feelings and thoughts at the moment, she tells us about them.
Instead of telling us she was frustrated when she kept messing up the dive rolls, she could have written something like this: “With every failed attempt a little voice in my head nagged at me over and over. You’re never going to get it. You’re terrible at this. Stop holding up the line, it’s not going to work.” These lines convey so much more emotion than just telling us she was frustrated. It helps us understand how she thinks, as well as make it more relatable because everyone knows what it’s like to feel hopeless and annoyed at yourself when you can’t do something correctly.
Incorporating more of her internal monologue would further elevate this essay which already does a good job of showing us what happened.
Essay Example 3 – The Meaning of Being Educated
Peering out at my 7-year-old constituents, I scratch the stick-on beard around my chin and adjust my top hat. “Ten score and three years ago,” I begin, “Abraham Lincoln was born.”
Even as a child, my fascination with politics extended beyond schoolwork. From memorizing the names of politicians to voluntarily delivering presentations on presidents to my second-grade class, I immersed myself in studying government. But education extends beyond mere memorization; it allows people to directly engage with a diverse array of ideas and perspectives to achieve a deeper understanding of the human experience, and more broadly, the world. To be educated is not a singular state of being; rather, education is a continuous, evolving process. Education empowers individuals with the knowledge and the experience to catalyze societal change. The College of Arts & Sciences will marry instruction in political theory with opportunities for community engagement, which, as an aspiring constitutional lawyer, will enable me to break systemic barriers to civic involvement.
At Georgetown, I am eager to major in Government, minoring in Justice and Peace Studies, to investigate the role of governing institutions in providing democratic access for underrepresented populations. Georgetown’s wealth of course offerings will allow me to simultaneously receive formal classroom instruction and wield this knowledge to serve underserved communities. Through courses like JUPS 280 “Gender, Immigration, & Social Justice,” I will deepen my understanding of disparities in democratic participation by exploring the intersectionality of race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Combining my passions for academia and volunteerism, I am also eager to engage in CBL courses like UNXD 130 “Social Action” to further my inquiry into the mechanisms driving successful social movements, on both local and global scales. Georgetown’s intimate classroom environment will expose me to the different perspectives of contemporary political theory and foster critical thought about world issues, including civic disengagement.
Furthermore, pursuing undergraduate research will allow me to continue exploring the limited democratic participation of marginalized communities to understand the mechanisms that inhibit political engagement. Under Professor Nadia Brown, I will concentrate my research on possible legislation to break the barriers to civic engagement for African American women. Through the Royden B. Davis Fellowship, I will apply my research to implement sustainable programs in the D.C. metropolitan area to bridge disparities in voter participation among different racial groups. Georgetown’s array of research opportunities will enable me to connect with a community of diverse-minded changemakers, expanding my exposure to various dimensions of the human condition. Collaborating with my peers through research will not only kindle my insatiable curiosity, but also cultivate an analytical perspective when examining democratic institutions.
Immersing myself in the college’s mission for cura personalis and social justice will allow me to employ my research and study of the theory of social action in the Georgetown community. Through the D.C. Schools project, for example, I will work to combat the language barrier by providing literacy services to elementary school students in D.C. Or, partaking in multidimensional dialogue with the passionate individuals of Educating Residents about Social Equality (ERASE) will enable me to interact with a community of people varied in culture, passion, and thought. I am aware of my limited perspective; engaging with Georgetown’s diverse student body will allow me to grow cognizant of the wide range of lived human experiences.
The College of Arts and Sciences’ dedication to uniting traditional classroom experience with experiential learning will enable me to venture into the world with the tools and mindset to spur democratic reform and cultivate a more accessible democracy for all individuals. As a Hoya, I will employ my global curiosity and inclusive nature to bolster civic engagement for underrepresented populations, both on campus and beyond. Georgetown will be a haven for my pursuits as a student and an activist, embodying engagement with diverse individuals and ideas to generate social reform.
What the Essay Did Well
This prompt is very specific. It’s not asking you to “describe a time” or “reflect on an instance.” It is concrete: admissions officers want answers. When they finish your essay, they should be able to say both:
- what it means to you to be educated, and
- how Georgetown will help you become educated.
This student does a great job of answering these questions, and, more specifically, of answering these questions at the right point in their essay. Great points can be difficult to understand if they’re presented in a disorganized way, but this essay’s strong structure ensures the writer’s ideas come across clearly.
First, they provide readers with a goofy image from their childhood, which immediately makes us interested in their story. But they wisely don’t spend too much time on the anecdote, and instead transition to explicitly answering the prompt’s first question:
“To be educated is not a singular state of being; rather, education is a continuous, evolving process. Education empowers individuals with the knowledge and the experience to catalyze societal change.”
The student then dives straight into a discussion of the specific resources at Georgetown that will immerse them in this “continuous, evolving process,” including a minor, courses, a professor, and a variety of extracurriculars.
Seeing as the second half of this prompt is essentially a “Why This College?” prompt, this specificity is crucial, as it shows admissions officers that the student has spent real time thinking about how they would contribute to their school, and they aren’t just applying for superficial reasons related to location or prestige.
What Could Be Improved
Most of the areas of improvement for this essay involve style and flow. For example, the student uses very long sentences throughout this essay. While those sentences are grammatically sound, constantly having to wade through all those words makes for a less enjoyable reading experience.
Relatedly, one of the strange realities of college essays is that, while you spend many hours writing and revising your essays, admissions officers have no choice but to read them extremely quickly, because they have so many to get through. That means you want your points to be as easy to digest as possible, and long sentences force your reader to expend more energy tying various threads together.
For example, take the sentence:
“Combining my passions for academia and volunteerism, I am also eager to engage in CBL courses like UNXD 130 ‘Social Action’ to further my inquiry into the mechanisms driving successful social movements, on both local and global scales.”
This sentence goes from two of the student’s passions, to a course at Georgetown, to one of their academic goals. All this jumping around means two things. First, the points don’t get much individual attention, which means the student’s personality gets a little lost. And second, the student needs to spend extra words tying distinct ideas together. A more productive use of words might look something like:
“Ever since I did my first beach cleanup with my dad in 2010, I have had a passion for volunteerism. That project, and most of the others I’ve been involved in over the years, have been geared towards improving my local community. While rewarding, I feel ready to learn more about how to be an activist on a broader scale, through CBL courses like UNXD 130 ‘Social Action.’”
The same point about length applies to paragraphs, as longer paragraphs can be more difficult to follow, and thus your reader is more likely to get lost. If you keep the focus of each paragraph narrow (e.g., each paragraph is about a different value, a different childhood experience, or a different issue within ‘voting rights’), your reader can move through your ideas more efficiently.
For example, at the point in the essay where the “Combining my passions” sentence appears, the writer is pivoting from talking about their interest in government to their interest in activism. Regardless of whether their original sentence or our revised one is used, the student’s progression of ideas would be easier to follow if there was a paragraph break just before, as each paragraph would then be focused on just one thing.
Finally, to expand on a point made above about the student’s personality getting lost at points, there are numerous places in this essay where the student’s writing feels stilted and brochure-like. Having a strong personal voice in your college essays is crucial, as that’s a big way admissions officers can become familiar with your personality. After all, it is you who they are considering admitting to their school. By reciting facts from the course catalog, you aren’t telling them anything they don’t already know.
If you’re worried your essay might not be personal enough, read each sentence, then ask yourself “Why is this point important to me?” Then, try to incorporate that answer into your writing, if it’s not already there.
For example, in this essay, the student writes the following sentences about voting access:
- “I am eager to major in Government, minoring in Justice and Peace Studies, to investigate the role of governing institutions in providing democratic access for underrepresented populations.”
- “Through courses like JUPS 280 ‘Gender, Immigration, & Social Justice,” I will deepen my understanding of disparities in democratic participation by exploring the intersectionality of race, gender, and socioeconomic status.”
- “Through the Royden B. Davis Fellowship, I will apply my research to implement sustainable programs in the D.C. metropolitan area to bridge disparities in voter participation among different racial groups.”
While they make it clear that voting access is important to them, they do not make it personal. They do not tell us why it is important to them, and thus this student doesn’t distinguish themselves from any other applicant who’s passionate about voting access. To fix this problem, the student could write:
“As a young history buff, I was excited to vote from the second I learned what voting was. I imagined the big booths, volunteers with American flag paraphernalia, and ‘I Voted’ stickers left and right. When I got to the voting center, however, I was greeted by a line down the block of women with crying babies, kids late for school complaining about the wait, and disabled individuals resting on curbs. It was devastating to see our communities struggling so hard for their basic rights. Through educating our generation, I think things will change in the future. I am excited to take courses like JUPS ‘Gender, Immigration, & Social Justice’ so that I can understand how disparities in democratic participation come to be and can be better equipped to address them in the future.”
Essay Example 4 – Speech and Debate
“The bedrock of sustainable democracy is widespread participation,” my voice echoes throughout the room. “By lowering the age to vote, we ensure the voices of American youth are heard in our government.”
Joining my school’s speech and debate program was a natural extension of my passion for global affairs. Engaging in U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking, I was exposed to the breadth of issues facing humanity, from the immorality of lethal autonomous weapons to the barriers to youth civic engagement. By immersing myself in these global questions, public speaking sustains my unrelenting curiosity about the mutli-dimensional human experience.
Beyond my exposure to these global issues, speech and debate sparked conversation with a passionate group of diverse-minded individuals. From spending hours analyzing each other’s speeches to cheering our teammates on in the adrenaline rush of competition, we bonded over our shared zest for speaking. Heated discussions often emerged: “If young people aren’t mature, why are they allowed to drive or get a job?” one teammate asks; “Yet they would still vote for Kanye for president,” another chimes in. I thrived in our disagreement, paving the way for collaboration and growth.
Over the past four years, I’ve grown up with this team. Sifting through photos, my coach finds one of me at my first competition, dressed in a tiny gray blazer and a maroon button-down. My forehead was plastered with wrinkles, eyes paralyzed with fear. In truth, speech and debate invigorated me unlike anything else. In this environment, my voice is imbued with a mixture of passion, determination, and excitement. Discussing these global issues, public speaking is a platform for my emotions, thoughts, and passions.
Now, as Captain, I watch as ten freshmen note my every hand gesture and vocal inflection. I am eager to witness their eyes twinkle as they speak, eloquently and effortlessly.
What the Essay Did Well
This “Extracurricular Essay” has an outstanding structure. It is extremely easy to follow, as each paragraph has a clear, singular focus. First, we learn how speech and debate expanded this student’s awareness of global issues. Then we learn how this activity taught them that disagreement is helpful for growth. Finally, we learn how it helped them come into themself socially. Each paragraph helps the reader gain a deeper understanding of the student, to create a beautiful arc where we are rooting for the student, even though we already know they succeeded.
Additionally, the student uses a conversational yet reflective voice that draws readers in and makes us feel like we’re an old friend of theirs, instead of a total stranger. This connection is achieved through, to give one example, the “heated discussions” about humorous topics they had with their speech and debate teammates.
Another place where we feel close to the writer is in their description of the photo from their first competition. Their honest, open reflection on how they felt in that moment simultaneously shows humility and how far they’ve come since. That balance, which is really the core of strong college essays, is incredibly difficult to strike, and here this student does so masterfully.
Lastly, the student does a flawless job of subtly pointing out their leadership experience in the last paragraph. They don’t appear to be boasting, but rather position themself as caring about the younger students and invested in the future of this club which has meant so much to them, qualities which admissions officers value highly.
What Could Be Improved
This essay is clear, concise, and compelling, and thus doesn’t have much room for improvement. That said, we all get writer’s block sometimes, or struggle to execute an idea in the way we envisioned. So, with any example essay, it can be useful to think about alternative approaches someone could take.
Specifically, if you struggle with structure, you might want to approach this kind of extracurricular essay prompt with a narrow, specific focus in mind, rather than covering awareness of global issues, the development of a particular skill, and your own personal growth in the same essay, as this student does. For example, you might choose to highlight just one of the following things:
- Leadership experience
- Interpersonal connections
- Academic exploration
It is always better to be more focused than less when writing your college essays. If you are worried that you do not have the finesse to discuss a broad range of ideas in a short amount of space, opt to discuss one idea in a deep and meaningful way.
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