A Good Rutgers Essay Example
With over 60,000 students, Rutgers University is the largest higher education institution in New Jersey. With such a large school, there is something for everybody, which is why it might seem that everybody applies. In order to make your Rutgers application stand out from the crowd, you need to have well-written essays. In this post, we’ll share a real essay a student submitted to Rutgers, and outline its strengths and areas of improvement. (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.
Since the Rutgers essay prompts are the same as the Coalition Application prompts, we recommend checking out our guide to the Coalition Application essays for a comprehensive breakdown on how to write these supplemental prompts.
Prompt: Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs? (No word count given)
I was about to eat the last cookie when I heard a low growl. I looked up at my friend, her cheeks flushed red, and her brow pinched in a tight dip. She didn’t make eye contact with me when I extended my hand to give her the cookie. She pushed it away, and I kept insisting until she finally gave in. Growing up, family was extremely important to me. I was taught to treat others like my family, a mantra we would repeat. Sharing that cookie, despite not having lunch that day, was like sharing the last tortilla with my brother.
As much as I would like to say family is important to me now, it’s not. At least not the accepted concept of family which is the people you are related to by blood. The problem with this concept of family is that you don’t get to choose the people in your family, no matter how good or bad of a person they are.
Unfortunately, I learned this through my dad’s death. Before this tragedy, my family was inseparable. We would have parties every weekend to celebrate the big game or just see each other. Now, those parties only frequent the occasional birthday. It was weird for me to lose my closeness with my family, but this closeness was quickly replaced by relationships with my friends. I’ll never forget the heartfelt discussions I had with my friend Nick, who would give his shoulder for me to cry on and tell a joke that would make me wheeze in laughter.
Two years have passed, and I stand towering over my dad’s grave. There’s a flag pierced in the dead grass, and my hands are frozen. It’s quiet, and I think about the detrimental truth my mom whispered in my ear. It took me so long to realize this, blind to the hints he left behind. He would have improved his chances of surviving cancer if he took care of himself. He didn’t care about my brother and me, and at his grave I accepted that. I talked to him genuinely one last time, touched his tombstone, then walked away. I moved on.
This truth of my dad not caring for his health dawned the realization that my family was just a bunch of people who didn’t know me. I coped through isolation as I was comfortable being alone, but my family tried to force me out to go places and surround myself with people who weren’t emotionally available. In response, I instead surrounded myself with the people I chose to be my family, such as Nick. We would often go to the mall and browse each store or go to the Rollercade and spend hours falling. I would steal sips from his red ICEE, and he would always try to catch me but slip on the floor. These moments meant more than scarce instances I had with my dad.
Every day I message my friends, some new and others old. I cherish these people who are not bound by blood, but for my personality, my laughter, my jokes, and my intelligence. I’ll never forget how my reformed belief of family allowed me to make friends who have made long lasting impressions and positive influences in my life.
What the Essay Did Well
The first thing that jumps out at you is how vulnerable this essay is. The author wasn’t afraid to let the reader into their personal life, and because of that, the essay is stronger. So much more is revealed about who this student is and how they respond to difficult situations because they were honest with us.
Another thing that this essay does well is describing what family means to this student. Taking an accepted concept like family and boiling it down to the little moments helps us see what they value. For them, seeing each other frequently, celebrating together, having a shoulder to cry on, sharing the last bite of food, and losing track of time by just being in each other’s company is what makes a family. Sprinkling in all these examples and anecdotes shows us what their definition of a family is, without explicitly needing to tell us.
There’s a nice balance in this essay between what this student accepted as the traditional idea of family and how they now see family. For this prompt, it’s important to have that balance so you can show what the long-cherished belief was, as well as how a challenge to that belief changed your perspective. This essay does a good job of encompassing both.
What Could Be Improved
Although a really vulnerable topic can be great for revealing personal details and creating empathy, it can also backfire and make the reader uncomfortable. This isn’t a guarantee, but it’s something to keep in mind when choosing a deeply personal and somewhat traumatic topic. For the most part, the author did a good job of keeping the story focused on themselves and their emotions, but it’s always a possibility that someone reading the essay lost someone close to them and finds this essay too hard to read.
In terms of the structure of the essay, it wavered back and forth between focusing on the student’s dad and their friends. To make it a little easier to follow, they should have started with how their traditional family was important to them until their dad died, and then explain how they found a new definition of family among their friends. This structure is more concise and clearer than starting with the dad, jumping to Nick, going back to the dad, and then going to Nick once again.
Want feedback like this on your Rutgers 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.