Essays About College: Top 6 Examples and 8 Prompts

Our college years are some of the most daunting yet transformational periods of our lives; if you are writing essays about college, take a look at our featured essay examples and writing prompts.

College refers to the higher level of education in which students are trained and educated in subjects they want to pursue as a career. It also refers to the institutions in which we obtain degree-level education. 

In college, we enter as students and emerge fully-formed, ready to pursue our careers. The rigorous academic requirements can be discouraging, and people often drop out. However, it is crucial not to lose hope. Whether you want to be a lawyer, teacher, or engineer, college is essential and should be taken seriously. 

If you want to write engaging essays about college, try reading these essay examples and helpful writing prompts. 

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1. Everything I Wish I Knew In College That I Know Now by Shelley Zalis

“And don’t be ashamed of letting people know if you can’t shake the blues. If your symptoms of persistent sadness or anxiety last more than two weeks, pull yourself out of your dorm room and speak up; to a friend, a professor, a coach, or college counselor in the health department.” Never underestimate the power of a support system.”

Zalis reflects on several habits and skills she would’ve wanted to have in college, including being organized, open-minded, and curious. One important lesson is to put your well-being first and know your limits. If you are not well, you should seek help and do what you think is appropriate. Zalis’ lessons are good for college students to remember for the future. You can also check out these essays about university.

2. Tuition-free college is critical to our economy by Morley Winograd and Max Lubin

“Free college tuition programs have proved effective in helping mitigate the system’s current inequities by increasing college enrollment, lowering dependence on student loan debt and improving completion rates, especially among students of color and lower-income students who are often the first in their family to attend college.”

In this essay, authors Winograd and Lubin propose that the federal government makes public college free for all. They present a brief history of tuition-free college and explain some advantages, including increasing enrollment and improving access to low-income families. In addition, they believe that tuition-free college will make America more productive, resilient, and prosperous. 

3. On Failing Forward and Pivoting by Liliana Flores

“I might have found my calling by accident but I do not regret any of it. I did not let that ‘failure’ define me. Instead, it made me into the person that I am today. I am not the smartest person, I do lack self-motivation, but I have goals that I want to accomplish and I will, one way or another.”

Flores recounts her experience in which she was kicked out of her first university and was forced to attend community college. Fortunately, she discovered her true passion, teaching, through a side job and decided to take up education. However, one of her greatest failures was a “blessing in disguise,” as it allowed her to move toward something truly exciting.

4.  My Reflection on the Fall Semester by Amber Berkheimer

“I learned that you can never predict what life will throw at you. I’ve learned that it’s not always fun. There will be days where you are studying in your room at 2 am, stressed because you have three exams the next day, and there are times when you find the value of being by yourself. My first semester of college has taught me that there are so many great things about college, but if it doesn’t go exactly as you planned, that’s okay too.”

Berkheimer, a student at Cabrini University, describes her experience this past semester during the COVID-19 pandemic. She attributes her growth to her classes, teachers, and friends. She also recalls a lesson: life is unpredictable and not always fun. However, it is essential to make the most of your situation. 

Looking for more? Check out these essays about online learning.

5. ​​The Dirty Secret of Elite College Admissions by Bryan Walsh

“The secret of elite college admissions — the secret that became obvious to me during my time as an alumni interviewer — is that far more students deserve to attend these colleges than are ever admitted, and there is virtually no discernible difference between those who make it and the many more who just miss out.”

In his essay, Walsh recalls his experiences studying at and interviewing for Princeton University. He criticizes the unfairness by which students are selected, whether by race, social class, or just by connections. He also proposes better, more fair ways to select students. Finally, he has had enough of the unfair system and declares his intention to quit interviewing for Princeton.

6. ​​Is college worth it? by Shelby McCasland

“There is no longer the guarantee which existed for previous generations that if you get a college degree, you will get hired in a relatively good earning job. Then, there was the understanding college meant landing on your feet. Now, college equals debt, which most of us will not pay off within the first decade after we graduate.”

McCasland questions the sustainability and necessity of college, particularly concerning finances. College debt is increasing, and more often than not, students end up spending more on college than they can make with future jobs. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has made life more uncertain, furthering McCasland’s doubt about the importance of college in the 21st century. 

8 Writing Prompts For Essays About College

1. Life Lessons You Can Learn from College

Other than academic lessons, college life can also give us valuable experiences and teach us lessons about life and the world. First, write about one lesson you believe you can learn from college, such as self-reliance, teamwork, or punctuality. Then, explain its importance and how it can be used in the future. 

2. College Education: Is It Necessary?

In this essay, you can question the necessity of a college education. The 21st century has provided many examples of success without attending college, and more companies are removing the college degree requirement for job opportunities. Elaborate on your stance and support it with statistics, research, and famous examples of people who didn’t attend college.

3. College Education: Why It Is Important

On the other hand, you can explain the importance of going to college in your essay. It has been said time and again that college is essential to a prosperous future. What can it teach you, and how can it prepare you for the future? As with the previous prompt, cite credible sources to explain your reasoning. 

4. Should College Education Be Free?

Some of the essay examples delve into the financial issues regarding college. Read them, do further research, and decide whether or not tuition-free college would be a good idea. You can choose to explore all aspects of its effects or focus on one, for example, the impact on rural communities. 

5. Top Choices For College Education

In this essay, discuss your top choices of colleges to attend. If you are not yet in college, write about your plans for your college education. If applicable, write about the institution you want to attend, what you want to take up, and what you hope to learn. If you are still uncertain, reflect on how you feel about college. You can split your essay into three or four sections, one section for each of your top-ranked colleges.

6. My College Education Experience

Essays about college: My college education experience
Reflect on your experiences and how you have felt throughout it all

If you are attending college, this is the essay for you. Describe your college experience, from your application to your acceptance letter, and your studies and education experience. Reflect on your experiences and how you have felt throughout it all. If you have learned any valuable life lessons or skills, describe these for the reader. Use personal anecdotes and descriptive language for an engaging and compelling essay.

7. How To Prepare For College 

There are many ways you can prepare to take on college. Write about what you feel is essential for a college student to know, whether a particular skill, value, or habit, and explain how to practice it. Base your essay on personal experiences, and detail these experiences. 

8. Favorite Memories From College

For those who have already attended college, reflect on one unforgettable experience from your years in university. This could be a story about your favorite class or professor, how you met your college friends or details of a club or society you joined. Retell the story in detail, including the events leading up to and during the experience. Be sure to describe how it made you feel and how it affected you. 

For help with this topic, read our guide explaining what is persuasive writing. If you’re stuck picking your next essay topic, check out our round-up of essay topics about education.


  • Martin is an avid writer specializing in editing and proofreading. He also enjoys literary analysis and writing about food and travel.