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Class of 2022 College Essay Hooks & Advice

After committing and finishing up the college admissions process, the Class of 2022 gives a glimpse into their common app essays and offers a few words of wisdom to the juniors as they embark on their own college admissions journeys. We wish you the best of luck!


College Essay Hooks:

My mother shoved the phone towards me. I recoiled, making a face of disgust and overwhelming fear.

- Gaby Rosen (Middlebury College)

The most important thing I ever learned came from a man who said he knew absolutely nothing.

- Bailey Smoko (Brown University)

Every time I walk down the stairs, my eyes catch a glimpse of my childhood house through the front window.

- Siena Kyriakides (Northeastern University)

“¡Los plátanos están listos!” The plantains were ready. The kitchen was my mom’s masterpiece.

- Sophie Bannon (Emory University)

(About the author as the second kid in a household under the one-child policy)

I was legally registered before 4 years old, but I grew up to be a self-content and interesting girl with all sorts of hobbies.

- Mia Yu (Rice University)

"Connivence will bring you the most unbreakable peace eventually," says an ancient Chinese prophecy. It rooted and melted in our blood, being honored as a line of survival wisdom. Yet, I disagree.

- Geraldi Nie (Syracuse University)

My kindergarten teacher once wrote in my report card, “We finally got Chloé to say more than one sentence in a row.”

- Chloé Curtiss (The American Musical and Dramatic Academy)

I felt like a needle in a haystack. It was late April, and my mother had just picked me up from my first-grade class.

- Marlon Ward (Tufts University)

(Discusses how at face value the author and his siblings look white but still deal with many of the social struggles of a first generation immigrant family)

“This is a culture shock to you Bella, you are so white,” a friend mocked my sister.

- Michael Ferneini (Duke University)

I’ve got to move on, leave the past.

I tuck myself under the covers, lay my head down on my pillow, and close my eyes. Words continue to appear in my mind:

I’ve got to accept that this won’t last

I begin rhyming in my head:

And worry about the future

I'm done trying to please her

I open my eyes thinking, “I have to record this.”

- Vanessa Torre (Berklee College of Music)

The Lasius niger is most commonly known as the little garden ant.

- Jada Potter (Tufts University)

When I hear the word “quiet,” it comes from their lips. But I also see it; in the wrinkles of their brows, their nails digging into their palm when they bunch their hands into fists. The word feels ugly. It leaves a greasy layer on top of my skin, never absorbs.

- Julia Davies (Skidmore College)



Managing the Timeline:

My biggest piece of advice would be to start early, pace yourself, and have a plan. The more you can get out of the way during the summer, the less you’ll have to do in the fall when you’re busy with school and extracurriculars again.

- Sophie Schonberger

My advice for juniors would be to plan ahead, don’t procrastinate, and do research. I say this because college deadlines come up quickly and you want to have an ample amount of time to submit supplements/common app information. Don’t procrastinate because as mentioned before, time moves quickly. And do research because that’s the only way to find a school that could be your home for the next four years. Also have an open mindset because you could end up attending a school that you would have never thought of going to. The college process is stressful but if you manage your time and workload in the proper way then everything will be just fine.

- Marlon Ward


Don’t be afraid to reach out to admission officers, coaches, and/or professors to ask them questions; it’s a great way of expressing interest in the college and putting your foot in the door early.

- Alex Lee

  1. Keep up with the timeline and try to do everything as early as possible. It might be really difficult at the beginning, but if you break everything down into a list of small things, it isn’t hard at all. For instance, Day 1- draft 1 for school 1; Day 2 - revision for draft 1; Day 3 - draft 2 for the same school, and so on.

  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but ask early. If you want to set up an extra meeting with a teacher, email early. If you want a recommendation letter, ask early. But I am sure everyone is willing to help!

  3. Don’t ask for advice from too many people at the same time. It’s similar to how you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. You shouldn’t ask more than two people to look at your essay at the same time because they might give you opposite suggestions (which has happened to me before). Ultimately, make your own decisions! If it is your call, you won’t regret it. And this piece of advice doesn’t only apply to essays but also everything during the process of applying.

  4. Stay calm. It sounds cliche, but college is not everything. No matter where you go, if you focus more on the roadside scenery along the way, I bet you’ll have some sense of achievement by the end of the journey. As Ms. Azoff says, “Enjoy the process.”

- Mia Yu

Omg don’t stress about it- stop stressing about it!

Don’t listen to where people want you to go.

Don’t listen to your college counselor saying your curriculum isn’t enough to go.

If you want to go to a school: apply, because that’s what you want and there are always amazing backups! You’ll have an incredible time no matter what.

If you don’t know where you want to go, no worries omg, just think about some general areas, and follow in the career path of your dreams; you don’t have to follow what’s safe.

Literally look at YouTube for best colleges for your major or your preferences- that’s what I did.

This college only needs the approval of your own.

This time you really get to choose the size, atmosphere, etc. in a school and the only thing that matters is your happiness.

Make your college essay your own! I had so much fun writing my essay and it was very storybook-based, because I love creative writing!!

Have fun! I would really suggest ED if you don’t wanna worry as much and if you have one school you’re dying to go to, but keep your options open, apply for what you want, and you got this!!!

- Sophie Bannon

To give yourself the best chance of getting into a school you love, I would suggest applying to as many schools as possible and taking the SAT or ACT as many times as you need to be able to submit them. Applying Early Action to schools can also be very useful and can significantly reduce the number of schools you apply to if you get in. Also, pay close attention to deadlines and begin applying to colleges as soon as possible. Lastly, check portals regularly to make sure all materials have been received by colleges. Good luck juniors!

- Bailey Smoko


Don’t stress out too much over how to start it. If you can’t come up with an opening line, start writing the important part of the story and come back!

- Jada Potter

I’d say that you want to make sure your opening hook is attention-grabbing but also unique. You want to leave a strong impression right at the start, so that the people reading the essay will feel excited to continue reading. Something generic won’t work, so make sure the opener is unique to your essay.

- Michael Jones

I’d say my best piece of advice is that you should let yourself be vulnerable when writing your essay. If you feel nothing when you’re writing, no passion about the topic, no nostalgia or grief or even anger, then there is a 99% chance the essay will be stale. The topic itself doesn’t need to be elaborate either. It could literally be about riding a bike or your love for succulents, but your voice and your honesty should come through in the paper.

- Gaby Rosen

When it comes to writing the essay in general, make sure to draw from a genuine and easily memorable story. It may seem like common sense, but don’t pick a topic or memory that forces you to fill in several ideas that you cannot remember. Also it’s much more influential to use a personal story that may seem insignificant to a larger degree, such as a fond memory of shopping with your grandma or the day you met your best friend, than to just write 650 words throwing in all your accomplishments. The essay is a format to get to understand who you are, your interests, and your experiences to see how you’d fit into the potential college campus. Don’t stress thinking you need to have done something that changed the world; just share who you are. Of course, prompts will vary depending on the colleges to some degree, but use this as a basic note.

- Chloé Curtiss

Auditioning for Performing Arts Academies:

When it comes to this specific college (AMDA), the essay is less influential in the decisions than your audition. It’s an around 500 word paper describing a moment you had to overcome. Depending on what program you plan to pursue, you’ll be asked to prepare monologues, dance solos, and/or song repertoire. Whether you audition in-person or virtually, it can feel daunting. Just remember in any audition process whether for a school, a show, etc. the casting agents/judges are ironically not going to judge you. They’re not there to make fun of mistakes or anything; their job is to find the person or people who best fits their role, work/school environment, etc. Go into the room confident in your abilities and show them that you are the solution to their search! (And if you do mess up, keep going, don’t apologize, and try your best to not outwardly express that you made a mistake. Just keep pushing through, and remember they aren’t looking for perfection. The whole purpose of going to the school is to learn and strengthen your skills; they are assessing your potential for growth in their curriculums.)

- Chloé Curtiss

FindingYour School:

Rather than considering schools for their name or the friends who plan to attend, look at how you would fit into the school’s community and atmosphere. Think about where you’re going to be happy for the next four years and what college will give you the resources and opportunities to accomplish what you plan for your future.

- Vanessa Torre

I would just tell kids to trust the process. It sounds cliche, but you will end up in the perfect place for you and sometimes the place that you end up won’t even be on your radar in the beginning. Also try to destress as much as possible: the process sucks and is super stressful so try to give yourself as much time away from it just to destress.

- Michael Ferneini


  1. Reach for your dreams. Though it seems cliche, don’t cut yourself short on opportunities just because you don’t know if you can do it. There is nothing you can lose from applying to your dream school(s), but you may surprise yourself with your potential.

  2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Every single person has a different path and a different view on what success looks like. There are so many aspects when it comes to college decisions other than grades and acceptance rates. Every single school has something unique and special that they can offer that another school cannot. You will find success wherever you go, whether that is a big school, a small school, a competitive one or not.

  3. Celebrate everyone’s successes. Nothing feels better than feeling proud for the people around you and watching them light up when they talk about their exciting future.

- Julia Davies


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