top of page

Prompt #2:  The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Sample Essay:

Late night conversations around the campfire have always been my worst nightmare. As I listened to my friends talk about their boy crushes, I was never able to reciprocate; not honestly at least. I was hiding the truth about my own crushes. I believe honesty is the best policy. My family, friends, and even coaches have told me that although I appear to be an introvert, I can be a little bit too honest. Despite holding myself to this standard, I hid the most important truths about myself from my family and friends. 

 I remember the day my church announced the progressive decision to allow gay marriage: my dad was furious about it. His single, disgusted comment of “this is ridiculous'' may have not sounded like much, but for me it was pivotal. At 12 years old, I realized I could never express my true feelings to the people I love the most. Understanding that I must be a secret member of the LGBTQ+ community in my conservative hometown made me feel isolated and disparaged. 

 I have always cherished the relationships I have with my family and close friends, however my lie of omission haunted me. How could I be seen as living an authentic life while pretending to adhere to traditional views and values? Lacking a confidante, I took my problems to the only place that I felt comfortable: the internet. I found myself having deeply personal conversations on the Minecraft chat bar and Fortnite’s random player assignment, slowly becoming more and more comfortable coming out to complete strangers. I was using my anonymous life on-line as a sounding board, hoping to find the courage to share these conversations in my “real world.” 

 The juxtaposition of being known as an “open book” yet hiding an authentic part of myself left me feeling like a fraud. Scared, but seeking honesty, I promised myself I would come out to my close friends if it came up in conversation. One night at a local restaurant, while chatting about celebrity crushes, I shared my real crushes. They were so casual about me being gay that it made me feel more normal, and a huge sense of relief. Telling the truth about my sexuality to friends restored the connection I had missed. However, I still did not have enough confidence and trust to be open about my sexuality to my own father. 

 I found my first opportunity to be completely out during my National Student Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. My fellow students displayed more maturity, and a broader world view than I had ever experienced in my hometown. I was so comfortable with the camp community that by the end of the week, it was safe to say that everyone knew I was gay. I had my first real-life romance, tearing down some of the armor that I had constructed. 

 Returning home, I faced my greatest fear. As my dad entered the kitchen to eat lunch, I nervously said, “Dad, there is something I need to tell you that I want to write about in my personal statement - I am gay.”  To my relief, without missing a beat, my dad enveloped me in a hug and told me how much he loves and supports me. My father does not agree with gay marriage yet understands that same sex love is real. I realize our difference of opinion is mild compared to prejudice I may face in the future, but his love gives me strength and hope to find a way to keep searching for common ground.

Filled with increased confidence I look forward to living an authentic life. I will pursue academic challenges while being an active member of my college community and supporting my LGBTQ+ peers. No longer hiding, I am excited to share late night conversations in my dorm, finally feeling empowered to lead by example with complete honesty.


Prompt 2: Coming Out


  • Paragraph 1: Introduce the challenge or obstacle with a specific example that grounds the situation - this can be right into the action or with an example of a common circumstance in which you run into your obstacle

  • Paragraph 2: Give more examples - pull the lens out once again and get into how this obstacle impacts you - your personal life, school, how you have developed, how it affects your confidence

  • Paragraph 3/4: Remind the audience that the challenge affected you in an ongoing manner and then describe how/when/why you began to overcome the challenge - was it in single moment or over the course of many days/weeks/months

    • For example, coming out as LGBT - how did you build up the confidence, where was your support/with whom did you first communicate, how did it affect close relationships (family/friends)


  • Paragraph 5: Here you have a moment where your changed behavior results in you feeling the positive outcome of addressing the challenge - describe a specific moment in detail - although facing these challenges might be done in pieces, you want to address the most difficult moment

  • Paragraph 6: How does overcoming this affect your future behavior and the kind of person you will be on a college campus - what are you bringing with you? 

    • There does not need to be a “ta-da!” moment where everything is fixed - the audience expects reality and that usually means a compromise or less than perfect outcome

bottom of page