For most people, "funny" and "college essay" don't belong in the same sentence. For others, it is completely acceptable to inject a little humor in there. So what’s the verdict? Is it acceptable to write funny college essays or should clowning remain outside the classroom?
What does “funny” mean anyway?
Writing a funny college essay doesn’t mean filling up every page with rib-cracking jokes. It means subtly including a sentence or two that can spark a smile or smirk from the reader. This will certainly leave a memorable impression. And hey, if you can get your ever-stoic professor to smile and give you a good grade, what’s the harm in that?
There's a fine line though. You have to be able to use the right kind of humor; otherwise, it could hurt you instead of help your cause. Something seemingly harmless could be hilarious to you but highly offensive to your reader, who in this case is your college professor.
What kind of humor should you use in your college essay?
To add some humor to your essay, it helps to poke fun at the topic you're writing about. Disparaging remarks, on the other hand, are completely unacceptable. Keep it short and light so that it doesn't take focus away from the topic you're writing about. It should be effortless and almost accidental.
There’s also an off chance that your professor might not get your joke. The idea isn’t to go for the entire joke – just a little snippet. A little comic relief goes a long way to ease an otherwise tense paragraph.
You also need to consider what topic you’re writing about. If you're writing about an overly serious topic, it's probably best to stay away from using humor. For instance, in a paper about the Holocaust, throwing in a joke would be highly inappropriate.
Examples of funny college application essays that worked
Here’s a compilation of some funny college application essay samples that are bound to make you smile.
1. A musical non-genius
There was one young man who was applied to Harvard. Their prompt asked that they formulate their question and answer it. So he did. Here’s what he asked and answered:
Q: Do you play the saxophone?
He got in. Perhaps Harvard was looking for people who think outside the box?
2. Sweet success
In one college essay, students were asked to write on: “If you were a chocolate bar, what would it be and why?” One applicant’s response was so good that the college had no choice but to admit her. She took a different approach by writing, “That would depend on whether or not I want to be eaten!”
3. No beating around the bush
One student took “Honesty is the best policy” to a whole new level. When asked in the supplementary essay what his reason was for wanting to join the institution, his response was, "I couldn't turn down the fee waiver you gave me." Not only was he admitted, but he also received a scholarship worth a whopping $80,000 for all four years he would be there.
4. Not to brag but…
One student’s admission essay was supposed to be about what Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, and Gandhi all had in common. He responded that they were all amazing individuals and so was he. That's why the university needed to have him and they did.
5. Final chapter
One college professor gave his students an assignment with instructions that read: “Write page 327 of your autobiography”. One student submitted a document that only had one page with half a sentence on it. He attached a note to his professor that read: “Page 327 was the last page of that chapter. I thought about writing the contents of page 326 but my conscience wouldn’t let me.” He got an “A” on his assignment.
6. Making a mountain out of a molehill
In one college application essay, students were to write on: “What’s the greatest challenge you’ve gone through in your life and how did you overcome it”. One applicant’s entire essay was summarized in one sentence: “This application.”
7. A straight shooter
A college student’s application essay topic was titled: "Explain in no less than 500 words what your favorite word is and why." One student handed in her paper with only one word written: “Brevity.” She was accepted.
As funny as these essays might be, a well-written essay will always get you into a college of your dreams or a grade you desperately desire. A little humor is fine. But, ensure that it is in the context of the essay topic you’re writing.
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