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overcoming challenges essay ideas

8 Overcoming Challenges College Essay Examples

The purpose of the Overcoming Challenges essay is for schools to see how you might handle the difficulties of college. They want to know how you grow, evolve, and learn when you face adversity. For this topic, there are many clichés , such as getting a bad grade or losing a sports game, so be sure to steer clear of those and focus on a topic that’s unique to you. (See our full guide on the Overcoming Challenges Essay for more tips).

These overcoming challenges essay examples were all written by real students. Read through them to get a sense of what makes a strong essay. At the end, we’ll present the revision process for the first essay and share some resources for improving your essay.

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. 

Essay 1: Becoming a Coach

“Advanced females ages 13 to 14 please proceed to staging with your coaches at this time.” Skittering around the room, eyes wide and pleading, I frantically explained my situation to nearby coaches. The seconds ticked away in my head; every polite refusal increased my desperation.

Despair weighed me down. I sank to my knees as a stream of competitors, coaches, and officials flowed around me. My dojang had no coach, and the tournament rules prohibited me from competing without one.

Although I wanted to remain strong, doubts began to cloud my mind. I could not help wondering: what was the point of perfecting my skills if I would never even compete? The other members of my team, who had found coaches minutes earlier, attempted to comfort me, but I barely heard their words. They couldn’t understand my despair at being left on the outside, and I never wanted them to understand.

Since my first lesson 12 years ago, the members of my dojang have become family. I have watched them grow up, finding my own happiness in theirs. Together, we have honed our kicks, blocks, and strikes. We have pushed one another to aim higher and become better martial artists. Although my dojang had searched for a reliable coach for years, we had not found one. When we attended competitions in the past, my teammates and I had always gotten lucky and found a sympathetic coach. Now, I knew this practice was unsustainable. It would devastate me to see the other members of my dojang in my situation, unable to compete and losing hope as a result. My dojang needed a coach, and I decided it was up to me to find one.

I first approached the adults in the dojang – both instructors and members’ parents. However, these attempts only reacquainted me with polite refusals. Everyone I asked told me they couldn’t devote multiple weekends per year to competitions. I soon realized that I would have become the coach myself.

At first, the inner workings of tournaments were a mystery to me. To prepare myself for success as a coach, I spent the next year as an official and took coaching classes on the side. I learned everything from motivational strategies to technical, behind-the-scenes components of Taekwondo competitions. Though I emerged with new knowledge and confidence in my capabilities, others did not share this faith.

Parents threw me disbelieving looks when they learned that their children’s coach was only a child herself. My self-confidence was my armor, deflecting their surly glances. Every armor is penetrable, however, and as the relentless barrage of doubts pounded my resilience, it began to wear down. I grew unsure of my own abilities.

Despite the attack, I refused to give up. When I saw the shining eyes of the youngest students preparing for their first competition, I knew I couldn’t let them down. To quit would be to set them up to be barred from competing like I was. The knowledge that I could solve my dojang’s longtime problem motivated me to overcome my apprehension.

Now that my dojang flourishes at competitions, the attacks on me have weakened, but not ended. I may never win the approval of every parent; at times, I am still tormented by doubts, but I find solace in the fact that members of my dojang now only worry about competing to the best of their abilities.

Now, as I arrive at a tournament with my students, I close my eyes and remember the past. I visualize the frantic search for a coach and the chaos amongst my teammates as we competed with one another to find coaches before the staging calls for our respective divisions. I open my eyes to the exact opposite scene. Lacking a coach hurt my ability to compete, but I am proud to know that no member of my dojang will have to face that problem again.

This essay begins with an in-the-moment narrative that really illustrates the chaos of looking for a coach last-minute. We feel the writer’s emotions, particularly their dejectedness, at not being able to compete.

Through this essay, we can see how gutsy and determined the student is in deciding to become a coach themselves. The writer shows us these characteristics through their actions, rather than explicitly telling us: To prepare myself for success as a coach, I spent the next year as an official and took coaching classes on the side.

One area of improvement of this essay would be the “attack” wording. The author likely uses this word as a metaphor for martial arts, but it feels too strong to describe the adults’ doubt of the student’s abilities as a coach, and can even be confusing at first.

Still, we see the student’s resilience as they are able to move past the disbelieving looks to help their team. The essay is kept real and vulnerable, however, as the writer admits having doubts: Every armor is penetrable, however, and as the relentless barrage of doubts pounded my resilience, it began to wear down. I grew unsure of my own abilities.

The essay comes full circle as the author recalls the frantic situations in seeking out a coach, but this is no longer a concern for them and their team. Overall, this essay is extremely effective in painting this student as mature, bold, and compassionate.

Essay 2: Starting a Fire

Was I no longer the beloved daughter of nature, whisperer of trees? Knee-high rubber boots, camouflage, bug spray—I wore the garb and perfume of a proud wild woman, yet there I was, hunched over the pathetic pile of stubborn sticks, utterly stumped, on the verge of tears. As a child, I had considered myself a kind of rustic princess, a cradler of spiders and centipedes, who was serenaded by mourning doves and chickadees, who could glide through tick-infested meadows and emerge Lyme-free. I knew the cracks of the earth like the scars on my own rough palms. Yet here I was, ten years later, incapable of performing the most fundamental outdoor task: I could not, for the life of me, start a fire. 

Furiously I rubbed the twigs together—rubbed and rubbed until shreds of skin flaked from my fingers. No smoke. The twigs were too young, too sticky-green; I tossed them away with a shower of curses, and began tearing through the underbrush in search of a more flammable collection. My efforts were fruitless. Livid, I bit a rejected twig, determined to prove that the forest had spurned me, offering only young, wet bones that would never burn. But the wood cracked like carrots between my teeth—old, brittle, and bitter. Roaring and nursing my aching palms, I retreated to the tent, where I sulked and awaited the jeers of my family. 

Rattling their empty worm cans and reeking of fat fish, my brother and cousins swaggered into the campsite. Immediately, they noticed the minor stick massacre by the fire pit and called to me, their deep voices already sharp with contempt. 

“Where’s the fire, Princess Clara?” they taunted. “Having some trouble?” They prodded me with the ends of the chewed branches and, with a few effortless scrapes of wood on rock, sparked a red and roaring flame. My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame. 

In the tent, I pondered my failure. Was I so dainty? Was I that incapable? I thought of my hands, how calloused and capable they had been, how tender and smooth they had become. It had been years since I’d kneaded mud between my fingers; instead of scaling a white pine, I’d practiced scales on my piano, my hands softening into those of a musician—fleshy and sensitive. And I’d gotten glasses, having grown horrifically nearsighted; long nights of dim lighting and thick books had done this. I couldn’t remember the last time I had lain down on a hill, barefaced, and seen the stars without having to squint. Crawling along the edge of the tent, a spider confirmed my transformation—he disgusted me, and I felt an overwhelming urge to squash him. 

Yet, I realized I hadn’t really changed—I had only shifted perspective. I still eagerly explored new worlds, but through poems and prose rather than pastures and puddles. I’d grown to prefer the boom of a bass over that of a bullfrog, learned to coax a different kind of fire from wood, having developed a burn for writing rhymes and scrawling hypotheses. 

That night, I stayed up late with my journal and wrote about the spider I had decided not to kill. I had tolerated him just barely, only shrieking when he jumped—it helped to watch him decorate the corners of the tent with his delicate webs, knowing that he couldn’t start fires, either. When the night grew cold and the embers died, my words still smoked—my hands burned from all that scrawling—and even when I fell asleep, the ideas kept sparking—I was on fire, always on fire.

This essay is an excellent example because the writer turns an everyday challenge—starting a fire—into an exploration of her identity. The writer was once “a kind of rustic princess, a cradler of spiders and centipedes,” but has since traded her love of the outdoors for a love of music, writing, and reading. 

The story begins in media res , or in the middle of the action, allowing readers to feel as if we’re there with the writer. One of the essay’s biggest strengths is its use of imagery. We can easily visualize the writer’s childhood and the present day. For instance, she states that she “rubbed and rubbed [the twigs] until shreds of skin flaked from my fingers.”

The writing has an extremely literary quality, particularly with its wordplay. The writer reappropriates words and meanings, and even appeals to the senses: “My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame.” She later uses a parallelism to cleverly juxtapose her changed interests: “instead of scaling a white pine, I’d practiced scales on my piano.”

One of the essay’s main areas of improvement is its overemphasis on the “story” and lack of emphasis on the reflection. The second to last paragraph about changing perspective is crucial to the essay, as it ties the anecdote to larger lessons in the writer’s life. She states that she hasn’t changed, but has only shifted perspective. Yet, we don’t get a good sense of where this realization comes from and how it impacts her life going forward. 

The end of the essay offers a satisfying return to the fire imagery, and highlights the writer’s passion—the one thing that has remained constant in her life.

Essay 3: Last-Minute Switch

The morning of the Model United Nation conference, I walked into Committee feeling confident about my research. We were simulating the Nuremberg Trials – a series of post-World War II proceedings for war crimes – and my portfolio was of the Soviet Judge Major General Iona Nikitchenko. Until that day, the infamous Nazi regime had only been a chapter in my history textbook; however, the conference’s unveiling of each defendant’s crimes brought those horrors to life. The previous night, I had organized my research, proofread my position paper and gone over Judge Nikitchenko’s pertinent statements. I aimed to find the perfect balance between his stance and my own.

As I walked into committee anticipating a battle of wits, my director abruptly called out to me. “I’m afraid we’ve received a late confirmation from another delegate who will be representing Judge Nikitchenko. You, on the other hand, are now the defense attorney, Otto Stahmer.” Everyone around me buzzed around the room in excitement, coordinating with their allies and developing strategies against their enemies, oblivious to the bomb that had just dropped on me. I felt frozen in my tracks, and it seemed that only rage against the careless delegate who had confirmed her presence so late could pull me out of my trance. After having spent a month painstakingly crafting my verdicts and gathering evidence against the Nazis, I now needed to reverse my stance only three hours before the first session.

Gradually, anger gave way to utter panic. My research was fundamental to my performance, and without it, I knew I could add little to the Trials. But confident in my ability, my director optimistically recommended constructing an impromptu defense. Nervously, I began my research anew. Despite feeling hopeless, as I read through the prosecution’s arguments, I uncovered substantial loopholes. I noticed a lack of conclusive evidence against the defendants and certain inconsistencies in testimonies. My discovery energized me, inspiring me to revisit the historical overview in my conference “Background Guide” and to search the web for other relevant articles. Some Nazi prisoners had been treated as “guilty” before their court dates. While I had brushed this information under the carpet while developing my position as a judge, i t now became the focus of my defense. I began scratching out a new argument, centered on the premise that the allied countries had violated the fundamental rule that, a defendant was “not guilty” until proven otherwise.

At the end of the three hours, I felt better prepared. The first session began, and with bravado, I raised my placard to speak. Microphone in hand, I turned to face my audience. “Greetings delegates. I, Otto Stahmer would like to…….” I suddenly blanked. Utter dread permeated my body as I tried to recall my thoughts in vain. “Defence Attorney, Stahmer we’ll come back to you,” my Committee Director broke the silence as I tottered back to my seat, flushed with embarrassment. Despite my shame, I was undeterred. I needed to vindicate my director’s faith in me. I pulled out my notes, refocused, and began outlining my arguments in a more clear and direct manner. Thereafter, I spoke articulately, confidently putting forth my points. I was overjoyed when Secretariat members congratulated me on my fine performance.

Going into the conference, I believed that preparation was the key to success. I wouldn’t say I disagree with that statement now, but I believe adaptability is equally important. My ability to problem-solve in the face of an unforeseen challenge proved advantageous in the art of diplomacy. Not only did this experience transform me into a confident and eloquent delegate at that conference, but it also helped me become a more flexible and creative thinker in a variety of other capacities. Now that I know I can adapt under pressure, I look forward to engaging in activities that will push me to be even quicker on my feet.

This essay is an excellent example because it focuses on a unique challenge and is highly engaging. The writer details their experience reversing their stance in a Model UN trial with only a few hours notice, after having researched and prepared to argue the opposite perspective for a month. 

Their essay is written in media res , or in the middle of the action, allowing readers to feel as if we’re there with the writer. The student openly shares their internal thoughts with us — we feel their anger and panic upon the reversal of roles. We empathize with their emotions of “utter dread” and embarrassment when they’re unable to speak. 

From the essay, we learn that the student believes in thorough preparation, but can also adapt to unforeseen obstacles. They’re able to rise to the challenge and put together an impromptu argument, think critically under pressure, and recover after their initial inability to speak. 

Essay 4: Music as a Coping Mechanism

CW: This essay mentions self-harm.

Sobbing uncontrollably, I parked around the corner from my best friend’s house. As I sat in the driver’s seat, I whispered the most earnest prayer I had ever offered.

Minutes before, I had driven to Colin’s house to pick up a prop for our upcoming spring musical. When I got there, his older brother, Tom, came to the door and informed me that no one else was home. “No,” I corrected, “Colin is here. He’s got a migraine.” Tom shook his head and gently told me where Colin actually was: the psychiatric unit of the local hospital. I felt a weight on my chest as I connected the dots; the terrifying picture rocked my safe little world. Tom’s words blurred as he explained Colin’s self-harm, but all I could think of was whether I could have stopped him. Those cuts on his arms had never been accidents. Colin had lied, very convincingly, many times. How could I have ignored the signs in front of me? Somehow, I managed to ask Tom whether I could see him, but he told me that visiting hours for non-family members were over for the day. I would have to move on with my afternoon.

Once my tears had subsided a little, I drove to the theater, trying to pull myself together and warm up to sing. How would I rehearse? I couldn’t sing three notes without bursting into tears. “I can’t do this,” I thought. But then I realized that the question wasn’t whether I could do it. I knew Colin would want me to push through, and something deep inside told me that music was the best way for me to process my grief. I needed to sing.

I practiced the lyrics throughout my whole drive. The first few times, I broke down in sobs. By the time I reached the theater, however, the music had calmed me. While Colin would never be far from my mind, I had to focus on the task ahead: recording vocals and then producing the video trailer that would be shown to my high school classmates. I fought to channel my worry into my recording. If my voice shook during the particularly heartfelt moments, it only added emotion and depth to my performance. I felt Colin’s absence next to me, but even before I listened to that first take, I knew it was a keeper.

With one of my hurdles behind me, I steeled myself again and prepared for the musical’s trailer. In a floor-length black cape and purple dress, I swept regally down the steps to my director, who waited outside. Under a gloomy sky that threatened to turn stormy, I boldly strode across the street, tossed a dainty yellow bouquet, and flashed confident grins at all those staring. My grief lurched inside, but I felt powerful. Despite my sadness, I could still make art.

To my own surprise, I successfully took back the day. I had felt pain, but I had not let it drown me – making music was a productive way to express my feelings than worrying. Since then, I have been learning to take better care of myself in difficult situations. That day before rehearsal, I found myself in the most troubling circumstances of my life thus far, but they did not sink me because I refused to sink. When my aunt developed cancer several months later, I knew that resolution would not come quickly, but that I could rely on music to cope with the agony, even when it would be easier to fall apart. Thankfully, Colin recovered from his injuries and was home within days. The next week, we stood together on stage at our show’s opening night. As our eyes met and our voices joined in song, I knew that music would always be our greatest mechanism for transforming pain into strength.

This essay is well-written, as we can feel the writer’s emotions through the thoughts they share, and visualize the night of the performance through their rich descriptions. Their varied sentence length also makes the essay more engaging.

That said, this essay is not a great example because of the framing of the topic. The writer can come off as insensitive since they make their friend’s struggle about themself and their emotions (and this is only worsened by the mention of their aunt’s cancer and how it was tough on them ). The essay would’ve been stronger if it focused on their guilt of not recognizing their friend’s struggles and spanned a longer period of time to demonstrate gradual relationship building and reflection. Still, this would’ve been difficult to do well.

In general, you should try to choose a challenge that is undeniably your own, and you should get at least one or two people to read your essay to give you candid feedback.

Essay 5: Dedicating a Track

“Getting beat is one thing – it’s part of competing – but I want no part in losing.” Coach Rob Stark’s motto never fails to remind me of his encouragement on early-morning bus rides to track meets around the state. I’ve always appreciated the phrase, but an experience last June helped me understand its more profound, universal meaning.

Stark, as we affectionately call him, has coached track at my high school for 25 years. His care, dedication, and emphasis on developing good character has left an enduring impact on me and hundreds of other students. Not only did he help me discover my talent and love for running, but he also taught me the importance of commitment and discipline and to approach every endeavor with the passion and intensity that I bring to running. When I learned a neighboring high school had dedicated their track to a longtime coach, I felt that Stark deserved similar honors.

Our school district’s board of education indicated they would only dedicate our track to Stark if I could demonstrate that he was extraordinary. I took charge and mobilized my teammates to distribute petitions, reach out to alumni, and compile statistics on the many team and individual champions Stark had coached over the years. We received astounding support, collecting almost 3,000 signatures and pages of endorsements from across the community. With help from my teammates, I presented this evidence to the board.

They didn’t bite. 

Most members argued that dedicating the track was a low priority. Knowing that we had to act quickly to convince them of its importance, I called a team meeting where we drafted a rebuttal for the next board meeting. To my surprise, they chose me to deliver it. I was far from the best public speaker in the group, and I felt nervous about going before the unsympathetic board again. However, at that second meeting, I discovered that I enjoy articulating and arguing for something that I’m passionate about.

Public speaking resembles a cross country race. Walking to the starting line, you have to trust your training and quell your last minute doubts. When the gun fires, you can’t think too hard about anything; your performance has to be instinctual, natural, even relaxed. At the next board meeting, the podium was my starting line. As I walked up to it, familiar butterflies fluttered in my stomach. Instead of the track stretching out in front of me, I faced the vast audience of teachers, board members, and my teammates. I felt my adrenaline build, and reassured myself: I’ve put in the work, my argument is powerful and sound. As the board president told me to introduce myself, I heard, “runners set” in the back of my mind. She finished speaking, and Bang! The brief silence was the gunshot for me to begin. 

The next few minutes blurred together, but when the dust settled, I knew from the board members’ expressions and the audience’s thunderous approval that I had run quite a race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough; the board voted down our proposal. I was disappointed, but proud of myself, my team, and our collaboration off the track. We stood up for a cause we believed in, and I overcame my worries about being a leader. Although I discovered that changing the status quo through an elected body can be a painstakingly difficult process and requires perseverance, I learned that I enjoy the challenges this effort offers. Last month, one of the school board members joked that I had become a “regular” – I now often show up to meetings to advocate for a variety of causes, including better environmental practices in cafeterias and safer equipment for athletes.

Just as Stark taught me, I worked passionately to achieve my goal. I may have been beaten when I appealed to the board, but I certainly didn’t lose, and that would have made Stark proud.

While the writer didn’t succeed in getting the track dedicated to Coach Stark, their essay is certainly successful in showing their willingness to push themselves and take initiative.

The essay opens with a quote from Coach Stark that later comes full circle at the end of the essay. We learn about Stark’s impact and the motivation for trying to get the track dedicated to him.

One of the biggest areas of improvement in the intro, however, is how the essay tells us Stark’s impact rather than showing us: His care, dedication, and emphasis on developing good character has left an enduring impact on me and hundreds of other students. Not only did he help me discover my talent and love for running, but he also taught me the importance of commitment and discipline and to approach every endeavor with the passion and intensity that I bring to running.

The writer could’ve helped us feel a stronger emotional connection to Stark if they had included examples of Stark’s qualities, rather than explicitly stating them. For example, they could’ve written something like: Stark was the kind of person who would give you gas money if you told him your parents couldn’t afford to pick you up from practice. And he actually did that—several times. At track meets, alumni regularly would come talk to him and tell him how he’d changed their lives. Before Stark, I was ambivalent about running and was on the JV team, but his encouragement motivated me to run longer and harder and eventually make varsity. Because of him, I approach every endeavor with the passion and intensity that I bring to running.

The essay goes on to explain how the writer overcame their apprehension of public speaking, and likens the process of submitting an appeal to the school board to running a race. This metaphor makes the writing more engaging and allows us to feel the student’s emotions.

While the student didn’t ultimately succeed in getting the track dedicated, we learn about their resilience and initiative: I now often show up to meetings to advocate for a variety of causes, including better environmental practices in cafeterias and safer equipment for athletes.

Overall, this essay is well-done. It demonstrates growth despite failing to meet a goal, which is a unique essay structure. The running metaphor and full-circle intro/ending also elevate the writing in this essay.

Essay 6: Body Image

CW: This essay mentions eating disorders.

I press the “discover” button on my Instagram app, hoping to find enticing pictures to satisfy my boredom. Scrolling through, I see funny videos and mouth-watering pictures of food. However, one image stops me immediately. A fit teenage girl with a “perfect body” relaxes in a bikini on a beach. Beneath it, I see a slew of flattering comments. I shake with disapproval over the image’s unrealistic quality. However, part of me still wants to have a body like hers so that others will make similar comments to me.

I would like to resolve a silent issue that harms many teenagers and adults: negative self image and low self-esteem in a world where social media shapes how people view each other. When people see the façades others wear to create an “ideal” image, they can develop poor thought patterns rooted in negative self-talk. The constant comparisons to “perfect” others make people feel small. In this new digital age, it is hard to distinguish authentic from artificial representations.

When I was 11, I developed anorexia nervosa. Though I was already thin, I wanted to be skinny like the models that I saw on the magazine covers on the grocery store stands. Little did I know that those models probably also suffered from disorders, and that photoshop erased their flaws. I preferred being underweight to being healthy. No matter how little I ate or how thin I was, I always thought that I was too fat. I became obsessed with the number on the scale and would try to eat the least that I could without my parents urging me to take more. Fortunately, I stopped engaging in anorexic behaviors before middle school. However, my underlying mental habits did not change. The images that had provoked my disorder in the first place were still a constant presence in my life.

By age 15, I was in recovery from anorexia, but suffered from depression. While I used to only compare myself to models, the growth of social media meant I also compared myself to my friends and acquaintances. I felt left out when I saw my friends’ excitement about lake trips they had taken without me. As I scrolled past endless photos of my flawless, thin classmates with hundreds of likes and affirming comments, I felt my jealousy spiral. I wanted to be admired and loved by other people too. However, I felt that I could never be enough. I began to hate the way that I looked, and felt nothing in my life was good enough. I wanted to be called “perfect” and “body goals,” so I tried to only post at certain times of day to maximize my “likes.” When that didn’t work, I started to feel too anxious to post anything at all.  

Body image insecurities and social media comparisons affect thousands of people – men, women, children, and adults – every day. I am lucky – after a few months of my destructive social media habits, I came across a video that pointed out the illusory nature of social media; many Instagram posts only show off good things while people hide their flaws. I began going to therapy, and recovered from my depression. To address the problem of self-image and social media, we can all focus on what matters on the inside and not what is on the surface. As an effort to become healthy internally, I started a club at my school to promote clean eating and radiating beauty from within. It has helped me grow in my confidence, and today I’m not afraid to show others my struggles by sharing my experience with eating disorders. Someday, I hope to make this club a national organization to help teenagers and adults across the country. I support the idea of body positivity and embracing difference, not “perfection.” After all, how can we be ourselves if we all look the same?

This essay covers the difficult topics of eating disorders and mental health. If you’re thinking about covering similar topics in your essay, we recommend reading our post Should You Talk About Mental Health in College Essays?

The short answer is that, yes, you can talk about mental health, but it can be risky. If you do go that route, it’s important to focus on what you learned from the experience.

We can see that the writer of this essay has been through a lot, and a strength of their essay is their vulnerability, in excerpts such as this: I wanted to be admired and loved by other people too. However, I felt that I could never be enough. I began to hate the way that I looked, and felt nothing in my life was good enough. I wanted to be called “perfect” and “body goals,” so I tried to only post at certain times of day to maximize my “likes.”

The student goes on to share how they recovered from their depression through an eye-opening video and therapy sessions, and they’re now helping others find their self-worth as well. It’s great that this essay looks towards the future and shares the writer’s goals of making their club a national organization; we can see their ambition and compassion.

The main weakness of this essay is that it doesn’t focus enough on their recovery process, which is arguably the most important part. They could’ve told us more about the video they watched or the process of starting their club and the interactions they’ve had with other members.

Still, this essay shows us that this student is honest, self-aware, and caring, which are all qualities admissions officer are looking for.

Essay 7: Health Crisis

Tears streamed down my face and my mind was paralyzed with fear. Sirens blared, but the silent panic in my own head was deafening. I was muted by shock. A few hours earlier, I had anticipated a vacation in Washington, D.C., but unexpectedly, I was rushing to the hospital behind an ambulance carrying my mother. As a fourteen-year-old from a single mother household, without a driver’s license, and seven hours from home, I was distraught over the prospect of losing the only parent I had. My fear turned into action as I made some of the bravest decisions of my life. 

Three blood transfusions later, my mother’s condition was stable, but we were still states away from home, so I coordinated with my mother’s doctors in North Carolina to schedule the emergency operation that would save her life. Throughout her surgery, I anxiously awaited any word from her surgeon, but each time I asked, I was told that there had been another complication or delay. Relying on my faith and positive attitude, I remained optimistic that my mother would survive and that I could embrace new responsibilities.

My mother had been a source of strength for me, and now I would be strong for her through her long recovery ahead. As I started high school, everyone thought the crisis was over, but it had really just started to impact my life. My mother was often fatigued, so I assumed more responsibility, juggling family duties, school, athletics, and work. I made countless trips to the neighborhood pharmacy, cooked dinner, biked to the grocery store, supported my concerned sister, and provided the loving care my mother needed to recover. I didn’t know I was capable of such maturity and resourcefulness until it was called upon. Each day was a stage in my gradual transformation from dependence to relative independence.

Throughout my mother’s health crisis, I matured by learning to put others’ needs before my own. As I worried about my mother’s health, I took nothing for granted, cherished what I had, and used my daily activities as motivation to move forward. I now take ownership over small decisions such as scheduling daily appointments and managing my time but also over major decisions involving my future, including the college admissions process. Although I have become more independent, my mother and I are inseparably close, and the realization that I almost lost her affects me daily. Each morning, I wake up ten minutes early simply to eat breakfast with my mother and spend time with her before our busy days begin. I am aware of how quickly life can change. My mother remains a guiding force in my life, but the feeling of empowerment I discovered within myself is the ultimate form of my independence. Though I thought the summer before my freshman year would be a transition from middle school to high school, it was a transformation from childhood to adulthood.

This essay feels real and tells readers a lot about the writer. To start at the beginning, the intro is 10/10. It has drama, it has emotions, and it has the reader wanting more.

And, when you keep going, you get to learn a lot about a very resilient and mature student. Through sentences like “I made countless trips to the neighborhood pharmacy, cooked dinner, biked to the grocery store, supported my concerned sister, and provided the loving care my mother needed to recover” and “Relying on my faith and positive attitude, I remained optimistic that my mother would survive and that I could embrace new responsibilities,” the reader shows us that they are aware of their resilience and maturity, but are not arrogant about it. It is simply a fact that they have proven through their actions!

This essay makes us want to cheer for the writer, and they certainly seem like someone who would thrive in a more independent college environment.

Essay 8: Turned Tables

“You ruined my life!” After months of quiet anger, my brother finally confronted me. To my shame, I had been appallingly ignorant of his pain.

Despite being twins, Max and I are profoundly different. Having intellectual interests from a young age that, well, interested very few of my peers, I often felt out of step in comparison with my highly-social brother. Everything appeared to come effortlessly for Max and, while we share an extremely tight bond, his frequent time away with friends left me feeling more and more alone as we grew older.

When my parents learned about The Green Academy, we hoped it would be an opportunity for me to find not only an academically challenging environment, but also – perhaps more importantly – a community. This meant transferring the family from Drumfield to Kingston. And while there was concern about Max, we all believed that given his sociable nature, moving would be far less impactful on him than staying put might be on me.

As it turned out, Green Academy was everything I’d hoped for. I was ecstatic to discover a group of students with whom I shared interests and could truly engage. Preoccupied with new friends and a rigorous course load, I failed to notice that the tables had turned. Max, lost in the fray and grappling with how to make connections in his enormous new high school, had become withdrawn and lonely. It took me until Christmas time – and a massive argument – to recognize how difficult the transition had been for my brother, let alone that he blamed me for it.

Through my own journey of searching for academic peers, in addition to coming out as gay when I was 12, I had developed deep empathy for those who had trouble fitting in. It was a pain I knew well and could easily relate to. Yet after Max’s outburst, my first response was to protest that our parents – not I – had chosen to move us here. In my heart, though, I knew that regardless of who had made the decision, we ended up in Kingston for my benefit. I was ashamed that, while I saw myself as genuinely compassionate, I had been oblivious to the heartache of the person closest to me. I could no longer ignore it – and I didn’t want to.

We stayed up half the night talking, and the conversation took an unexpected turn. Max opened up and shared that it wasn’t just about the move. He told me how challenging school had always been for him, due to his dyslexia, and that the ever-present comparison to me had only deepened his pain.

We had been in parallel battles the whole time and, yet, I only saw that Max was in distress once he experienced problems with which I directly identified. I’d long thought Max had it so easy – all because he had friends. The truth was, he didn’t need to experience my personal brand of sorrow in order for me to relate – he had felt plenty of his own.

My failure to recognize Max’s suffering brought home for me the profound universality and diversity of personal struggle; everyone has insecurities, everyone has woes, and everyone – most certainly – has pain. I am acutely grateful for the conversations he and I shared around all of this, because I believe our relationship has been fundamentally strengthened by a deeper understanding of one another. Further, this experience has reinforced the value of constantly striving for deeper sensitivity to the hidden struggles of those around me. I won’t make the mistake again of assuming that the surface of someone’s life reflects their underlying story.

Here you can find a prime example that you don’t have to have fabulous imagery or flowery prose to write a successful essay. You just have to be clear and say something that matters. This essay is simple and beautiful. It almost feels like having a conversation with a friend and learning that they are an even better person than you already thought they were.

Through this narrative, readers learn a lot about the writer—where they’re from, what their family life is like, what their challenges were as a kid, and even their sexuality. We also learn a lot about their values—notably, the value they place on awareness, improvement, and consideration of others. Though they never explicitly state it (which is great because it is still crystal clear!), this student’s ending of “I won’t make the mistake again of assuming that the surface of someone’s life reflects their underlying story” shows that they are constantly striving for improvement and finding lessons anywhere they can get them in life.

Where to Get Your Overcoming Challenges Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your Overcoming Challenges essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

overcoming challenges essay ideas

How to Write an Overcoming Challenges Essay

How to Write an Overcoming Challenges Essay

I frequently have students tell me that they’ve faced some challenges they think might make for a good college essay, but they aren’t sure how to gauge the strength of their topic, and they aren’t sure how to write a college essay about the challenges they’ve faced.

And those questions and confusion are understandable: While high school has probably helped prepare you to write academic essays, it’s less likely that you’ve spent much time doing the kind of personal and reflective writing you’ll want to do in a personal statement focused on challenges (which I’ll also sometimes refer to as a narrative essay).

Even the phrase “reflective writing” might seem a little new.

But no worries—I got you. In this post, I’ll walk you through:

Differences between a college essay/personal statement and a typical English class essay

How to gauge the strength of your possible “challenges” topic.

How to brainstorm your essay topic

How to structure your essay 

How to draft the essay

How to avoid sounding like a sob story (Part 1: Structure)

An example challenges essay with analysis

How to avoid sounding like a sob story (Part 2: Technique)

How to know if your challenges essay is doing its job.

By the end of this post, you should be all set to write.

A personal statement is an essay in which you demonstrate aspects of who you are by sharing some of the qualities, skills, and values you’ll bring to college. This essay is a core element of your application—admission offices use them to assess potential candidates. Personal statements are also often used by scholarship selections committees (for a guide to and some great examples of scholarship essays, head here ).

A college essay/personal statement isn’t the typical five-paragraph essay you write for English class, with an argumentative thesis and body with analysis.

Here’s a nice visual breakdown:

English Class Essays vs Personal Statements

A note on forcing challenges: Before we dive into how to write about challenges, I want to dispel a huge misconception: You don’t have to write about challenges at all in a college essay. So no need to force it. 

In fact, definitely don’t force it.

I’ve seen tons of essays in which students take a low-stakes challenge, like not making a sports team or getting a bad grade, and try to make it seem like a bigger deal than it was.

Don’t do that.

But you also don’t have to write about challenges even if your challenges were legit challenging. You definitely can write about strong challenges you’ve faced, and I’ve seen them turn into great essays. But I’ve also seen many , many , many outstanding essays (like many of the essays at those links) that didn’t focus on challenges at all, using Montage Structure .

Great. With all that in mind, if you feel like you’ve faced challenges in your life, and you want to write about them … how do you do so well? 

A big part of the answer relates to structure. Another part has to do with technique. I’ll cover both below.

I believe that a narrative essay is more likely to stand out if it contains: 

X. Difficult or compelling challenges Y. Insight

Here’s a nice visual:

Narrative Essay Topics (i.e. based on challenges)

These aren’t binary—rather, each can be placed on a spectrum.

“Difficult or compelling challenges” can be put on a spectrum with things like getting a bad grade or not making a sports team on the weaker end and things like escaping war or living homeless for three years on the stronger side. While you can possibly write a strong essay about a weaker challenge, it’s really hard to do so.

“Insight” is the answer to the question, “so what?” A great insight is likely to surprise the reader a bit, while a so-so insight likely won’t. (Insight is something you’ll develop in an essay through the writing process, rather than something you’ll generally know ahead of time for a topic, but it’s useful to understand that some topics are probably easier to pull insights from than others.)

To clarify, you can still write a narrative that has a lower stakes challenge or offers so-so insights. But the degree of difficulty goes up. Probably way up. For example, the essay in the post, “ How to Write a Narrative Essay on a Challenge That TBH Wasn’t That Big of a Deal ,” focuses on a very low-stakes challenge, but the insights he draws and his craft are next-level, and it took the author more than 10 drafts.

With that in mind, how do you brainstorm possible topics that are on the easier-to-stand-out-with side of the spectrum?

How to brainstorm topics for your overcoming challenges essay

First, spend 5-10 minutes working through this Value Exercise . Those values will actually function as a foundation for your entire application—you’ll want to make sure that as a reader walks through your personal statement, supplementals, activities list, and add’l info, they get a clear sense of what your core values are through the experiences, skills, and insights you discuss.

Once you’ve got those, take 15-20 minutes (or more is great) to work through the Feelings and Needs Exercise .

Pro tip: The more time you spend doing good brainstorming, the easier drafting becomes, so don’t skip or skimp on those. And with just those two exercises, you should be ready to start drafting a strong essay about challenges.

How to structure your essay

Once you’ve done the Feelings and Needs Exercise (and go ahead and do it, if you haven’t), structuring your essay will actually be pretty straightforward.

Here’s the basic structure of what we’re calling the Narrative (Challenges-Based) Structure:

Challenges + Effects

What I Did About It

What I Learned

The word count of your essay will be split roughly into thirds, with one-third exploring the challenges you faced and the effects of those challenges, one-third what you did about them, and one-third what you learned.

Conveniently, you’ve already got the content for those sections because you did the Feelings and Needs Exercise thoroughly.

As mentioned in the Feelings and Needs post , the feelings and needs will be spread throughout your essay, with some being explicitly stated, while others can be shown more subtly through your actions and reflections.

To get a little more nuanced, within those three basic sections ( Challenges, What I Did, What I Learned ), a narrative often has a few specific story beats. There are plenty of narratives that employ different elements than what follows—for example, collectivist societies often tell stories that don’t have one central main character/hero. But it seems hard to write a college personal statement that way, since you’re the focus here. You’ve seen these beats before, even if you don’t know it—most Hollywood films use elements of this structure, for example. 

Status Quo : The starting point of the story. This briefly describes the life or world of the main character (in your essay, that’s you).

The Inciting Incident : The event that disrupts the Status Quo. Often it’s the worst thing that could happen to the main character. It gets us to wonder: Uh-oh … what will they do next? or How will they solve this problem?

Raising the Stakes/Rising Action : Builds suspense. The situation becomes more and more tense, decisions become more important, and our main character has more and more to lose.

Moment of Truth : The climax. Often this is when our main character must make a choice.

New Status Quo : The denouement or falling action. This often tells us why the story matters or what our main character has learned. Think of these insights or lessons as the answer to the big “so what?” question.

Whether you want to just stick with the bullet points in your Feelings and Needs columns, or you want to also lay out your Status Quo , Inciting Incident , etc., is up to you—either approach can work well.

How to draft your challenges essay

First, outline.

Outlining will save you a ton of time revising.

And conveniently, again, you’ve already got most of what you need to build a strong outline.

Simply grab the bullet points from your Challenges + Effects , What I Did About It , and What I Learned columns from the exercise and stack them. For example, here’s a sample outline, followed by a link to the essay it led to:

Narrative Outline (developed from the Feelings and Needs Exercise)


Domestic abuse (physical and verbal)

Controlling father/lack of freedom


Prevented from pursuing opportunities

Cut off from world/family

Lack of sense of freedom/independence

Faced discrimination

What I Did About It:

Pursued my dreams

Traveled to Egypt, London, and Paris alone

Challenged stereotypes

Explored new places and cultures

Developed self-confidence, independence, and courage

Grew as a leader

Planned events

What I learned:

Inspired to help others a lot more

Learned about oppression, and how to challenge oppressive norms

Became closer with mother, somewhat healed relationship with father

Need to feel free

And here’s the essay that became: “ Easter ”

This is why you want to outline well before drafting—while virtually every essay will have to go through 5+ drafts to become outstanding, outlining well (like the above) makes writing a strong first draft much, much easier.

A few last tips on writing your early drafts:

Don’t worry about word count (within reason).

Don’t worry about making your first draft perfect—it won’t be. Just write.

Don’t worry about a fancy opening or ending.

If your first couple drafts of a max 650-word essay are 800 or 900 words, you’re totally fine. You’ll just have to cut some. But that kind of cutting often makes writing better.

And eventually, you’ll want a strong hook and an ending that shows clear, interesting insights. Insight in particular can be the toughest part of writing, as you may not have previously spent much time reflecting on why your experiences are important to you, how they’ve shaped your values and sense of self, and how they in essence help to fill out the bigger picture of who you are. But don’t let that stop you from writing your early drafts. Again, you’ll revise those things.

Just write.

Then revise. And revise. And revise ...

This is a common concern many students have.

If I tell you a personal story about a challenge I faced, I don’t want you to think I’m doing so because I want you to pity me.

But you also want to be able to tell a story, because one way to help us see who you are is to show us what values and insights you’ve developed through the challenges you’ve faced. So, if you have a challenge you think might make for a strong college essay, learning how to write in a way that shows a reader what you’ve been through without feeling like you’re “telling a sob story” is super important. 

Here’s how to do that.

Most of how you avoid a “sob story” is through structure. Think back to what we talked about earlier:  

Notice that two-thirds of your essay doesn’t focus on the challenges you’re facing—you focus on who you’ve become because of them. Most of the story is about what you did, what you learned, how you’ve grown.

This is why you don’t think of most movies as sob stories—because they’re not an hour and 40 minutes of details about bad things that have happened, and just 20 minutes of actions and growth.

This leads to an important note: It can be hard to write about a challenge that you’re still in the early stages or middle of working through. You can try. But it may be easier to turn that challenge into a paragraph in a montage, rather than trying to build a full essay around it (since you may not have as much to say regarding the What I Did and What I Learned aspects yet, and those are really important).

Here’s a nice example essay that uses Narrative Structure to write about challenges well. As you read it, ask yourself if it seems like a “sob story” to you.

Example challenges essay with analysis:

¡Levántate, Mijo! “¡Mijo! ¡Ya levántate! ¡Se hace tarde!” (Son! Wake up! It's late already.) My father’s voice pierced into my room as I worked my eyes open. We were supposed to open the restaurant earlier that day.  Ever since 5th grade, I have been my parents’ right hand at Hon Lin Restaurant in our hometown of Hermosillo, Mexico. Sometimes, they needed me to be the cashier; other times, I was the youngest waiter on staff. Eventually, when I got strong enough, I was called into the kitchen to work as a dishwasher and a chef’s assistant.  The restaurant took a huge toll on my parents and me. Working more than 12 hours every single day (even holidays), I lacked paternal guidance, thus I had to build autonomy at an early age. On weekdays, I learned to cook my own meals, wash my own clothes, watch over my two younger sisters, and juggle school work.  One Christmas Eve we had to prepare 135 turkeys as a result of my father’s desire to offer a Christmas celebration to his patrons. We began working at 11pm all the way to 5am. At one point, I noticed the large dark bags under my father’s eyes. This was the scene that ignited the question in my head: “Is this how I want to spend the rest of my life?”  The answer was no. So I started a list of goals. My first objective was to make it onto my school’s British English Olympics team that competed in an annual English competition in the U.K. After two unsuccessful attempts, I got in. The rigorous eight months of training paid off as we defeated over 150 international schools and lifted the 2nd Place cup; pride permeated throughout my hometown.  Despite the euphoria brought by victory, my sense of stability would be tested again, and therefore my goals had to adjust to the changing pattern. During the summer of 2014, my parents sent me to live in the United States on my own to seek better educational opportunities. I lived with my grandparents, who spoke Taishan (a Chinese dialect I wasn’t fluent in). New responsibilities came along as I spent that summer clearing my documentation, enrolling in school, and getting electricity and water set up in our new home. At 15 years old, I became the family’s financial manager, running my father’s bank accounts, paying bills and insurance, while also translating for my grandmother, and cleaning the house.  In the midst of moving to a new country and the overwhelming responsibilities that came with it, I found an activity that helped me not only escape the pressures around me but also discover myself. MESA introduced me to STEM and gave me nourishment and a new perspective on mathematics. As a result, I found my potential in math way beyond balancing my dad’s checkbooks.  My 15 years in Mexico forged part of my culture that I just cannot live without. Trying to fill the void for a familiar community, I got involved with the Association of Latin American students, where I am now an Executive Officer. I proudly embrace the identity I left behind. I started from small debates within the club to discussing bills alongside 124 Chicanos/Latinos at the State Capitol of California.  The more I scratch off from my goals list, the more it brings me back to those days handling spatulas. Anew, I ask myself, “Is this how I want to spend the rest of my life?” I want a life driven by my passions, rather than the impositions of labor. I want to explore new paths and grow within my community to eradicate the prejudicial barriers on Latinos. So yes, this IS how I want to spend the rest of my life.

Structural Analysis:

First, here’s a breakdown of how the author uses that 3-part structure to effectively tell his story:

Working to help support family

Physical toll

Caring for self and sisters

Prospects of spending life this way

Adapting to life in US

What I Did About It/Them

British English Olympics team and competition

Cleared documentation

Ran household for grandparents

Became family’s financial manager


Association of Latin American students

Pride in leadership

Autonomy and independence

Potential in mathematics

Personal perspective/value of cultural identity

Desire to push back against prejudice

Answer to “How do I want to spend my life?”

And here’s how the essay uses those narrative elements from before:

Status Quo : Life growing up workin in the family’s restaurant. Responsibilities. The daily toll.

The Inciting Incident : Cooking 135 turkeys on Christmas Eve and questioning if this is how he wants to spend his life.

Raising the Stakes/Rising Action : British English Olympics training and competition. Moving to the U.S. Taking on further responsibilities. Exploring MESA/STEM. Joining/leading the Assoc. of Latin American Students. 

Moment of Truth : Re-asking “Is this how I want to spend my life?”

New Status Quo : New sense of purpose. Life driven by passions. Growth within community. Push back against prejudice.

There’s a lot of other nice stuff in that essay—we see a bunch of core values , there’s vulnerability in sharing his difficulties and worries, there are nice insights and reflections related to his growth, and there are some nice moments of craft, like re-raising the question about how he wants to spend his life.

But since we’re here to talk about how to write well about challenges, in particular, I’d want you to reflect on your response to what I asked you to think about just before the essay: Does it seem like a sob story?

Not really. Why? Largely, it’s due to the structure—the author uses the approach we’ve discussed in this post, focusing mostly on what he did in response to these challenges, and what he learned from them. It’s extremely hard for a story told like that to come off as an attempt to evoke pity. Rather, it feels inspiring. At least it does to me.

While structure alone can enable you to write about a challenge effectively (without sounding like a sob story), there are also some great techniques you can use to further strengthen how you communicate a narrative. 

And a heads-up that two of these might seem to contradict each other. They don’t, but maybe it’s subtle. I’ll clarify after.


This is the simplest way, and it can be the most vulnerable (which is a good thing; more on this in a bit). Why? Because there's nothing dressing it up—no hiding behind artifice—you're just telling it like it is.

Personal statement example: 

At age three, I was separated from my mother. The court gave full custody of both my baby brother and me to my father. Of course, at my young age, I had no clue what was going on. However, it did not take me long to realize that life with my father would not be without its difficulties.

- Excerpt from "Raising Anthony" in College Essay Essentials and inside our Pay-What-You-Can online course: How to Write a Personal Statement

Here, the author does a nice job of straightforwardly laying out the challenges she faced and the effects of those challenges. That quality of her language allows us as readers to fill in the feelings and impact around those challenges—I feel like I’m seeing just the part of an iceberg poking above the surface, while a whole world of experience lies below. And because she’s been so clear, my imagination starts filling in that world.

Here’s another nice example:

It was the first Sunday of April. My siblings and I were sitting at the dinner table giggling and spelling out words in our alphabet soup. The phone rang and my mother answered. It was my father; he was calling from prison in Oregon. My father had been stopped by immigration on his way to Yakima, Washington, where he’d gone in search of work. He wanted to fulfill a promise he’d made to my family of owning our own house with a nice little porch and a dog.

- Excerpt from “ The Little Porch and a Dog ”

IMPORTANT: I know I’m repeating myself here, but it’s so important, I’m fine doing so: Most of your “challenges” essay isn’t actually about the challenges you face. That’s an added bonus with using simple and direct language—doing so allows you to set up your challenges in the first paragraph or two, so you can then move on and dedicate most of the essay to a) what you did about it and b) what you learned. So just tell us, with clear and direct language.


Click here for a quick clip, or Google this phrase:

“Ding-dong, the wicked witch is dead.”

Someone just got crushed by a house. That’s actually a pretty dark moment.

But it doesn’t feel nearly as dark as it actually is. Because they’re singing about it and dancing.

This is something you can do in writing about challenges: Add a touch of levity (by “a touch,” I mean probably not Munchkins-singing-and-dancing level … that’s more than a touch). 

Here’s a personal statement example: 

When I was fifteen years old I broke up with my mother. We could still be friends, I told her, but I needed my space, and she couldn’t give me that.

- Excerpt from " Breaking Up With Mom "

Note how she uses the (funny, but subtle) cliche of “I needed space” and puts it in the context of something that was a pretty big deal for her—cutting her mother off. 

Another example: 

I’ve desperately attempted to consolidate my opposing opinions of Barbie into a single belief, but I’ve accepted that they’re separate. In one, she has perpetuated physical ideals unrepresentative of how real female bodies are built. Striving to look like Barbie is not only striving for the impossible—the effort is detrimental to women’s psychological and physical health, including my own. In the other, Barbie has inspired me in her breaking of the plastic ceiling. She has dabbled in close to 150 careers, including some I’d love to have: a UNICEF Ambassador, teacher, and business executive. And although it’s not officially listed on her résumé, Barbie served honorably in the War in Afghanistan.

- Excerpt from “Barbie vs. Terrorism and the Patriarchy” in College Essay Essentials and inside our Pay-What-You-Can online course: How to Write a Personal Statement

Again, the humor here is subtle—“plastic ceiling” and the image of Barbie serving in Afghanistan—but it shapes the reader’s impression nicely.

A third example:

Up on stage, under the glowing spotlight, and in front of the glowering judge, I felt as if nothing could get in my way. As would soon be evident, I was absolutely right. The last kid got out on casserole—I eat casseroles for breakfast.

- Excerpt from “Much Ado About Nothing” on this post on writing about weaker challenges .

Far less subtle, but pretty great—that essay is full of puns and wordplay that demonstrate a strong level of craft (but it took him many revisions to get there).

If you want to try incorporating humor into your writing, great—just be sure to revise several times, as you’ll want to walk a refined line.


Here’s a personal statement example:

Smeared blood, shredded feathers. Clearly, the bird was dead. But wait, the slight fluctuation of its chest, the slow blinking of its shiny black eyes. No, it was alive. I had been typing an English essay when I heard my cat's loud meows and the flutter of wings. I had turned slightly at the noise and had found the barely breathing bird in front of me. The shock came first. Mind racing, heart beating faster, blood draining from my face. I instinctively reached out my hand to hold it, like a long-lost keepsake from my youth. But then I remembered that birds had life, flesh, blood. Death. Dare I say it out loud? Here, in my own home?

- Excerpt from “ Dead Bird ” 

IMPORTANT: Writing poetically is extremely difficult to do—like walking a high-wire—and, if done poorly, this can fail spectacularly. I’d only recommend this if 1) you have lots of time before your essay is due, 2) you consider yourself a moderately-good-to-great writer and, 3) you’re able to write about your challenges with distance and objectivity (i.e., you have mostly or completely come through the challenge(s) you’re describing). If you’re short on time, don’t have a lot of experience writing creative non-fiction, or are still very much “in it,” I’d recommend not choosing this method.

Straightforward and direct … and with poetry?

In case it seems like I’m contradicting myself by saying that you can be simple and straightforward and be poetic: I don’t think these are necessarily opposites (certainly not here, at least). The kind of poetic language I’m talking about here isn’t flowery or fanciful. Some of my favorite poems are actually pretty simple . But they’re still beautiful.

If you're unsure/insecure about adding humor or poetry, totally understandable, and I'd recommend experimenting with the straightforward method. It'll get you started. And, who knows, maybe some humor and poetry will emerge. 

For example, here’s the opening to the “ Easter " essay from above. 

It was Easter and we should’ve been celebrating with our family, but my father had locked us in the house. If he wasn’t going out, neither were my mother and I.

My mother came to the U.S. from Mexico to study English. She’d been an exceptional student and had a bright future ahead of her. But she fell in love and eloped with the man that eventually became my father. He loved her in an unhealthy way, and was both physically and verbally abusive. My mother lacked the courage to start over so she stayed with him and slowly let go of her dreams and aspirations. But she wouldn’t allow for the same to happen to me.

To my mind, there’s a beauty in how straightforward the language here is. It’s almost poetic in effect.

The best personal statements often share a lot of the same qualities even when they’re about drastically different topics. 

Here are a few qualities I believe make for an outstanding personal statement

You can identify the applicant’s core values. In a great personal statement, we should be able to get a sense of what fulfills, motivates, or excites the author. These can be things like humor, beauty, community, and autonomy, just to name a few. So when you read back through your essay, you should be able to detect at least 4-5 different values throughout.  When you look for these values, also consider whether or not they’re varied or similar. For instance, values like hard work, determination, and perseverance … are basically the same thing. Whereas more varied values like resourcefulness, healthy boundaries, and diversity can showcase different qualities and offer a more nuanced sense of who you are.

It’s vulnerable. I love when, after reading an essay, I feel closer to the writer. The best essays I’ve seen are the ones where the authors have let their guard down some. Don’t be afraid to be honest about things that scare, challenge, or bother you. The personal statement is a great space for you to open up about those aspects of yourself.  As you’re writing, ask yourself: Does the essay sound like it’s mostly analytical, or like it’s coming from a deeper, more vulnerable place? Remember, this essay is a place for emotional vulnerability. After reading it, the admission officer should (hopefully) feel like they have a better sense of who you are.

It shows insight and growth. Your personal statement should ideally have at least 3-5 “so what” moments, points at which you draw insights or reflections from your experiences that speak to your values or sense of purpose. Sometimes, “so what” moments are subtle. Other times, they’re more explicit. Either way, the more illuminating, the better. They shouldn’t come out of nowhere, but they also shouldn’t be predictable. You want your reader to see your mind in action and take that journey of self-reflection with you.

It demonstrates craft (aka it’s articulate and reads well). While content is important, craft is what’ll bring the best stories to life. Because of this, it’s important to think of writing as a process—it’s very rare that I’ve seen an outstanding personal statement that didn’t go through at least 5 drafts. Everything you write should be carefully considered . You don’t want your ideas to come off as sloppy or half-baked. Your reader should see the care you put into brainstorming and writing in every sentence. Ask yourself these questions as you write:

Do the ideas in the essay connect in a way that’s logical, but not too obvious (aka boring)? 

Can you tell the author spent a lot of time revising the essay over the course of several drafts? 

Is it interesting and succinct throughout? If not, where do you lose interest? Where could words be cut, or which part isn’t revealing as much as it could be?

Next steps and final thoughts

I hope that, after working through all of this post, you feel well-equipped to dive into writing about your challenges.

To do so, here’s what you can do:

Step 1: Value Exercise —get a clearer sense of what core values you want to illustrate throughout your application.

Step 2: Work through the Feelings and Needs Exercise .

Step 3: Outline using the bullet points from your Feelings and Needs column, focusing on “Challenges + Effects,” “What I Did,” “What I Learned.”

Step 4: Draft. Then revise. And revise. And keep going.

Start exploring.

For essay writing tips from tons of experts, check out my 35+ Best College Essay Tips from College Application Experts.

Another awesome sample essay: The "Punk Rock Philosopher" Example Personal Statement

Want help writing your personal statement, check out my course  below..


How to Write the Overcoming Challenges Essay + Example

April 17, 2023

overcoming challenges essay college

At some point, most college-bound students are tasked with writing an overcoming challenges essay. The prompt crops up in various forms, as a supplemental short essay about overcoming a challenge, and in as the main essay itself.

Some students may feel inclined to write about a dramatic experience (say, spotting a grizzly bear outside the kitchen window), mistaking the drama of the moment for a significant challenge. Others may get to work, only to realize they don’t have much to say about the time they got a C in P.E. (that dreaded frisbee unit). Students who’ve overcome unspeakable difficulties, like a death in the family, may find that reducing the tragedy to 650 words feels insufficient, or worse—as if they’re attempting to profit from suffering. One or two students may stare down the blank computer screen as their entire existence shrinks to the size of a 12-point font. Should they write about the challenge of writing about the challenge of writing an overcoming challenges essay??

Don’t worry. Focusing first on how to tackle the essay will help any student decide what they should write about. In fact, how the essay is written will also prove more influential than the challenge itself in determining the strength of the essay.

Decoding the Prompt

Let’s take a look at the overcoming challenges essay question included among the seven 2023-24 Common App Essay Prompts :

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?

Notice how the prompt places an immediate emphasis on the “lessons we take,” rather than on the obstacles themselves, or any potential success. This is because the challenge itself often says less about the student than the way the student chose to tackle it, or the way they now reflect on it. In other words, obstacles often come at us randomly; it’s our personal response to the circumstances which reveals something of who we are.

While studying a prompt for clues, it’s helpful to think from the perspective of the admissions officer (the essay reader). What can they glean from an overcoming challenges essay?  A lot, actually. A thoughtfully written essay may tell them about the student’s personality, as well as things like problem-solving techniques, rigor, persistence, creativity, and courage. These insights can work to prove to the admissions officers that the student has what it takes to overcome challenges in college, too. These future challenges may range from the inevitable academic obstacles that occur with heavy courseloads, to social and moral challenges that arise as college students form their adult identities.

Picking Your Topic: A Brainstorming Activity

With the question of identity in mind, let’s now approach the overcoming challenges essay backwards, by brainstorming the final message the student wants it to contain.

For this three-part exercise, the student will first set a five-minute timer. With the clock ticking, they’ll jot down character traits, values, and any descriptive words or terms that say something about who they are. If stumped, change perspective. The student may imagine what their best friends, parents, coaches and siblings would say. (For example, tenacious , logical , scientific , peacemaker .) Even mild criticism can be helpful, as long as it’s not cruel. While a student’s brother may call him a “perfectionist,” perhaps this word will trigger other relevant words, like persistent and detail-oriented.

Next, the student will set the timer for another five minutes, pull out a second sheet of paper, and jot down any challenges, obstacles, setbacks, failures, and achievements that come to mind. Don’t hold back here or overanalyze. (For example: underdog at state swim meet , getting lost on the family hike , petitioning for a school compost system …)

Lastly, the student will place the two pages side by side, and draw lines between the items on the list wherever connections occur. One student may draw lines between persistent , curious , gamer , passionate about electronics , and saved the day during the power outage. Another set of lines might connect caring, observant, creative thinker , and helped sister leave abusive cult . Whatever ideas are sparked here, the goal is to identify which challenges will demonstrate something essential about the student to an admissions officer.

Topics to Avoid

The internet is rife with advice on what not to write when writing an overcoming challenges essay. Yet this advice can be confusing, or downright hypocritical. For instance, some may advise against writing about death. Yet a student who lost their father at an early age may be capable of writing a poignant essay about their search for an alternative father figure, and how they found one in their soccer coach.

I suggest avoiding guides on what not to write until after the student has done a thorough round of brainstorming. Otherwise, they risk censoring themselves too early, and may reject a promising idea. Once they’ve narrowed down their list to three ideas or less, they may want to check our guide on College Application Essay Topics to Avoid .

The reason why certain types of overcoming challenges essays miss the mark is that they emphasize the wrong aspect of the experience, which turns the topic into a cliché. While it’s generally a good idea to avoid trivial topics (again, that C in P.E.), any topic has the potential to be compelling, if it’s animated through personal opinions, insight, and description. Details bring an experience to life. Structure and reflection make an essay convincing. In other words, how the story is told will determine whether or not the topic is worth writing about.

So, rather than avoid specific topics, consider avoiding these scenarios: if you can’t show the essay to your best friend or grandmother, it’s probably not ready to show a college admissions officer. If you must write a clichéd topic, don’t choose a typical structure.

Techniques to Hone

Techniques that animate an overcoming challenges essay are the same ones used in storytelling. Think setting, visuals, sounds, dialogue, physical sensations, and feelings. “Showing” instead of “telling.” Crafting the essay with these inner and external details will bring the challenge to life, and catch the reader’s attention.

Another technique which works well when trying to avoid the trappings of cliché involve subverting the reader’s expectations. In storytelling terms, this is a plot twist. The student who got a C in P.E. may actually have a stellar essay on their hands, if they can break away from the “bad grade” trope (working harder to improve their grade). Perhaps this student’s story is actually about how, while sitting on the bleachers and not participating in the game, they found themselves watching the frisbee spin through the air, and realized they had a deep interest in the movement of astronomical bodies.

Some of the strongest overcoming challenges essays demonstrate what students have learned about themselves, rather than what they’ve learned about the obstacle they confronted. These essays may show how the student has come to see themselves differently, or how they’ve decided to change, thanks to the challenge they faced. These essays work because the reflection is natural and even profound, based on the student’s self-awareness.

Writing the Overcoming Challenges Essay, or Drafts, Drafts, Drafts

Everyone writes differently, some by outlining (never a bad idea), some by free-styling (good for capturing sensations and memories), some by lighting a candle—but don’t procrastinate too much. The only “must” is to revise. After a first draft, the student should begin to look for several things:

1) Clarity and Detail. Is the challenge recounted with precision? Is it personal?

2) Structure. Consider mapping the structure, to visualize it better. Does the structure suit the story? Can it be changed for clarity, or to keep the reader more engaged?

3) Cliché. Identify words, sentences, and ideas that are dull or repetitive. Mark them up, and in the next draft, find ways to rewrite, subvert, condense, and delete.

4) Lesson Learned. Has the student reflected adequately on the lesson they learned from overcoming a challenge? To add more reflection, students might ask themselves what they have felt and thought about the experience since. Would they do something differently, if faced with the same challenge? Has their understanding of the experience evolved over time?

By the final draft, the experience and the reflection should feel equally weighted. To get there, it may take five or six drafts.

Overcoming Challenges Essay Sample

The Happiness Hotline

First there were reports. Then we were told to stop socializing, go inside, wait. Covid struck. Everyone knows what ensued. It probably looked different from where we were all (separately) standing, even though we faced the same thing. Those first weeks, I stood at my bedroom window. It was dark by early evening in Oregon. The weirdest part—after the fact that we were collectively sharing the loneliest experience of our lives—was the silence.

… it was really quiet.

So quiet, I could hear my mom sigh downstairs. (So quiet, I couldn’t remember if I’d hummed aloud, or if I’d just heard myself in my head.) When I looked out the window, I could hear the stoplight at the end of our street. Green to yellow. Click.

Before going on, you should know three things. First, this is not a Covid essay. This is about melancholy, and the “sadness that has taken on lightness,” to quote Italo Calvino. Second, from my bedroom window, I can see down a row of oak trees, past the hospital, to my friend Carlo’s house. Third, Carlo is a jazz singer. Maybe that sounds pretentious, a freshman kid being a jazz singer, but that’s Carlo, and I wouldn’t be me without Carlo being Carlo. He’s someone who appreciates the unhinged rhythm of a Charlie Parker tune. He’s an extrovert who can bring introverts like me out of my shell. He convinced me to learn trombone, and together we riff in the after-school jazz club.

In the first month of the pandemic, we called each other nightly to talk rap albums, school stuff. At Carlo’s house, he could hear a white-crowned sparrow. He could also hear his parents talking numbers behind the bathroom door. The death toll was mounting. The cost of living was going up too. As the month wore on, I began to hear something else in our calls, in the way Carlo paused, or forgot what he was saying. Carlo was scared. He felt sad, isolated, and without his bright energy, I too, felt utterly alone.

Overcoming Challenges Essay Sample (Continued)

After some dark days, I realized that to help ourselves we needed to help others. It was pretty obvious the more I thought about it. People are social creatures, supposedly, even introverts. Maybe our neighbors needed to remember the noisiness of life.

We built a happiness hotline. That sounds fancy, though essentially, we provided three-way calls on my parents’ landline. The harder part involved making flyers and putting them up around town, in places people were still going. Grocery stores, the post office. We made a TikTok account, and then—the phone rang. Our first caller.

For months, if you called in, you could talk to us about your days in lockdown. People went really deep about the meaning of life, and we had to learn on the spot how to respond. I’d become a journalist and a therapist before becoming a sophomore. After chatting, the caller would request a song, and if we knew how to play it, we would. If not, we improvised.

Now we’re seniors in high school. Carlo visits the hospital with band members. As for myself, I’ve been working on a community music book, compiling our callers’ favorite tunes. I don’t want to forget how important it felt to make these connections. Our callers taught me that loneliness is a bit like a virus, a bit like a song. Even when it stops it can come back to haunt you, as a new variant or an old refrain. Still, sadness can take on lightness when voices call through the dark: sparrows, friends, strangers. I learned I’m good at listening into the silence. Listening isn’t only a passive stance, but an open line of receiving.

Analysis of the Overcoming Challenges Essay Sample

This student uses their musical passion to infuse the essay with vivid detail. There’s a focus on sound throughout, from the bird to the stoplight. Then there are the callers, and the clever way the student conceived of breaking through the silence. The narrator’s voice sharpens the piece further, elevating a clichéd Covid essay to a personal story of self-discovery.

In fact, the essay briefly breaks with structure to tell the reader that this is not a Covid essay. Although techniques like this should be used sparingly, it works here by grabbing the reader’s attention. It also allows the student to organize their thoughts on the page, before moving the plot along.

Outwardly, the student is overcoming the challenge of loneliness in a time of quarantine. Yet there seems to be an inner, unspoken challenge as well, that of coming to terms with the student’s introverted personality. The essay’s reflection occurs in the final paragraph, making the essay experience-heavy. However, clues woven throughout point to the reflection that will come. Details like the Italo Calvino quote hint at the later understanding of how to alleviate loneliness. While some readers might prefer more development, the various themes are threaded throughout, which makes for a satisfying ending.

A Last Word on the Short Essay About Overcoming Challenges

The short essay about overcoming a challenge requires the same steps as a longer one. To write it, follow the same brainstorming activity, then focus more on condensing and summarizing the experience. Students who’ve already written a longer overcoming challenges essay can approach the short essay about overcoming a challenge by streamlining. Instead of deleting all the extra bits, keep two interesting details that will flavor the essay with something memorable and unique.

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Kaylen Baker

With a BA in Literary Studies from Middlebury College, an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, and a Master’s in Translation from Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Kaylen has been working with students on their writing for over five years. Previously, Kaylen taught a fiction course for high school students as part of Columbia Artists/Teachers, and served as an English Language Assistant for the French National Department of Education. Kaylen is an experienced writer/translator whose work has been featured in Los Angeles Review, Hybrid, San Francisco Bay Guardian, France Today, and Honolulu Weekly, among others.

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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Life Experiences — Overcoming Challenges

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Essays on Overcoming Challenges

Prompt examples for "overcoming challenges" essays, personal growth through adversity.

Share a personal experience in which you faced a significant challenge or adversity. Describe the impact it had on your personal growth, the lessons you learned, and how it changed your perspective on life.

The Role of Resilience

Discuss the concept of resilience in the face of challenges. How do individuals develop and demonstrate resilience, and what role does it play in overcoming difficult situations?

Overcoming Academic Obstacles

Explore the challenges students often encounter in their academic journeys. Describe a specific academic hurdle you faced, how you addressed it, and the strategies you used to succeed in your studies.

Challenges in the Workplace

Discuss challenges that individuals may encounter in their professional careers. Share a personal or professional experience in which you faced a workplace obstacle and describe how you navigated it to achieve success.

Health and Wellness Journey

Reflect on a health-related challenge, whether it's a physical ailment, mental health issue, or lifestyle change. Describe the steps you took to address this challenge, improve your well-being, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Overcoming Adversity in Sports

Discuss how athletes often face physical and mental challenges in their sports careers. Share a personal or sports-related story in which you or someone you know overcame adversity in athletics, highlighting the determination and perseverance required.

Challenges in Relationships

Explore the challenges that can arise in personal relationships, such as friendships, family dynamics, or romantic partnerships. Share a personal experience or case study, detailing how communication and resilience played a role in overcoming relationship challenges.

Obstacles in Pursuit of Goals

Describe a specific goal or dream you have pursued and the obstacles you encountered along the way. Explain the strategies you employed to overcome these obstacles and achieve your objectives.

Contributions to Community

Discuss how individuals can overcome challenges to make positive contributions to their communities. Share a personal or community-based initiative you were involved in that addressed a significant challenge or issue.

Lessons from Adversity

Reflect on the life lessons you have learned from overcoming challenges. How have these experiences shaped your values, beliefs, and approach to future obstacles?

Enduring Issues: an Examination of Persistent Challenges

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Overcoming Challenges in My Life: Dyslexia

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Important Choices that Changed My Life

Effective way of overcoming adversity, the time i took a risk and its effect on me, review of lizzie velasquez’ ted talk, my expectations and challenges in trying to become a brain surgeon, helen keller: victories over disabilities, a view of attaining prosperity by overcoming obstacles as described in an inspirational speech, how blackboard programs can be used, seabiscuit: how an underdog became a champion, the benefits of going into the unknown, immigrant experience and challenges, the role of discipline in achieving success, how to overcome struggles in life: lessons from thomas hardy, how to overcome struggles in life: bravery in the hate u give, turning challenges into opportunities: a path to growt, relevant topics.

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Essays About Challenges: Top 11 Examples and Prompts

We come across many challenges we must endure throughout life. If you want to write essays about challenges, start by reading some of our top essay examples.

Everyone has had to deal with obstacles or challenges at some point. Some people can overcome hurdles with confidence and bravery, while many others have difficulty trying to face them. However, the challenges we have faced are, without a doubt, a central part of who we are today. Overcoming challenges can make you a better person. The lessons you learn from them are essential for future success, and as with all other experiences, these challenges help form you into the person you are today. They can also be exciting to some, as they test your skills and capabilities. 

If you are writing essays about challenges, look at our featured essay examples below. 

1. Personal Challenges by Delores Goodwin

2. life’s struggles make us stronger – and happier – if we let them by helen g. rousseau, 3. how to overcome your challenges with openness and courage by tony fahkry.

  • 4.  ​​Life: full of challenges by Vaibhav Jain

5. Challenges Facing Public Schools by Lewis Rios

Writing prompts on essays about challenges.

“A challenge will tell an individual more about themselves than anything else in life. Am I a quitter? How much adversity can I take? How badly do I want this? What is my breaking point? Where does my loyalty end? Challenge can ask us hundreds of questions and forces us to answer honestly. Challenges end the talk and make one walk the walk. Create challenges for yourself, it will cause you to see who you really are.”

Challenges are a necessity of life despite the hardship and stress they come with, and Goodwin discusses this in her essay. A great accomplishment cannot be made without a challenge. Without challenges, one becomes complacent, so we must keep facing challenges to keep us mentally and physically strong. Goodwin encourages readers to challenge themselves more to help them delve deeper into who they are. For more, check out these essays about life challenges .

“Every human being has been in this place at one time or another. Sometimes depression can make it more difficult to get away from the edge but any spark of light or encouragement should be used to seek help physically, emotionally or spiritually. When we face a crisis, it effects the all of who we are and thus must be met with our total beings.”

Rousseau reflects on overcoming adversity, recalling when she met with two former coworkers. They talked about their lives, families, and struggles during lunch. They could bond over their shared positive, confident mindset, allowing them to overcome challenges. Rousseau clarifies that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome anything and closes her essay with two of her poems about resilience. 

“Instead of running away from your emotions, lean into them and experience them fully. This transforms your fears and anxiety into empowering emotions. Let go of what you believe life owes you. It owes you nothing since you are the expression of life. Rise to your challenges armed with courage and an open mind. Remain confident that your experiences are serving your personal growth.”

Fahkry explains how to face challenges without stress and suffering. He reminds us that, first of all, we have free will, so we do not have to feel the way we do if we put our minds to it. We cannot change our reality once it is already there, so feeling sad or angry for prolonged periods is useless. If we change our mindsets for the better, we can overcome all adversity. Our fear and anxiety can be turned into confidence, empowerment, and courage. Check out these essays about competition .

4.  ​​ Life: full of challenges by Vaibhav Jain

“A person who has not encountered difficulties in life can never achieve success. Difficulties test the courage, patience, perseverance, and true character of a human being. Adversity and hardships make a person strong and ready to face the challenges of life with equanimity. There is no doubt that there can be no gain without pain. It is only when one toils and sweats it out that success is nourished and sustained.”

In his short essay, Jain writes about the wonders of life as well as its challenges. He likens life to a bed of roses, complete with painful thorns. In general, life is good, but adversity and challenges are prevalent. These two concepts seem different, but one cannot exist without the other. As with the previous essays, Jain explains that challenges make us stronger and help us feel successful and relieved: “there can be no gain without pain.” Without challenges, we take the better parts of life for granted; if we accept and overcome our struggles, we can live life to the fullest.

“In conclusion, public educational institutions experience many challenges ranging from budgetary constraints, student violence and low parental involvement. Much research needs to be done to establish why these problems exist in the first place and lasting solutions for these institutions.”

Rios’ essay explores challenges in an education system; he proposes research on the constraints of the U.S. public school system. Public schools face several economic and social challenges, such as insufficient funding and lack of parental involvement due to many students’ working-class backgrounds. Rios wishes for more research on these problems and possible solutions. 

1. Challenges I Have Faced

In this essay, write about a challenge you previously encountered and how you dealt with it. Provide context by describing the events leading up to it, how it happened, and, most importantly, how you overcame it. Then, describe how you felt after- were you relieved, stressed, or tired? You can also discuss how this experience has affected you today. 

2. Lessons Learned From Challenges

Challenges can teach us a lot about life and the world. Reflect on a challenge you faced previously and what you learned from it, whether positive or negative. As with the previous prompt, feel free to include ways in which the lesson you learned affects you today. 

3. How To Change Your Attitude Towards Challenge

How can you best handle the challenges you may face? Describe the ideal attitude one would need to overcome complex challenges. For example, what qualities would you need to have- courage, prudence, or sensibility? Regardless of what type of attitude you choose to write about, your essay will be substantive if you can adequately support your argument. 

4. Helping Others Overcome Challenges and Adversity

Essays about Challenges: Helping others overcome challenges and adversity

In your essay, you can write about a time you were able to help someone facing a challenge. Who did you help- a friend, family member, or someone else? Then, write about how you helped them, how it made you feel, and how it has impacted your life. 

5. Challenges Faced In Your Home Country

Research one particular challenge your country is facing today, whether that be an economic, social, or political issue. Discuss how this challenge occurred and what began the difficulties. If applicable, include multiple viewpoints on the issue and include information from credible sources. You can also propose possible solutions to this issue. 

6. Challenges The World Currently Faces

Humanity faces challenges on a massive scale, from a climate change crisis to possible third world war to a global pandemic. Choose one challenge the world faces today and write your essay about it. As with the previous prompt, write about the causes and responses to this challenge, and feel free to propose a solution. 

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overcoming challenges essay ideas

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

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Overcoming Challenges in Life Essay

overcoming challenges essay ideas

Personal Narrative: Overcoming The Challenges Of My Life

Through my entire life I have seen many tough people, I have seen many harsh sights, and faced many difficult challenges. Accomplishing these things seems to be easy, but I believe I have not only overcome these challenges, but used them to develop myself as a person.I look back and feel happy for having such wonderful people, like my Mom, in my life to comfort me through all of my anxiety. I think of how lucky I am to have parents that care about me, and a Mom who sacrifices things she has to make me happy. Throughout a majority of my life, I had not developed the mental maturity of taking a negative experience and turning it into something to build my character. When I was younger my struggles were never as great as they are now, but still…

Overcoming Obstacles And The Challenges That Changed My Life

The last few years of my life have been challenging and the challenges I have overcome have taught me how to look at obtacles in a differnet way. When I thounk about my challenges in the past few years, my mind instantly goes back to my grandma passing away last summer. This is something I am still struggling with; my grandma was more than a grandma, she was one of my best friends and she was always pushing me to be my best. Last school year I was struggling, I had very little motivation and my…

Narrative: Overcoming Obstacles And Challenges That Changed My Life

My sophomore year began uneventfully. I was 15 years old, loved basketball, and was living a normal life. My worries consisted of keeping my grades up, wondering if I would play on varsity, and getting my chores done. I had no idea a storm was coming that was going to change my life. I was about to face obstacles and challenges that made me question my faith, my family, and the meaning of life. My love for basketball and my devotion to prayer were skills that I honed to overcome separation and…

Overcoming Challenges

offer different interpretations of overcoming challenges. Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer suggests that in order to overcome challenges you must work hard and never give up. On the other hand, Bethany Hamilton in Rise Above leaves readers with the idea of overcoming challenges comes from faith. This is shown through flashbacks, inner thinking, and first person point of view, in both books. Bethany Hamilton shows the theme of overcoming challenges in both her books, Soul Surfer and Rise Above.…

Between Shades Of Gray: Overcoming Challenges

Overcoming Challenges in Romeo and Juliet and Between Shades of Gray Challenges in life are inevitable. They also must be overcome and resolved. This resolution comes with strength for tomorrow. The lessons learned from one obstacle helps with the next days challenge. Resolving challenges gave strength to the characters in both the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare and the novel Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. Romeo and Juliet is a story about teenagers from rival households…

Tupac And Ralph Overcoming Adversity

Overcoming Adversity and Personal Growth in Holler If You Hear Me and Lord of the Flies Overcoming problems, obstacles, struggles in life isn’t easy but it does have a positive result in one’s personal growth and life. “Holler if You Hear Me” by Michael Eric Dyson is a biography of Tupac mainly focused on events, people in his life, behind his career and the unseen mental physical struggles he faced. William Golding has designed a character in “Lord of the Flies” “Ralph” who is one of the boys…

Character Analysis: Fried Green Tomatoes

head-on every day. A great example of overcoming handicaps is in the novel Fried Green Tomatoes; the author Fannie Flagg gives both physical and mental handicaps and shows that it is possible to overcome and grow from them. The novel brings together both the present and the past. In the present, two characters are introduced, Evelyn Couch, who goes to a nursing home…

New Experiences In Peter Weir's Film 'The Truman Show'

Peter Weir uses a selection of cinematic forms to express the challenge of new experiences in his film The Truman Show, and through theses cinematic forms he is able to visually present the idea of the challenge of new experiences. In Weirs film, all of his characters such as Truman faces new experiences and the challenges that comes with it. Weir selects the ideas of overcoming fear, trust and control, for his characters to visually show the audience the challenge of new experiences with the…

The Importance Of Overcoming Obstacles In Life

Overcoming Obstacles “Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes them meaningful”. Obstacles are problems, given to us humans to solve. It could be something as big as being born with a disability or something as simple as learning how to ride a bike. Overcoming obstacles are never easy to begin with. Most obstacles are extremely hard and challenging. But by overcoming them, you’ll know why they are important. The importance of overcoming obstacles in life is…

Harriet Tubman Character Analysis

In the Facing Challenges unit, there are many types of characters that have to face many different kinds of problems. From either mental challenges to physical challenges these characters have to find ways to overcome their problems. Bottom line is things can get tough and you have to find ways to grasp these challenges and overcome them. It’s obvious, the clearest theme in facing challenges is, if you work hard, you can overcome any challenge in life. In Harriet Tubman: Guide to Freedom, the…

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    With an Overcoming Challenges essay though, the goal is to focus on your thoughts and feelings. For example, rather than detail all the steps

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    8 Overcoming Challenges College Essay Examples · Essay 1: Becoming a Coach · Essay 2: Starting a Fire · Essay 3: Last-Minute Switch · Essay 4: Music

  6. How to Write an Overcoming Challenges Essay

    The word count of your essay will be split roughly into thirds, with one-third exploring the challenges you faced and the effects of those

  7. How to Write the Overcoming Challenges Essay + Example

    Writing the Overcoming Challenges Essay, or Drafts, Drafts, Drafts · 1) Clarity and Detail. Is the challenge recounted with precision? · 2)

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  10. Essays About Challenges: Top 11 Examples And Prompts

    1. Challenges I Have Faced · 2. Lessons Learned From Challenges · 3. How To Change Your Attitude Towards Challenge · 4. Helping Others Overcome

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    tips for writing an essay about overcoming challenges · 1. Stay away from common topics. · 2. Identify an obstacle that highlights qualities you

  12. Overcoming Challenges in Life Essay

    On the other hand, Bethany Hamilton in Rise Above leaves readers with the idea of overcoming challenges comes from faith. This is shown through flashbacks

  13. Overcoming Obstacles

    Free overcoming obstacles essay samples for students - get the best overcoming challenges essay, free paper samples, and best topics online here.

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