Crazy College Essay that actually got accepted

Hey guys. You should definitely take a look at my latest blog at where I talk about my travels and study abroad. Thanks.

Today I stumbled upon this college essay, which being called crazy, would be an understatement. Clearly the author meant to pass on some sort of message like “I’m so awesome, I don’t need your help”. I don’t know whether the admission officers would be laughing their ass off while reading this or just looking at each other, perplexed. I am a little too suspicious about the credibility of this, but it’s a must read.

This is an actual essay written by a college applicant. The author,
Hugh Gallagher, now attends NYU.


I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie.
Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On
weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami.
Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to college.


79 thoughts on “Crazy College Essay that actually got accepted

    • Consider that this is written by a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old, probably a male, who is full of testosterone and self confidence and really, really wants to impress the readers. His best bet is flash, and he did spent a lot of time on it. Probably his Dad helped him a little, and both are very bright. I’d let him in, knowing that this sort of confidence and imagination will take him far. Most of the students will try to write something stuffy and boring; at least this will wake the reader, yes?

    • They accepted him because American educational standards have gone the way of the cesspool
      Cute now passes for witty
      Silly passes for intelligent
      and Pop culture refs pass for knowledge

    • Joyce: You should have read this a bit more carefully before criticizing someone else’s spelling. Firstly, the sentence to which you refer was not written by Hugh Gallagher, it was written by ‘irfan’, whoever that is, and, secondly, ‘stumbled’, not stumble, is correct as it refers to a previous action.

      • LOL …. I loved the part about Dos Equis ….. I’ve never had any but my sons have and they seem to enjoy that brand of beer.

    • Yes, perhaps the opening sentence here is awkwardly worded, but it is, nonetheless, grammatically correct. “Stumbled”, as it is written here, is past tense and perfectly fitting. What’s your problem? If you’re going to be an uber-critical, uppity spoiler, at least the burden is on you to get it right. I know you wouldn’t want to make yourself look foolish… Besides, this essay is excellent, if you consider its’ purpose, as well as the circumstances under which it will be (was) read (i.e., organized chaos of overwhelmed college admissions offices).

  1. I think the comments I have read miss the point. First, let me say that I enjoyed the essay immensely though I admit that I did not fully comprehend the meaning of every description. It seems as if he wrote some of it using the old game Madlibs…but in some parts related them in very intelligent ways. I suspect after reading thousands of mini-biographies about camp, school, tragedy and triumph, this essay was embraced for its uniqueness and cleverness…

    • I agree it was clever writing list of hilarious, distorted, exaggerations of life’s experiences (unique) or rather another perspective of glass half full or overflowingof how one views themselve participating in life and the outcome. Without saying anything personal.

      Finally, however way one views their life experience and their stake in it. The college experience (another realm of life) would surely provide another list of exploding, exaggerated antidotals. Loved it! !!!!!

    • It was very refreshing. My take on it, is that it was written in jest. So many times students exaggerate what they have done, just as those looking for jobs will do. It was very tongue-in-cheek humor — and humor that shows a witty intelligence. I really don’t think it was about confidence.

  2. I’m sure my alma mater accepted this applicant because he was sharp enough to see through their ridiculous essay requirement and made them realize their laziness by not subjecting him to a real in depth personal interview.


  3. I think that this essay is ridiculous. It bears no answer to the question posed by the college. I attend college at Kaplan University for a BS in Psychology. If I was to write an essay like this I would have failed my class. I don’t understand how a prestigious college such as NYU would accept the garbage. I am quite disappointed in their decision to accept this applicant,

    • IF you “was” to write an essay like this it would have taken all the spider monkeys in the world several hours just to help you get your grammar in place. You completely missed the logical humor that this writer clearly went for. You certainly will obtain a “BS” degree and will soon be spreading your BS to anyone around you. And this Kaplan University, is it named for great the philosopher Gabe Kaplan, the greatest educator ever who taught his wisdom to Vinnie Barbarino and Horshack. Paul, humor is one of the greatest gifts that God can bestow in a human being. Obviously it wasn’t given to you. Take a few courses in how to develop a sense of humor. Good luck in prison.

      • rusthaven:
        What LOGICAL humor do you refer to here? The essay is bland, dull and a piss-poor attempt at a mock-cavalier attitude. Sounds like it was written by a 13 year old. There is noting i it that is creative or clever. Just a laundry list of silly stuff. Now the ONION is funny. They takes true news items and twist and turn them and create stuff that stands reality on its head. Gallagher, not so much.
        As an NYU alum, I think the schoolis a disgrace. First, James Franco teaches there (wow! We scored the guy who was on that Freaks and Geeks show that was on tv for, what 2 weeks???!). Accepting this guy’s essay as cleverly insightful tells me that the admissions committee and/or the school is desperate for anyone’s tuition money

      • rusthaven, wow-you are a real a*hole. It is lucky that you find it so wonderful to be you–I doubt anyone else w/could ever admire you as much as you do yourself and your own writing. What a frikkin blowhard sittin high on horse dung.

      • You need to take a few courses in reality. Because you shouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that someone is going to proofread their college papers for grammar errors far more thoroughly than they are their message board posts. Also, art is subjective. People don’t like the same things entertainment wise. That is a truth that has existed for thousands of years. However, your apparent solution to the situation of people not finding you funny is to bully them. That is as about as persuasive as… well, absolutely nothing.

    • Well, says Kaplan is primariliy an online school, acceptance is almost nearly certain (as long as you pay the tuition) since “Kaplan University has an open admissions policy.” Furthermore, “In 2008 three former academic officers at Kaplan University filed wide-ranging federal False Claims Act lawsuits accusing the university of defrauding the United States government out of more than $4 billion. The lawsuits alleged that Kaplan enrolled unqualified students, inflated their grades so they could stay enrolled, and falsified documents to obtain accreditation for certain academic programs.” So before you even THINK of comparing your admissions to “Kaplan” to NYU, you better clean up your own (IN-) house program (PS Very few, if any colleges, will hire someone who earned an online degree to teach. So here’s hoping that’s not a field you — or your “sister businesses” such as Phoenix Univ & Grand Canyon College et al — aren’t planning to do that!

      • TYPO: “Well, says Kaplan is primariliy… .” should have been “Well, since Kaplan is primarily an online school … .” (and yeah, I used “since” one time too many in the same sentence.)

      • It’s ok, I understood what you were trying to say w/o your reply! 🙂 Your writing skills are 100x’s better than Mr “BS”(I can’t believe they accepted him into any college w/ grammar skills like that! Our local Community College makes you take prerequisite courses to prepare yourself, before starting the actual classes, if you were to write in such a way during your initial testing!) for sure, I would hate to have to grade his English papers! I would probably have to write more than he did! You’re so right about this college and others mentioned, they hounded me for a while, just for checking out their site, because they wanted my grant money! They finally got the hint that I was not interested, but only after being a little nasty and blowing them off numerous times! A degree from a College of this sort is basically worthless! It’s just paying for a degree that you did not really earn and are no where near qualified or prepared to do anything in your field of study after graduating, for the most part! I’m sure there are a few exceptions out there tho?! Sad..very sad!

    • Paul Vitti;
      Rusthaven is a pretentious a*hole who seeks to elevate himself by belittling others (and whatever school they attend). I went to NYU and several other “big league” schools. ANYONE can get into a “grade-A” school–and can come out the other end a complete moron (Biden, for one and perhaps rusthaven for anohter). It is not so much WHICH school you attend, but what YOU put into and get out of it that REALLY matters. Rusthaven can kiss my big fat Phi Beta Kappa Ph.D.–he is a pile of monkey poop

  4. The people who didn’t appreciate this essay are humorless fools. I hope no college would accept them. What a bunch of unimaginative bores.

    • Queenilene-WOW-I guess you have it all figured out: live this vapid essay or you are a loser.
      Honey the essay sucks on so many levels it is ridiculous. There si NOTHING in it that tis clever or truly funny. He seizes on a series of silly images and weaves them in a line without anything that links them in an interesting way. Foolish people may see this as cryptic intellectual power–it is not. It is a juvey attempting to be clever and falling down on the job. I have no idea why this essay got press-it is bland. My guess is his parents know someone at NYU admissions OR he is related to someone famous/important so they let this idiocy fly as “creativity”
      Can you tell me-precisely-what is CREATIVE and INTERESTING about it?

      • Yes, I agree with you. It’s just a bunch of moronic exaggerations strung together. The essay was written decades ago. According to Hugh Gallagher’s Wikipedia bio it wasn’t even written for the college it was written for Scholastic Press, Inc.’s national writing contest. He won the contest and subsequently submitted the winning essay to the college. He was very lucky that his work was seen by some who liked it and not by one of the people who would have thrown in it in the trash (i.e. Lyonel, me, etc.). Many aspiring writers never get that lucky in life. He got a great deal of attention and a chance for fame as a writer from that little essay. He was invited out to Hollywood “to talk sitcoms”, was signed by an agent, etc.

  5. Also turns out Hugh wrote this essay for a high school essay contest but did eventually ended up attending NYU. So this should wasn’t an admission essay. (source: Wikipedia)

  6. It was accepted in 1989. The world was different then. While I didn’t find it particularly amusing, I did appreciate a phrase or two. When I read back over things I wrote in my youth that I judged at the time to be not only clever but even hilarious, I often find myself saying, “Oh, please! And you thought that was funny?” Chances are, so does the author of this college admissions essay. I agree with the person who commented that the piece was probably a refreshing read from the usual run of applications and set TPTB laughing because after days of reading the ordinary and worrying that one’s eyes were about to permanently glaze over, this applicant’s courage stood out (he took a huge chance with his future by offering such a submission) and signaled that he was unique.

  7. Very clever and a nice way of making fun of the college essay requirement as a means og getting to know a prospective applicant. It must have made for a very refreshing read for the Admissions Committee.

  8. I have often thought that humor was a great way to break the “social” ice, no matter what the situation. I take great strides to create conversation starters to lighten up any place that I might be at any given time. I love to laugh and, believe it or not, 99.3476% of Americans, (I haven’t tried it on the Swiss people, yet!) would laugh. This world needs more laughter and I will gladly move myself to the front line( against the dreaded meanies of doom), leading the laughter brigade. I would gladly take the proverbial bullet if it lead to laughing uncontrollably. Lighten up uptight people of the world and take a moment to enjoy the benefits to life that only laughter provides. Say goodnight Gracie.

  9. In the flavor of Twain meeting Shakespeare, this was a wonderful respite from the traditional/ conventional norm… I enjoyed immensely, his fresh, humorous approach, that for me inferred something about the applicant… I would have garnered great pleasure in having a pupil that could ‘run-with’ an assignment and take it to far-flung reaches of thought and spirit… He might even make a good friend…
    Cheers, cheerfully.

  10. Eclectic, Scenic, Acrobatic jingoism.
    Exhibited great mastery of vocabulary. A WordSmith.
    Probably why they admitted him.
    Haven’t gone to college yet, but showed great writing ability.

    A future Ernest Hermingway. Perhaps!!

    • It was written decades ago. Just because of that essay, an agent signed him, he was flown out to Hollywood to “talk sitcoms” and nothing much materialized from that. He did get some free-lance writing jobs for “Dirt and Wired”. He also wrote a book called “Teeth” in the late 1990s. In other words, he may not have actually had that much creative writing ability.

  11. I can’t believe the mass of non-believers.

    This essay is a simple requirement meant to let the administration know something about the applicant – and the man gave them what they wanted. As a result, he should have been admitted, to NYU or any other college he might have applied for, if this is the only criteria at question. I’m not so sure that the essay was even meant to be humorous; it is simply a written (and well defined) assessment of the man’s attitude. I like it. Those who have read his essay with an open mind, now know the man.

    Of course, (as opposed to open minds) there are critics, always have been, and always will be; and sometime critics are helpful. Yet there are those whose only contribution to the world is to be a critique – been married to both of those. But for those critics exposing themselves in this discussion I say what I have often said to each of my exes: “Of course you’re a critic, you don’t get it,” (I may have to put that in a song).

    I am nearly 60 years old and, to a much lesser degree of success, have actually done many of the things that are on this student’s list. I have lived when others have not. I would guess that the line between maturity and youth defines the separation between his fans and his critics. Now if you take offense to that, please accept this complement, ‘you may possess more maturity than your peers who – don’t get it.’

    I know that my age makes me (in the opinion of most readers) too old to think. Today, the masses do not believe that they could be wrong; they just make decisions and then make excuses and we old farts often get the blame. How unfathomable it might be to those masses to hear that there may be some baby-boomers out here that still have their wits about them? If you children are lucky, you’ll live long enough to be entertained by your own children as we are by ours – and you cats are funny.
    We have done our best and it just doesn’t matter anymore.

    We have decided that kids today, (those in their mid to late twenty, their thirties and/or their forties) are what they are and are beyond the point of being fixed. We old farts have accepted the fact that; “the best way to teach them is to let them learn,” (figure that one out or – critique that).

    So, let ’em learn, and if any of you old farts want to join me, park those riding lawnmowers that the kids bought you and let’s go hang-gliding.

    Hugh Gallagher – gets it.

    Norval Henderson

    • norval–yes–his attitude says it all: I don’t care–I am foolish and silly. Nothing wrong with that. But damned if I want to fund a scholarship for the silly. His essay says nothing about anything other than a puerile and childish attempt to play with images. It is by no means a CLEVER essay. Clever would have hidden something interesting underneath the flotsam that this goop tosses out in order to sound cavalier. This is simply a litany of dumb things. My favorite form of humor ids the pun or the limerick–they aren’t all good–but the BEST fo them are layered and meaningful in a number of ways. But you are taking his bait of vapidity and raising it to some kind of intellectual wow factor. I feel for you–you probably find deep meaning in a Mr Clean commercial.

    • Thanks, Norval,
      I am 69, have done many of the listed items and many not named, expensive – but fun.
      The school probably wanted to know what the applicants had done with their parents money.

      Sorry Lyonel, ask the right question and you may get the right answer. A University should be able to ask a better question. If you want to live inside the lines or inside the box, then don’t bother to go to college and learn to see the big picture. Just stay in your box.

      I am very surprised that some stupid, narrow minded (and probably arrogant arbitrator of good things) didn’t trash the application letter for revealing the true value of the requested letter.

      For everyone who didn’t get it. Do you presume the admissions board knows more about the other applicants? I think not. Unfortunately Gallagher’s only error was to tell the truth — just as the others.

      Thanks again; Norval ———- But I have given up on people who don’t get it

      Best regards, Riccio

    • Maturity would be realizing that art is subjective; it always has been and always will be. The sentiment “if you like/dislike something that I dislike/like then there has to be something wrong with you” is the epitome of immature behavior. That sentiment is also as persuasive as watching paint dry.

  12. For those of you who do not agree with the admissions committee, you obviously are concrete thinkers, not able to look deeper into his essay. This guy is a much deeper thinker, outside the box, which far outweighs concrete, book knowledge kind of writing. Writers like him are the ones who go far in life. Creative, out of the box writers/thinkers are the ones who write best sellers, academy award winners, start billion dollar companies (Microsoft, Google, etc) so forget the so called “rules” and step out of the box. Be a risk taker. The world is at your finger tips.

    • deep thinker? and where, pray tell, do you see that? Stupid isn’t always “thinking outside the box”–sometimes, it is just stupid (as in this case).
      He reads like one of those “hip” guys who throw sound-bite phrases around but if you asked him about army ants, peru pr anything deeper then the topping on a pizza, he would come up far short with what he had to say. It is merely a silly essay-no more, no less. There is nothing in it that is revolutionary charming, intriguing, or gutsy. It is simply an adolescent and puerile attempt at being cavalier.

      • Yes, this is probably why he didn’t end up having much success as a writer. He was given plenty of opportunities. Far more than many aspiring writers ever get in their life. However, those opportunities were based on a short little essay that some people found amusing. You really need more of a work sample to know how capable a writer is or isn’t. Even someone with Dyslexia can end up being a prolific writer (I.e. Stephen J. Cannell). A good writer doesn’t need to be perfect grammar wise as that can be fixed with a good editor. Also, many writers who try to proof their own work will miss the occasional typos.

  13. I got into college also! The trick is to make others read your paper. Once you have their (admissions) attention, then you are the topic of conversation. If a student, regardless of the chosen topic, becomes the topic( i.e. the most outstanding thing is the paper) fulfills the requirement. The Administration wanted to know the ability of the writer, regardless of the topic. Done! A++

  14. I remember the days I had to write such nonsense as a requirement for school admission. I wish I had known then what I know now! I would have written something very similar. I would have taken my life experiences and embellished them in such a way it would not only have gotten me into school, but added a bit of humor and a smile to the reader. I’m sure they have to read thousands of these all the time and even if he didn’t get accepted, I would certainly have wanted to interview/meet him. Very creative and it got my attention!

  15. What I see in the essay is a knowledge of many cultures…especially for a high school student. He probably read a lot of books or spent a lot of time on the Web. Nevertheless he seems well informed. For a liberal arts student he has a leg up…no introduction necessary from the school point of view. He shows talent, the rest can be taught.

  16. I’d have enjoyed meeting this applicant, would enjoy working with him…..and for those who have too little humor and too much snobbery, they would join me in loving to work FOR such an individual. Wish more goal-oriented people could cut through bureaucracy like he did. Kudos!!!!

  17. The best part about being able to comment on sites like this is to be able to read all the ridiculous comments made, and even better, how serious some people take it! Lighten up America! I’m a non-traditional college student at age 57, and I thoroughly enjoyed the read! Awesome imagination, entertaining, and gutsy (if it really had been submitted to a college!). Kudos!

  18. My guess is that this was really JAMES FRANCO’s admission essay . . .
    As writing goes, it is pretty dull and insipid. If he got an agent at Wm Morris from THIS essay, I would like to know who his parents are (maybe on the admissions staff???). It really is neither creative nor humorous. It reads like the script of a Seth Rogan film (suitable for those males 13 and under). As I suggested, he is probably RELATED to someone famous/in fame circles which is why this got hoopla. I have read much more interesting, creative and satirical stuff elsewhere (written by nobodies).

  19. The Wine Pirate’s opinion:
    The purpose of the silly admissions essay requirement was to make the individual stick out–be noticed. It was to grab the attention of admissions. This was accomplished. By writing something out of the ordinary, attention was caught. This wasn’t an attempt for a Pulitzer, just an attempt to stand out among a mass of applicants–and it worked! I long ago realized that something unique would serve one better than the same-old same-old like everyone else was generating: that’s why, in high school, I wrote a paper on censorship (and included pictures of Jayne Mansfield from “Playboy”) rather than write on the “Common Market” like most of the others. (Guess I revealed my age!) My paper may not have been a great scholarly masterpiece, but it was different, caught the interest of the teacher, (side note: was widely read in the Faculty Lounge) and garnered me an “A”. Thinking outside the box does not have to be Nobel or Pulitzer level. Also–the Dos Equis ads did not come along until many years later–so who stole from whom??

  20. Reminds me a bit of those Dos Equis beer commercials with the “most interesting man in the world”. The guy is original, outgoing, and a little “over the top”. If I needed a salesman I’d hire him in a minute.

  21. Pingback: Laws of Physics? Need Not Apply - Dj Matioka Blog

Come on. It only takes a minute. Comment please.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s