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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Inspiring Examples: Overcoming Obstacles in College Essays

Inspiring Examples: Overcoming Obstacles in College Essays

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Writing a college essay is a crucial part of the application process, as it offers an opportunity to showcase your personal growth and resilience . Admissions officers are not only interested in your academic achievements but also in understanding how you have overcome obstacles and challenges in your life. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of highlighting personal growth and resilience in college essays, as well as provide tips on identifying and overcoming obstacles. Additionally, we will share inspiring examples of college essays that effectively demonstrate these qualities.

When it comes to writing a college essay, it is important to remember that admissions officers are looking for more than just a summary of your achievements or experiences. They want to gain insight into who you are as an individual and how you have grown through facing challenges. By showcasing personal growth and resilience, you can demonstrate your ability to overcome obstacles and adapt to difficult situations.

One reason why it is important to highlight personal growth and resilience in college essays is that it shows admissions officers that you possess the qualities necessary to succeed in college. College life can be demanding and challenging, both academically and personally. By demonstrating your ability to overcome obstacles, you are indicating that you have the determination, perseverance, and resilience required to navigate the ups and downs of college life.

Another reason why showcasing personal growth and resilience is crucial in college essays is that it allows admissions officers to understand the context behind your achievements. Your accomplishments may seem impressive on their own, but without providing the story behind them – the challenges you faced along the way – they may not hold as much weight. By sharing how you overcame obstacles, admissions officers can better appreciate the significance of your accomplishments.

Identifying obstacles is an essential step in writing a compelling college essay. It requires introspection and self-reflection to identify moments in your life where you faced challenges or encountered adversity. These obstacles can come in various forms – academic struggles, personal setbacks, or even societal barriers. The key is to choose an obstacle that had a significant impact on your life and allowed you to grow as an individual.

Once you have identified the obstacles, it is important to reflect on how they shaped you and what lessons you learned from them. Admissions officers are interested in seeing personal growth and resilience, so it is crucial to demonstrate how you overcame these obstacles and emerged stronger as a result. This reflection can help you identify the qualities or values that guided you through those challenging times and highlight them in your essay.

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Identifying Obstacles in College Essays

When it comes to writing a college essay, one of the most important aspects is identifying the obstacles you have overcome. Admissions officers are not only looking for academic achievements, but also for personal growth and resilience. They want to see how you have faced challenges and come out stronger on the other side. So, how can you effectively identify these obstacles in your personal experiences?

Firstly, it's crucial to reflect on your own life experiences and think about the challenges you have encountered. These obstacles can come in various forms - they could be physical, emotional, or even mental hurdles that you have had to overcome. Take some time to brainstorm and make a list of these obstacles before diving into writing your essay.

One effective way to identify obstacles is by considering moments of adversity or difficulty that have shaped who you are today. Think about times when you faced setbacks or encountered hardships. This could be anything from dealing with a serious illness or injury, overcoming a fear or phobia, facing discrimination or prejudice, or even struggling with personal insecurities and self-doubt.

Another approach is to reflect on significant life events that have tested your resilience and determination. These events could include moving to a new country or city, experiencing the loss of a loved one, going through a difficult breakup or divorce, or even dealing with financial struggles. By examining these moments in your life, you can uncover the obstacles that you had to overcome during those times.

Furthermore, it's important to consider the internal obstacles that may not be immediately apparent to others but have still played a significant role in shaping your character. These internal obstacles could include battling with anxiety or depression, grappling with low self-esteem, or struggling with academic challenges such as learning disabilities. By acknowledging and discussing these internal hurdles in your essay, you can showcase your resilience and determination in overcoming them.

Once you have identified the obstacles in your personal experiences, it's essential to reflect on how you overcame them. Admissions officers are not just interested in the challenges you faced; they also want to see your growth and development as a result of overcoming these obstacles. Therefore, it's crucial to highlight the lessons you learned, the skills you gained, and the personal growth that occurred during these difficult times.

Overcoming Obstacles in College Essays

Overcoming obstacles in college essays is a crucial aspect of crafting a compelling and impactful personal statement. Admissions officers are not only interested in your academic achievements but also want to gain insight into your character, resilience, and ability to overcome challenges. By showcasing how you have conquered obstacles, you can demonstrate personal growth and highlight your determination to succeed. In this section, we will explore the significance of overcoming obstacles in college essays and offer strategies for effectively conveying the process of overcoming hurdles.

When writing about overcoming obstacles in your college essay, it is essential to choose experiences that genuinely impacted you and shaped your character. These challenges can come in various forms, such as academic struggles, personal setbacks, or even societal barriers. The key is to select an obstacle that had a profound effect on your life and allowed you to grow as an individual.

To effectively convey the process of overcoming obstacles in your essay, it is important to clearly outline the steps you took to confront and conquer the challenge. Start by providing context about the obstacle itself – what it was, why it was significant, and how it initially affected you. This will help the reader understand the gravity of the situation and empathize with your journey.

Next, discuss the actions you took to overcome the obstacle. Did you seek support from others? Did you develop new skills or adopt a different mindset? Highlight any strategies or techniques that helped you navigate through adversity. By sharing these details, admissions officers can gain insight into your problem-solving abilities and determination.

Moreover, it is crucial to reflect on how overcoming this obstacle has impacted your personal growth. What lessons did you learn along the way? How did this experience shape your values or aspirations? Reflecting on these aspects will demonstrate self-awareness and showcase how you have grown as an individual.

Additionally, when discussing overcoming obstacles in college essays, it is important to maintain a positive tone throughout. While acknowledging the difficulties faced is necessary, focus on highlighting the resilience and determination you demonstrated. This will leave a lasting impression on the reader and showcase your ability to overcome adversity.

To effectively convey the process of overcoming obstacles, consider incorporating vivid and descriptive language. Paint a picture for the reader, allowing them to visualize the challenges you faced and the triumphs you achieved. By immersing the reader in your narrative, you can create an emotional connection that leaves a lasting impact.

Inspiring Examples of Overcoming Obstacles in College Essays

In college essays, one of the most powerful ways to make an impact is by showcasing personal growth and resilience. By sharing stories of overcoming obstacles, students can demonstrate their ability to overcome challenges and highlight their determination and perseverance. To provide inspiration and motivation, here are some inspiring examples of college essays that effectively highlight the theme of overcoming obstacles.

One example is a college essay written by Sarah, a high school student who faced significant financial hardships throughout her life. In her essay, Sarah describes how growing up in a low-income family shaped her perspective on education and fueled her drive to succeed. Despite facing numerous obstacles such as limited resources and a lack of support from her community, Sarah's determination never wavered. She emphasizes how she took on part-time jobs to support herself and even started a small tutoring business to help other struggling students. Through her essay, Sarah not only showcases her resilience but also demonstrates her commitment to using education as a way to break free from the cycle of poverty.

Another inspiring example comes from Mark, a college student who overcame a learning disability. In his essay, Mark reflects on his struggles with dyslexia throughout his academic journey. He shares how he initially felt discouraged and frustrated by his inability to grasp certain concepts as quickly as his peers. However, instead of letting these setbacks define him, Mark sought out alternative learning strategies and accommodations that allowed him to thrive in spite of his disability. He discusses how he developed stronger study habits, utilized assistive technology, and sought support from teachers and mentors who believed in his potential. Through his essay, Mark not only highlights his ability to overcome obstacles but also emphasizes the importance of self-advocacy and seeking help when needed.

These examples illustrate the power of personal narratives in college essays. By sharing stories of overcoming obstacles, students can create emotional connections with their readers while also showcasing qualities such as resilience, determination, and adaptability – all highly valued traits in the college admissions process.

These essays serve as reminders that obstacles do not define individuals; rather, it is how they choose to respond and grow from these challenges that truly matters. They inspire readers to persevere in the face of adversity and motivate them to embrace their own unique stories when writing their college essays.

The college essay is an important opportunity for students to showcase their personal growth and resilience. Throughout this blog post, we have discussed the significance of overcoming obstacles in college essays and provided tips on how to identify and address these challenges effectively. By sharing inspiring examples of college essays that highlight the theme of overcoming obstacles, we hope to inspire and guide our readers in crafting their own impactful essays.

In conclusion, when it comes to writing a college essay, the ability to overcome obstacles can make all the difference. Admissions officers are not only looking for academic achievements but also for individuals who have demonstrated personal growth and resilience. By showcasing your ability to overcome challenges, you are providing evidence of your character, determination, and adaptability.

It is crucial to remember that identifying obstacles in your college essay is just the first step. It is equally important to demonstrate how you overcame these challenges and what you learned from them. This shows admissions officers that you possess the necessary skills and mindset to succeed in college and beyond.

Throughout this blog post, we have shared inspiring examples of college essays that effectively highlight overcoming obstacles. These examples serve as a source of inspiration for our readers, showing them what can be achieved through perseverance and resilience. Whether it's overcoming a physical or mental health challenge, navigating cultural differences, or facing financial hardships, these essays demonstrate the power of determination and growth.

As you embark on your own college essay journey, we encourage you to embrace your own challenges and showcase your personal growth. Reflect on the obstacles you have faced throughout your life and consider how they have shaped you into the person you are today. Use these experiences as an opportunity to demonstrate your resilience, problem-solving abilities, and commitment to personal development .

Remember that authenticity is key in writing a compelling college essay. Be honest about your struggles but also highlight how you have grown as a result. Admissions officers appreciate vulnerability and want to see applicants who have learned from their experiences and are ready to take on new challenges.

In conclusion, the college essay is a powerful tool for showcasing personal growth and resilience. By identifying and overcoming obstacles in your writing, you can demonstrate to admissions officers that you possess the qualities necessary for success in college and beyond. Take inspiration from the examples we have provided and use your own experiences to craft a unique and impactful essay. Embrace your challenges, highlight your growth, and show the world what you are capable of achieving. Good luck!

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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Life Experiences — Overcoming Obstacles

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Essays on Overcoming Obstacles

Dynamic prompts for your overcoming obstacles essay.

Prompt 1: Describe a significant hurdle in your life and the strategies you employed to overcome it. What lessons did the experience teach you?

Prompt 2: Reflect on a moment when facing a challenge led to unexpected personal growth. How did this growth manifest in your life thereafter?

Prompt 3: Analyze the impact of a community or societal obstacle you witnessed being overcome. What role did you play, and what broader lessons were learned?

Strategies for Selecting a Compelling Topic

Choosing a topic for your overcoming obstacles essay involves deep reflection. Focus on instances that not only presented significant challenges but also resulted in meaningful growth or change. Consider moments where the path to overcoming the obstacle was not straightforward, requiring innovative solutions or changes in perspective.

When choosing a topic, consider:

  • Personal Significance: Select an obstacle that had a profound impact on your personal development or worldview.
  • Originality: Look for stories or angles that are unique to you, avoiding common narratives that might not stand out.
  • Universality: While the story should be personal, its themes should resonate with a wider audience, highlighting universal truths about resilience, growth, or transformation.
  • Detail Potential: Choose an obstacle that allows for rich storytelling, enabling you to delve into the specifics of the challenge, your response, and the outcome.

Unique Topics for an Overcoming Obstacles Essay

  • The Journey of Self-Discovery Through Overcoming Language Barriers
  • Breaking Free: My Battle Against Social Norms
  • Resilience in the Face of Career Setbacks: A Professional’s Tale
  • From Adversity to Advocacy: Fighting for Accessibility in Education
  • Embracing Change: Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown

Writing Inspiration for Your Essay

"Every step forward was a battle, a negotiation between my fears and my ambitions. The day I decided to [describe the obstacle], I didn’t just face a challenge; I was stepping into a crucible of transformation. This journey taught me that the essence of overcoming obstacles isn’t just about resilience; it’s about the metamorphosis that occurs within, turning every setback into a stepping stone towards achieving my dreams."

Inspirational Phrases:

  • "In the face of adversity, I discovered my true strength..."
  • "The challenge didn’t change me; it revealed me..."
  • "Overcoming this obstacle taught me to embrace the journey, not just the destination..."
  • "Each hurdle was a lesson in disguise, teaching me the value of perseverance, patience, and perspective..."
  • "Finding light in the darkest moments, I learned the true meaning of resilience..."

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December 11, 2023

Three Ways Writing About Obstacles Strengthens Your Application Essays

thesis statement for overcoming obstacles essay

Applicants love to write about their accomplishments, whether in a personal statement for graduate school or in a b-school essay that asks about one’s greatest achievement, challenge, or the like. And they are not shy about sharing their accomplishments, such as driving innovations that led to revenue boosts for their firm, conducting original and meaningful research in their field of study, or leading a volunteer group on a community service initiative. 

As genuine and significant as these accomplishments are, many initial essay drafts are often missing a key element: obstacles . In this blog post, we explain why you shouldn’t shy away from discussing obstacles in your essays and how doing so intelligently can help your candidacy.

Here are three ways that discussing obstacles enhances your application:

1. Sharing how you overcame an obstacle shows the adcom that you can navigate bumps in the road in a positive, proactive way.

All of us frequently encounter obstacles: the traffic detour, an incompetent customer service representative, a disagreement with your partner, the approval you expected on a project unexpectedly turning into a “No.”  Every single person faces challenges, but people deal with them in wildly varying ways. Those who are more successful in life succeed because they understand that obstacles are to be expected. They learn how to navigate them with patience, creativity, and a problem-solving attitude, and by – to borrow a phrase – “keeping calm and carrying on.” But too often, when asked to discuss their accomplishments, applicants selectively and completely forget the things that got in their way  en route to their achievement. When they experience this kind of amnesia, they are shortchanging themselves. Triumphing over the hurdles they encountered might well have been just as difficult as executing all the anticipated elements of their plans – and therefore worth sharing.

2. Details about how you overcame obstacles create an appealing image of you as a candidate with a can-do personality.

Look at the following examples and see if you don’t agree. First we have the “stop-putting-me-to-sleep” example : As the leader of my product research group, I came up with a plan for a new widget that would save us 10% in costs. After I communicated my vision to the team, we worked hard for four weeks on a prototype, completing it by the deadline, to the delight of management. Today, my widget is still the standard for my company, saving us over $300K annually. Okay, this sounds like a solid accomplishment, but it’s hardly memorable.  How  did the candidate communicate her vision? What specific example does she offer of the hard work that was done over four weeks on the prototype? We have absolutely no idea.  Now let’s look at a “dazzle-is-in-the-details” example : As the leader of my product research group, I came up with a plan for a new widget that would save us 10% in costs. But when I explained my vision to the team, two senior engineers immediately argued against it, saying that there were key flaws in the design. After revisiting my design and realizing that they were correct, I revised my plan and was able to eliminate the flaws. We worked on a prototype for two weeks before discovering that the cost of the material we had planned to use for it had increased by more than 30% in recent months. I worked many late nights that week researching alternative materials, before finding one that was both appropriate and cost-effective. By the skin of our teeth, we met our four-week deadline and presented the prototype to management, but the VP of Manufacturing argued that we would need to purchase major new equipment to produce the widget. I convinced the team to work overtime on a manufacturing proposal that proved we could craft the product with existing equipment. Today, my widget is still the standard for my company, saving us over $300K annually. There’s no contest here, is there? The second example, loaded with specifics about what went wrong and what almost derailed the project, is mighty impressive. The details highlight the applicant’s creativity, thoroughness, tenacity, communication skills, and leadership potential. When spelled out this way, discussing an obstacle can make your essays shine with the drama of the story and can  associate you with lively elements and images . For example, in the second example, it’s easy to visualize the two dissenting engineers, the surprise of discovering the price hike for the materials, and the VP’s frown. In the first, there’s only the haziest impression of an employee smiling about a job well done.

3. Discussing obstacles makes you a more fully developed, more relatable applicant.

Can you see through these examples how including specific, key obstacles in your essays and explaining how you negotiated them  showcases your ability to overcome the unexpected ? This will assure the adcoms that you can capably execute a well-defined plan – even when you face unexpected bumps in the road. Moreover, it shows the school how you spring into action when the chips are down. This adds to a fuller understanding of who you are as an individual – and as an applicant the school would like to have in its next class.

For more details about what the adcom actually wants to know about the challenges you’ve overcome, watch this short video, in which Linda Abraham shares the answer to this often-asked question:

Are you still wondering how to address obstacles you’ve overcome in your application essays? Leave a comment on the video on YouTube, and we’ll gladly offer some tips. 

There’s no substitute for one-on-one guidance when addressing your obstacles and writing essays that make you shine. Working with an experienced admissions consultant, you can apply with the confidence that you have presented yourself at your best and maximized your chances of getting accepted.  Click here to learn more.

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  • Four Tips for Highlighting Your Strengths in Your Application Essays
  • Resilience: How Flaws and Failures Can Strengthen Your Application

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How To Level Up Your Overcoming Challenges Essay

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Robert Crystal and Kaila Barber in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.

What’s Covered:

Components of a challenge-based essay, how to structure your essay, challenge-based essay tips.

In this article, we cover ways that you can revise challenge-based personal statements to help highlight your own skills, values, interests, and qualities.

For students who have faced challenges, writing a challenge-based personal statement could be a good option. The challenge-based essay is made up of three main pieces: challenges and effects, steps you took to overcome your challenge, and what you learned.

Clear and Compelling Challenges and Effects

When writing a challenge-based essay, the first step is to make sure that you write about the challenge and its effects clearly and compellingly. You want to avoid leaving any room for interpretation from the reader by simply and concisely outlining your challenges.

Keeping your challenge concise will allow you to show your reader what you went through and how it impacted you, while also leaving space for you to show what you did and what you learned.

For example, if in your essay you mention that you struggled with your mental health, but you don’t provide any other details, the reader will either make their own assumptions about your experience, or they could just skim through your essay without making any assumptions at all. To avoid the challenge of being misinterpreted, it is important for you to be specific about what you have faced.

Steps You Took To Overcome Your Challenge

The next step in a challenge-based essay is to make sure that you’ve elaborated on what you did to overcome your challenge. While your challenge is important, the admissions officer is more curious about what you did to overcome your challenge and the steps that you took to make your situation better. 

What You Learned

The last part of a challenge based-essay is a section in which you elaborate on what you learned. Here, you should build upon what you did to overcome your challenge by including what you learned from overcoming it. This is your teaching moment to show that you reflect and learn from your experiences and environment.

As you write, keep in mind that each component should make up about one-third of your essay. This is important because it is common for students to focus mainly on what the challenge is and write 45% to 50% of the essay talking about the challenge and its impact. 

Instead, you should split your essay into thirds, with challenges and effects, what you did, and what you learned each taking up approximately one-third of your total word count. Approaching your essay in this way provides you with two-thirds of the essay to show your values and personal growth. 

There are several handy tips that can help you write a challenge-based essay like this. These tips include, in addition to writing clearly and concisely to build a compelling narrative, using active verbs, including your insights, and connecting everything back to your values.

Use Active Verbs

When talking about what you did to overcome the challenge, it is important to use active verbs. Examples of active verbs include words like customized, designed, facilitated, recruited, and restructured. Active verbs clearly and specifically show the reader what you did, and these are most crucial to include when you write about the steps you took to overcome an obstacle.

Include a Strong Insight and Connect to Your Values

During the “what you learned” section, make sure that the insights that you include are strong. Strong insights demonstrate to the reader how you’ve made meaning from the challenge that you’ve faced, and are an opportunity for you to showcase your values, self-awareness and critical thinking.

This essay should be written in a way that makes your core values clear to the reader. One exercise that you can do to help find connections and linkages to your core values is to consider guiding questions like the following: 

  • What did you do as a result of your challenge? 
  • What moment did something change for you? 
  • Did you take responsibility for anything you hadn’t before? 
  • Did you start paying for things? 
  • Did you learn a new piece of technology? 
  • Did you help someone or did someone help you?

As you write and revise, you can use these guiding questions, and questions like them, to reflect and become more aware of your own core values. You may find that once you clarify and include more of your own values, your insights are strengthened.

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17 Planning Your Writing – Overcoming Obstacles

When you are trying to write your first draft, it can be challenging to get started when facing a blank page!

Laptop open next to a notebook and a mug

So what can you do?

Just write.  You already have at least one idea. Start there. What do you want to say about it? What connections can you make with it? If you have a working thesis, what points might you make that support that thesis?

Review and update your outline.  Write your topic or thesis down and then jot down what points you might make that will flesh out that topic or support that thesis. These don’t have to be detailed. In fact, they don’t even have to be complete sentences (yet)! [1]

Create Smaller Tasks and Short-Term Goals. Your assignment might seem too large, and maybe the due date is weeks away. These factors can contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed or with the tendency to procrastinate. But the remedy is simple and will help you keep writing something each week toward your deadline and toward the finished product: divide larger writing tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks and set intermediate deadlines.

Collaborate.   Talk to your friends or family, or to a peer tutor in The Learning Centre , about your ideas for your essay. Sometimes talking about your ideas is the best way to flesh them out and get your ideas flowing. Write down notes during or just after your conversation. Classmates are a great resource because they’re studying the same subjects as you, and they’re working on the same assignments. Talk to them often, and form study groups. Ask people to look at your ideas or writing and to give you feedback. Set goals and hold each other accountable for meeting deadlines (a little friendly competition can be motivating!).

Talk to other potential readers. Ask them what they would expect from this type of writing. Meet with a tutor in The Learning Centre . Be sure to come to the appointment prepared with a copy of the assignment and a clear idea of what you want to work on. [2]

Try to start writing well in advance of your deadline so that you can continue to improve your assignment before you need to hand it in.

Remember that you can submit your assignment for a peer tutor to review through the Learning Centre Website or through WriteAway .

  • "Writing the First Draft"  in  The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear CC BY-NC 4.0 ↵
  • Adapted from " Overcoming Writing Anxiety and Writer’s Block "in The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear CC BY-NC 4.0   ↵

Academic Writing Basics Copyright © 2019 by Megan Robertson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Essay on Overcoming Obstacles

Students are often asked to write an essay on Overcoming Obstacles in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Overcoming Obstacles


Overcoming obstacles is a part of life. We all face challenges, but it’s how we deal with them that defines us.

Identifying Obstacles

First, we need to identify our obstacles. They could be fear, lack of resources, or even self-doubt.

Finding Solutions

Next, we look for solutions. This could involve seeking help, learning new skills, or changing our mindset.


Perseverance is key. Even when it’s tough, we must keep going. Every failure teaches us something valuable.

In conclusion, overcoming obstacles makes us stronger and more resilient. It’s a vital part of personal growth.

250 Words Essay on Overcoming Obstacles

Overcoming obstacles is an integral part of our lives. These challenges, whether they are personal, professional, or academic, shape us into who we are and who we will become. They provide opportunities for growth, learning, and resilience.

Understanding Obstacles

Obstacles are not just roadblocks in our journey; they are the stepping stones towards personal development. They can be seen as problems or opportunities depending on our perspective. This perspective shift is the first step towards overcoming obstacles.

The Role of Resilience

Resilience is the key to overcoming obstacles. It’s the ability to bounce back from adversity, adapt, and keep going in the face of hardship. Resilience does not eliminate stress or erase life’s difficulties, but it gives us the strength to tackle problems head-on and move forward.

Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles

There are several strategies to overcome obstacles. First, identify the obstacle clearly. Second, develop a plan of action. Third, maintain a positive mindset, which is often the difference between success and failure. Fourth, seek help when necessary. Remember, asking for assistance isn’t a sign of weakness but a recognition that we are human and sometimes need support.

In conclusion, overcoming obstacles is a vital part of our personal growth. It requires resilience, a positive mindset, and the ability to ask for help when needed. By viewing obstacles as opportunities for growth, we can transform them into stepping stones towards success.

500 Words Essay on Overcoming Obstacles

Life is often compared to a marathon, filled with sprints and hurdles. The hurdles are the challenges or obstacles that confront us, demanding resilience and determination. Overcoming obstacles is not just about conquering the immediate challenge, but also growing personally and professionally, learning from the experience, and gaining confidence and courage.

Obstacles are inevitable and ubiquitous, appearing in various forms and intensities. They could be personal, like health issues, or external, such as financial constraints or societal norms. However, their impact is not solely negative. Obstacles push us out of our comfort zones, forcing us to explore, innovate, and adapt. They are catalysts for growth, fostering resilience, patience, and perseverance.

To overcome obstacles, one must first acknowledge their existence and understand their nature. This involves self-reflection and analysis, which can help identify the root cause of the obstacle and potential solutions.

Secondly, setting clear, realistic goals is crucial. Goals provide a sense of direction, keeping us focused and motivated. They also serve as a benchmark for progress, helping us track our advancements and adjust our strategies accordingly.

Thirdly, cultivating a positive mindset is essential. Obstacles often induce stress, anxiety, and self-doubt. However, by maintaining a positive attitude, we can view these challenges as opportunities for growth rather than threats.

Lastly, seeking support can significantly ease the process. This could be in the form of advice from mentors, emotional support from loved ones, or professional help.

The Role of Persistence

Persistence is the cornerstone of overcoming obstacles. It is the unwavering determination to continue despite difficulties or delays. It involves maintaining focus and motivation, even when progress seems slow or non-existent. Persistence is not about stubbornly sticking to a failing plan, but rather about being flexible, adaptable, and willing to revise strategies when necessary.

Overcoming obstacles is an integral part of life’s journey, shaping our character and destiny. While they may seem daunting, obstacles are opportunities in disguise, pushing us to grow, learn, and evolve. By acknowledging their existence, setting clear goals, maintaining a positive mindset, seeking support, and persisting, we can transform these challenges into stepping stones towards success. Overcoming obstacles is not just about reaching the finish line; it’s about the journey and the person we become along the way.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

  • Essay on Overcoming a Challenge
  • Essay on Our Heritage
  • Essay on Our Environment

Apart from these, you can look at all the essays by clicking here .

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  • Essay on Life

Free Essays About Overcoming Obstacles In Life

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Life , Boxing , Courage , Confidence , Time , Experience , Skills , Violence

Published: 03/10/2020


One circumstance, obstacle or conflict in my life that I felt was important to overcome was a boxing match with another individual. This was the first time that I had to fight another person in an actual match. Not only that, but this person also had a lot more experience, age, and size then I did at the time. By facing this challenge, and overcoming it, I was able to change as a person in a positive way, and grow to face new challenges. Therefore, this fight presented a representation of the importance of overcoming problems as we face them. This obstacle presented a boundary for how I viewed myself and how I faced the problems and fears that I had. By confronting this conflict, I was able to also confront many other issues that I faced in my life through the use of skills, such as being focused, overcoming fear, and confidence in myself. By using these skills I was able to improve as an individual through the persistence of overcoming these problems. The specific instance that I saw as an obstacle in my life was the time I had my first boxing match at a gym against another fighter named "Martinez.” Not only was this individual more experienced, but they were also older and bigger. This was a difficult competition for me. The reason this was an obstacle was the other boxer’s experience, which was much more than what I had at the time. Not only was the other boxer older than me by 5 years, at the time I was sixteen, but he also outweighed me by about twenty pounds. This problem was overcome by utilizing the inherent abilities that I obtained through the trials that I had to face. By facing the fears that I had before getting into the ring and pushing past the barriers to confidence, I was able to achieve the skills and resources that I needed to resolve my problem. This was the main problem, that is, the lack of confidence in facing an older and more experienced fighter who, at the same time, outweighed me. The key to getting beyond this confidence barrier was the implementation of courage. The reason this took courage was because I had been boxing for two years at the time and finally gotten the confidence to fight someone else. This courage was inherent, but needed to be nurtured through the confident approach that I ultimately took. By moving forward, despite the doubts that were in the back of my mind, I was able to discover a new possibility, which showed that I did indeed have the courage and ability to fight this individual. While I was really very nervous at the beginning, with all of the other trainers looking at us box and I was even defeated the first round, the next two rounds I began to try much harder and began to feel as though I could actually win. In the end I was able to defeat my opponent, and overcame the fear that I had in facing him. This presented me with a new frame of mind. This changed me by making me more confident in confronting new things. It seems as though the more issues like this I face, the more confident it makes me. In this way, I have been able to grow into my own definition of what makes a person a man. That is, a person who confronts the issues they are faced with and are able to use them to grow.


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Your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, need help with overcoming obstacle essay examples.

Hey there, I'm working on an essay about overcoming obstacles. I'm struggling to come up with solid examples to write about. Can you guys give me some ideas or share your experiences in overcoming obstacles to inspire my writing? Thanks!

Hey! It's great that you're working on an overcoming obstacles essay. These types of essays can really showcase your resilience and ability to grow from challenges. When thinking about obstacles, consider events or circumstances in your life that have impacted you significantly and how you've managed to rise above those circumstances.

For instance, you could write about dealing with a personal illness or the illness of a family member, and how you've adjusted to maintain a balance between your personal life and academic success. Another angle could be an unexpected financial setback and how you managed to overcome it, such as taking on a part-time job, getting involved in fundraising, or applying for scholarships.

You might also consider writing about societal obstacles like bias, prejudice, or discrimination that you've faced. For example, you could discuss how you've worked to educate others and create an inclusive environment in your school or community.

Remember that the most important aspect of this essay is highlighting your personal growth and showcasing your resilience. So, pick an event or challenge where you're able to demonstrate that transformation. Good luck with your essay!

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.

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How to Write a Personal Challenge Essay (with Examples)

carolina Hermes

A personal challenge essay offers a singular chance for introspection and personal development. It gives you a chance to consider your past, face difficulties, and demonstrate your tenacity. This essay structure enables you to communicate your ideas and experiences with others, regardless of whether you’ve overcome hardship, dealt with a tricky circumstance, or chased an audacious goal. You’ll walk you through the phases of writing an engaging personal challenge essay in this in-depth guide, complete with samples that demonstrate the procedure.

Understanding the Personal Challenge Essay

The Personal challenges in life as a student essay asks you to describe an instance or time in your life when you had to overcome challenges, setbacks, or barriers. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your resilience, your capacity to face adversity, and the lessons you’ve picked up along the road. This kind of article necessitates reflection, sincerity, and skillful narrative.

Selecting a Meaningful Challenge

It’s important to pick the correct challenge to write about. Think about Personal challenges in life as a student essay that profoundly influenced your development, principles, or attitude on life. It can have been an obstacle you overcame in your studies, relationships, sense of self, or any other area of your life. The task should have personal significance for you and provide information that your audience can relate to.

Structuring Your Personal Challenge Essay

To effectively portray your experiences, feelings, and growth, writing an engaging personal challenge essay involves careful thought and a well-organized format. The following steps will show you how to organize your essay such that it presents a logical and interesting story:


Beginning your essay with an attention-grabbing hook that draws the reader in and highlights the topic of the difficulty you’ll be exploring is a good idea. This might be a provocative inquiry, a moving saying, a detailed account, or a first-hand account associated with your issue.

Background & Context:

Make sure the reader has all the background knowledge they need to comprehend your dilemma. Describe the context, surroundings, and any other pertinent information that establishes the scene for your narrative. Additionally, you have the choice to ask for assistance from PhD thesis writing help if you run into difficulties when writing the background and context of your thesis or dissertation or if you are unsure owing to a lack of experience. They can offer helpful assistance to improve the caliber of your work.

The Challenge:

Describe the challenge in detail in a portion of your essay. When describing the challenges, difficulties, or setbacks you encountered, be descriptive and in-depth.

Your Reaction and Result:

Write about how you responded to the challenge in this part. What steps have you taken? Did you make crucial decisions, prepare a plan, or ask for assistance? Be sure to emphasize your ability to solve problems, tenacity, and any other traits that may have helped you overcome the obstacle.

Growth and Reflection:

Consider the encounter and share what you took away from it. What effects did the challenge have on your emotions, mind, and possibly even body? What new understandings did you get about who you are, your values, or your outlook on life? Describe how you overcame the obstacle to grow personally, discover yourself, or alter your perspective.

Takeaways & Lessons:

The exact lessons you took away from overcoming the obstacle should be highlighted. What priceless knowledge, abilities, or traits did you acquire as a result? Describe how these teachings have shaped your current behavior, choices, or attitude in life.


Writing a compelling conclusion that connects everything can help you to conclude your essay. Write a summary of your shared journey, highlighting your personal development and new perspectives.

Include a Call to Action (Optional):

Depending on the nature of your issue, you might want to include a call to action that prompts the reader to reflect on their own issues, take action, or adopt a particular attitude.

After you’ve finished writing the essay, take some time to review and make any necessary changes. Check that the grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your writing are correct, as well as the flow.

Maintain You’re Authentic Voice Throughout the Essay:

While it’s crucial to follow a structured methodology, don’t forget to preserve your authentic voice. Remain sincere, honest, and personal in your writing. Your unique perspective and emotions will lend greater authenticity to your writing and make it more compelling. By adhering to the instructions outlined in this comprehensive guide, you’ll effectively organize your personal challenge essay. This approach will skillfully lead your readers through your journey, captivating their attention and leaving a memorable impression. Furthermore, if you find it challenging to maintain a systematic approach, consider seeking assistance from master thesis writing help. Their expertise can aid you in completing your work with precision and coherence.

Don’ts and Dos

Be upfront and honest when discussing your experiences. Do emphasize your development and lessons acquired. To keep the reader’s attention, employ colorful language and descriptions. Don’t make up or embellish details. Instead of blaming others for the difficulty, concentrate on your solution. Choose a challenge that had a significant influence rather than one that was inconsequential.

Examples of Personal Challenge Essays

Following are the Personal challenge essay examples:

Overcoming Academic Challenges:

Navigating the challenges we face in life essay can be a transformative journey that leads to personal growth and self-discovery. A prime example of this is when I confronted a series of academic setbacks. I realized that my ingrained fear of failing was standing in the way of my development. I, however, resisted allowing this fear to direct my course. I started a quest for self-improvement with pure tenacity. I reached out for guidance and support, shedding light on the power of seeking assistance when needed.

Overcoming Fear:

For instance, I had always been terrified of public speaking, but I had to face my phobia to present in front of a large crowd. I overcame my anxiety about public speaking over time with practice and confidence, and I also acquired speaking abilities that I still use today.

Dealing with Personal Loss:

Losing a loved one was a difficult emotional experience that altered my outlook on relationships and life. I learned the value of cherishing moments and helping others in need through my grief and contemplation.

Examples of challenges you have overcome as a student essay

I have encountered a range of challenges as a student, which has pushed my perseverance, adaptability, and resilience to the test. Even though they occasionally proved to be challenging, these obstacles ultimately helped me become a better and more capable individual. Here are a few instances of obstacles I overcame in my academic career:

Time Management Challenges:

Juggling schoolwork, assignments, extracurricular activities, and personal obligations can be difficult. There were times when I struggled to adequately manage my time, which resulted in missed deadlines and frustration. To overcome this difficulty, I started adopting time management strategies like making a thorough calendar, establishing priorities, and breaking work down into smaller, more manageable pieces. I became more organized about my obligations over time, which led to increased productivity and decreased stress. Furthermore, many students pursuing careers in the medical field face similarly demanding schedules that make it challenging to meet deadlines. In such cases, they often turn to nursing research paper writing services to ensure the quality and timeliness of their assignments.

Academic Setbacks:

It was demoralizing to experience academic setbacks, such as earning lower grades than expected. I decided to take advantage of these setbacks as chances for improvement rather than giving in to self-doubt. I requested input from my lecturers, made note of my weaknesses, and put focused study techniques into practice. I was able to improve my academic performance and regain my confidence by persevering and being willing to learn from my failures.

Language Barrier:

Navigating English as a second language introduced a unique set of challenges, especially in terms of effective communication and the completion of writing assignments. In essays and presentations, I often encountered hurdles in articulating my thoughts coherently and concisely. To overcome this hurdle, I actively expanded my vocabulary, engaged in consistent reading and writing exercises, and actively sought input from peers and professors. Furthermore, this drive to enhance my linguistic abilities not only improved my communication skills but also bolstered my confidence in expressing myself in academic and professional settings. My determination to conquer these language-related challenges demonstrates my commitment to growth and adaptability, qualities that I believe would make me a strong candidate for the Harvard Scholarship Essay .

Dynamics of Group Projects:

Due to the various work habits, schedules, and perspectives held by the group members, collaborative projects have occasionally proven to be difficult. I adopted efficient communication techniques, such as active listening and open discussion, to handle these circumstances. By praising each team member’s abilities and accomplishments, I helped to create a more effective and pleasant working atmosphere.

Personal Well-Being and Health:

It can be difficult to maintain a good balance between your personal needs and your academic obligations. I have occasionally overlooked my needs, which has resulted in burnout and a decline in drive. I gave exercise, wholesome eating, and regular breaks top priority since I understood how important self-care was. This all-encompassing strategy not only increased my general well-being but also sharpened my attention and increased my output. These examples collectively constitute my challenges in life as a student essay. They serve as valuable lessons that offer insights on how to navigate and overcome various situations.

How to Revise and Improve Your Essay

For instance, if you are given a topic such as “Essay on Environmental Problems and Their Solutions” and you’re not well-versed in it, it’s advisable to invest time in research. This will enable you to create quality content for your essay. After writing your personal challenge essay, it’s essential to engage in the editing and revision process. Ensure that your essay flows logically and that your ideas are well-organized. Edit for clarity, grammar, and punctuation. If you’re seeking a comprehensive perspective, consider seeking feedback from peers, professors, or mentors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Final thoughts.

Writing a personal challenge essay offers you the chance to share your unique journey and inspire others through your resilience and progress you can create an engaging tale that engrosses your readers by choosing a pertinent challenge, using a solid essay structure, and remaining honest. It’s crucial to remember that your essay about a personal issue demonstrates both your capacity for self-reflection and personal development in addition to your capacity for overcoming challenges. For those who face challenges in managing their academic tasks, there are online homework writing services available that can provide valuable assistance and support.

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Duke TIP Navigator

The official magazine for TIPsters in 4th–6th grade

Turning Fear into Confidence—A Personal Essay

October 14, 2020

Facing obstacles throughout your life is inevitable, and the obstacles you overcome can define who you are as a person. Not only will this build character and self-confidence, it will show others how strong you remained and inspire them to overcome their own challenges.

But overcoming obstacles is no simple task. Most obstacles are incredibly hard and testing. Yet, by overcoming them, you will come to understand why they are important. The significance of overcoming obstacles in life is to make you more grounded, courageous, and wise. For me, one of these life-altering obstacles emerged during my undergraduate years.

I had a serious fear of public speaking. There were times where I would struggle with presentations and in-class discussions. When these sessions would take place, my fear built up in a pressure cooker of discouragement and convulsive anguish. I felt humiliated before my teachers, partners, and most of all, my close friends. I soon realized, however, that the same people who seemed to be the source of my fear became my lifeline, their inspirational words filling my mind and heart with positive thoughts.

Seeing my struggles, my peers tried to build me up, to increase my confidence in myself and convince me that anything, including overcoming my fear of public speaking, could be accomplished with enough enthusiasm and belief in oneself.

The obstacles we face in life can distort how we see ourselves and cripple our ability to face our fears. By facing these conflicts head on, though, we can completely flip their effect on us, transforming them into experiences that strengthen our resilience and push the boundaries of what we think is possible to achieve.

Taking everything into account everything I’ve learned from this experience and many others like it that I’ve encountered in my life, it’s clear that obstacles are impossible to avoid, and when you do encounter them, you must view them as learning opportunities. You might just surprise yourself at how easily you overcome them.

thesis statement for overcoming obstacles essay

This post was written by Duke TIP’s outgoing Marketing & Communications intern, Christina Gordon. Christina graduated from North Carolina Central University in the spring of 2020.

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About Duke TIP

The Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) is a nonprofit organization that has served over three million academically talented students in grades 4–12 since it was founded in 1980. Collaborating with educators and parents, TIP helps gifted students assess the extent of their academic abilities with above-grade-level testing, recognizes them for their achievements, and provides them with a variety of enrichment benefits as well as accelerated face-to-face and online educational programs.


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  1. 8 Overcoming Challenges College Essay Examples

    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.

  2. How to Write the "Overcoming Challenges" Essay + Examples

    1. Avoid trivial or common topics. While there aren't many hard-and-fast rules for choosing an essay topic, students should avoid overdone topics. These include: Working hard in a challenging class. Overcoming a sports injury. Moving schools or immigrating to the US. Tragedy (divorce, death, abuse)

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    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 ...

  4. How to Write the Overcoming Challenges Essay + Example

    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 ...

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    These internal obstacles could include battling with anxiety or depression, grappling with low self-esteem, or struggling with academic challenges such as learning disabilities. By acknowledging and discussing these internal hurdles in your essay, you can showcase your resilience and determination in overcoming them.

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    A View of Attaining Prosperity by Overcoming Obstacles as Described in an Inspirational Speech. Essay grade: Satisfactory. 3 pages / 1353 words. The inspirational quote that I picked for my previous homework assignment was "When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe then you will be successful".

  7. Writing About Overcoming Obstacles in Your Application Essays

    Here are three ways that discussing obstacles enhances your application: 1. Sharing how you overcame an obstacle shows the adcom that you can navigate bumps in the road in a positive, proactive way. All of us frequently encounter obstacles: the traffic detour, an incompetent customer service representative, a disagreement with your partner, the ...

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    As you write, keep in mind that each component should make up about one-third of your essay. This is important because it is common for students to focus mainly on what the challenge is and write 45% to 50% of the essay talking about the challenge and its impact. Instead, you should split your essay into thirds, with challenges and effects ...

  9. Planning Your Writing

    Talk to them often, and form study groups. Ask people to look at your ideas or writing and to give you feedback. Set goals and hold each other accountable for meeting deadlines (a little friendly competition can be motivating!). Talk to other potential readers. Ask them what they would expect from this type of writing.

  10. How to Nail Your Overcoming a Challenge Essay

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  20. Turning Fear into Confidence—A Personal Essay

    Turning Fear into Confidence—A Personal Essay. October 14, 2020. Facing obstacles throughout your life is inevitable, and the obstacles you overcome can define who you are as a person. Not only will this build character and self-confidence, it will show others how strong you remained and inspire them to overcome their own challenges.

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