First, here's wonderful piece by Dave Barry, who's better known for his humorous syndicated newspaper column. This piece is serious and, like everything Barry writes, is well-crafted and memorable. The only problem is that it's a PDF file, so you may have to adjust the zoom to read it.
Here's an essay that helped a high school student from Wisconsin get into Connecticut College. Notice how the writer captures your attention immediately with his opening. Concrete nouns and strong verbs help make his case throughout the essay.
Finally, here's one by a well-renowned editor, who discusses the importance of finding the right "place" to write. Take special notice of his tone.