Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

Are politics off limits?

ebethgebethg Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
My daughter is a huge politics goon - she spends all her free time following politics and she wants to study political science in college. But with politics being such a divided topic these days, would she be shooting herself in the foot if she included anything about politics in her essays?

Replies to: Are politics off limits?

  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 39,505 Super Moderator
    In general, if it a well-written essay, and gives the reader a sense of who she is, it would not be an issue. Now there may be exceptions with colleges at either end of the spectrum, but in that case, the bigger issue would be if your daughter would be happy there.
  • zannahzannah Registered User Posts: 1,088 Senior Member
    Better than religion. I am sure that someone who follows political news knows how to be pertinent and 0lite while expressing a political opinion. Two hours to Rachel.
  • thomas4881thomas4881 Registered User Posts: 165 Junior Member
    edited April 2018
    Politics aren't off limits. In fact, your daughter better know very well the political landscape of her college. If her papers aren't tailored to her professor's political ideology she might just get a lower grade. That's how it was when I was in college. Her knowledge of politics will help her do better.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,996 Senior Member
    There can also be a difference between writing about observations of politics and political behavior, versus advocating a particular political position.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,757 Senior Member
    The challenge is that the essay has to be focused on the student- not politics/religion/sexuality/the nature of an obstacle that has been overcome/etc.- and that is much, much harder than it seems. A good test is whether you could substitute a different field or activity and the essay would still give a sense of who the student is.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,634 Senior Member
    edited April 2018
    Remember "show, not just tell." This isn't like a hs paper where you take a position and defend it. If she's been active, she can describe how, some challenge, how she made a difference, what she learned and carried forth in other actions.
  • BooBooBearBooBooBear Registered User Posts: 388 Member
    edited April 2018
    The student would need to avoid the tendency of many pundits and writers to demonize the opposing side of their own beliefs. An essay why the President is the best man ever to hold the office, or why the President is the worst man ever to hold the office, would be a very bad idea. Likewise, an essay criticizing "snowflake leftists" or "pseudo-christian gun nuts" would be a very bad idea. Discussing why she likes the study of politics, or how the study of politics has affected her intellectual development, or what she sees the study of politics helping her to achieve in life, would all be fine.
  • ab2002ab2002 Registered User Posts: 637 Member
    Personally, I would not risk it. Your daughter, although not intended, may "offend" someone. If the adcom is offended, that could put the app at risk for bias.
  • TheTennisNinjaTheTennisNinja Registered User Posts: 333 Member
    IMO no. It's a free country.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,183 Forum Champion
    edited April 2018
    IMO the focus of the essay must be on your D. I think it is fine for her to discuss an interest in politics, any personal growth from involvement in that arena etc but the focus of the essay should not be politically driven.
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 7,439 Senior Member
    You only get 650 words on the Common App to convince all those adcoms that you are the right person for their school.

    I would be very cautious about sparing any of those words on anything but the candidate herself.
  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,897 Senior Member
    There is no way I would recommend discussing politics.
  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 3,591 Senior Member
    Politics can't be central, but something that focuses on the student, e.g. "How I got over my shyness and learned to knock on doorbells and talk to people about (issue or candidate)" would be fine.

    No adcom wants a political diatribe, though diversity of opinions and thought is welcome on campus.
  • ninakatarinaninakatarina Registered User Posts: 1,427 Senior Member
    Was it last year that a kid wrote "Black Lives Matter" 100 times on his essay and got admitted to somewhere impressive? I want to say Stanford? I recall reading that he had other strong points to his application so other people should not try this technique, but it worked for him because of his overall story.

    Leading anything requires learning to navigate inter-group politics.
  • SDCounty3MomSDCounty3Mom Registered User Posts: 205 Junior Member
    Lots of good advice here. I'd say yes, discuss her passion! But do it in the context of discussing who she is, and, importantly, what she's DONE. The particular ideologies she favors will be back burners while she and her actions are the focus. College essays are not persuasive essays, or critiques. Think of them more as mini memoirs. So I agree with others that it wouldn't be prudent to write about her beliefs about health care reform, and leave it at that. But she should be talking about the time she went to Model UN and changed her mind because of a one on one conversation, or how she spearheaded that voter registration drive at her school, or how she was nervous before giving a speech about student safety but then felt triumphant afterward. It's not just what she believes, but what she's DONE. Hopefully if she's passionate about political science, she's pursued ECs and pastimes that support that interest. She's canvassed for a candidate, attended a few community forums, asked a question of her congressional rep at a Town Hall and felt like she'd made a good point, published a letter to the editor, etc.
This discussion has been closed.