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College Essay - does this idea sound too cliche or whiny?

devirodeviro Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
I have to write an essay about how I would contribute to a college campus. The school is competitive, but I think they consider essays heavily and I want to be creative. I was thinking about writing about how the volunteer organization at my school always does food drives for the local church, and I always donate canned food that we don't use. It's ironic because I come from a low-income family and my mom gets food from the church, so it's as if I'm donating the food to myself, if that makes sense, but we do it because we figure that someone else could use it when we can't. I wanted to use this example and emphasize that I am always willing to give back, even when I am not necessarily in the position to, because I can understand the struggle, and this is why most of my extracurriculars revolve around service. Does this idea sound too cliche or self-pitying? Also, does it seem off-topic for a question like "how would you add to the community"? I am usually not very open about my financial situation, but I had a block and this is one of the few ideas that I came up with. Thank you, I would really appreciate any help.

Replies to: College Essay - does this idea sound too cliche or whiny?

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,790 Senior Member
    It seems a little counterintuitive— In not sure I’d use that example. But you can talk about volunteering you’ve done, and how being low income has added to your understanding and empathy for the people you help. I’m just not sure I’d say you turn around and re-donate what you were given.
  • devirodeviro Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Okay. I can change it to talk about volunteering at their dinners. My question still is: is it overused or self-pitying to talk about service or being low income?
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,790 Senior Member
    No. They are looking for sincere. It is fine. If you see opportunities on the website for the school or community right around it that are similar to what you do now and that you hope to participate in, mention those as something you are excited about.
  • w00pw00pw00pw00p Registered User Posts: 51 Junior Member
    I think your original topic is really cool. There's some bible parable about an almost broke lady donating her last penny to charity, so I'm sure it's good enough for college. Be careful not to confuse the reader; twisty topics like this can become unintelligible if you overuse a thesaurus.
  • nj10501nj10501 Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    The idea itself is good, I don't think it's cliche, frankly, but I do think that you need to connect it to the prompt a little better, show how you've picked up on virtues like empathy. Also, no, I don't think it's self-pitying, but that honestly depends more upon how you put it across rather than the idea itself
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 5,436 Senior Member
    @deviro: I think that your proposed essay topic is excellent as it demonstrates concern for others while enduring hardship.
  • jameshomiesjameshomies Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    Charity work is a bit overdone but if its sincere to you then it should work fine.
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