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Is this an okay essay topic?

Adalee16Adalee16 5 replies1 threads New Member
For one of my supplements I was thinking about writing about how I was pervasively criticized for being an ambitious woman interested in engineering (my area is very conservative); would this be an acceptable essay topic? I would probably discuss how I was condescended in math class, how when I told a boy I wanted to be an engineer they told me I didn't need to work, I could just be a trophy wife, etc.
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Replies to: Is this an okay essay topic?

  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3644 replies13 threads Senior Member
    So your essay will just be complaints about your high school and peer group? Women in STEM is a good topic but you would want to think about how to frame your work. The comments you have heard are nothing new.
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  • LynnskiLynnski 245 replies12 threads Junior Member
    If you write about the offensive things that people do and say, then it's not a good topic bc it's not about YOU. If you use this as a springboard to write about how these experiences shaped your ambitions and helped you develop your interests/skills in specific areas, then it could be a great topic.

    Any topic that allows you to reveal your unique yourself within the word limit is a great topic. Good luck
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 2216 replies28 threads Senior Member
    Ho hum. It sounds like you are a whiner and really, this topic is dated. For many moons everyone knows, and women have been raised to understand, that women can do and be whatever they want. Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder.
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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3644 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    Ho hum. It sounds like you are a whiner and really, this topic is dated

    LOL, tell us how you really feel Empireapple. But being upset by idiots in high school does not bode well for a career in STEM, where there are much tougher battles for women to fight. Today's NYT Magazine has a story about the tough time women have had at the Salk Institute.
    edited April 2019
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  • lostaccountlostaccount 5331 replies90 threads Senior Member
    Issue is extent to which you can rise above platitudes and worn out ideas. Women are still disadvantaged in most fields and particularly in STEM fields. Unfortunately the topic is not dated. Did you know that as soon as a field is dominated by women the pay goes down? It's still true. Another read on the same data is the women only rise in fields men abandon. But the risk of trivializing the topic or sounding disingenuous is high.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6900 replies30 threads Senior Member
    Essay needs to be unique, personal and interesting. Your essay topic is neither of these.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    I’ve had those experiences, too. Try being a woman in her 50s or 60s when schools wouldn’t even admit women to those majors. But honestly, I think it isn’t a very good topic. Pick something that makes them want you on campus. A woe is me tale isn’t usually the best route.
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  • bjkmombjkmom 7948 replies159 threads Senior Member
    How does that topic -- or any other topic you're considering-- convince the reader that you would be a great addition to the school student body? Remember, that's the point of this essay. It's not a vent, and it's not True Confessions. It's a sales job. You're trying to sell your application over others with the exact same-- or slightly better-- grades and EC's.

    Find a topic that brings out the best in you and not the worst in others.
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  • International DadInternational Dad 342 replies10 threads Member
    The essay is not a place to complain.Thats is a red flag to AO.
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  • maycarmaycar 5 replies2 threads New Member
    Your essay is meant to highlight who you are--your personality and values, your ability for self-reflection and growth, and the qualities that make you stand out from other applicants in positive ways that will contribute to the school's community. As people have pointed out, an essay that is focused on negative things other people have done won't necessarily achieve these goals--it may be a valid critique on society, but it doesn't say anything about YOU. However, there may be a more compelling narrative if you're able to focus inward and explore how you personally came to fall in love with engineering despite the context you grew up in. I'm not sure what specific conservative values you're referring to, but if you can describe how you worked to resolve your own internal dissonance between the values you were raised with and your ambition and love for engineering in a way that feels respectful, affirming, and thoughtful, then I think it can work. Good luck!
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  • skompella9892skompella9892 154 replies14 threads Junior Member
    To me, the general idea of the essay topic seems very promising, but it depends on how you choose your words. You don't want to make it seem like you're whining or complaining about others. Rather, you would want to explain how you grew from this situation and how it motivated you to pursue a STEM career. The essay should reflect who YOU are as a person. Good luck!
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4142 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Agree that, if there is a way to use a perhaps a single, short anecdote as a jumping off point to illustrate your grit, persistence, focus, drive etc. Perhaps starting with a single sentence quote you heard about you and STEM, followed by your story about what you did, how that helped you dig deeper to discover your strengths, to excel etc.

    Remember, the most effective essays "show" rather than "tell." Use stories/examples to illustrate the qualities you want to convey rather than to just say, for ex., "I'm dedicated to STEM."
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 threads Senior Member
    There is not a person who has not been diminished by another individual at some point in their life no matter who you are. Do not write an essay as a victim. So my vote is no.
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  • Mira7654Mira7654 4 replies0 threads New Member
    A lot of good advisers here (except for the one calling you a whiner- Really?). Sadly, you will have to get used to being treated with patronizing attitudes and even derision within the STEM field (and others). Focus within on your own qualities of resilience and determination and reveal yourself in your essay. As Midwestmofboys said, one anecdote that spurred you forward towards your goal is enough to make the point.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35360 replies399 threads Senior Member
    But 'show, not tell' means the right examples. Not just, "And now I get A grades and will save the world." Rather, how did you use this experience to reach out/encourage other gals, persist to get on the math team or whatever? What did you lean about yourself? Etc.
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    And if someone else could have written this same essay don’t do it. My guess is lots of kids write similar essays. Write about something completely unique to you in that if the essay was passed out at hs with no name attached everyone would know it was you. My eldest had health issues who wrote an essay about how she felt when she was most content and where she felt this without ever mentioning an illness but reading between the lines you knew there was some issue but you really got a sense of who she was outside of school and how she overcame adversity in everyday life in her own way. No one else could have written it. My son wrote about dirt from the time he was a toddler which led to his love of earth moving machines and his insatiable love of books to how everything in the universe works and the interconnection. It was truly unique and a very accurate portrayal of who he is.
    edited April 2019
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  • Sue22Sue22 6926 replies121 threads Super Moderator
    ...if you can describe how you worked to resolve your own internal dissonance between the values you were raised with and your ambition and love for engineering in a way that feels respectful, affirming, and thoughtful, then I think it can work.

    This.

    Writing about a bad experience or weakness can be a good jumping off point for an essay if it allows you to craft an essay that will show why a school should want you. As other have said, just whining or writing the same essay a thousand other kids could write is not going to help.

    Remember that college essays should really all have the same topic-the student. The college won't want to hear about all the horrible things your classmates and teachers did and said; they want to learn about you, how you think, and how you overcome obstacles. If you can write compellingly about yourself within the framework of an essay about being challenged in your desire to become an engineer, give it a go. Do have someone else who is willing to be brutally honest read it for tone.

    My child's main essay was about her learning disability, a topic usually considered taboo. If she had come here for advice I'm sure she would have been strenuously discouraged from using it, but she made it work for her. She wrote about how her LD sparked a life-long interest in psychology, the subject she wants to study in college. She over-performed for her stats at schools that look at recs. and essays so I'm pretty sure it had a positive, or at least not negative, impact.

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  • bethany23bethany23 5 replies0 threads New Member
    instead of talking about the hardships you faced, i would focus on how you harnessed it to get you to where you are now. best of luck!
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  • futurebruin205futurebruin205 44 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Maybe try to speak about the positives?
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  • Leo2016Leo2016 17 replies0 threads Junior Member
    A lot of nice advice...thumbs up for starting thinking about this so early.
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