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I am struggling to write a captivating essay

PaigemonaemPaigemonaem 18 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
I am a rising senior that is seeking help in the college essay writing process. I consider my life pretty bland. I haven't moved, come out of any closets, or had a true hard knock life. I have four different ideas but none of them seem to feel right.
1. I was raised by a single mother and while that is not all that uncommon these days, I would like to make the connection between her work ethic and mine.
2. I teach a financial literacy course called Money Talks and I think that I could talk about how stronger I feel about consumer debt in America but it doesn't seem personal enough.
3. I am the only girl on the Varsity football team and I have considered writing about the barriers I have faced.
4. This past spring y best friend of 9 years attempted suicide which changed my outlook on life completely.

Any comments are helpful
20 replies
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Replies to: I am struggling to write a captivating essay

  • bobo44bobo44 227 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Number 3 captures my interest! Cannot imagine what that is like, challenges involved, how you got interested enough and good enough to end up on a varsity football team. I want to read that essay! Could say a lot about your grit, determination, even flexibility and/or sense of humor.

    My second choice would be number 1, but only if you can tie it to a particular incident, memory, etc., to give it an interesting launch.
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  • Dancingmom518Dancingmom518 342 replies2 threadsRegistered User Member
    I like number three as well. Could be fascinating and definitely unique.
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1664 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I like topics 1-3.

    I am kind of impressed that someone your age teaches a financial literacy class. Wow! It makes me wonder how you know about that and how you got into that.

    I do think the value of hard work and how it came from your mom could be a great essay.

    I like the football story but my thought is rather than to write about the barriers of that experience, to write about who was helpful, what you learned about yourself and others, and how positive it was. Its JMHO and although I know it's an essay prompt about barriers you've faced I think our culture is getting tired of perceived barriers.

    For what it's worth, I think most kids have had a bland life and that's a good thing!
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22709 replies15 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yeah, don't try to be fascinating.

    I'd probably want to read about #2, how you learned about financial literacy and got interested in teaching others. Give good examples about the cost of bananas and the difference between credit and debit cards. Tell them about something fun you (or your mom) bought with your points.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2109 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think #2, #3, and #4 are all good topics.

    #1 is tough... we had a parent asking if she should delay her own graduation so her kid could get a 1st generation tip. Because that situation is a little special, that kid would have a new angle at the "I admire my parent's grit/work ethic" story. Without that unusual situation, though, the topic risks being overdone IMO.

    It sounds like you are off to a better start than you think!
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  • svlab112svlab112 542 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    Perhaps think about a positive personality trait that shows the type of person you are. Something that you like about yourself and makes you, you. Then think about the events or experiences that showcase that best.

    My one son wrote about his glass half full, eternal optimist attitude and showed perseverance through events and experiences. My other son used experiences that highlight his inclusive, collaborative nature as a form of leadership.
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  • International DadInternational Dad 299 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    I like #2 and #3 topics, but with
    @Empireapple suggestions.
    Good luck.
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  • joecollege44joecollege44 92 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    these are great starting points. I like #1, but you need to focus on the positives of the situation rather than the struggles., and have specific anecdotes illustrating mom's awesomeness.
    #3 is a home run though. unless I am really just out of touch, I can't imagine there will be many other essays like it out there. but again, I would try to shy away from describing the struggles and barriers, and instead focus on quirky anecdotes that might make your points without being preachy.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33596 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Remember, it's not an ordinary essay for hs. This is for your college application. It's meant to show you as someone the college targets would be interested in, for their class, let them see the traits they value and look for. The point is about you, the applicant, not others. Nor is it a position paper or an explanation and the idea is to "show, not just tell."
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  • PaigemonaemPaigemonaem 18 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you everyone! I’ve narrowed it down to the football one and financial literacy course story.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9154 replies492 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The essay doesn’t have to be about a trauma, or struggle, or some grand idea. I work with kids on their essays professionally, and some do write about those things, but I usually don’t recommend it.

    The majority of kids feel they don’t have an interesting story to tell. I disagree. Every student has something interesting to share about themselves. Usually, I encourage kids to write about something that makes them happy or feel fulfilled. My students have written about the following: bringing a nightlight to college, discovering a love for gardening, a barely accessible beach that feels like home, a love for plumbing, a fear of mannequins that lead to an appreciation of prosthetic limbs (really great essay, btw), working at summer camp, jumping into a lake, bread baking, impersonating a political figure, and so many more. For every single one of those essays, the student has genuine attachment or strong feelings about the thing they’ve written about. My kids have been accepted to a lot of excellent colleges, so I know that writing about all those things can make for good essays.

    Personally, I think only idea 3 sounds worth pursuing, but avoid being cliched about it. 1 sounds fairly dull, 4, absolutely no way. Idea 2 might have potential, but maybe focus on what you’ve learned about yourself by teaching the course. The goal of this essay is to discuss yourself. You are the topic. Not your mom, the team, the class, or your unfortunate friend.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3984 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Combine 1,2,3. Or at least 2 and 3. You can even just spend a sentence or two about learning from your mother and showing that in your examples of 2 and 3. So like you taught the literacy program but being the only girl on the football team taught me x and y. That would really pique my interest. These are what make you such a great addition to X college.
    Make it personal, unique and interesting... You have all 3 to write a great essay.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33596 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "Show, not just tell" means not just saying what it taught you but giving the right examples, so an adcom can see it for him/herself. Eg, not just saying, "And now I am more confident," but how that manifests in actions. Readers don't assume or fill in the blanks for you. If you want to show you're more open to other experiences, give examples of how you've done this.

    Remember, for colleges that do expect to learn about you from your essay, they want to learn things relevant to life in their community, as they see it, the strengths they want in the kids in their class.

    My concern about the finanacial literacy topic is, as a high school kid, you haven't yet gotten broad experience in that arena.

    Try to remember this is for adcoms, who not only have their expectations, but make the admit decisions, based on what you do present. That doesn't mean it needs to captivate. It does mean it needs to be the right sort of informative. To THEM.
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  • PaigemonaemPaigemonaem 18 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you!
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  • PaigemonaemPaigemonaem 18 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I like the idea of combining three of my ideas. I’d very much like to highlight the financial literacy course because the course itself is funded by the credit union that I work for. I got hired as a teller/teacher at age 15 which is by no means typical for a financial institution and that fulfills me.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3984 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Remember.. Your "highlighting" you! That's an important distinction.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33596 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    But with the essay, they aren't looking for an explanation of resume bullets. They're looking for traits they value and want. So, what would the point be, about the fin lit course? Based on what you know about thecollege targets, how does it make you compelling. That's more than being hired into an unusual opp at 15.

    A nice narrative is often very effective.
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  • mathmommathmom 32261 replies159 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You don't sound boring too me. I like #2 and #3 best. If you do #2, you might want to include some anecdotes about what you did or did not learn from the class. It might be a good lead in to the essay. I don't think you should combine topics, but there might be another shorter essay question where you could talk about the other topic. (I know my son's best essay IMO, was actually in answer to a "What is your favorite EC and why" although I liked his main essay as well.
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  • txmom19txmom19 19 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My opinion: Write about #2. Not about what you "feel about consumer debt", but write a slice of your experience while teaching. A funny story, or a struggle or hardship you had to overcome to be able to teach, who are your students, did they accept a teenager as their teacher, what made them like you, etc.
    You have a really good list of topics to start with and you got a lot of ideas from everyone here. Move forward, write a draft.
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  • PaigemonaemPaigemonaem 18 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you everyone! I plan to write a draft of #2 and #3 and then decide which one to move forward with.
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