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Debate with DD about her college essay theme

junk4rpjunk4rp 26 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
So, my DD is getting her essay ready for EA 2020 and her current essay is not coming live yet. She wanted to brainstorm and I suggested her to write stories about her being an empathetic and compassionate person. She is is smart and extremely hardworking. But her strongest quality is she is extremely empathetic. Even when she was 5 years old, she could sense people's feeling and always would side with the underdogs; many times against her self-interests. She would be the one who would defend even a mean person, if people gossip behind the back or do some mean things to put the person down.

However, my DD thinks that is too impolite to write about this quality. She feels no one would seriously think she is empathetic and compassionate if she uses that quality to seek admission to college.

I feel that is so unique about her, yet not sure if I am wrong to sell her the idea to write about it in college essay.

What do you think?
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Replies to: Debate with DD about her college essay theme

  • doschicosdoschicos 21113 replies219 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I kind of agree with your daughter. I think it would be difficult for me to talk about myself in that way. It would be hard to pull off for most.

    I'd let her write about what she feels comfortable writing about.
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  • HalfMoon22HalfMoon22 54 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My D is the same way so I can relate. I gave her a handful of ideas that I thought she could write about but she turned them all down. It was a struggle but she finally honed in on an event that happened a few years ago and wrote about that. I read once that if it’s a struggle to write about it’s probably not a topic worth pursuing and if the writing comes easy, it’s probably going to be something worth reading. I don’t have answers but just letting you know that I can relate. Everyone has more than one thing they can write about. If your D isn’t comfortable writing about her empathic qualities, it will probably be a struggle for her. And she can probably still find ways to highlight that aspect of herself through another topic.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34100 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It's about "Show not just tell." She'd need examples. She wouldn't write it totally like a "my best trait," but could use narrative/a tale to note times she used this to peacemake, bridge gaps between groups, engage a shy kid, etc. It's a skill.

    All that could show well to adcoms hoping to build cohesion. Without saying directly, it could show she's open, accepting, etc.

    One of mine was similar. And also couldn't visualize this.
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  • junk4rpjunk4rp 26 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @doschicos @HalfMoon22 while I agree that it is hard for her to write about her empathetic nature, it is also her best suit. Her friends love her for that and even her adversaries feel, she is a neutral person to seek help from. Being a mom, I am biased, but I would love to have a kid like her in my class/team than the ones who are competing and outdoing everyone else. That is why I feel she should show that side of her in her essays...but ultimately she has to be passionate about it to write.

    @lookingforward That is exactly what I wanted her to understand. It is showing that side and not declaring that "I am empathetic" or "I help people"...she has many stories where she has helped people going out of her way, handmade that special gift that would bring smiles to people, stood up to friends to stop gossips, and many more. I wish she could weave them into an essay to show what a great asset she would be to any college.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21113 replies219 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Ultimately, it's her application to write. My advice remains the same - let her write what she feels compelled to write.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34100 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Maybe learn more about the traits her targets likes and ask her to write a tale that shows some of that.
    .
    Resilience, good will, openness, trying new things, some relevant turnaround, etc. I'd bet she just doesn't know how to set it up. That's why a recounting can be so much easier. It follows it's own timeline.

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  • junk4rpjunk4rp 26 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @lookingforward By any chance, do you review essays or brainstorm for essay ideas? My DD could use some help.
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  • Jon234Jon234 318 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited October 7
    The qualities you would like you daughter to write about are admirable and, I would imagine, shine through in who she is day in day out. These qualities will probably be commented on in her letters of recommendation.

    My eldest tried hard to write her common app essay on a subject her creative writing teacher suggested. It just wouldn't come. She spent hours agonizing over it, trying to please someone else. In the end she wrote about how hard she finds it to play the piano, no lessons, couldn't read music, small hands, and, most of all, only had access to a piano in school during lunch break, but how much she loved it anyway. She had a lot of success with this approach. I think 'show not tell' is fantastic advise.

    My youngest, learning from her sister's experience, wrote about something she enjoys doing as a hobby. It took around 30 minutes. It's far from the finished article but, in my opinion, it has the bones of a great essay. It shows not tells.

    The point I'm making, pretty badly it seems, is she will probably write a better essay if it's not forced, if it's something she wants to write about.


    edited October 7
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 58 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I agree with others who have said she needs to write about what she feels she wants to say. The advice we got about our DD was it needs to be her story told in her own voice and that the essay is the only chance she has to speak for herself. As a result, I haven’t seen it and couldn’t even tell you what she wrote about. All I know it is done, has been done for a while, and she is extraordinarily happy with it. That being said, she has been working with a private admissions counselor and I know it has been reviewed for grammar and spelling.
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