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Essay Topic--Too Sensitive?

avepatdavepatd 6 replies2 threads New Member
I was planning on writing about a family member's past drug addiction and struggles and what it taught me as I grew up and watched it all happen. Would that be too sensitive/personal of a topic to write about?
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Replies to: Essay Topic--Too Sensitive?

  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1546 replies8 threads Senior Member
    The essay needs to be about you. A narrative dominated by the struggles of a family member which then touches on you will not likely advance your application. You certainly can use the struggles as an inspiration/motivating point, but the AO wants to know what you are going to bring to the school.
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  • avepatdavepatd 6 replies2 threads New Member
    Essay prompt asks about one thing I've learned in life that has changed me as a person. My plan right now would be to write maybe 1/5 of the essay (~200 words) about my family member and the rest (~800 words) about what I have learned and developed from watching her journey and recovery (stuff like my appreciation for life and determination to make the most of my experiences would be the basis of that). Does that seem like a good way to go about things?
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35303 replies399 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2019
    Two sentences could be more than enough. You can refer to "family struggles" without going further.

    But the point is who you are and how you can show that, not just say, now I study harder or now I'm friendly. Or "I appreciate..."

    And it needs to do this relevant to college life. The recent high school "you."

    The prompt asks what changed you, but it's not asking to describe the situation in detail.

    It's an invitation to show examples of your growth, your efforts and some impact. Show, not just tell.

    Nor does it truly need to be the most challenging thing you endured. Keep it relevant for adcoms.
    edited October 2019
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  • dumpl1ingsdumpl1ings 1 replies0 threads New Member
    I would advise you to be careful with the topic, but if you can successfully and clearly distinguish your own journey and struggles from your member's and tie in how you developed and grew from it (maybe some actual things you might have done as a result of your appreciation for life like, idk, volunteering somewhere relevant or finding a passion for something; ACTIONS ARE LOUDER THAN WORDS) then you should be fine. I've seen a lot of essays take this vein and come across slightly "pitiful" (not sure if that's the right word) in that I personally felt they emphasized the other person's struggle more than their growth, or there was really no growth at all. That said, I've also read spectacular, empowering ones that really just hit right, like one where a student learned true love and grit from her father who was always in prison. It really depends on how you can effectively communicate your feelings in a profound and compelling manner. Best of luck to you and I hope this helped!
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  • PublisherPublisher 10432 replies131 threads Senior Member
    No, this topic is not too sensitive.

    As to whether or not it will be effective cannot be assessed until you have a written draft ready to be evaluated.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35303 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Just remember, it's not an assignment for English class or a contest. It's for a college admit. The adcoms want to see your fit and don't read between the lines (eg, that you're loyal to this relative, so you must be a great choice.)
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  • 3puppies3puppies 1749 replies12 threads Senior Member
    I think this could work, but as others have said, the best essay is the one that only you could write. It could be tempting to show that you can write well about your family member and their struggles with addiction, but that won't necessarily resonate with the admissions readers. The more you can keep the focus on your own determination, etc. , the stronger your essay will be.
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  • avepatdavepatd 6 replies2 threads New Member
    Just an update for future viewers: I did use this topic for my essay and got into my first choice school (USC Honors). I wrote maybe a paragraph about my family member's experience and then the rest of the essay about me. Thanks to everyone in the thread for your help!
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