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Should I mention this particular topic in my essay?

Uzsrpo08Uzsrpo08 0 replies1 threads New Member
Hey all,

I am adamant on writing my personal statement on overcoming mental health challenges. I briefly mention the cause of these challenges (2 undesirable events that occurred at pretty much the same time) and their effects in a total of 93 words throughout my entire essay.

-I want to preface this with a minor trigger warning, so if you get bothered easily maybe reconsider reading this.-

I mention coming to terms with my sexuality and mention something else through the term ‘inappropriately exploited by [someone]’. I summarize both in one sentence each.

I specifically want to inquire about the latter phrase, specifically it’s connotations, how it comes off, and if I should include it at all.

The rest of my essay discusses how I overcame my problems and used the skill and values I gained to help others in my community.

Thanks you.
10 replies
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Replies to: Should I mention this particular topic in my essay?

  • MeddyMeddy 698 replies45 threads Member
    I am compassionate and I want to be real with you- the part about being "inappropriately exploited" concerns me, from just the standpoint of the writing because quite simply there is no "appropriate exploitation" of people, so I am already concerned about that statement. It sounds like very delicate subject matter and may not be for everyone, no matter how good the ending.

    I have heard during this time of Covid webinars where AO's talk about reading good essays. That they like feeling good after reading an essay and not down. One of the best things I have gleaned is that you may get some old conservative white guy reading your essay. He's human. He has biases. It may land in the hands of a woman and she may be triggered by your essay and that's not ideal. The point is that you have an amazing story, but it may not be so to everyone that reads it. That's the hard truth.

    If as you say your "adamant" write it and have some adults of various walks of life read it and ask them to give you honest feedback.

    I'm so glad you are healing and using the events to help others. The world needs more people like you. I wish you the very best.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 42641 replies2296 threads Super Moderator
    I agree with these replies.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35604 replies400 threads Senior Member
    Try to remember, in hs, English teachers may encourage you to self examine and express your thoughts. But this is a college app. And it's for adcoms who don't know you in real life.

    Your admit often depends on you fitting their ideas of a great student and contributor to their community. They don't truly need the backstory, or even your sexuality now, the way a writing teacher (or therapist) might be trying to draw you out. Your college app isn't the place for that.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 10151 replies392 threads Senior Member
    Should I mention this particular topic in my essay?

    Why are you "adamant" about choosing a topic that can be a red flag to adcoms? It's unfortunate that you had to face those types of challenges, but a college essay isn't the place for exploring their impact. The purpose is to show the college how you're a fit for the school and to include things that aren't in other parts of the application.

    The impact you're having on your community matters, but I don't think adcoms need to know the reasons that motivated you to volunteer. I think that it can come across as a negative because when students say the values they learned after facing adversity made them want to help people, the unstated implication is that without the adversity it wouldn't have occurred to them. I don't think that's the impression you want to leave them with. And using ~100 words on your past to explain why you're involved in certain activities leaves you with 100 fewer words to show why they should accept you. I would leave it out.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 11244 replies600 threads Super Moderator
    edited September 2
    Ask yourself if whatever you write will give the AO a reason to want you on campus. I’m truly sorry you have suffered and I hope you continue to heal, but there is nothing in what you want to put in your essay that would make me want to say yes, ESPECIALLY not with a trigger warning.

    Your personal statement isn’t the place to write about trauma and sexuality, though maybe those things can play a part in the essay. Why does an AO need to share your awful and traumatic experience? They are not therapists. The personal statement is about selling yourself and making them want you on campus.

    If you must stick with this topic, I strongly encourage you to mention the trauma only in passing. As in “at the age of nine, I experienced a traumatic incident...” or similar. Mention your sexuality in passing...”I understood by the time I was 11 that I am bi” or whatever it might be. Make the focus of the essay on how you became who you are now. Make it about something positive that has helped you recover, or has helped you give back, or something that highlights what is positive about you.

    Colleges want to keep bottoms on seats, and that means admitting students who they feel will succeed on campus for four years. Don’t give them reasons to think you won’t fit in at their college. The reality is that colleges know mental health issues can be very hard to overcome and can interfere tremendously with a student’s ability to succeed.

    To be matter of fact about it, It isn’t that you are viewed as a liability, but they have to manage their enrollment numbers and meet their yield. Giving a spot to a traumatized student who might end up leaving isn’t a great business prospect.
    edited September 2
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10782 replies133 threads Senior Member
    I don't want to pile on but I agree with all the above posts. Pick a different topic.
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  • happy1happy1 24406 replies2457 threads Super Moderator
    edited September 2
    Agree with the others.

    1. The purpose of the college essay should be: a) to tell admissions officers something about yourself that can't be found elsewhere on the application and b) to give admissions officers a reason to want to have you on campus.

    2. Mental health issues are often seen as "red flags" by admissions officers.

    3. The college essay is NOT a soul-baring exercise. It is a place to shed light on a positive, attractive attribute you have and show how you would be an asset to campus life.

    4. In the end it is your application and your decision what to write about. But rarely are the opinions of posters on CC so uniform.
    edited September 2
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8160 replies87 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2
    But rarely are the opinions of posters on CC so uniform.

    ...and rarely from such a strong bunch of posters: with the exception of post #1 (who hasn't been on CC very long) I have seen consistently sound, informed, constructive advice from each of these posters.
    edited September 2
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 10151 replies392 threads Senior Member
    +1 on everything @collegemom3717 said, herself included.
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