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Is it a bad idea to talk about experiences that dramatically changed my life when I was young?

Hischoolsenior12Hischoolsenior12 1 replies1 threads New Member
edited September 9 in College Essays
I am writing an essay on how a traumatic experience that happened in middle school changed my mentality. Before this incident, I was fearless and learning was easy for me -- I never struggled in school. But after the event, my mindset changed to timid and full of self doubt. In my essay, I include how this mindset has caused me to accept bad grades in my freshman year of high school. Then, I include how I rebounded from that experience and changed the self doubt mindset to a learning one again (all of these lessons were learned in high school). I'm worried because I heard that AO don't care about whatever happened before high school.

Also, how generic is this essay and would it put the AO to sleep? Is writing about trauma a bad idea?
edited September 9
5 replies
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Replies to: Is it a bad idea to talk about experiences that dramatically changed my life when I was young?

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35630 replies400 threads Senior Member
    edited September 9
    Imo, it depends on the experience and can be challenging to do well. They aren't interested in the middle school you as much as today. Introducing some context is okay (a few lines,) but you have to primarily focus on the here and now.

    And the principle is "show, not just tell." Can't just say, "I rebounded," etc. So, your actions now still need to match the sort of kids and assets they look for. That's more than, "I work harder. My grades improved." There need to be some examples or mentions they can grasp, relevant to them and the college life.
    edited September 9
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  • LindagafLindagaf 11262 replies603 threads Super Moderator
    I don’t see this idea as giving an admissions officer a reason to say yes to you. They are interested in who you are now. I agree with the above. Isn’t there more to you than the thing that made you timid and fearful? It’s fine to say “I used to be timid and fearful, but this essay is about me now and how I changed my mindset.” But why relive a trauma from middle school? Why do they need to hear about it?

    AO’s want to admit people they like. So be sure your essay conveys what’s good about you, not what traumatized you and made you timid.
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  • Hischoolsenior12Hischoolsenior12 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Okay, thanks for all the help and suggestions. My essay is 1/4 trauma, 1/4 bad mentality from trauma, and 1/4 overcoming trauma and 1/4 how I applied my new mentality to life/improved grades. Should I change anything?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10796 replies133 threads Senior Member
    IMO, your essay should be 95% applying the new mentality and how that makes you a great fit for colleges.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35630 replies400 threads Senior Member
    Yep. 5% background (light referral, no gory details.)
    Don't drag your freaking AOs through some psychohistory, it's TMI. Don't make them wonder what you're thinking.

    Again, applying the new mentality is not "telling" them you improved habits or grades. You have to make it real and believable thru examples.

    Not, "Now I got an A," but how you took on some other challenge, did some good around you, tried a new thing, etc.

    It's about showing who you ARE. Not describing some past awfulness.
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