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Writing about a controversial topic (college essay).

Jarjarbinks23Jarjarbinks23 Registered User Posts: 769 Member
edited November 2014 in Parents Forum
This is Boston college's essay question:

What contemporary issue or trend relating to politics, culture, and history or foreign policy particularly concerns you and why? (400 words)
I'm currently writing about how education is slowly becoming out of reach for the average joe (due to skyrocketing tuition, colleges acting more like businesses than centers of education, etc). This is a vicious trend that has been going on for 2 decades now.

I feel this will be a unique, substantial essay but I am worried the admissions office will be irked when they read it, due to my criticism of college costs, tuition etc.

Do you (parents) believe I should continue writing about this topic? Or should I switch to a less controversial question

Replies to: Writing about a controversial topic (college essay).

  • BrownParentBrownParent Registered User Posts: 12,776 Senior Member
    I don't find it controversial particularly. However I would be irked for you to make assertions without backup. Like how exactly you think a college is acting that makes it like a business and if that is really the definition of a business or are you just parroting things you have heard others say or are just making that up. I find this is not a particularly interesting topic and it doesn't strike me as unique. Is it one that you are really passionate about? Passionate in the way that you have been an advocate in real life or intend to be? This just doesn't really seem to be something I imagine teenagers getting all juiced up about, so how does it relate to you? (These are just rhetoric questions.) But if you pose good questions and have well thought out reasoning it can be a fine topic. It just seems a little narrow, or too handy a subject, like you haven't tried to think outside your immediate milieu of being a college applicant. Maybe I'm wrong. Surely the answer is in the completed piece or at least a good 2nd draft.
  • zobrowardzobroward Registered User Posts: 3,933 Senior Member
    if you are going for the wake up call to the admissions staff, you will come off in the wrong way.(IMO)
    do you think they are not aware of the current cost structure of going to college? do you not think they may interpret it as an attack on their school (employer)and possibly themselves? very risky angle to try.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 28,299 Senior Member
    I don't think the topic itself will offend. But they're looking for, as ever, how you fit their college. This is not a high school write-something-fiery assignment.
  • Sakacar3Sakacar3 Registered User Posts: 199 Junior Member
    ^I agree. This is a navel-gazing response, and they want to know that your care about things beyond yourself for this question. Choose a topic with the Jesuit principles in mind (and yes, education is one, but I think this is the wrong way to go about it). Actually, now that I think about it, I'd you go back to the founding of the college, and write it from that perspective (BC was formed to educate a disenfranchised group), then you could possibly write something interesting. Think about why you care.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 70,409 Senior Member
    I don't think its a unique topic!
  • SlackerMomMDSlackerMomMD Registered User Posts: 3,094 Senior Member
    Interesting topic but does it motivate you to action? Why did you pick the topic? To me, it looks like you just want to get a rise out of some adults. Not a good reason for topic choice.

    Remember, colleges want to know what kind of person you are. These essays provide some insight into not just how well you write but the choices you make and the intentions behind those choices.

    You can rightly criticize the rising costs of college, but I'm not seeing the why is it important to you? portion of the question being answered or addressed.
  • travelnuttravelnut Registered User Posts: 1,782 Senior Member
    This essay prompt provides a broad opportunity and taking full advantage of it to support your candidacy for admission makes sense. I agree with others that passion counts, as does context. Is there a way to connect your choice of essay topic to your ECs? One thing that seemed to help our kids with admissions was the depth of their focus in particular areas.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 70,409 Senior Member
    Those essay topics are there to give you ideas on presenting YOURSELF. The schools want to hear your voice in these essays.
  • DmitriRDmitriR Registered User Posts: 838 Member
    You can rightly criticize the rising costs of college, but I'm not seeing the why is it important to you? portion of the question being answered or addressed.

    I think it's fairly easy to see why the rising cost of college would be important to someone trying to attend college...

    That being said, I agree with the posters who say that this should be more personalized. Pretty much every college student has a reason to care about college costs, but it's hard to really get emotional with that. I second the recommendation to try and find something that ties in with extracurricular activities and work. For example, if you've done some work organizing or campaigning on this issue (such as with a group like Virginia21) then it might be better than if you were just speaking generically about college costs.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 21,859 Forum Champion
    I don't think it is terribly controversial.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,881 Senior Member
    unique? vicious?

    Not sure your language is commensurate with your topic.
  • KnoxpatchKnoxpatch Registered User Posts: 351 Member
    Most colleges are not-for-profits but remember, that's a tax status. They are businesses even if that business's mission is to educate. When it comes to the application essays, I wouldn't attack my target audience. Admissions officers generate income through tuition. They're central to the business side of the college. Until you've written the check and felt the pain, I don't think you can write a convincingly passionate essay on the topic. Write what you know.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 30,912 Senior Member
    I think JarJar was thinking of vicious circle. Don't know what vicious means in this context otherwise. I think it's fine to write about this topic if you are actually doing something about it. But you aren't, are you?
This discussion has been closed.