Common App essay...

<p>Anybody want to read mine and give me feedback? I'm appling ED to Swarthmore and having some problems with it. Basically, my essay is about overcoming some emotional difficulties I had in 9th grade and explaining the horrible grades I got then. I explain it in very up-front, honest detail and at some point I mention that I used to cut. I think I do a good job without being cliche or whining. My parents strongly think that I should take out the part about cutting because it puts me "on another level" and they think that colleges are not going to want to deal with that. My English teacher said it was fine, but I haven't talked to him about that particular point yet. My boyfriend thinks I should definitely keep it because it emphasizes how far I've come since then. In his words: "The first paragraph was powerful, and it hits the reader in a visceral fashion that one doesn't expect from a typical college essay. It has shock value that makes it stand out. More importantly, it vastly increases the significance of your full recovery when you make the full depth of your disease clear. I'd totally keep it"
Anyway, any comments would be appreciated, and if you'd like to read my essay, I'll email it.</p>

<p>I cannot read your essay but want to give you this advice. </p>

<p>Your primary essay should be used to highlight a more positive aspect of your background or interests. </p>

<p>A mental health problem such as you had back in ninth grade that affected your grades in a negative way could be explained in a supplementary statement that you enclose with your application (and also should be addressed in the guidance counselor report). The statement should address that reassurances that the described situation will not prevent you from fully participating and succeeding in college. The reassurances should be as specific as possible, and not come across as pleading. How you have succeeded in subsequent years and what was done to address your past "problems" needs to come across. </p>

<p>Generally I would advise students to avoid bringing up mental health issues UNLESS they are manifested in the transcript and in those cases (as in yours) a supplemental statement of special circumstances is appropriate.</p>

<p>Thank you for your advice. My essay isn't entirely about explaining my bad grades though, it's also about how I matured and learned from my experience and how it has shaped me as a person. Given this knowledge, do you still think it's unsuitable as an essay topic?</p>

<p>The mother of one of my son's friends used to be an adcom for an Ivy Med School. She and I recently discussed essays. She commented that she never wanted to be made to feel uncomfortable or sad when reading an essay. I really don't think you should try to use shock value in your college essay. Frankly, just reading your above post made me uncomfortable.....I'm imagining razors, blood and horrible pain and my skin is crawling. Some kids can write essays about overcoming major obstacles and an adcom might imagine how such a student might contribute to the community and lend inisght into various backgrounds. I just don't think that an adcom would feel good about creating dialogue about cutting......</p>

<p>I think it's great that you wrote this essay, and you should keep it and look at it periodically, but no, I don't think you should submit it.</p>

<p>If you read the Universal Admissions Essay Advice thread, you will see that posters urge that topics such as yours be avoided (included how particular problems helped you grow as a person as you overcame them, blah, blah, blah). I appreciate that you feel proud to have overcome a major problem, and that you are concerned about bad grades earlier. You may want to explain this issue in the section that asks : "Is there anything else you wish to tell us about?" or some such section but do not make this your main essay. Tell the college about the person you want it to admit, the person you are now and will be later, not the sad 9th grader you were. Give colleges reasons to want to admit you. By the way. many colleges discount 9th grade grades. They understand that for many students, the transition to high school can be quite difficult. And the fact that you've pulled up your GPA since will be impressive.</p>

<p>ToBleedinVain.... I don't really think your second post sheds any new light that would make my response differ from the first time I posted. Marite is saying the same thing as are others. </p>

<p>If you choose to share this information, which is ONLY pertinent for them to know if you need to explain poor grades one year, then it should be a supplemental statement as well as included in the guidance counselor do with some mental health issues you had during that time that affected your grades but how you were treated and the successful way you have overcome it and how it is no longer a problem and your grades reflect your true abilities ever since, and so forth. It should NOT be the topic of your main essay. That essay needs to be about a more positive side of you. Overcoming something is a good thing, don't take me wrong, but focusing on a mental illness or issues to do with cutting is not putting the focus where it should be and in fact could hurt your chances because the idea is to focus on strengths not weaknesses. Is this the main thing you want them to know? I am not knocking how you have beat your past problems but the focus should be away from problems you have but on positive traits and attributes instead. In fact, had your grades not been affected, I would have advised you to NEVER mention your mental illness issues. It is relevant now as an explanation if you had very poor grades one year. </p>

<p>A supplemental statement is in order when something needs explaining or as Marite says, they sometimes point blank ask if there is anything you wish them to know and a one year slump in grades during a period of illness is something that does fit that category or question. My D, a current applicant, sent in a supplemental statement to explain why she has chosen to graduate early, for instance, which is NOT a topic of any of her essays but merely a statement type essay that "explains" which is what you could do for your special circumstance. </p>

<p>Please take the advice you are being given about this topic for your main essay. I think the mere fact that you asked if this topic would be OK shows that even you have a slight doubt. Now, many parents are giving you the same point of view, and in fact, if you read the literature by professional college admissions counselors, this point of view is the the prevalent one you will find. </p>


I completely agree with all the very sound advice you have been given about the content of your essay.</p>

<p>Since I first saw your call name, I have been struggling with whether or not to comment on another concern. I have decided I would be negligent, however, if I did not say that anyone with your history (what you have told us, that is) who feels they want to call themselves "tobleedinvain" for any reason might still have residual issues, of the sort that you wanted to discuss in your essay. Perhaps this would be worth exploring. Sorry to give unsolicited input if I am being overly reactive.</p>

<p>Roby, thanks for mentioning that. I, too, am wondering by the fact that your posting name is"To Bleed in Vain" that this issue is one that involves residual issues if you are choosing to identify yourself by this name and to write about it as well. I don't know enough about you and you did write that you were treated and that this is behind you and your grades improved and everything is positive once more. Your essay should show a positive side of you then, as well as your posting name. </p>

<p>Good luck with it all, dear, and I am glad you asked for opinions and I think the fact that you DID ask this question reveals that you are not sure you should send in that essay either. Your parents sounds as if they are offering you good advice. I know it is hard to go with what your own parents say sometimes but in this instance, LOTS of other parents are concurring with them so I hope it has helped you to garner more perspectives. </p>


<p>Lol, my posting name is actually a line from a song by Skid Row. I'm not very creative so I get most of my handles from pop culture references :)</p>

<p>yeah well, it's a pretty ironic name all the same. Good advice on this thread - follow it & good luck.</p>

<p>I have to agree that you should not send this essay. You can email it to me if you want, though.</p>

<p>Thank you all for your comments. Based on them, I decided to change my essay to one that I'd previously written (about my interest in astrophysics). I will address the issue in the "other comments" box because I believe that my counselor is incompetent, but it won't be as dramatic.</p>

<p>You are being wise and I am glad you listened to advice. The "other comments" should not get into "cutting". As well, they should not come off as complaining or excuse like. You should explain why that year's grades were affected by mental health issues that you got treatment for and moved past those and subsequently have been able to overcome and succeed as your records show. You should come across as reassuring that these issues have been resolved and you are ready to succeed in college as you have in your later years of high school. Turn it into a postive and that you can fully participate in college academics and college life. </p>

<p>Is your guidance counselor aware of problems you had in ninth grade and treatment you received? If so, and if she/he has validated the cause of the trouble with your grades that year, then he/she may very well be willing to address it in her/his narrative report. You don't know until you try. A statement like that from him/her would validate any "extra" statement you choose to include. As mentioned before, my D sent in a statement about graduating early as a "special circumstance" but also asked her GC to speak to that issue in his report and he did. Why don't you ask?</p>

<p>good luck to you,

<p>My guidance counselor is aware of the medical issues I had in 9th grade, and he said he would address them, but I don't trust him to do a wonderful job, which is why I want to write the supplementary statement.</p>

<p>I don't think you should tell the school the specifics of your mental health issue. If you were my daughter, I sould suggest that you keep it to yourself. The fact that your grades are reflective of some kinf od problem in 9th grade, I would refer to the issues in more general terms (adjustment difficulties, which have obviously been resolved). You said that you don't think using the "other comments" box would be as dramatic. Why would you want your college app to be dramatic? Colleges don't want drama!</p>

<p>Momsdream, as mentioned previously, my first choice would be NOT to share mental health issues on an application anywhere. In this case, however, if a student had one year of grades well below her norm, it should be explained. I agree with you that the specifics of the mental health issue not be delved into but handled in the manner I was suggesting which turns it into a positive point about reassuring the college that this issue is behind her after treatment and that she was able to move forward and succeed in subsequent years of high school and is posed to succeed in college. More importantly, the GC should speak to that point. You are right on in mentioning that her "problems" be stated more in general terms, rather than specifics, and in fact, definitely NO need to get into cutting issues as she had mentioned in her original essay. The point is to show one's strengths, not weaknesses. Showing that she turned this around is where the focus should lie. </p>