controversial essay topic?

the common app essay #4 asks about a problem that you’d like to solve or have solved. i feel VERY inclined to write about institutional racism and how i am currently using my real life and internet platform to bring awareness to this. i don’t want to offend anyone in my essay, as i am not aware of the readers position on the topic. and i obviously don’t want a rejection because of how they might interpret the essay. give me some guidance!

If you have specific, documented examples of institutional racism that don’t involve college admissions, I don’t see how the topic would offend anyone.

@WasatchWriter the problem is that many people don’t “believe” that institutional racism exists. for example the events in new york, ferguson and the rest of the country are all because of systematic oppression and racism. everyone probably has their own opinions on those events and i don’t want to challenge them.

Notice that I referred to “specific, documented examples.” Don’t try to take on the world in a college application essay. Not because people won’t agree; but because you may come off sounding naive. (Like you just did.)

If you say you oppose institutional racism and provide an example that’s impossible for any rational person to shrug off, then you should be OK.

But post #2 has me wondering if you can handle that.

@WasatchWriter How so naive? Did you expect a reply with every “specific, documented example” I know? I was being broad because I assumed that many people already know about these events. Even if I couldn’t handle that, I do have my own experiences with institutional racism that aren’t “documented” but that does not make them any less valid. I am only asking because anyone can take an essay on this topic the wrong way and I wouldn’t want to be on the opposite side of the reader. Thank you for your input though.

@hytrojan Ok, so whenever your essay gets read by anyone, they will always have a little bias, for or against you. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it’s inevitable. If YOU believe that institutional racism exists, then YOU write about it. The readers are most certainly entitled to their opinion just as much as you are, but they can’t let their bias affect your point of view, that’s just wrong. The readers are biased, no doubt, but their job is to see how well this person responds to the prompt. It’s not a matter of whether or not they think you’re right, or whether or not they agree with you, it’s all about how you convey it.

I’m sorry for miscommunicating.

I agree that you are right to be concerned. I think you should stay away from examples like Ferguson because many readers will feel that there is not yet enough evidence available to know whether it was caused by institutional racism.

That’s not the same as saying you should worry that your readers will be offended. College people are overwhelmingly liberal and will likely agree with the direction of your thoughts.

An uncomplicated example drawn from your personal experience would be ideal. In fact, application readers are likely to see that as even more valid than one drawn from current events that have not been thoroughly sorted out.

I don’t think your college essay will be offensive to anyone, especially if you are writing about your personal experiences. Your essay is all about you! College admissions are going to want to hear about YOU! Personally, I wouldn’t worry about your essay being offensive. I agree with the idea of staying away from certain recent events that have happened involving racism. However, you’re just answering a prompt, using your own experiences. I wouldn’t find anything controversial or offensive about that!! :smiley: