Discussing Sensitive Topic (Abuse/Grooming) in Common App Essay

Was just wondering how taboo it might be to bring up an experience (from 9th grade) involving grooming and sexual abuse in my common app essay.

The essay itself isn’t about that particular experience; it’s about my novel (the reasoning for writing it, the process, and of course, how it’s affected me as a person – positively). The plot of my novel involves grief, mental health in general, and trauma to an extent, so it’s difficult for me not to mention my personal experience that inspired my work. That said, I would really hate to come off as wanting “pity points” or overly sappy.

And even if I only mention it briefly, will the mere topic immediately irk admissions counselors or make them think I’m not qualified?

Even mentioning the plot of my novel worries me now, since I’ve heard that college admissions counselors might think a student won’t be able to handle university if they bring up mental health issues.

These two podcast by Yale Admission might help you with your essay.

[Stream Essays: What Works by YaleUniversity | Yale University | Listen online for free on SoundCloud]

[Stream Essays: What Doesn’t Work by YaleUniversity | Yale University | Listen online for free on SoundCloud]

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I think the Yale podcasts help. I’m general, people are cautious and risk averse. It’s not a question of pity points but would you face elimination. The fact that you want to talk about process, growth and outcomes lessens the concerns.

It also depends where you are applying. I’ve talked to a Vandy committee member. And I imagine it’s similar at public schools. Not all essays are read or read thoroughly. So if your stats are superb for the school applied to it can very well be irrelevant.

Here’s a link. I would add to this my pet. Or my having lived with a sexuality no one knew about and I was afraid to share. It’s a huge piece of many people yet I’m sure many write about hiding their sexuality. In fact it’s regularly mentioned on the CC.

Thanks for sharing!