Giving Unsolicited Advice- Ethical Question

<p>I recently came across a posting of a "what are my chances" flavor from a boy I definitely know. He used to attend school with my son, no longer does. He is applying ED to a school my son is not applying to. He posted his "resume" and described his essay topics. He has "glamourized" his EC's/awards a bit, but no matter. His essay topic is the issue. He plans to write about an event/topic that the counselors at our school definitely tell kids to not write about. The event took place 6 1/2 years ago(a long time in the life of a 17 year old) and in reality most kids experienced it by watching it on CNN-this boy included.</p>

<p>Here is the question. Should I suggest to the boy that, knowing what I know about him and his life here that he might want to rethink this topic. This boy presents as very self assured in real life, though this is not how he protrays himself on paper. He happens to be a talented writer...</p>

<p>If I didn't know as much as I did about him or the situation, I would definitely not be in a position to give unsolicited advice. Ethically speaking, then what do you all think I should do? Suggest, and let him decide, keep my mouth shut.....</p>

<p>If you did not know so much about the boy, would you give the same advice? If yes, then by all means, give it, in general terms as just another CC poster. If the advice is very specific to this student, you may still be able to find a way of communicating your reservations in general terms rather than as a person who knows him and the situation personally.</p>

This is such a specific situation, such a specific reservation...If you were to read his post you would probably not pick it up, for example. He will also know the post is from me from my name...I think I have to let it go, just keep my thoughts to myself. I have no reason to not want what is best for this boy, I feel confident of that, but I am not sure that he would see it that way...</p>

<p>If he's posting here, he's looking for advice. Why not email him on his CC email? And at least mention you know the school has advised against this topic.</p>

<p>Bettina, I wonder if he's looking for advice or for affiirmation...He said nothing that suggests he thinks the essay topic isn't perfect..Thanks.</p>

<p>My husband has just reminded me that these sorts of potential issues are the exact reason that he and I stopped doing interviews for our alma mater 2 years ago. Though my son is not applying to the school that interests the boy in question, son's best friend is (all these boys know each other). It is just messy. Clearer heads have prevailed. I am keeping my mouth shut. I guess i have to clean my office after all....</p>

<p>My thought was that if he's still posting here he may see your post above and realize your concern without you having to do contact him. I know a lot of kids read the parents forum.</p>

<p>I'm not an editor and would never give essay advice. I've read a few essays with serious topic alarms but I've refrained from comment.</p>

<p>Part merit and part luck, the apps are a bit of a toss. Hopefully, the adcoms will not judge him too harshly for poor topic choice.</p>

<p>I'm still marvelling about all the anti-SAT II advice! :)</p>

<p>Over30, you might well be right. If he is surfing himself, maybe he will reconsider. If not, as Cheers notes, maybe it won't matter anyways!</p>

Anti SAT-II advice? (she asks with a confused tone)</p>

<p>Yes! All KINDS of advice! Lack of SAT IIs doesn't hurt an app (apparently)! Won't forestall an application!</p>

<p>Oh, I see...yes that had me puzzled a bit as well. I have generally felt the only way you want the application to stand out is in terms of a positive attribute- not much good can come of specifially NOT doing something you are asked to do, for example.. There are a lot of boxes that need to be checked off, and you pretty much want to make sure the application is smooth from that perspective...</p>

<p>"He plans to write about an event/topic that the counselors at our school definitely tell kids to not write about."</p>

<p>This statement really surprised me. Why would they do that?</p>

<p>For those who may have missed the connection, I'd like to explain that my son went to the same school as Robyrm's kids and the boy from the other board. My son wrote his main essay about the event in question, even though he was only 13 when the event occurred, 4 years prior to the time he was applying to college. It was a life defining experience for him (and us) and although he didn't pretend to understand the signficance completely, he was compelled to try to explain how it shaped his world outlook. Ironically, watching after events on CNN only made it more surreal.</p>

<p>My son's essay was compelling and heartfelt, I still get the shivers when I read it. I would think that any child who experiences a cataclysmic and frightening event and is a skilled writer could validly use it as an essay topic. I read a comment from the head of a college adcom (I can't remember which one) who said he was dismayed that more kids didn't write about September 11, implying that it was like ignoring the elephant in the room. He said he WANTED to know how kids felt about it, how it changed their worlds.</p>

<p>I don't see any ethical consideration in your decision to respond or not to respond. The kid is posting on a public board; you have information that may help him write a better essay. So if you want to remind him that his essay must sincerely reflect his own personal experience, then go ahead and do so. I don't agree,however, that an 11 year old wouldn't have been deeply affected by that terrible time and be able to remember it clearly enough 4-1/2 years later to write a strong essay.</p>

<p>Correction, that last line should read 6-1/2 years. I never could subtract.</p>

I know several kids in past years who wrote about those events. I would suspect, having read other things written by your son on considerably less compelling topics, that his essay was substantive and moving. </p>

<p>The general recommendation from the current GC's(none of whom lived here at the time themselves) has been that this current group of seniors (2 years behind your son) are young enough that unless there has been some direct, personal impact of those events 6+ years ago it might be "more vivid" for the kids to write about some other, more recent local event- which would again tie into their understanding of the world. Sadly, we live in a time where in the interim there have been other events locally, as you well know, which have been personal and shattering for many of the same kids. I suppose that for the boy in question, who left here before some of the other tragedies, the events of 98 might be a dominant memory, but for the kids who have been here since they are one part of an unbelievable tapestry- at least this is true for my sons. </p>

<p>Surely this issue is quite specific to the child. The boy in question is clever to incorporate his overseas experience into his application, that is for sure.</p>


<p>At the time, I remember people commenting that they were expecting with some dread that many many application essays would be about 9/11. I suspect that GCs across the country told students to avoid that topic, just as they have been telling students to avoid death, divorce and disease, all events that have a much more direct and sometimes catastrophic impact on individual applicants.</p>


<p>Now that I've read your clarifications, I think you're wise to let it go.</p>

<p>There are at least two posters on CC from my daughter's school, one of whom I've met previously. I did privately e-mail that poster with my identity and best wishes for their success. I try to treat these two as if they were any other "anonymous" poster.</p>