My parents hate my college essay and want me to rewrite it

I was writing my UC Essay today and my dad suddenly flipped a switch. He exploded. He started screaming about how I have to turn in my app today for UC, and I reminded him that it was due on 11/30 and there was no advantage in turning it in early, and that only made him more pissed. He called my essay trash. I haven’t finished, but it was about me as a pianist and how I wasn’t that great, but it meant a lot to me. He said it was filled with complaints and there was nothing “great” about it. He started threatening me that if I turned that in, he would take away my phone and not pay for my tuition. I’m not joking on the last part. I told him I was gonna let my counselor see my essay before submitting, but he said the counselor will think it’s trash. He proceeds to compare me to Brian Hsu (from that airplane assault incident) and Eric Sun (from that attempted schoo shooting incident) and how I was a loser to complain. It hurt a lot. I don’t know, but I’m gonna carry on with this essay.

I would say your father is a little stressed out and having anger management issues. I know another father a bit like this, and they just don’t get that threats, financial abuse, and anger does not mean that they will get their way.
He’ll probably calm down. Ask him to go write the kind of essay he would like to see, bring both to the counselor and ask their opinion of both. They may think your father’s stinks and your’s is great. But if it’s the other way around, maybe your father has a point.
Just don’t get in the position where you do badly to spite your father because he is full of anger and threats. Just focus on your goal and do what is positive toward that goal. Ignore the noise.


Hey Jason,

The things about college essays are that everyone has a different opinion on them, and for the most part, these opinions are biased. What your dad thinks makes a good essay might make a relatively poor one, and what you think makes a good essay might be poor as well. The thing is, most application essays are so generic and read like anyone could have written them. I know how painful it is getting critique back on things which you’ve paired your heart and soul into, but trust me, it’s better to accept that your essay may suck than hold on to a belief that it is good and submit it.

There’s a very useful book (free online) that you can check out although CC won’t let me add the link. It’s called “Hack The College Essay” by John Dewis. It really helped me with my application essays.


If you like, I or CC essay readers such as @compmom will read your essay if you send it via PM / DM and offer a critique. (If you cannot initiate the PM feature, then you can do so via return (reply). I will send you a PM now.

If you prefer to have another–such as your school college counselor–review your writing, then that is fine.

Based on your post in this thread, it seems like you are on the right path as your essay reveals something about you that may not be evident from the rest of your application.


I have been helping many students here on College Confidential with their essays. I will private message you and you can copy and paste your essay there. Look for the little green circle to the left of your avatar on the top right of the page.

Sometimes adults, including even hired college counselors, can actually ruin a young person’s essay- and sometimes they can help!

The essay will not have a significant effect on your application unless it is outstanding, or terrible/offensive. Honestly, most are kind of neutral in effect and that is absolutely fine and should be reassuring.


I think you should have a few, unbiased people read it.

After all, your dad won’t be the reader and he has a connection to you that is going to be biased.

Maybe a teacher or friend’s mom or two.

You can even hire a reader for cheap.

Most/all essays can likely be improved and some students write the same one four, five, six times.

Wow, I feel for you and know of other similar situations where parents freak out. I would take up the offers here to have someone neutral read your essay. The good thing about a CC reader, like @Publisher or @compmom is it will be completely neutral because they don’t know you. On the other hand, I’d also get a teacher/mentor figure to read it as well because they do know you. I normally don’t volunteer to review essays, but would be happy to tell you if are headed down the right paths.


I am so sorry you have to deal with this added stress. I do think you should speak with your counselor about the essay, but also about this relationship and how to navigate the issues around that.

There is only one you. You are unique, valuable and have something great to offer. Tell your story, not your dad’s. Take the offers of having the essay readers here on CC assist you. I wish you the very best.


I have seen essays written by parents and they are always terrible. If your dad forces you to rush in your app and submit a rubbish essay, tell him that’s not going to help you get in.

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It’s very kind for the people here to help you. You are in good hands.


I like the suggestion of asking your dad to write what he thinks should be a perfect essay and to bring both to your GC and see what s/he says - either your essay is fine and you’ll have external validation + proof your dad’s idea’s not better, or your essay is not fine (let’s not discount it might not be!) and then you get to hear it from someone else than your dad. Or… both stink and you have time to scrap it and start over!
Do take advantage of the generous offers posted here to read over that essay BTW.

I would advise the student not to engage any further with the father regarding the essay, if at all possible, but instead refer the dad to the guidance counselor or English teacher. A third party can reassure the dad that the essay is fine, and remove the need for the student to defend themselves


Certainly your dad over-reacted and sorry his words were so hurtful. But I do suggest that you re-read your essay with a critical eye. Keep in mind that the purpose of the essay is to: 1) show positive attribute(s) about yourself that can’t be found elsewhere on the application and; 2) to give some insight into how you could be a positive force in the college community. Does you essay accomplish those goals? If there truly is a lot of “complaining” can you re-frame some of the essay to focus more on the positives/your personal growth etc.?

After you are satisfied with your essay I would ask a trusted English teacher as well as your guidance counselor to read it over for you.


He hated my other alternative essays as well when I came up with them, so I guess the only way is to write a dummy essay to tank it. He keeps confusing common app with PIQ, and he doesn’t seem to care that I have to answer a prompt, so a fake essay it is.

Jason, I’m sorry you are dealing with this extra unnecessary layer of stress at a time when you have way, way more stress than a young person should have to deal with all at once from school, SAT/ACT prep, extracurricular activities, college applications and just navigating high school.

I don’t envy your generation at all …. these things were hard for me to juggle when I was graduating high school but it is obvious to me now as a parent that it has just gotten much more difficult. At least in my little world at the time, a 1200 SAT was the bench mark for a “good score”, a 1300 was a great score and a 1400 was a fantastic score to have a shot at Harvard or Yale. Those numbers have all been bumped up about 100 points, and I don’t think it is because the SAT got any easier.

My impression is that you are a mature, thoughtful, intelligent and sensitive young man and I am extremely impressed that you are handling all of this negativity and stress with grace and resilience.

I can’t offer you any useful essay help like the great people on here already have, but just your comments on this board make it crystal clear that you have a good head on your shoulders, and I would bet anything that your original essay is wonderful.

It can be hard for some parents not to live vicariously through their child’s college admissions process, even without conscious intent to do so. My son’s admission season has stirred up a lot of memories and emotions in me, and honestly it has been hard on me. Maybe your dad is experiencing something difficult that he can’t really understand or express, and unfortunately it is bubbling over and actually hurting the situation and not helping.

Do what you have to do to placate your dad, but more importantly trust yourself and what you want to say in your essay. I can tell that it will accurately address the prompt, be well written and come across as genuine and sincere. Good luck to you, we are all rooting for you!


Did you receive my brief critique of your alternate essay that I sent to you via return PM several days ago ?

Again, I suggest an in-person third party to mediate.

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The topic was on point.