White Privilege as Common App topic?

Hello, I was thinking of writing my common app essay about my realization of my own white privilege and how I’m unlearning my internalized racism, etc. Would this be a good topic or is it too overdone/annoying? Also would this topic be too risky? Thank you!

I think that you are correct - it is likely overdone, and likely to be very risky. Moreover, it may be difficult to achieve the most important purpose of the essay - showing something about yourself which is not on the rest of your application, something would make you attractive as an applicant.

There are too many pitfalls in this topic, too many ways that things could go wrong. There are also way to many nuances, and it is too easy to get sucked into the topic in general rather than focus on you. Since the essay is supposed to be about you, focusing it at least partially, on what other people suffer will pull attention away from you. Alternatively, focusing on yourself may make it seem that you see the suffering of other people as a backdrop for your personal growth (which is the opposite of what is happening inside of you and what you want to show).

These a re just a few of the dangers. Leave this topic for a lower stakes essay.

Agree w/ @MWolf

Look at your application as whole- the essays give you a tiny space to show things about you that either don’t show up other places in your application, or that you want to emphasize by an example.

Things that are intensely personal are hard to write about, not least because it is hard to have perspective. In this instance, as @MWolf points out it is very, very easy for words you write meaning one way to come across completely differently than you intend. If you have learned anything about racism it surely includes the awareness that how you see something is not necessarily how other people see it!

Ditto. While you do want to show personal growth and insight, you don’t know who will be reading it and how they will respond.

If you can find an angle that is fresh & personal, I would say you could draft it to see if you love it. If not, maybe brainstorm other ideas, but I do think that conveying your initiative to unlearn and become a better member of society is an important aspect of your character. Could you find another topic that still illustrates your drive and determination? Good luck!

This is the old classic example of where NOT to go with an essay. Where adcoms give essay thoughts, they cite it as a topic to avoid.

Nearly impossible to carry off wo sounding young. And as said, not the point. You’re not writing for a teacher who encourages this sort of reflection.

I picture a black admissions officer reading that essay with an eyeroll and a sigh. Probably not the reaction you were expecting.

Point being you don’t know who is reading your file. AOs come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Plan accordingly.