• 2 years ago •
Admissions Advice

"If you could change one thing about your location, what would it be and why"?

So my essay for this prompt is about the quality of education in my area, which I care a lot about. If I could change anything about my hometown, it would genuinely be that. I write in the essay about the effect of low-quality education on students' mental health, aspirations, and chances of getting into college. The essay is basically about how much better and more successful and happy those in my community would be if we had more funding for our school.

I have had the essay reviewed many times on here, and I got various comments such as:

"It seems you may be writing about this to explain why your academic achievements are weak" (Which is absolutely not true. My academics are very strong IN

SPITE of my quality of education)

"It seems like you are complaining"

"It is a bad idea to diss your school"

About half of all of the reviews had suggestions such as these.

It seems to me that these comments are here either because the topic itself is a bad idea to write about, or it is simply how I am writing about it. I hope the latter is true, because I really do care about the effect of education on students, and I want the colleges I'm applying to to see that.

So my question is: Is this just a bad topic to write about? Do I have to pick something else? Thank you:)


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3 answers

• 2 years ago

I actually think this is a great topic, it shows that you’re able to identify areas of inequity within your community, which translates well to being a student leader in your future school. I haven’t read your approach with the topic of course, but the feedback suggests that the majority of the essay focused on the negative effects that this has had on students in your school (or schools in your area), which can come across as “complaining” even when you’re just addressing an issue. Especially if you mention chances of getting into college, it could come across as seeking pity if you say things like “It’s hard for bright students to get into competitive schools due to our lack of resources (they’d think you were describing your own circumstances)” despite there being truth to that. It is difficult to address the topic without adopting this sort of tone and sounding as if you’re complaining, but I can try and brainstorm w/ you if your reply to this for some ideas!

Just of the top of my head, it might be helpful to start of with some sort of narrative to avoid jumping into discussing the problem with the school itself. Is there a specific time or event that made you realize that your school wasn’t funded like other schools? Something your school couldn’t provide students with that you knew other schools had? Or a moment that made you question the way our public schools are disproportionately funded? For me, it wasn’t until I found out that schools are funded with property taxes that understood why many inner city schools in my area weren’t receiving quality education. It could help to focus in on what you would change (ex: systemically with the american public education system) and what good it’ll do for your peers, not you specifically to avoid sounding like you’re complaining.

Hope this helps, I’d be happy to help out more if I can!

• 2 years ago

Hey @amber8616, I wanted to check in with you and see how this essay was going! It looks like you got some solid advice and, based on your comment to @dara, might have figured out a way to re-write your essay. For what it's worth, I strongly agree with everything @dara said and it's very similar to what I would have written. It's SO important to figure out the right tone to strike for this essay and to decide the appropriate words to use to explain your situation and thoughts. If you use words that are too strong in their meaning, have a tone that sounds like you are complaining, or a tone that might come across as "woe is me" it's probably not going to look good on you from an admission officer's point of view. You need to remember that even though this essay is asking you about what you want to change in your community it's still important to not sound "preachy" when you give your reasoning. You also still need to remember to include details about yourself in the essay. Based on the info you gave it doesn't necessarily sound like you are doing that right now. That might be the one part of @dara's answer I disagree with.

I think @dara hit the nail on the head when they mentioned that you should think of a specific situation, event, or experience you might have had that impacted you enough to write about education as your issue. Really dig deep and think about the WHY part of the question here. It's unlikely you just woke up one day and suddenly thought "my school needs more funding." Rather, it's more likely that there was something, or multiple things, that lead you to that conclusion. If you can think of that situation and frame it in a way where you realized you, and your peers, were being negatively impacted I think the essay topic works. Bonus points if your intended major is something that would allow you to actually change the situation where you live. If that's the case you should 100% tie it in to your essay.

• 2 years ago

From the information given I don't think this is the best topic for this prompt. The prompt is about your hometown, not the public education system that is under-funded in many areas. You want to have a topic that is unique to your town or at least in some way specified to it, so if you get really specific then maybe it will work. The thing is, I feel like I could write this essay, and many others who go to public schools could as well. I haven't read your essay so comment if you disagree, but I feel like that prompt works against you.


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