A few days ago a student I was working with from Stamford asked me if she could write about abortion. Half an hour later she was back on the phone asking if she could write about drugs.
Should you write about controversial subjects in your college application essay? I don’t recommend it.You don’t know who’s reading your essay. He or she might have a real problem with the subject matter or the side of the topic you decide to take. You just don’t know. Why take the risk when the process is already so competitive?
If you still want to go ahead, you have to cover your subject matter maturely, from both sides. That’s not to say you can’t have your own ideas. You can and you should. But there’s no room for petulance.
Why, by the way, are you writing about this subject? Are you passionate about it? Do you have a personal experience dealing with it? Does it somehow reflect (or affect) your sense of self in the world, your sense of right and wrong? I asked the young woman who called me, and she gave me an interesting answer. She said that lately some of her struggles with her parents had been over their differing ideas of right and wrong. She extrapolated from that, and ended up at abortion and drugs.
What had happened was the student started with a personal experience, and then, feeling she had to have a “big topic,” chose one that she actually had very little connection to. The connection she had was to her own experience, her own sense of right and wrong. I asked her to think about that and perhaps develop it into what could be a compelling essay — a true personal statement.
Every college essay has to reflect the writer — who you are, your interests, your goals and personality. If you’re going to write about a controversial subject you’re taking a risk. But ultimately the subject has to boil down to you.
Categories: College Essay - Writing, College Essay Writing Don'ts | Tags: college admissions essay, college essay topics, Common Application personal statement, first impressions college consulting, sharon epstein, writing the college application essay | Permalink.
Author: Sharon Epstein
College consultant, teaching students how to write memorable college application essays, grad school and prep school essays, and succeed at job and college interviews.
Writing a Persuasive Essay on Abortion
No matter what your stance on abortion these tips can help you write your persuasive essay on the topic. The real challenge, though, is putting together an essay that is unique and interesting to read. Your professor has already seen dozens and maybe even hundreds of essays on this topic.
If he or she doesn’t find your essay a pleasure to read it’s going to put you at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a good grade.
Use a Clear Thesis Statement
This is the most essential aspect of your essay on abortion. Your thesis statement should not only clearly state your position on abortion, but also provide insight into why. A good thesis statement would read:
“Laws prohibiting abortion prevent women from making the choices that enable them to live the lifestyle of their choice, reducing their ability to contribute to society effectively.”
Alternatively, if you’re pro-life, your thesis statement could read:
“Abortion violates the right to live regardless of your religious beliefs.”
Both of these thesis statements provide a clear indication of where you’re going to take your reader and what you’re going to try to demonstrate.
Write Persuasively – it is a persuasive essay, after all.
The key to writing persuasively is playing on your readers emotions. Be sure to reference events and stories that pull on your readers heart strings. If you’re pro-choice you should share stories of women and children who were unable to find any sort of joy in life because the pregnancy was forced on the mother.
If you’re pro-life you should use stories that show how abortion has negatively impacted the lives of those involved – including preventing the unborn child from realizing its potential. A particularly useful approach is explaining that the aborted fetus could have gone on to contribute to society with breakthrough discoveries in the science and medical field. Don’t reference Einstein, though. It’s been done millions of times before.
Use Facts Where Appropriate
While this is a persuasive essay you definitely want to use citable facts in your essay. This will help to lend credibility to your position and convince even the most closed-minded readers of your case.
Make sure that your referenced facts aren’t debatable, though. Use good sources for this information. Ideally you should avoid referencing any religious documents or institutions if you’re pro-life. If you’re pro-choice avoid referencing Charles Darwin or the Theory of Evolution. These things are viewed with skepticism and derision by readers who don’t agree with your position on the topic.