When it comes to writing a college essay, the goal of any student is to have their essay stand out among the thousands of others. But are some essays too risky to write?
Here are the four hardest essay topics to pull off. They may hold the greatest risk, but they reap the biggest reward.
I. Racism and Sexism
This is particularly risky if you are writing the essay from the perspective of a white person or a male. Many people may feel upset or challenged to read an essay on racism or sexism if you are not holding the minority viewpoint.
If you can talk about racism or sexism in an intelligent way, then it can be a great essay. Say perhaps you want to discuss the gender inequities in sports. In that case, choose your words carefully and make sure you have others read your work before you submit. However, if you’re going to write about how you (a white, male student) are at a disadvantage academically compared to female or students of color because of your race/gender, you might reconsider your essay topic.
Remember, you never know who’s going to read the essay. You don’t want to give them an easy reason to deny your application.
II. Your Disease, Disorder, or Learning Disability
These essays can be touching and moving, if done correctly. But it can be hard to write about a disorder or disease without it being too depressing. You want to pull off a mix of your reality and how you have overcome your obstacles. For learning disability essays, colleges want you to thrive and succeed at the university and these essays expose a weakness, so be careful to balance that weakness with grit and strength.
If these essays are done well and written eloquently, the power and humbleness the essay gives off can overcome any vulnerability or weakness exposed. Still, understand that this is a risky topic and be sure to get adequate feedback to ensure your essay improves your case and doesn’t weaken it.
III. Community Service
Too many students write about community service in a way that seems self aggrandizing. In particular, ask yourself whether your essay is truly sincere or whether you feel you’re writing what you believe someone else wants to hear. Sincere essays on community service can be excellent, particularly if they recount unique experiences or show impressive initiative. Remember the majority of competitive high schools require some service hours, and almost half of these, in my experience, are working with children or tutoring experiences. If you want to stand out, be sure your essay isn’t one everyone else is writing.
If community service is an integral part of your development and character, then you should absolutely write your essay on this topic. To not come off self entitled, you’ll want to humble yourself or elevate the people you work with, so that you meet in the middle.
We live in a deeply divided country where different political views can cause polarization. If you’re going to discuss politics in your essay, you must bridge the gap somehow. Be open to exploring and listening to political ideas that are not your own. No matter your perspective, you must write an essay that does not isolate other view points.
General Tip: Get Multiple Readers!
For any essay topic that is risky, have different people with different view points read your essay. If anyone who reads your story is offended or sees a glaring issue, you can soften your words or change the outline of your essay accordingly.
College essays are supposed to show what is special about you and what makes you who you are. If writing a risky topic is going to show off who you truly are, then you should go for it.