Application Essay: Taking a Stand
Sparkler Frankie is a talented writer with strong opinions. Check out the essay he's planning to submit to colleges.
Prompt: In our history various people have taken stands against injustice, often at great personal risk. Have you ever taken a stand against something you considered unjust—or if you haven't, do you have an idea of what it might take for you to take such a stand? Please explain.
Ever since I learned of abortion and what it is, I knew it was wrong. I felt and still feel that taking the lives of innocent babies is wrong. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t done much about it. I wish that I could write this essay and say that I’ve changed the world and that everyone agrees and that all things wrong have been eliminated, but I can’t do that. However, I can do something now.
I already have done an extensive amount of research in high school about abortion. I have looked up facts and figures and written congressmen and representatives. All of that was research on what other people have found and what other people believe. I would love to do my own research and find out the facts for myself. I want to know how it is done, how it affects the baby, how it affects the mother, and how it affects the father and other family members.
After my research is done, I’d want to write about what I’ve found. The best way I know how to inform people is to write to them. I aspire to become a writer or a journalist. Through that, I want the voices of the babies who cannot speak for themselves to be heard, whether it is on a blog on the Internet, or a in a flyer in a clinic, or in an article in the New York Times. I know that ignorance of abortion and its consequences and affects is a very big problem and it is a problem that is simple to fix but not easy. People do not always want to listen, my job, as a writer, would be to make them hunger to hear more. I want mothers to know that there are alternatives to killing their babies.
Other options include giving the baby up for adoption, or keeping the baby. I want mothers to know that there is help. There are crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies and orphanages. A great way to help is to help out these centers financially and by word of mouth. They need to be able to let people know who they are and what they do. They also need to be able to follow through and effectively help people.
I hope that this essay shows you who I am. I am not an abortion activist or a crazy zealot who wants to show you pictures of bloody babies in buckets. I am simply a student who sees an injustice and who wants to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. As a student at your university, I think that I could make a difference. I understand that all people do not agree with me, but I also understand what I believe and why I believe it. I volunteer every week at my church to teach a class or watch the little ones and every week I am reminded how precious each little heart and each little mind is. Life is a beautiful thing and I am so glad that I get to have one. I want my life to reflect my drive to be a better person and my desire to act on my thoughts and beliefs.
I have just one thing to say: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Let me elaborate. There are certain topics you should almost always avoid in your college application essay. These topics include sex, politics, drug use, and abortion. Yes, it's possible to write a fascinating, nuanced, thoughtful essay on any of these subjects. But you're much likelier to write a one-dimensional polemic that doesn't reveal anything about you as a person.
The people reading your essay are just that: people. They have opinions and personal experiences. When you tackle controversial topics in your essay, you run the risk of causing offense—and the last thing you want to do is offend someone who has the power to toss your application in the recycling bin. Sure, there are plenty of people who will read your essay and think, "Exactly! I couldn't agree more!" But there are just as many who will read it and think, "I don't like the sound of this person," or, "I guess this applicant wouldn't approve of the life-saving abortion my sister had last year," or, simply, "Why did this applicant choose such an inappropriate topic?"
I'm not saying you shouldn't fight for what you believe in. But your college application essay is not the place to do it. I can sum up my advice in two words: start over.
What advice would you give Frankie?