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Admissions Essays about a Presidential Election

I’ve had a few people ask me whether they should write about the Presidential election and how it is has shaped their lives. The answer is: if you can do it effectively without it being too cliche’, then yes – it can be an acceptable topic. All too often, however, students let the election season take over their college applications- writing fervently for their favorite candidate without any substance; they forget to come up with a solid theme about themselves. Don’t fall victim to such poor writing.

Writing an essay, whether it be for prep school, college or graduate admissions, requires students take an inimitable approach. You must write with clarity, consistency and care.

For example, the following essay is a sample of bad writing on the election:

“I’m supporting ______ candidate because we need change. Change is a good thing for America. Just look at the last 8 years; when I was in middle school students and teachers thought we were heading in the right direction.”

Why does this essay start off bad? Well, for one, it is about a concept, i.e. “Change,” which can be difficult to bring down to a tangible level where the audience can see how it has shaped your life. Instead, start broadly and narrow the concept into a form where the reader/audience knows where you’re heading with the topic. Further, supplement any political writing with solid examples of your participation in the election process.

Here’s an example of a better essay with more substance:

“Having volunteered in a local phone drive for __________ candidate, I have heard the voices of people desiring change; I want to be part of this change. I took part in the electoral process because I feel our government is too large and our individual voices are all too often drowned out by special interests and lobbyists.”

These two parallel examples – one bad, one good- hopefully clarify the essay topic of the Presidential election or any election for that matter. If you have volunteered before or been an active part of any local, state or federal campaign, tell the admissions office, be specific and bring any abstract topic such as change down to a manageable level. You don’t want to sound cliche’ like many political ads airing across the nation. Bring substance, candor and care to your essay and you’re bound to connect more with your audience.

Hope that helps…
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