If perhaps a student lost a parent in grade 10, it is helpful to share the experience with an admissions committee so they are aware of a possible drop in grades but also, to be able to see how one dealt with a truly heartbreaking situation; showing growth and reassurance they will be able to handle the pressures associated with college. If one has grown from and can express how a negative experience has changed and matured them then it can be a good topic for an essay.
Although not a negative experience, I can share an example of growth with you - one of my students wrote about visiting several doctors and finally being told that she was bipolar. She could have put a highly negative slant on her essay, but did not. Instead, she spoke of her difficulties and how being bipolar affected her every day, and then she shared how she had changed, how her daily life changed as a result of now understanding herself. It was one of the most impressive essays I have read to date. If you can approach your essay in this way, you are sure to leave a lasting impression.
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