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How do I write an essay about adversity?

QUESTION: One of my essays for college admissions asks me to write about "adversity." I'm not really sure what to write since I haven't had that many problems in my life. So I was wondering if I could say that breaking up a friendship with someone after 14 years could be considered adversity. Can it? – No Problems Here

Dear No Problems Here: When you are asked to write about adversity, you define what adversity is. Some have had the misfortune of facing life-threatening illness, homelessness, or drug or alcohol abuse before the age of 18. Consider yourself fortunate for not having encountered such challenges. Realize that adversity is relative. Depending on your experiences and environment, you may not have faced life-threatening ailments, but you have coped with trying situations. This is what the college is asking you to describe. They want to see how you approached a challenge, developed ways of coping with it or overcoming it, and what you learned from the occurrence. If the end of the friendship was one of the more arduous of your personal experiences and you made tough decisions about your actions, then by all means, write about the experience. Explain why the situation was testing, how you developed a solution, and what you’ve learned in retrospect.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.