Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

Tips for writing an effective college essay.

College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay.

Want free help with your college essay?

UPchieve connects you with knowledgeable and friendly college advisors—online, 24/7, and completely free. Get 1:1 help brainstorming topics, outlining your essay, revising a draft, or editing grammar.


Writing a strong college admissions essay

Learn about the elements of a solid admissions essay.

Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes

Learn some of the most common mistakes made on college essays

Brainstorming tips for your college essay

Stuck on what to write your college essay about? Here are some exercises to help you get started.

How formal should the tone of your college essay be?

Learn how formal your college essay should be and get tips on how to bring out your natural voice.

Taking your college essay to the next level

Hear an admissions expert discuss the appropriate level of depth necessary in your college essay.

Student Stories


Student Story: Admissions essay about a formative experience

Get the perspective of a current college student on how he approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about personal identity

Get the perspective of a current college student on how she approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about community impact

Student story: admissions essay about a past mistake, how to write a college application essay, tips for writing an effective application essay, sample college essay 1 with feedback, sample college essay 2 with feedback.

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College Essays


If you grow up to be a professional writer, everything you write will first go through an editor before being published. This is because the process of writing is really a process of re-writing —of rethinking and reexamining your work, usually with the help of someone else. So what does this mean for your student writing? And in particular, what does it mean for very important, but nonprofessional writing like your college essay? Should you ask your parents to look at your essay? Pay for an essay service?

If you are wondering what kind of help you can, and should, get with your personal statement, you've come to the right place! In this article, I'll talk about what kind of writing help is useful, ethical, and even expected for your college admission essay . I'll also point out who would make a good editor, what the differences between editing and proofreading are, what to expect from a good editor, and how to spot and stay away from a bad one.

Table of Contents

What Kind of Help for Your Essay Can You Get?

What's Good Editing?

What should an editor do for you, what kind of editing should you avoid, proofreading, what's good proofreading, what kind of proofreading should you avoid.

What Do Colleges Think Of You Getting Help With Your Essay?

Who Can/Should Help You?

Advice for editors.

Should You Pay Money For Essay Editing?

The Bottom Line

What's next, what kind of help with your essay can you get.

Rather than talking in general terms about "help," let's first clarify the two different ways that someone else can improve your writing . There is editing, which is the more intensive kind of assistance that you can use throughout the whole process. And then there's proofreading, which is the last step of really polishing your final product.

Let me go into some more detail about editing and proofreading, and then explain how good editors and proofreaders can help you."

Editing is helping the author (in this case, you) go from a rough draft to a finished work . Editing is the process of asking questions about what you're saying, how you're saying it, and how you're organizing your ideas. But not all editing is good editing . In fact, it's very easy for an editor to cross the line from supportive to overbearing and over-involved.

Ability to clarify assignments. A good editor is usually a good writer, and certainly has to be a good reader. For example, in this case, a good editor should make sure you understand the actual essay prompt you're supposed to be answering.

Open-endedness. Good editing is all about asking questions about your ideas and work, but without providing answers. It's about letting you stick to your story and message, and doesn't alter your point of view.


Think of an editor as a great travel guide. It can show you the many different places your trip could take you. It should explain any parts of the trip that could derail your trip or confuse the traveler. But it never dictates your path, never forces you to go somewhere you don't want to go, and never ignores your interests so that the trip no longer seems like it's your own. So what should good editors do?

Help Brainstorm Topics

Sometimes it's easier to bounce thoughts off of someone else. This doesn't mean that your editor gets to come up with ideas, but they can certainly respond to the various topic options you've come up with. This way, you're less likely to write about the most boring of your ideas, or to write about something that isn't actually important to you.

If you're wondering how to come up with options for your editor to consider, check out our guide to brainstorming topics for your college essay .

Help Revise Your Drafts

Here, your editor can't upset the delicate balance of not intervening too much or too little. It's tricky, but a great way to think about it is to remember: editing is about asking questions, not giving answers .

Revision questions should point out:

  • Places where more detail or more description would help the reader connect with your essay
  • Places where structure and logic don't flow, losing the reader's attention
  • Places where there aren't transitions between paragraphs, confusing the reader
  • Moments where your narrative or the arguments you're making are unclear

But pointing to potential problems is not the same as actually rewriting—editors let authors fix the problems themselves.

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Bad editing is usually very heavy-handed editing. Instead of helping you find your best voice and ideas, a bad editor changes your writing into their own vision.

You may be dealing with a bad editor if they:

  • Add material (examples, descriptions) that doesn't come from you
  • Use a thesaurus to make your college essay sound "more mature"
  • Add meaning or insight to the essay that doesn't come from you
  • Tell you what to say and how to say it
  • Write sentences, phrases, and paragraphs for you
  • Change your voice in the essay so it no longer sounds like it was written by a teenager

Colleges can tell the difference between a 17-year-old's writing and a 50-year-old's writing. Not only that, they have access to your SAT or ACT Writing section, so they can compare your essay to something else you wrote. Writing that's a little more polished is great and expected. But a totally different voice and style will raise questions.

Where's the Line Between Helpful Editing and Unethical Over-Editing?

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether your college essay editor is doing the right thing. Here are some guidelines for staying on the ethical side of the line.

  • An editor should say that the opening paragraph is kind of boring, and explain what exactly is making it drag. But it's overstepping for an editor to tell you exactly how to change it.
  • An editor should point out where your prose is unclear or vague. But it's completely inappropriate for the editor to rewrite that section of your essay.
  • An editor should let you know that a section is light on detail or description. But giving you similes and metaphors to beef up that description is a no-go.


Proofreading (also called copy-editing) is checking for errors in the last draft of a written work. It happens at the end of the process and is meant as the final polishing touch. Proofreading is meticulous and detail-oriented, focusing on small corrections. It sands off all the surface rough spots that could alienate the reader.

Because proofreading is usually concerned with making fixes on the word or sentence level, this is the only process where someone else can actually add to or take away things from your essay . This is because what they are adding or taking away tends to be one or two misplaced letters.

Laser focus. Proofreading is all about the tiny details, so the ability to really concentrate on finding small slip-ups is a must.

Excellent grammar and spelling skills. Proofreaders need to dot every "i" and cross every "t." Good proofreaders should correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. They should put foreign words in italics and surround quotations with quotation marks. They should check that you used the correct college's name, and that you adhered to any formatting requirements (name and date at the top of the page, uniform font and size, uniform spacing).

Limited interference. A proofreader needs to make sure that you followed any word limits. But if cuts need to be made to shorten the essay, that's your job and not the proofreader's.


A bad proofreader either tries to turn into an editor, or just lacks the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job.

Some signs that you're working with a bad proofreader are:

  • If they suggest making major changes to the final draft of your essay. Proofreading happens when editing is already finished.
  • If they aren't particularly good at spelling, or don't know grammar, or aren't detail-oriented enough to find someone else's small mistakes.
  • If they start swapping out your words for fancier-sounding synonyms, or changing the voice and sound of your essay in other ways. A proofreader is there to check for errors, not to take the 17-year-old out of your writing.


What Do Colleges Think of Your Getting Help With Your Essay?

Admissions officers agree: light editing and proofreading are good—even required ! But they also want to make sure you're the one doing the work on your essay. They want essays with stories, voice, and themes that come from you. They want to see work that reflects your actual writing ability, and that focuses on what you find important.

On the Importance of Editing

Get feedback. Have a fresh pair of eyes give you some feedback. Don't allow someone else to rewrite your essay, but do take advantage of others' edits and opinions when they seem helpful. ( Bates College )

Read your essay aloud to someone. Reading the essay out loud offers a chance to hear how your essay sounds outside your head. This exercise reveals flaws in the essay's flow, highlights grammatical errors and helps you ensure that you are communicating the exact message you intended. ( Dickinson College )

On the Value of Proofreading

Share your essays with at least one or two people who know you well—such as a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend—and ask for feedback. Remember that you ultimately have control over your essays, and your essays should retain your own voice, but others may be able to catch mistakes that you missed and help suggest areas to cut if you are over the word limit. ( Yale University )

Proofread and then ask someone else to proofread for you. Although we want substance, we also want to be able to see that you can write a paper for our professors and avoid careless mistakes that would drive them crazy. ( Oberlin College )

On Watching Out for Too Much Outside Influence

Limit the number of people who review your essay. Too much input usually means your voice is lost in the writing style. ( Carleton College )

Ask for input (but not too much). Your parents, friends, guidance counselors, coaches, and teachers are great people to bounce ideas off of for your essay. They know how unique and spectacular you are, and they can help you decide how to articulate it. Keep in mind, however, that a 45-year-old lawyer writes quite differently from an 18-year-old student, so if your dad ends up writing the bulk of your essay, we're probably going to notice. ( Vanderbilt University )


Now let's talk about some potential people to approach for your college essay editing and proofreading needs. It's best to start close to home and slowly expand outward. Not only are your family and friends more invested in your success than strangers, but they also have a better handle on your interests and personality. This knowledge is key for judging whether your essay is expressing your true self.

Parents or Close Relatives

Your family may be full of potentially excellent editors! Parents are deeply committed to your well-being, and family members know you and your life well enough to offer details or incidents that can be included in your essay. On the other hand, the rewriting process necessarily involves criticism, which is sometimes hard to hear from someone very close to you.

A parent or close family member is a great choice for an editor if you can answer "yes" to the following questions. Is your parent or close relative a good writer or reader? Do you have a relationship where editing your essay won't create conflict? Are you able to constructively listen to criticism and suggestion from the parent?

One suggestion for defusing face-to-face discussions is to try working on the essay over email. Send your parent a draft, have them write you back some comments, and then you can pick which of their suggestions you want to use and which to discard.

Teachers or Tutors

A humanities teacher that you have a good relationship with is a great choice. I am purposefully saying humanities, and not just English, because teachers of Philosophy, History, Anthropology, and any other classes where you do a lot of writing, are all used to reviewing student work.

Moreover, any teacher or tutor that has been working with you for some time, knows you very well and can vet the essay to make sure it "sounds like you."

If your teacher or tutor has some experience with what college essays are supposed to be like, ask them to be your editor. If not, then ask whether they have time to proofread your final draft.

Guidance or College Counselor at Your School

The best thing about asking your counselor to edit your work is that this is their job. This means that they have a very good sense of what colleges are looking for in an application essay.

At the same time, school counselors tend to have relationships with admissions officers in many colleges, which again gives them insight into what works and which college is focused on what aspect of the application.

Unfortunately, in many schools the guidance counselor tends to be way overextended. If your ratio is 300 students to 1 college counselor, you're unlikely to get that person's undivided attention and focus. It is still useful to ask them for general advice about your potential topics, but don't expect them to be able to stay with your essay from first draft to final version.

Friends, Siblings, or Classmates

Although they most likely don't have much experience with what colleges are hoping to see, your peers are excellent sources for checking that your essay is you .

Friends and siblings are perfect for the read-aloud edit. Read your essay to them so they can listen for words and phrases that are stilted, pompous, or phrases that just don't sound like you.

You can even trade essays and give helpful advice on each other's work.


If your editor hasn't worked with college admissions essays very much, no worries! Any astute and attentive reader can still greatly help with your process. But, as in all things, beginners do better with some preparation.

First, your editor should read our advice about how to write a college essay introduction , how to spot and fix a bad college essay , and get a sense of what other students have written by going through some admissions essays that worked .

Then, as they read your essay, they can work through the following series of questions that will help them to guide you.

Introduction Questions

  • Is the first sentence a killer opening line? Why or why not?
  • Does the introduction hook the reader? Does it have a colorful, detailed, and interesting narrative? Or does it propose a compelling or surprising idea?
  • Can you feel the author's voice in the introduction, or is the tone dry, dull, or overly formal? Show the places where the voice comes through.

Essay Body Questions

  • Does the essay have a through-line? Is it built around a central argument, thought, idea, or focus? Can you put this idea into your own words?
  • How is the essay organized? By logical progression? Chronologically? Do you feel order when you read it, or are there moments where you are confused or lose the thread of the essay?
  • Does the essay have both narratives about the author's life and explanations and insight into what these stories reveal about the author's character, personality, goals, or dreams? If not, which is missing?
  • Does the essay flow? Are there smooth transitions/clever links between paragraphs? Between the narrative and moments of insight?

Reader Response Questions

  • Does the writer's personality come through? Do we know what the speaker cares about? Do we get a sense of "who he or she is"?
  • Where did you feel most connected to the essay? Which parts of the essay gave you a "you are there" sensation by invoking your senses? What moments could you picture in your head well?
  • Where are the details and examples vague and not specific enough?
  • Did you get an "a-ha!" feeling anywhere in the essay? Is there a moment of insight that connected all the dots for you? Is there a good reveal or "twist" anywhere in the essay?
  • What are the strengths of this essay? What needs the most improvement?


Should You Pay Money for Essay Editing?

One alternative to asking someone you know to help you with your college essay is the paid editor route. There are two different ways to pay for essay help: a private essay coach or a less personal editing service , like the many proliferating on the internet.

My advice is to think of these options as a last resort rather than your go-to first choice. I'll first go through the reasons why. Then, if you do decide to go with a paid editor, I'll help you decide between a coach and a service.

When to Consider a Paid Editor

In general, I think hiring someone to work on your essay makes a lot of sense if none of the people I discussed above are a possibility for you.

If you can't ask your parents. For example, if your parents aren't good writers, or if English isn't their first language. Or if you think getting your parents to help is going create unnecessary extra conflict in your relationship with them (applying to college is stressful as it is!)

If you can't ask your teacher or tutor. Maybe you don't have a trusted teacher or tutor that has time to look over your essay with focus. Or, for instance, your favorite humanities teacher has very limited experience with college essays and so won't know what admissions officers want to see.

If you can't ask your guidance counselor. This could be because your guidance counselor is way overwhelmed with other students.

If you can't share your essay with those who know you. It might be that your essay is on a very personal topic that you're unwilling to share with parents, teachers, or peers. Just make sure it doesn't fall into one of the bad-idea topics in our article on bad college essays .

If the cost isn't a consideration. Many of these services are quite expensive, and private coaches even more so. If you have finite resources, I'd say that hiring an SAT or ACT tutor (whether it's PrepScholar or someone else) is better way to spend your money . This is because there's no guarantee that a slightly better essay will sufficiently elevate the rest of your application, but a significantly higher SAT score will definitely raise your applicant profile much more.

Should You Hire an Essay Coach?

On the plus side, essay coaches have read dozens or even hundreds of college essays, so they have experience with the format. Also, because you'll be working closely with a specific person, it's more personal than sending your essay to a service, which will know even less about you.

But, on the minus side, you'll still be bouncing ideas off of someone who doesn't know that much about you . In general, if you can adequately get the help from someone you know, there is no advantage to paying someone to help you.

If you do decide to hire a coach, ask your school counselor, or older students that have used the service for recommendations. If you can't afford the coach's fees, ask whether they can work on a sliding scale —many do. And finally, beware those who guarantee admission to your school of choice—essay coaches don't have any special magic that can back up those promises.

Should You Send Your Essay to a Service?

On the plus side, essay editing services provide a similar product to essay coaches, and they cost significantly less . If you have some assurance that you'll be working with a good editor, the lack of face-to-face interaction won't prevent great results.

On the minus side, however, it can be difficult to gauge the quality of the service before working with them . If they are churning through many application essays without getting to know the students they are helping, you could end up with an over-edited essay that sounds just like everyone else's. In the worst case scenario, an unscrupulous service could send you back a plagiarized essay.

Getting recommendations from friends or a school counselor for reputable services is key to avoiding heavy-handed editing that writes essays for you or does too much to change your essay. Including a badly-edited essay like this in your application could cause problems if there are inconsistencies. For example, in interviews it might be clear you didn't write the essay, or the skill of the essay might not be reflected in your schoolwork and test scores.

Should You Buy an Essay Written by Someone Else?

Let me elaborate. There are super sketchy places on the internet where you can simply buy a pre-written essay. Don't do this!

For one thing, you'll be lying on an official, signed document. All college applications make you sign a statement saying something like this:

I certify that all information submitted in the admission process—including the application, the personal essay, any supplements, and any other supporting materials—is my own work, factually true, and honestly presented... I understand that I may be subject to a range of possible disciplinary actions, including admission revocation, expulsion, or revocation of course credit, grades, and degree, should the information I have certified be false. (From the Common Application )

For another thing, if your academic record doesn't match the essay's quality, the admissions officer will start thinking your whole application is riddled with lies.

Admission officers have full access to your writing portion of the SAT or ACT so that they can compare work that was done in proctored conditions with that done at home. They can tell if these were written by different people. Not only that, but there are now a number of search engines that faculty and admission officers can use to see if an essay contains strings of words that have appeared in other essays—you have no guarantee that the essay you bought wasn't also bought by 50 other students.


  • You should get college essay help with both editing and proofreading
  • A good editor will ask questions about your idea, logic, and structure, and will point out places where clarity is needed
  • A good editor will absolutely not answer these questions, give you their own ideas, or write the essay or parts of the essay for you
  • A good proofreader will find typos and check your formatting
  • All of them agree that getting light editing and proofreading is necessary
  • Parents, teachers, guidance or college counselor, and peers or siblings
  • If you can't ask any of those, you can pay for college essay help, but watch out for services or coaches who over-edit you work
  • Don't buy a pre-written essay! Colleges can tell, and it'll make your whole application sound false.

Ready to start working on your essay? Check out our explanation of the point of the personal essay and the role it plays on your applications and then explore our step-by-step guide to writing a great college essay .

Using the Common Application for your college applications? We have an excellent guide to the Common App essay prompts and useful advice on how to pick the Common App prompt that's right for you . Wondering how other people tackled these prompts? Then work through our roundup of over 130 real college essay examples published by colleges .

Stressed about whether to take the SAT again before submitting your application? Let us help you decide how many times to take this test . If you choose to go for it, we have the ultimate guide to studying for the SAT to give you the ins and outs of the best ways to study.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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Your Best College Essay

Maybe you love to write, or maybe you don’t. Either way, there’s a chance that the thought of writing your college essay is making you sweat. No need for nerves! We’re here to give you the important details on how to make the process as anxiety-free as possible.

student's hands typing on a laptop in class

What's the College Essay?

When we say “The College Essay” (capitalization for emphasis – say it out loud with the capitals and you’ll know what we mean) we’re talking about the 550-650 word essay required by most colleges and universities. Prompts for this essay can be found on the college’s website, the Common Application, or the Coalition Application. We’re not talking about the many smaller supplemental essays you might need to write in order to apply to college. Not all institutions require the essay, but most colleges and universities that are at least semi-selective do.

How do I get started?

Look for the prompts on whatever application you’re using to apply to schools (almost all of the time – with a few notable exceptions – this is the Common Application). If one of them calls out to you, awesome! You can jump right in and start to brainstorm. If none of them are giving you the right vibes, don’t worry. They’re so broad that almost anything you write can fit into one of the prompts after you’re done. Working backwards like this is totally fine and can be really useful!

What if I have writer's block?

You aren’t alone. Staring at a blank Google Doc and thinking about how this is the one chance to tell an admissions officer your story can make you freeze. Thinking about some of these questions might help you find the right topic:

  • What is something about you that people have pointed out as distinctive?
  • If you had to pick three words to describe yourself, what would they be? What are things you’ve done that demonstrate these qualities?
  • What’s something about you that has changed over your years in high school? How or why did it change?
  • What’s something you like most about yourself?
  • What’s something you love so much that you lose track of the rest of the world while you do it?

If you’re still stuck on a topic, ask your family members, friends, or other trusted adults: what’s something they always think about when they think about you? What’s something they think you should be proud of? They might help you find something about yourself that you wouldn’t have surfaced on your own.  

How do I grab my reader's attention?

It’s no secret that admissions officers are reading dozens – and sometimes hundreds – of essays every day. That can feel like a lot of pressure to stand out. But if you try to write the most unique essay in the world, it might end up seeming forced if it’s not genuinely you. So, what’s there to do? Our advice: start your essay with a story. Tell the reader about something you’ve done, complete with sensory details, and maybe even dialogue. Then, in the second paragraph, back up and tell us why this story is important and what it tells them about you and the theme of the essay.


Don’t! Don’t try to tell an admissions officer about everything you’ve loved and done since you were a child. Instead, pick one or two things about yourself that you’re hoping to get across and stick to those. They’ll see the rest on the activities section of your application.


If you can’t think of another way to end the essay, talk about how the qualities you’ve discussed in your essays have prepared you for college. Try to wrap up with a sentence that refers back to the story you told in your first paragraph, if you took that route.


YES, proofread the essay, and have a trusted adult proofread it as well. Know that any suggestions they give you are coming from a good place, but make sure they aren’t writing your essay for you or putting it into their own voice. Admissions officers want to hear the voice of you, the applicant. Before you submit your essay anywhere, our number one advice is to read it out loud to yourself. When you read out loud you’ll catch small errors you may not have noticed before, and hear sentences that aren’t quite right.


Be yourself. If you’re not a naturally serious person, don’t force formality. If you’re the comedian in your friend group, go ahead and be funny. But ultimately, write as your authentic (and grammatically correct) self and trust the process.

And remember, thousands of other students your age are faced with this same essay writing task, right now. You can do it!

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Essay Extender for Students

Have you ever struggled to reach the specific word count while writing an essay? Our online essay extender can help you get the desired word count with just a few simple steps. All you have to do is:

  • Copy and paste your essay.
  • Choose how many words you need in your paper.
  • Click the "Extend" button.

💎 5 Key Advantages of the Essay Extender

🙋 when to use the ai essay extender, 📜 essay extender free examples, 🖇️ essay word extender tips, 🔗 references.

Our essay word extender offers a range of benefits that can enhance your writing experience. Here are some of them:

With its user-friendly interface, our online essay extender can assist you in various ways. Check out these ideas on how you can use the tool.

1. To Increase the Word Count

One of the most common uses of our essay extender is to increase an essay's word count. You add words to the entire text or a specific part, for example, introduction, conclusion, or body paragraphs. This gives you more control over where you want to expand an essay and helps you tailor the extension to the academic requirements .

Our tool adds words without compromising the quality of their writing. Since it uses advanced AI algorithms, it extends the text while maintaining the coherence and flow of the original content.

2. To Add a New Part

AI essay extender can also help you add a new part to your essay. For example, if you have already written the introduction and body paragraphs but are struggling with the conclusion, our tool can generate it.

Similarly, if you need to add a new body paragraph to support your argument , our essay extender can generate a paragraph based on your prompt. This feature is particularly useful when you are short on time and need to complete your essay quickly.

3. To Get New Ideas

Sometimes, you only need a fresh perspective to improve your writing. Our essay extender can generate unique ideas by developing a body paragraph on any topic. This feature is helpful for those who are stuck with their writing and need some inspiration to continue. You can use this generated paragraph as a starting point and further develop it according to your ideas and arguments.

Wanna see how essay extender generator works in practice? Let's try it together. Imagine you're writing an argumentative essay on "Should all internships be paid?" We'll use our tool to add some words to a body paragraph and then develop an effective introduction.

All internships should be paid for the simple fact that interns are providing valuable work and skills to the company. It is unfair to expect young workers, who are often already struggling with student debt, to work for free. Interns are not just shadowing or observing; they actively contribute to the company's operations and success. By not compensating them, companies are perpetuating a cycle of unpaid labor and exploiting the enthusiasm and eagerness of young workers. Furthermore, paying interns shows that their time and contributions are valued, allowing them to gain practical experience without financial strain.

All internships should be paid for the simple fact that interns are providing valuable work and skills to the company. It is unfair to expect young workers, who are often already struggling with student debt, to work for free. Interns are not just shadowing or observing; they actively contribute to the company's operations and success. For example, a student who is completing an unpaid internship at a marketing firm may be responsible for creating social media content, conducting market research, and assisting with client meetings. These tasks require time, effort, and skills, and the intern should be compensated for their contributions. By not compensating them, companies are perpetuating a cycle of unpaid labor and exploiting the enthusiasm and eagerness of young workers. Moreover, unpaid internships often come with hidden costs that can be a significant burden for students. For instance, a student interning in a different city may have to cover transportation, housing, and other expenses on top of working for free. Furthermore, paying interns shows that their time and contributions are valued, allowing them to gain practical experience without financial strain. Companies should recognize the contributions interns bring to their organization and compensate them accordingly for their hard work.

Internships have become a common way for students to gain practical experience and valuable skills in their chosen field. However, the issue of whether these internships should be paid or not has sparked a debate. While some argue that unpaid internships provide valuable learning opportunities, others believe that all internships should be paid to ensure fair treatment of young workers. In this essay, we will explore why all internships should be paid, including the value that interns bring to organizations and the hidden costs of unpaid internships.

Check out these helpful tips to work on your academic writing skills and extend an essay manually.

  • Expand your arguments . Instead of simply stating your point, provide more detailed examples to support your ideas.
  • Use transitional phrases . Transition phrases such as "in addition," "furthermore," and "moreover" can help you connect your ideas and add more depth to your essay.
  • Include relevant statistics and data . Adding statistics and data from reliable sources can boost the credibility of your essay and help you expand your arguments.
  • Incorporate quotes . Including quotes from experts or authoritative individuals adds depth and weight to your essay.
  • Provide background information . If you feel that certain concepts need more explanation, you can provide background information to help the reader better understand your points.

Remember, when expanding on your arguments, it is essential to do so smartly. This means providing detailed explanations and relevant examples that add length to your essay and strengthen your points.

❓ Essay Extender FAQ

Updated: Apr 12th, 2024

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On this page, you can find a free essay extender for students. With the help of this tool, you can increase the word count of any text – paste it into the related field and add the necessary details. The essay extender can add particular paragraphs or double your words in two clicks! Don’t miss the helpful tips and examples of text expansion.

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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

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Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

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A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

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Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 


  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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Essay on My Self for Students and Children

500+ words essay on my self.

Seven billion people are on this Earth, and everybody is different from the rest of others. There is nothing without purpose in this world. Everything has some purpose. Humans are the best creation, and each person is exclusive. Thus, writing about myself, I’m here to express myself that what I see, what I experience and what I plan for my life. I try myself to be modest, passionate, devoted, hardworking and honest.

essay on my self

My Family and My Childhood

I’m from a middle-class family of Bihar, I am Naresh Shukla. Nobody comes in this world, without the support of family and friends. Actually, whatever you will be, it is just because of your family. My father is a respectable businessman in our community.

My mother is a doctor. They both love their occupation. That’s I have learned from my parents the value of time, honesty, hard work and commitment to the purpose.

We are three brothers and sisters. Being the eldest I am the most liable from my brothers and sisters. I am wanted to guide and take care of my other siblings. We all are in the same school. Reading is my passion.

I am a keen reader of novels and history books as I have a strong interest in Indian History and classical architecture. I love to read books that refer to the rich history and civilization of ancient India.  At my pre-childhood, I used to listen to stories from my grandmother, and this has a long-lasting effect on me.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

My Education

I am studying at the best school in my city. I am presently in class 10th. I feel happy to be a part of this great school with the good friends, helpful and loving teacher and sound school administration. I have extraordinary skills in some subjects whereas I am very weak in the few.

My Strengths

In compare to studies, I am good at sports. so I am the captain of my class football team. I am the best football player at my school. Besides this, I am a fast runner also and I love athletics. I am in expert swimming.

The advice of my parents had a keen effect on my habits. I believe to speak the truth and try my best not to lie. My parents always advised me that if I commit a mistake, I should admit it. I try my best to do so. I know how to remain happy in every condition. Because I believe that: “Happiness is not out there; it’s in you.”

I am a very adventurous person too and like to take the risk. I like to do a creative thing besides doing old stuff again and again. Learning new things is one thing which I always enjoy. I always update myself with the news.

Along with this, I fond of reading a few children magazines in which different motivational stories are there. They taught me a high moral lesson. I am a very confident person and know how to talk. I always try to speak to every person according to his requirement so I understand people.

My Weaknesses

As every man have weaknesses, so have also. I am a little bit lazy at some places which I do not like. While playing time, I pass my lot of time there which is not a good habi t, but I try my best to overcome my weaknesses.

My Ambitions in Life

Everybody has an ambition in life . Aim or ambition is the inner aspiration of man. No man can do anything in the world without aim. So, all of us should be very determined about our aim in life.

Without good career planning, right from the start, one can’t be on the right track. One has to set the goals in accordance with his or her broad career goals.

I have studied biology and I will seat for the competitive entrance exam for admission to reputed medical college. I shall try to be a good and honest student. Then I shall be a qualified doctor. I will do all that to be a good doctor and will be sincere to it.

These are all the things which express me. Though nobody can be described in a few sets of sentences. One needs to have yet command of oneself before going to write something about his life. Life is meant to be lived avidly and with visualization to do good for your fellow beings. Keeping this aim in mind, I have always desired to serve my people in whatever capacity I can.

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LAFCU essay winners: How my environment molded me into the person I am today

Here are the four winners of LAFCU's Write to Educate essay contest. The students were tasked with answering this question: How has the place you have grown up molded you into the person you are today and impacted your life?

The winners each received a $5,000 college scholarship and another $500 was donated to each winner's designated charity.

My community shaped and expanded my worldview

Nature vs Nurture. How much does the environment a person is placed into have an effect on their character versus how they were born?

I have contemplated this question many times when it comes to myself and how much I have allowed myself to be changed by the people around me. From a young age I have always had a strong sense of self. I have known who I am and what I need to do to accomplish my goals of becoming smarter and stronger. I have had little care for the judgments from my peers.

This has been an asset because it has allowed me to reach heights beyond what I thought was possible but that does not mean I always know my path forward. That doesn’t mean I have not changed. As much as I, and every other human on the planet, resists change, it is impossible to grow without changing.

Becoming older means expanding one’s view of the world from a simplified version to a messy one. A world full of complexity and inconsistency which each and every one of us must navigate and find our own path through the shroud known as our future. The community that I have grown up with are my paddles allowing me to navigate the treacherous river, giving me advice and a wider world view of things I never thought existed.

My morality is the first thing that was shaped by my community. Every person has the basics of morality sewn into them from birth but when it comes to more complicated situations, my community has changed my view.

My younger self was much more cut and dry where I would label something as wrong no matter what, with no exception. My community has taught me to view these situations with more context to make more informed decisions.

For example, a kid beats another kid because he was being bullied by him. My old self would say the kid who got into the fight should be punished because he laid his hands on another person and should have taken other outlets to resolve the problem. The way I see it now is that even though his decision was wrong to hurt the other kid, no one was able to stop the bully from bullying him and the system itself has failed the kid by allowing the bullying to happen. I have no wish for anyone to get hurt, but I see that situation as much more nuanced than I once did.

These ideas have been shaped by my own experiences and by the people around me who have been put into tough situations. I have learned from the diverse community around me that the choices people make are rarely simple ones.

My political views have also been shaped by my community. I am growing up in a community that largely has different political views from my own. Having different people to communicate with that have grown up in ways different from my own, has allowed me to find where I stand on certain issues.

Within my community I have been able to find people that I respect, and I take note of the things they believe and challenge their ideas versus my own. Even if in the end our ideas of how the world should be run may differ, I have been able to find common ground with tons of people and I have been able to refine my views into a more well-rounded, multi-faceted, diverse view of the world.

My community is full of people from all different races and cultures, and by combining perspectives from all those different people, we can find a way to have a more united world with the basic necessity of finding common ground and understanding which can unite us all. Where I have grown up has shaped the way I think and how I act. Even though I have always had a strong sense of self, there are parts of my personality that have been changed and molded by my experiences, and my community has influenced the way that I view different situations. Without my community I would not be as accepting and open-minded as I am today.

— Antonio Rojas of East Lansing High School is headed to the University of Michigan. Chosen charity: Cristo Rey Community Center

Lansing Hmong community encouraged my success

Many things in life are taken for granted. During my childhood, I was very active in the Hmong Lansing community. The community would occasionally hold multiple annual events for gatherings. I would meet many new people there and hear their stories, advice or opinions on life. The younger me at the time didn’t know what to take from these experiences and failed to appreciate these moments.

As I matured, I understood what these opportunities meant when I grew around the community. It was the experience of learning from others. The learning experiences growing up in the Hmong Lansing community have molded me to become a person of ambitions, someone who gives back, and the love of cooking for others.

In the Hmong community, the place has molded me into a person of ambitions. I am a first-generation Asian American coming from Hmong immigrants. My parents came to America for a better opportunity. Within my community, most do not have a college education. People from the Hmong community had to adjust to the culture, language, and way of life in America. Born in America, I adjusted to the culture there easily compared to my community.

I felt the need to carry their dreams of being successful. I wanted to take the opportunity that wasn’t given to my community and achieve greater heights. I want to strive for success within the Hmong community.I have grown into a person who gives back to their community. I can always remember the events that brought the community together all over Michigan. It was a yearly cultural event called the Lansing Hmong New Year. It was an event of celebration, bonding, and opportunity to connect with others. I wanted to help continue thisongoing tradition. I started doing community service to involve myself.

Even though it may not have been much, I felt a sense of accomplishment in giving back to the community. Seeing the joy of others is what truly motivates me to give back to my community.

The place I had grown up in created a love for cooking. I vividly remember the times when my parents would have a barbecue for various occasions for the community. I would always ask my dad to teach me how to grill. It was until one particular day that pestering led my dad to teach me how to grill. It was my brother’s graduation event.

Graduation from high school was important in the Hmong community; it was the time for people to gather for the success of one’s education. My dad guided me in the process of grilling until he thought I was ready by myself. I took my first step in grilling, and it was a success. People in the community for my brother’s graduation thought my cooking was delicious. I was filled with joy and pride. I liked having that feeling and having others enjoy what I make. Learning that skill gave me a passion for cooking for others.

Throughout my life in the Hmong Lansing community, it has taught me many valuable lessons in life. Whether it was basic knowledge or insights, these life lessons were appreciated. Without the love, guidance, and support from the community, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am now. The Hmong Lansing community holds a special place in my heart.

— Elvis Vue of Waverly High School will attend Ferris State University. Chosen charity: Hmong Family Association

Rural upbringing influenced my career choice

Did you know that rural students are now officially recognized as an under-represented group in colleges?

For decades, rural students have faced unique barriers in getting into the best colleges, but in recent years, people have started to realize that the lack of rural representation in academia is a problem. From my own experiences growing up in a small, rural town, I have gained skills vital to my future career as a plasma physicist, allowing me to collaborate with my peers in the scientific community to better the world.

One of the key things that Napoleon has offered me is a close-knit community, which has given me social skills that I would not otherwise have, allowing me to effectively collaborate with others when the time comes to work as a group. These skills will serve me well in my future career, where I will be collaborating with scientists both in my own field and related disciplines.

As a smaller, rural school district, Napoleon had not always had the resources of larger schools. Despite this, my teachers have helped me to develop creative ways to solve problems when not all the tools are available, allowing me to effectively function in situations where I do not have the same opportunities as other students.

For instance, though my school doesn’t offer advanced physics education, I was able to seek out opportunities like the Academically Talented Youth Program at Western Michigan University or Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation (PING) at Michigan State University, which allowed me to gain knowledge I would not otherwise have, and I was supported in this endeavor by my school.

As a student in ATYP, I had to leave school early once a week in order to gain an accelerated honors education in English − not only was my school able to accommodate my periodic absences, they were also willing to accept my ATYP credits in lieu of the school’s English classes. This flexibility let me have more time at school to pursue other modes of education such as dual enrollment.

Similarly, my upbringing in a more rural area has given me a perspective on the world and how it works that is beyond what my more urban peers are familiar with. Growing up in a forest, I have always been surrounded by nature, and I have a deep love for the woods around my home. This has spurred my intention to enter the field of plasma physics, where I can make a difference by working towards the end goal of nuclear fusion energy, a clean and safe source of electricity that will keep the woodlands I have loved safe for centuries to come.

Already, I am able to apply this perspective to the community around me. In my role for the Jackson Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee, I have had an incredible opportunity to serve as a mediator, helping to resolve issues that occur in my group of students working towards a better future for the youth of Jackson County.

— Thomas Hays of Napolean High School will attend Michigan State University. Chosen charity: Jackson Community Foundation

Success comes from overcoming rural limitations

Livingston County has always been my home. Despite continuing development, the area where I live remains rural. Growing up in a rural area is equal parts wonderful and frustrating. Rural means fewer people per square mile with smaller communities and less diversity.

My school is not known in the area for its diversity. There is not much variety when it comes to everything from what grocery store your family shops at to what school you attend.

My education has been limited by my rural community because my school has fewer class selections and availability. For example, both last year and this year I signed up to take classes (AP English Literature and Pre-Calculus) my school offers but I was unable to attend these classes because the only availability conflicted with my other classes. To combat this struggle, I committed to learning these classes online through a virtual education platform with whom my school partners.

One of my other choices, AP biology, did not have enough student interest to schedule the class and I had to change selections. This has been a limiting challenge for me as well as other students in my district. To broaden options, many students participate in dual enrollment classes with community colleges in the area. Limited variety and availability has encouraged me to stretch my idea of traditional school to take the classes that will help shape my future.

Activities like archery and horseback riding are local to me. I attended horse camp at age 6 and have been involved with horses ever since. Currently I am a member of my school’s equestrian team and own my own horse, Gingersnap. Horsemanship has taught me selflessness, hard work, responsibility, and perseverance. Without access to local barns and camps I would have missed out on developing important life skills.

My school’s archery team was started by another student in my grade who had a passion for archery, the outdoors, and hunting. I joined immediately. In addition to memories and friendships, archery has taught me how to set and achieve realistic goals, that practice makes progress, and teamwork. I am grateful for my community being in an area that supports and fosters growth in clubs such as these.

Despite the lack of variety, I strive for excellence in every opportunity to reach my full potential. My classmates and l help encourage each other in many areas from academics to sports and clubs. A friend of mine created the Environmental Club, of which I was a member, to help promote recycling and decrease wastefulness. She also created Students for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Our club not only recognizes diversity but we find solutions to problems in our community every day. We spread awareness at school through bulletin boards displaying achievements by a variety of groups in hopes to foster change and inspire others in our community and the world beyond.

With a smaller school population, there is less diversity but we do have an inclusive program called Peer to Peer. Neurotypical students are paired with neurodivergent students (called “links”) to assist them with participation and making friends. These “links” are often the only friendships these students have at school. I helped encourage my “link” to communicate with me by starting conversations, asking questions, and playing games.

Our school is small enough that our Peer to Peer class was able to meet and play Braille Uno during lunch. The more intimate setting including our whole group may not be possible in a larger district. While we may not have the diversity of a larger school, I embrace any available opportunities to learn about others.

I would not trade growing up in a rural area as I feel I made the most of my opportunities and developed skills that will support my transition to a larger college community and beyond.

— Vivian Hansen of Pinckney High School will attend Eastern Michigan University. Chosen charity: Bountiful Harvest Pantry

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Ex-Goldman Sachs VP rips bank’s ‘man’s world’ culture: ‘I played golf, talked football, and cried in bathroom’

A former vice president at Goldman Sachs said she left a six-figure job at the Wall Street giant two years ago to become a novelist because of its “man’s world” culture that left female employees “not feeling valued.”

Lindsay MacMillan, who worked at the bank’s marketing department where she rose to become a VP, wrote that she cut short a promising career after six years at Goldman because she felt the need to “keep my feminine side tucked away” being one of the few women in her division.

She said that her grueling 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily schedule and long hours on weekends was dictated by “whatever the male leadership pushed,” according to her essay in Business Insider.

“Under my desk, I would keep a pair of black pumps that I called my ‘Hollywood heels,'” she wrote. “When I put them on every morning, I channeled a thick-skinned character who thrived in a man’s world.”

Being the only woman on a team of 20 investors, MacMillan wrote that she “had to mimic the masculine way to succeed.”

“I wore a pantsuit and muted my personality,” MacMillan wrote, mentioning the recent exodus of high-ranking women from Goldman as well as a $215 million class action settlement over claims that female staffers suffered gender pay discrimination as well as sexual harassment.

“I played golf, talked football, and cried in the bathroom stall so I wouldn’t be seen shedding tears at my desk,” MacMillan wrote.

When MacMillan used exclamation points in her emails, she was told to stop, according to her essay.

“My out-of-the-box ideas were discouraged,” she wrote.

When MacMillan baked cookies and brought them into the office for co-workers, she said she was admonished that she “should have been building financial models instead of baking.”

MacMillan wrote that when she posted poetry on her Instagram account, she was the recipient of “negative comments” from colleagues “about how emotional the poems were.”

Despite reaching the rank of vice president at the age of 28, MacMillan wrote that she was “burned out — not from the work itself but from the parts of me I had to dim along the way.”

“The internal balancing act pushed me out,” she wrote.

The Post has sought comment from MacMillan and Goldman Sachs.

After Business Insider published the story on its web site on Tuesday, MacMillan wrote on LinkedIn that the publication’s editors “slapped a sensational headline” on her essay “without my permission” that included a subtitle claiming, “the ‘boys only’ culture drove me out.”

“Not only did I not write these words, but I made clear that the headline needed to be about CELEBRATING women, not bashing men,” MacMillan wrote on LinkedIn.

She accused Business Insider of having “disregarded my input” and “scrapped the many headlines I sent through in favor of a click-baity one that misrepresents the article.”

“It’s pretty simple — if it’s our name on the byline, then give us final approval of the headline,” she wrote.

“Otherwise you’re just exploiting us.”

The Post has sought comment from Business Insider.

In November 2022, MacMillan published another essay in Business Insider which appears to contradict some of the claims she made in her latest submission.

In Tuesday’s essay, MacMillan claimed to have been forced to work a “7 a.m. to 10 p.m.” schedule by her male superiors.

But two years ago she wrote that she had “an uncommonly good work-life balance for Wall Street” during which she was “logging only about fifty hours a week.”

MacMillan also wrote in 2022 that she was not unhappy at Goldman.

“It would’ve been easier to leave Goldman if I’d been miserable and working hundred-hour weeks, per the stereotypes,” MacMillan wrote back then. “But I wasn’t.”

MacMillan added that she “didn’t hate my job by any means” and that she found the work “intellectually stimulating.”

She gushed over the fact that she “met wonderful mentors and friends” while “learn[ing] about the business world from the best of the best.”

“I just loved writing so much that I couldn’t justify keeping it as a side hobby any longer,” MacMillan wrote at the time.

The Post has sought clarifications from MacMillan.

Ex-Goldman Sachs VP rips bank’s ‘man’s world’ culture: ‘I played golf, talked football, and cried in bathroom’

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Guest Essay

Men Fear Me, Society Shames Me, and I Love My Life

A photo illustration of a woman on a beach facing a sunset. The sun’s reflected light is seen through her silhouette.

By Glynnis MacNicol

Ms. MacNicol is a writer, podcast host, and author of the forthcoming memoir “I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself.”

I was once told that the challenge of making successful feminist porn is that the thing women desire most is freedom.

If that’s the case, one might consider my life over the past few years to be extremely pornographic — even without all the actual sex that occurred. It definitely has the makings of a fantasy, if we allowed for fantasies starring single, childless women on the brink of turning 50.

It’s not just in enjoying my age that I’m defying expectations. It’s that I’ve exempted myself from the central things we’re told gives a woman’s life meaning — partnership and parenting. I’ve discovered that despite all the warnings, I regret none of those choices.

Indeed, I am enjoying them immensely. Instead of my prospects diminishing, as nearly every message that gets sent my way promises they will — fewer relationships, less excitement, less sex, less visibility — I find them widening. The world is more available to me than it’s ever been.

Saying so should not be radical in 2024, and yet, somehow it feels that way. We live in a world whose power structures continue to benefit from women staying in place. In fact, we’re currently experiencing the latest backlash against the meager feminist gains of the past half-century. My story — and those of the other women in similar shoes — shows that there are other, fulfilling ways to live.

It is disconcerting to enjoy oneself so much when there is so much to assure you to expect the opposite, just as it is strange to feel so good against a backdrop of so much terribleness in the world. But with age (hopefully) comes clarity.

Fifty is a milestone. And the fact my 50th birthday lands on or around some other significant 50ths has brought some things into focus. Last year was the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This year is the 50th of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which may be less well known but remains significant: It allowed women for the first time to have bank accounts and credit cards in their own name, not needing a male signature.

That my birth date landed between the passing of these two landmark laws makes it easier for me to see that the life I’m living is a result of women having authority over both their bodies and their finances. I represent a cohort of women who lead lives that do not require us to ask permission, nor seek approval. I have availed myself of all the choices available to me, and while the results come with their own set of risks, they have been enormously satisfying.

The timing of my birthday also helps me see the violent rollback of women’s rights happening right now as a response to the independence these legal rights afforded women. Forget about the horror of being alone and middle-aged — there is nothing more terrifying to a patriarchal society than a woman who is free. That she might be having a better time without permission or supervision is downright insufferable.

My entry into middle age certainly had the makings of an unpleasant story.

Like many, I spent the early months of the pandemic by myself. It was the type of solitary confinement that popular science, and certain men with platforms, enjoy reminding us will be the terrible future that awaits a woman who remains single for too long. I went untouched by anyone. Unsmelled, too, which you might think is a strange thing to note, but it’s an even stranger thing to experience. Unseen except by the building exterminator and the remaining doormen of the Upper West Side who gave distant friendly greetings on my evening walks around Covid-empty New York.

Alone, unmarried, childless, past my so-called prime. A caricature, culture would have it, a fringe identity; a tragedy or a punchline, depending on your preference. At the very least a cautionary tale.

By August 2021, I was desperate — not for partnership but for connection. I bought a ticket to Paris, a place where I’d spent much of my free time before the pandemic and where I had a group of friends.

Paris, I reminded myself, prioritizes pleasure. I dove in. Cheese, wine, friendships, sex — and repeat.

At first it was shocking. I was ill prepared to get what I wanted, what it seemed I had summoned. There were moments when I wondered whether I should be ashamed. I had also never felt so free and so fully myself. I felt no shame or guilt, only the thrill that came with the knowledge I was exercising my freedom.

These days, generally speaking, there is little in cinema or literature, let alone the online world, to suggest that when you are a woman alone (forget about a middle-aged woman), things will go your way, as I have often experienced.

There have been better times. In the 1980s, sitcoms were stacked with starring women for whom men were a minor-character concern — “Designing Women,” “Murphy Brown,” “The Golden Girls” — all of which, if they premiered today (and that’s a big if), would feel radical. Later there was Girlfriends. Even “Sex and the City,” with its often regressive marriage plotting, remains surprisingly modern in its depictions of adult friendship and sexual mores. In each case, just as it looked as if these narratives might begin to fully take root in the real world, the women largely went back inside (or into body bags, in the case of many “Law & Order” plotlines). By the early aughts we were housewives again, real and imagined.

I suspect that a lot of this backlash is connected to the terror that men experienced at discovering that they are less necessary to women’s fulfillment than centuries of laws and stories have allowed them to believe. That terror is abundantly apparent today: From Harrison Butker’s commencement speech suggesting that women may find more fulfillment in marriage and children than in having a career, to the Supreme Court once again debating access to abortion to the push to rollback no-fault divorce laws: All are efforts to return women to a place where others can manage their access to … well, just about everything.

It’s in this light that my enjoyment begins to feel radical. Come fly with me. There’s no fear here.

Glynnis MacNicol is a writer, podcast host, and author of the forthcoming memoir “I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself.”

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My son is profoundly autistic. Please don’t say he’s merely ‘neurodiverse.’

Advocates are fighting to eliminate terminology that accurately describes my son and thousands of people like him — who can’t speak up for themselves..

my essay in

I t was pure coincidence that I happened upon the bloody site. Hoping to surprise my son, I drove to his favorite walking trail, along a lakefront, where I caught sight of police officers in a tense confrontation. Three officers stood side by side in an impenetrable wall while instructing someone splayed out and writhing on the ground. I hope Zack doesn’t get distracted by this scene , I thought.

As I neared the trail, I saw Zack’s aide, slouched inside her car, fully absorbed in texting. She was supposed to remain beside him at all times, but he was not with her. I called out to her, “Where’s Zack?” as my throat tightened with the realization he was nowhere in sight. I began sprinting toward the police officers — only to discover with mounting horror that Zack was the scene they were dealing with.

He was ravaging his forearms with deep, mutilating bites, thrashing angrily on the ground, and then rising to charge at the officers, who patiently but sternly reminded him to “stay seated” and repeated “Don’t panic, you’re not in trouble.” Breaking into the scene, I began a frantic avalanche of contrition. “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what triggered this —” But I was abruptly cut off by an officer who stated calmly, “Yes, we understand who he is and that he’s petrified.”

Somewhere during his sojourn along the lake, Zack, who was 20 years old at the time, had abruptly sat down too close to a woman seated on a bench, who gingerly told him to put on a COVID mask — and Zack bit her on the shoulder for what he perceived as a reprimand. The woman immediately summoned the police, not in anger but in compassion, realizing this young man was seriously disabled and apparently unattended.


“He’s not in trouble, the woman’s not pressing charges,” the officer assured me. “We’ve been trying to get him to recount a phone number of someone we could contact —” He halted, spying a robust purple bruise on my calf and deep bite marks encrusted with dried blood along my arms. His tone turned solemn. “I can only imagine what you’ve been through. I do understand.”

I stood in stunned silence. I was not prepared for them to be prepared. It had been 45 minutes since they first gathered around Zack with no identifying information, 45 minutes during which his very safety hinged not only on the instincts of a benevolent stranger whom he assaulted but on a shared understanding by all involved of his clinical identity — that Zack is profoundly autistic.

Zack in 2023.

What’s remarkable about Zack’s behavior is how unremarkable it is. Autism has been on an inexplicable rise with no signs of a plateau. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in every 36 children born today has autism, and 1 in every 4 of those will have “profound autism,” a clinical distinction for those with much higher needs than the more verbally and intellectually able people who also have an autism diagnosis. Individuals like Zack with profound autism have minimal or no expressive language and require round-the-clock care to assist with daily living activities and safeguard them from extreme behaviors such as self-injury, the destruction of property, and “elopement” — the term for running or wandering away from caregivers or secure locations.

But while parents like me struggle to manage our children’s dangerous impulses, a powerful cultural movement has taken hold that forbids open discussion of profound autism and its manifestations. Advocates for “neurodiversity” are seeking to eliminate the term “profound autism” — on the grounds, they say, that it makes it seem as if autism is always an affliction. And now they are bullying doctors, researchers, lawmakers, and the rest of society into ignoring truths about Zack’s disorder that define his life.

Sanitizing Zack’s diagnosis and intense needs is dangerous. That day out on the lakefront trail, my son’s safety turned on the officers’ ability to decode from his conspicuous behaviors that he has profound autism in particular. They told me they realized that Zack’s refusal to identify himself to them despite repeated requests stemmed from an inability to articulate salient information in a moment of acute stress. They employed a measured response to his rage by speaking in succinct, assertive phrases, repeating reassurances, and maintaining a physical distance. If they hadn’t had such precise training , which depends on recognizing precise clinical criteria rather than employing general descriptors such as “neurodiverse,” the scenario could have gone very differently — with his arrest, forcible restraint, and even suffocation and death.

The intimidation campaign

I embrace many of neurodiversity’s fundamental tenets, especially the idea that people with intellectual disabilities should be broadly accepted and included in society.

I’ve staked my career on this principle — I used to work in the US Department of Justice as a disability rights attorney. I witnessed firsthand the exclusion of people with physical and cognitive disabilities from the rituals of daily life most other people take for granted. And I believe parents and professionals must aspire to discern a child’s authentic needs rather than superimpose our own preferences on them or force them into compliant molds of “normal.” Our children do not need to be “typical” to thrive in a society designed for its vast majority, nor is that an attainable goal.

But the concept of neurodiversity is going into dangerous territory if diagnostic distinctions across the spectrum are now considered archaic and bigoted.

In 2021, the medical journal The Lancet published a report from a commission of worldwide medical experts who recognized the need for “profound autism” as a discrete diagnostic category. The backlash was swift and mighty.

Autistic self-advocates launched a virulent campaign to quash the term, arguing that it had arisen, in the words of self-advocate Julia Bascom , “because some parents . . . see their kids as needing different kinds of support and different levels of restriction. But they are wrong on all counts.” The Global Autistic Task Force on Autism Research, an advocacy group, responded to The Lancet commission by saying : “For more than 30 years, autistic people have resisted functioning labels as misleading and offensive.”

As neurodiversity advocates denounce any framing of autism as a disability that requires medical intervention, they demand more support systems for people with autism, such as independent living “that honors authentic forms of human diversity.” Groups like the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, people who identify on social media as #ActuallyAutistic, and parent activists insist that there is no such thing as a “normal” brain, only relative differences that render all humans “differently abled.”

To them, frank discussions about profound autism give a distorted image of people like Zack as unpredictable, cognitively limited, and presenting more behavioral challenges than the general population. Except the image is not distorted. While it’s painful to accept, these descriptors are accurate. Over the course of a single day, Zack, who is now 23, might furiously pummel his head in rage, slam his body into a wall, and bite me hard enough to draw blood.

The neurodiversity advocates — whose members are distinguished precisely by their ability to advocate for themselves, as Zack cannot — are not illuminating the complexity of autism; they are castigating into submission anyone who dares to deviate from their accepted language.

Intolerance for the term “profound autism” is leaching into medical journals and doctors’ practices. Doctors who’ve devoted their careers to treating children who compulsively ravage their flesh and slam their skulls into the ground are now verbally castrated on social media and “canceled” from lectures so regularly that preserving their livelihood requires stifling crucial medical data . It’s become common for autism self-advocates to “shout down” researchers imparting medical data at conferences or to call the researchers out on social media for online hazing and threats by neurodiverse mobs.

Today, both experienced and newer autism researchers contemplate leaving the field because, as one University of California scientist, David Amaral , observed, “People are getting reluctant to give public presentations or to be too vocal about what they’re finding,” despite the fact that “science is supposed to be about communication.” Top research institutions like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), tasked with conducting clinical trials to illuminate the disorder, face vitriolic accusations of being “ableist” and uncomprehending of the very people they are trying to help.

After the The Lancet’s commission recognized “profound autism” in 2021, the journal published an article by a doctor who wrote: “Generally, physicians think that disability is medical, and that if a patient’s condition interferes with their daily life, they are disabled. This traditional, medical model of disability does not address societal factors that influence disability, nor does it recognize disability as a cultural identity. Viewing disability as an issue stemming from an impaired body can encourage physicians to view disabled patients’ quality of life negatively . . . and to offer treatments aiming to fix the patient.”

This is absurd. I know of no person with profound autism who proudly identifies self-mutilating or violent impulses as core to their “cultural” identity. There is nothing bigoted about striving to ameliorate dangerous behaviors.

More critically, it is not the role of medical researchers to kowtow to trending cultural demands at the expense of addressing medically life-threatening conditions. Erasing diagnostic distinctions will make it impossible to perform research into the behaviors that are associated with profound autism — research that could lead to drugs that could benefit people across the entire autism spectrum. Although about 27 percent of all people with autism have profound autism, the condition is already underrepresented in clinical trials, which typically exclude those with an IQ lower than 70.

Two years ago, my son was abruptly ensnared in a cycle of self-injury, physical assaults, and chronic insomnia that within days catapulted him into a dangerously manic state — during which he risked seizures and seriously injuring anyone in proximity to him. Introducing anti-psychotic medicine delivered the jolt of serotonin to Zack’s brain that allowed him to reclaim his stability. Might other medicines become available that would work better? A movement that vilifies any medical mention of “risk,” “limitations,” or extreme behaviors has the power to thwart the development of such urgently needed drugs.

I hope Congress hears parents like me

The Autism CARES Act, which allocates NIH-funded research and services, sunsets on Sept. 30. Fierce debates are already underway about what Congress should do when it reauthorizes this funding. On one side stand autistic self-advocates who rally against any research not explicitly approved by them. On the other are parents who are desperate for clinical advancements but are so engulfed in the daily ordeal of managing their profoundly autistic children’s aggression and property destruction that they are largely incapable of organizing. The few dedicated parents calling for NIH to set aside funding to specifically address “profound autism” are vastly outnumbered by neurodiverse advocates who seek to block the act from passing if such “stigmatizing” language is included.

The loudest voices seek to abolish all spending on autism medical research and replace it with select services, such as workforce initiatives, that assist only those with milder autism. It’s here that the idea of neurodiversity poses the greatest threat — a movement that celebrates autism in all its forms, and depicts even the most severe afflictions as “merely a difference,” vehemently opposes any investigation into autism’s causes as ableist.

The truth is that we still don’t know what explains the steep rise in autism — perhaps it’s the product of widespread environmental contaminants altering our children’s brains — and this increase needs urgent attention. As these children age, state programs already strained by the deluge of adults needing lifelong services threaten to collapse entirely. Capitulating to self-advocates’ demands amid a global proliferation of one of the gravest disorders of our time is not only morally incoherent but medical malpractice.

In the natural course of events, every profoundly autistic child will eventually be orphaned by the most qualified and dedicated caretakers he’s ever known — his parents. Absent meticulous advance planning and abundant resources, that child will be automatically transitioned by the state to placement in a residential living arrangement. For that child to be placed appropriately depends entirely upon having accurate clinical information about the intensity of his needs, taking into account the possibility of physical aggression, self-injury, elopement, property destruction, seizures, and other overlapping medical needs. I’m confident that if a person facing homelessness and a precariously uncertain future were asked whether he values a safe residential arrangement over semantics that obscure his diagnosis, he would choose the former.

For the record, any language that contorts or constricts the full scope of Zack’s identity is something I find deeply offensive. Zack has struggled with innumerable obstacles and heartbreak in navigating a world that does not come naturally to him, and his competence is strengthening to this day. Blurring his identity under the indistinct banner of “neurodiverse” erases Zack’s lived history — all that he has endured and overcome to get here.

Whitney Ellenby is a former disability rights attorney in the US Department of Justice and the author of the 2018 book “Autism Uncensored: Pulling Back the Curtain.” She is also the founder of Autism Ambassadors, which runs recreational events for over 800 families affected by autism in the Washington, D.C., area.

This Memorial Day, Ask Me About My Brother

my essay in

B efore my brother Ben was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, Memorial Day was one of my favorite holidays. It meant parties with friends and family, all of us excited by a long weekend and the promise of summer ahead. The fact that Memorial Day was also about violent and traumatic loss was a more abstract and theoretical concept—until the year those losses included my big brother with the contagious giggle and the drive to serve.

For the first few years after Ben’s death, Memorial Day made me angry and indignant. We’re honoring my brother’s death with mattress sales and BBQs? I thought to myself. Nevermind that my brother enjoyed nothing more than barbequing and a good nap. He loved Memorial Day and all its contradictions. He could hold grief and joy together in a way that seemed effortless.

I began to dread attending the Memorial Day events I once enjoyed with him. Would people say anything to me? And did I want them to? Siblings are often asked questions that no one would dare ask a bereaved parent. Questions about how he died. How he really died. “What exactly happened that day?” “What happened after?” “How are your parents doing?” It’s amazing how many questions people can ask about your sibling’s death without ever stopping to ask about their life.

But which is worse: having someone say something or not? I’ve learned that being at that barbeque, knowing everyone else is aware of your loss and its connection to the day but receiving no acknowledgment at all is perhaps the worst outcome of all. I would be left feeling like the elephant in the room, trying to act like everything is fine when it most certainly was not.

The loss of a sibling is a unique form of grief that can be deeply traumatic at any age, and its long-term impact can be seen in every aspect of who we are. Siblings are supposed to be one of our longest shared relationships, and when that is cut short—as it always is when war is involved—siblings are left to pick up the pieces within their nuclear family and support grieving parents and loved ones. Many surviving siblings diminish their own grief so as not to further burden their already broken families, and find themselves struggling to address their loss even years later.

Studies have shown that surviving siblings have increased rates of depression and somatic symptoms, a lower sense of meaningfulness and benevolence in the world, and lower perceived self-worth. Siblings are also more likely to experience complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder, a form of intensified grief that often includes difficulty accepting the loss, preoccupation with the circumstances surrounding it, and a painful combination of bitterness, anger, yearning, and longing. What’s more, siblings grieving on Memorial Day in particular have experienced a violent loss which increases the likelihood that they’re experiencing traumatic grief ; a powerful grief and PTSD cocktail that can rewire your brain and leave you feeling unsafe and utterly alone in the world.

Surviving military siblings, especially, find ourselves dealing with the trauma of war without the sibling we expected to grow old with, our parents grieving so deeply we have nearly lost them, too. Gina Moffa, a trauma-informed grief therapist in NYC and author of the book Moving On Doesn’t Mean Letting Go, explained to me that “people often don't understand how re-traumatizing anniversaries can be for someone who experienced a military loss. While people are having a barbecue or enjoying a long weekend, surviving siblings are dealing with the symptoms of trauma as if they've just heard the news again for the first time.”

Read More: My Brother Was Killed in Afghanistan. He Became Real to Me Again in Quarantine

So what if you haven’t lost a loved one to war, but you’re celebrating Memorial Day with someone who has? Trickier still: What if it’s someone you don’t know well? Social support is one of the strongest antidotes we have to the loneliness and isolation that thrive alongside grief. It breaks the isolation and denial that allows traumatic and complicated grief to flourish.

What if Memorial Day wasn’t about how our siblings died, but about how they lived? Let me talk about my brother’s love of grilled meat in any form. Let me recount our sibling hijinx while we cut the berry cobbler. Instead of asking me to recount his murder, let me tell you about the time he and cousin Steven bought a turkey fryer a few days before Thanksgiving and attempted to deep fry everything in Aunt Jane’s kitchen.

I know this conversation is not easy for anyone involved. Grief and loss is an incredibly complex topic, and if I hadn’t been through loss myself, there’s no way I’d know how to approach someone that's grieving in moments like this. I’m a deeply curious person and I’d probably be ask too many detailed questions. But that also might make me the perfect person to give some advice here. Curiosity is valid and, more than anything, it’s human. But that’s also what Google is for; don’t put someone on the spot asking about their trauma. If you meet someone at a Memorial Day celebration this year who has lost someone in the military, store that info away to Google later and in that moment, focus on life. Ask, “What was your brother or sister’s name?” “Is it helpful to talk about them?” And if yes, “What were they like?”

Your simple question can bring a surviving sibling back to life during an otherwise traumatic day. As Moffa explains, “when somebody checks in and they're compassionate, patient, and supportive; when they just sit with us no matter how long it's been, we feel tethered again. We are tethered to something that can make us feel alive and open the space for joy and life again. It brings us back to ourselves. That check in can be a life saving experience.”

Supporting someone who is grieving this Memorial Day doesn’t mean canceling your plans and spending the day at the cemetery or ignoring all those things you want to do on your day off. It simply means reaching out and checking in, including them in your plans, and making sure they feel seen and heard on that day.

This Memorial Day, you have the power to heal. You have the power to reframe the day from one that memorializes a violent death to one that opens up the door to conversations about life.

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