Is It a Bad Idea to Write a College Application Essay About Your Sexual Orientation?

Before writing any college application essay, it’s important to know your audience and what they are looking for when they read your essay.

Admissions officers are looking for likeability and fit. They want you to tell them a story about you that they can’t get elsewhere on your application. It helps give them a wider picture of who you are and what you’re about so they can make a more informed decisions about your candidacy.

So, is writing about your sexual orientation a good idea? 

Yes and no.  An essay about your sexual orientation can be the perfect opportunity to share authentically about an area of your life. But, like an essay on any other topic, it can be done well or it can be done poorly. It’s all in your focus and how you write it.

I once worked with an applicant who wanted to write about coming out. He had been incredibly nervous to tell his friends and teachers because he attended a religious school where being openly gay may not have been readily accepted. He finally worked up the courage to tell others, and he was surprised by how uneventful it ended up being. His friends said they already knew or thanked him for sharing that with them, and the world somehow kept spinning. He discussed how being true to himself helped him in school and created closer bonds with his friends. His insightful reflection about the experience showed admissions teams that he is both authentic and courageous, and it made for a powerful application essay.

If this is a topic you'd like to write about then ask yourself a few questions before you start drafting. First, ask yourself, “What would I like admissions officers to know about me after reading my essay?” Then ask, “What specific experience can I talk about that will help them learn that about me?” These questions will help you find your story.

You may feel uncomfortable writing about your sexual orientation in a college essay. You also may feel like it’s an important piece of you that you want admissions officers to know. If that’s true for you, then you can ask a teacher or guidance counselor to write about your sexual orientation in their letter of recommendation, and you can write your essays on anything else that you want to share.

*As a general piece of advice, avoid talking about sexual experiences in your college essays. Like religion and politics, sex is a topic that people have a wide ranges of thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about. It’s better to pick less touchy (pun intended) or polarizing topics.

Happy Writing!

This blog was written by Jaclyn Corley, Founder of The College Essay Captain and digital course creator of College Essay Playbook

The College Essay Captain helps teens overcome their fears and limiting beliefs around writing college application essays, so they are free to authentically share their stories with admissions teams.