My email box has been inundated with questions about college essays. Most of the questions were whether or not some topic or expression is acceptable.
I think what students forget is that these essays are designed to give the admissions a better picture of the applicant. Therefore, asking about what's appropriate and what's not is similar to asking me about what clothes to wear for a certain occasion.
My answer is simple: ask yourself how you want the colleges to see you. If you are comfortable showing them a certain aspect of you because it represents who you truly are, then you should do so.
College admissions officers are people, just like you and me. They are shrewd enough to understand when something is done as a necessary component to expressing oneself. In other words, as long as what's on the essay is a honest reflection of the student's character, history, and passions, then it's acceptable.
Another thing that I would like to stress for all applicants is to have many people read it. While they should not alter what should and shouldn't go on the essay, they should give you some feedback on how the essay comes off - does it seem too arrogant? condescending? proud? is something too much?
Lastly, remember that this is YOUR essay. Say what you need to say. College is important, yes. However, it's not the end of the road; it's actually just a (that's important just ONE of many) beginning.