My writing students have been reading some essays about education and liberal arts, specifically. One of those essays (I'm not going to name the author or the essay because I don't want it to be googled easily) argues that students from working class backgrounds experience conflicts with their families when they go to college. In the essay, the author talks about his/her experiences, and other peoples' experiences, and talks about why s/he thinks the conflicts happen.
My students almost universally hate this essay. If they don't identify as working class, they don't see that the author is talking very specifically about working class experience, and claim that s/he's wrong. If they identify as working class, then they say that they'll never have these sorts of conflicts with their parents.
And they want to write about how wrong the author is. The thing is, the author may not be speaking for all working class experience, but s/he's reporting his/her experience, and the experiences of other people. And you can't really write in a comp essay that those experiences didn't happen.
You can write that you hope your experience will be different, and here's why (and there's another essay they can turn to for support with that). You can say that the author's wrong in interpreting his/her experience, and thus wrong in talking about the reasons for these experiences (but my students don't go there because they really don't get that deep yet).
I just chatted with a student about his/her paper. This student has asserted that the author is basically wrong, and that his/her parents and s/he can talk about anything without serious conflict. So I asked the student to think about the fact that s/he is living in dorms, and unlike the author, not trying to find a space to study in the house every day, not discussing school stuff with parents every day.
Have you gone home and visited since you came to college? "Yes," the student said. And did you talk about school stuff? The student pondered, and said, no not really. "Why not?" I asked. And the student suddenly got it. S/he had chosen not to talk about school stuff much, because his/her parents wouldn't "get" it.
Then s/he said that a sibling had recently graduated, and had lots of arguments with their parents about just the sort of think the author was talking about.
So, now s/he's got a new take on the essay, about how s/he's going to make an effort to not let conflicts interfere with the family relationships.
I have a feeling this is going to be a much better essay.