Optional Essay

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Beantown26
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Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:03 pm

Optional Essay

Postby Beantown26 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:40 pm

How bad will it hurt you if you do not do the optional essay?

Northeastern in particular?

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St.Remy
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Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:12 pm

Re: Optional Essay

Postby St.Remy » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:46 pm

Do an essay if your numbers are just barely at their medians or if your numbers are substantially higher than their average attending student. If you are not in either of these situations skipping the essay probably won't hurt you.

I'm a big advocate though of always writing a "why X" essay because you never know precisely how a school's admissions office is going to behave. If you send one and they don't want it then they can just skip it and no one will be the wiser, but if you don't send one and for some reason they care then that would just be unfortunate for you. The essay probably would only take an hour and a half to research and write, so if you really want to get into northeastern then why not?

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Adjudicator
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Re: Optional Essay

Postby Adjudicator » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:48 pm

What about writing a "Why X" essay for a school that doesn't even ask for it or mention it? Can that ever hurt you? What if you don't have room for it in your personal statement but you have legitimate, strong reasons for wanting to attend X school?

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St.Remy
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Re: Optional Essay

Postby St.Remy » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:59 pm

Adjudicator wrote:What about writing a "Why X" essay for a school that doesn't even ask for it or mention it? Can that ever hurt you? What if you don't have room for it in your personal statement but you have legitimate, strong reasons for wanting to attend X school?


I'm not an expert and I never worked in admissions so don't give my analysis any special credence, but frankly I imagine every admissions office is different and that no one knows the answer to this question for every school (or even for more than a few schools).

For a school that doesn't ask for it I would say that you could still send one in, and if they really don't want it they can just ignore it. I imagine that in some situations in can hurt you because your app happens to come across the desk of someone who really dislikes it when optional essays are included. But this is the type of admissions BS that you just can't control. Your app could come on a day when the person in charge of reading it was in a bad mood and that could hurt you too- you can't control every aspect of the admissions process. Because of the random factors in admissions I fall back on the idea that if someone doesn't want a "Why X" essay and receives one anyway in most cases they will just disregard it and not penalize you for it, because this is the situation that I find most logical.

In terms of where to include the "Why X" essay I would say that there is nothing wrong with submitting the optional essay but that with enough editing I'm sure you could find the space in your PS to include the most important "Why X" points.

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2ofspades
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Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:42 pm

Re: Optional Essay

Postby 2ofspades » Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:07 pm

Submitting a thoughtful "Why X" essay will never hurt you, but not doing so sometimes will. Do it.

Adjudicator wrote:What about writing a "Why X" essay for a school that doesn't even ask for it or mention it? Can that ever hurt you? What if you don't have room for it in your personal statement but you have legitimate, strong reasons for wanting to attend X school?

That was section number three of my addendum on most of my apps last year.




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