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Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:45 pm
by Last Chance
As I was double checking the application requirements for each school I have decided to apply to, I realized that answering two of four optional essay prompts in 100-250 words is a component of Stanford's application. I haven't read much here regarding this component so I was wondering why that was and how I ought to treat this component. That is to say, should this component be treated similarly to the Yale 250 or am I overthinking it?

Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:46 pm
by chrysippusofsoli
Thanks for mentioning this - I totally do not remember seeing this component when I looked at last cycle's application requirements for Stanford just a few weeks ago, so I think this is an additional component for this cycle.

I think you are right that you should treat this in a similar spirit to the Yale 250 - the idea is to write an essay (or essays) that make you stand out from the crowd in the admission officer's mind.

Also, the fact that this is optional serves, I suspect, as a sort of gauge for your interest in Stanford - people who bother to write optional essays are presumably at least quite interested in attending Stanford, as opposed to someone who's just applying there as a backup, say, to Yale.

Finally, since there are prompts, I think that this will be a lot less open-ended (and maybe slightly less difficult to get started on?) as compared to the Yale 250.

Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:36 pm
by Last Chance
Thanks for your reply, I checked the internet archive and it looks like this application component was added some time after July 22nd--the last time the archive took a screenshot of the SLS website.

Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:39 pm
by Platopus
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Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:51 pm
by Last Chance
Platopus wrote:I'm still going to treat them serious (obviously), but I think the topics/prompts invite a bit of fun and creativity. I don't get the impression that the committee is looking for you to wow them with your fabulous writing or insights in less than 100 words (still write well anyway). I think they are more interested in getting a peak inside your head & your thought processes, at least this is my take on it. I see the Yale 250 differently, in that with the Yale 250 you should still be writing about something meaningful or intellectual or deeply personal.

I don't think Stanford is asking you to write anything truly meaningful about "3 Songs that committee should play in the background while they read your application". I think writing some dry intellectual analysis of Beethoven's superiority over Haydn as justification for why you chose one of his symphonies is totally missing the point. Maybe Toto's "Africa" ties in well to your application and your mission trip, IDK.

Play it safe with the personal statement and have a little fun with the optional essays, that's my take.

At first, as my original post mentioned, I thought this might be a Yale 250 equivalent but now taking into consideration your opinion I think that this is a way for the committee to get a better look at your personality. Maybe a way to further their 'holistic admissions process'

Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:59 pm
by Platopus
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Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:11 pm
by maybeman
Just saw this on the app too and was surprised. +1 to the lighthearted take.

If we're really interested in Stanford, should we write two? Or just chose 1. I was going to do just one I think I can write best on, but now I'm second guessing.

Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:30 pm
by rachelac
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Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:34 pm
by Platopus
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Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:55 am
by maybeman
Platopus wrote:
rachelac wrote:
maybeman wrote:Just saw this on the app too and was surprised. +1 to the lighthearted take.

If we're really interested in Stanford, should we write two? Or just chose 1. I was going to do just one I think I can write best on, but now I'm second guessing.


I'm really wondering this as well, especially since I feel a little like I'm repeating myself if I do both the library one and the songs because my formatting would be really similar.


I'm just going to write the library one. If I'm honest, I'd really have to stretch to find 3 songs, and the literary character prompt is too similar to the library one.

@rachel I decided to just write on the music one. I had a similar thought and decided one is probably sufficient to demonstrate interest:)

@pus I definitely feel that. I waffled between that and music and went with music

Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:17 pm
by etramak
I just decided to apply to Stanford. With my sub-median LSAT and utter lack of leadership roles, I'm going to try and have a lot of fun with this. If I get rejected, hopefully I can at least make one of them laugh. Of course this also opens up the possibility of them cringing at my app.

Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:30 pm
by rachelac
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Re: Stanford Optional Essay Questions

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:33 pm
by ballinlikejokic
Applying this year, does anyone have an idea whether the essays from last year will be the same for this year?