Exactly how "optional" are optional essays?

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saito816
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Exactly how "optional" are optional essays?

Postby saito816 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:40 am

Are law school optional essays really optional, or do they really want a response? I am planning on submitting a diversity statement to Duke, but will it hurt me if I don't also write a "Why Duke" optional essay? Duke is one of my top choices, but I'm having trouble coming up with particularly compelling reasons for why this is true. With that in mind, I'd rather just submit my PS and DS, which I feel are compelling, without the weight of a somewhat tacked on Why Duke essay weighing down my app. Does this seem like a good idea?
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bk1
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Re: Exactly how "optional" are optional essays?

Postby bk1 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:30 pm

Considering that it is a numbers game I feel they are optional. For candidates who are on the edge, either a reach or trying to avoid yield protection, a good "Why X?" essay may help but only a bit. If you are in their regular numbers range I doubt it is going to change much. In the end it is better to submit no optional essay rather than a crappy one.

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saito816
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Re: Exactly how "optional" are optional essays?

Postby saito816 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:10 pm

bk1 wrote:Considering that it is a numbers game I feel they are optional. For candidates who are on the edge, either a reach or trying to avoid yield protection, a good "Why X?" essay may help but only a bit. If you are in their regular numbers range I doubt it is going to change much. In the end it is better to submit no optional essay rather than a crappy one.


That makes sense. I'm a little concerned though because, while Duke offered me their priority track, I'm certain it's only because I'm an AA Male.With that in mind I figure my chances aren't that great to begin with, so does that mean I need to try to write some sort of "Why X" essay to most of the schools I'm applying to in addition to a DS?

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bk1
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Re: Exactly how "optional" are optional essays?

Postby bk1 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:55 pm

saito816 wrote:That makes sense. I'm a little concerned though because, while Duke offered me their priority track, I'm certain it's only because I'm an AA Male.With that in mind I figure my chances aren't that great to begin with, so does that mean I need to try to write some sort of "Why X" essay to most of the schools I'm applying to in addition to a DS?


I am a URM with the opposite split that you have (sub 3, over 170) and opted not to write "Why X?" essays except for a single reach that I really prefer to its peers. I felt that because I already had one optional essay (my DS) that it wasn't as important to submit a second in general.

If you would really prefer Duke to its peer schools (NU, Cornell, GULC) then I would say write a "Why X?" if you can manage a good one. If you really cannot come up with anything then don't submit one. In the end I doubt it will make or break you, but if you can make something decent then it couldn't hurt.

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2ofspades
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Re: Exactly how "optional" are optional essays?

Postby 2ofspades » Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:28 pm

saito816 wrote:Are law school optional essays really optional, or do they really want a response? I am planning on submitting a diversity statement to Duke, but will it hurt me if I don't also write a "Why Duke" optional essay?

I can't speak to Duke's admissions process, but I will point out that there are other top schools where neglecting to submit an optional "Why X" essay is a great way to land on a waitlist.

saito816 wrote:Duke is one of my top choices, but I'm having trouble coming up with particularly compelling reasons for why this is true.

Many applicants find themselves in this predicament with Duke.

saito816 wrote:a somewhat tacked on Why Duke essay ... Does this seem like a good idea?

T14 schools have enough to offer that most any applicant should be able to find at least a couple reasons, either academic or not is fine, why they want to attend the school. It doesn't need to be stressful.

bk1 wrote:Considering that it is a numbers game I feel they are optional. For candidates who are on the edge, either a reach or trying to avoid yield protection, a good "Why X?" essay may help but only a bit. If you are in their regular numbers range I doubt it is going to change much. In the end it is better to submit no optional essay rather than a crappy one.

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sundance95
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Re: Exactly how "optional" are optional essays?

Postby sundance95 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:51 pm

2ofspades wrote:Considering that it is a numbers game I feel they are optional. For candidates who are on the edge, either a reach or trying to avoid yield protection, a good "Why X?" essay may help but only a bit. If you are in their regular numbers range I doubt it is going to change much. In the end it is better to submit no optional essay rather than a crappy one.


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