How Important are "optional essays"?

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coolymx
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How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby coolymx » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:13 am

Hey Guys:

So I submitted my ED application to Columbia last week, and I didn't submit an optional essay. But lately I've heard that they are quite important, so now I'm a little concerned (esp. since Columbia was my first choice).

In general, from those of you who have applied and are applying, how important are optional essays? I'm a Asian Canadian, and my P.S. is basically about my ethnic background, so I don't know what to write in these optional essays.

My stats are 3.67 LSAC GPA from a large Canadian University, and 172 LSAT. I am still working on my apps to Chicago, Duke and Upenn, so if anyone can tell me if I should add an optional essay I'd really appreciate it.

Cheers =)

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Hattori Hanzo
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby Hattori Hanzo » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:35 pm

Like other "optional" things, those who submit it ruin it for everybody by setting an expectation. The best thing to do for people in that situation is to choose a different topic for the PS and use the immigrant stories for the DS. For Penn you'd be smart to also write a "why Penn". I did not write one last year and got WLd with a 177.

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Adjudicator
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby Adjudicator » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:38 pm

I'm not going to write any of the optional essays for Northwestern... if that makes it very obvious that I have no desire to really attend, then so be it! It is only costing me $12!

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Excellence = a Habit
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby Excellence = a Habit » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:39 pm

Hattori Hanzo wrote:Like other "optional" things, those who submit it ruin it for everybody by setting an expectation. The best thing to do for people in that situation is to choose a different topic for the PS and use the immigrant stories for the DS. For Penn you'd be smart to also write a "why Penn". I did not write one last year and got WLd with a 177.


For clarity for OP, Penn offers three optional essays, one of which is about how your development at Penn would contribute to your five-year plan after graduation. This is the one that's (correctly) regarded as being a "why Penn" essay. (I mention it because to the undiscerning eye, the fact that they're asking you to explain Why Penn could be missed.) And yeah, I understand it's pretty important to write it.

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thexfactor
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby thexfactor » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:15 pm

write the optional essay it if you want to go to the school.

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Iconoclast
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby Iconoclast » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:24 pm

You only have so many words available on your PS, resume, and other application materials to tell the school what a unique and special snowflake you are. I can't imagine why anyone would skip writing an optional essay that gives you an additional opportunity to distinguish yourself from the crowd of applicants.

If someone from admissions called you and said, "Hey, tell us why we should admit you instead of all the other applicants" would you respond with, "Sorry, I don't have the time or motivation to talk to you"? Skipping an optional essay is essentially the same thing.

It is another chance to stand out. Take it.

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beleaguer
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby beleaguer » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:49 pm

just a quick question- does writing a why x essay actually avoid YP? when you look at the graphs on LSN for the schools most likely to YP (penn, mich, uva, duke), there are HUGE swaths of WLs along the upper right corners. is it possible that all these LSN people didn't know to write why x's?

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Hattori Hanzo
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby Hattori Hanzo » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:31 pm

beleaguer wrote:just a quick question- does writing a why x essay actually avoid YP? when you look at the graphs on LSN for the schools most likely to YP (penn, mich, uva, duke), there are HUGE swaths of WLs along the upper right corners. is it possible that all these LSN people didn't know to write why x's?


Or didn't care. Once you're on WL, you can submit additional material so someone who didn't write one initially but really wanted to go would have submitted it after being WL'd. I personally withdrew from Penn after WL because I wasn't too crazy about the school and location and just applied because I had a fee waiver.

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beleaguer
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby beleaguer » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:52 pm

Hattori Hanzo wrote:
beleaguer wrote:just a quick question- does writing a why x essay actually avoid YP? when you look at the graphs on LSN for the schools most likely to YP (penn, mich, uva, duke), there are HUGE swaths of WLs along the upper right corners. is it possible that all these LSN people didn't know to write why x's?


Or didn't care. Once you're on WL, you can submit additional material so someone who didn't write one initially but really wanted to go would have submitted it after being WL'd. I personally withdrew from Penn after WL because I wasn't too crazy about the school and location and just applied because I had a fee waiver.



hahah true. can't help but feel that most of those on lsn with high numbers would be gunner enough to know about why x's and write one anyway just to increase their # of acceptances

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kjadkins
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby kjadkins » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:07 am

FWIW I got in to W&L without writing the optional essay. Higher-ranked schools might look at that differently, but obviously W&L didn't care. It was supposed to be about an ethical dilemma you've faced, and I honestly couldn't think of a single thing to write about.

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blazinswordofjustice
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Re: How Important are "optional essays"?

Postby blazinswordofjustice » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:34 pm

everyone on tls seems to advocate for optional essays and i think they can really help in some cases but i wouldn't bother if your optional essay isn't very good, i recently read an anna ivey article that was pretty good talking about how people end up hurting their chances by having a great personal statement then turning in a rushed/so-so optional essay.

So i think if you can do a real good one then its worth it, but a last minute, 'why x' essay thats all bullshit anyway...maybe not so much...


(first post btw...but i've been lurking for FOREVER! hi TLS!)




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