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Writing Optional Essays vs. Submitting Early

Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member
in General 3521 karma

Hey everyone,

I need advice. I was planning on using the next two weeks to write the optional essays for the schools I'm applying to, thinking that the December exam scores wouldn't come out until ~January 3rd. But now that the scores are coming out tomorrow, I'm debating whether or not I should write the optional essays or not. For example, the ones for UPenn, UMich, etc. I know there's a benefit to submitting early, but also a benefit to writing the optionals, but only if the optionals are good.

https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid/153416/should-i-write-the-optional-essay

I read through this article that essentially said, "If you feel like your optional essays will be forced, then don't write them."

If I'm being honest, I feel like they will be forced, but then again I haven't 100% committed myself to the writing process - I just haven't had enough time.

Thoughts? Advice?

Comments

  • xtinextinextinextine Alum Member
    856 karma

    I'm applying to, thinking that the December exam scores wouldn't come out until ~January 3rd

    sAmEeeee :scream:

    I think since you said you haven't committed to the writing process yet, maybe give it a day or two and see if you can outline anything compelling? If it still feels forced then you can go ahead and submit.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    I would give it a try like @xtinextine said. Put priority on the schools you most want to attend so you can get those submitted first.
    Good luck :)

  • OlamHafuchOlamHafuch Alum Member
    2326 karma

    Another thing to think about: Not sure that the admission committees of said schools are open until after New Year's. Will applications that come in on Dec. 27 be given any priority to those that come in on Jan. 2?

  • TheMikeyTheMikey Alum Member
    4196 karma

    I feel that if you have concrete reasons as to why you want to go to a certain school, writing an optional essay won't be hard or take too long. Especially once you have a general structure of writing a why X essay, it should be faster to write more once you figure out your reasons for wanting a school.

  • goingfor99thgoingfor99th Member
    3072 karma

    I say try to write an optional for two or three top schools, see if you like anything you wrote, then run with one or two of them if you like them.

    I'd be willing to help edit if you decide to.

  • hlkoo1212hlkoo1212 Alum Member
    130 karma

    @uhinberg said:
    Another thing to think about: Not sure that the admission committees of said schools are open until after New Year's. Will applications that come in on Dec. 27 be given any priority to those that come in on Jan. 2?

    I asked the offices and they basically unanimously said the officers don't look at them during the holidays. 12/27 and 1/2 submission are essentially the same, no advantage to applying on 12/27

  • OlamHafuchOlamHafuch Alum Member
    2326 karma

    @hlkoo1212 said:

    @uhinberg said:
    Another thing to think about: Not sure that the admission committees of said schools are open until after New Year's. Will applications that come in on Dec. 27 be given any priority to those that come in on Jan. 2?

    I asked the offices and they basically unanimously said the officers don't look at them during the holidays. 12/27 and 1/2 submission are essentially the same, no advantage to applying on 12/27

    Right. Some Admission Officers like Dean Zearfoss from Michigan do read files during the holidays, but she's probably an outlier.

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    There are benefits to applying early, especially if you applied in fall. But seeing how we are in winter already, I personally think the difference of applying in December over January is marginal since alot of schools dont look at apps during the holidays. Anecdotally speaking, acquintenances of mine were able to get into some reach schools through optional essays. I would recommend you take the time to draft those optional essays. January isnt too late to apply

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    edited December 2017 8392 karma

    I’ve also heard advice not to rush in apps just because we have early scores. Always better to submit your best possible application than to get it in 1 week earlier.

  • TabbyG123TabbyG123 Legacy Member
    711 karma

    @hlkoo1212 said:

    @uhinberg said:
    Another thing to think about: Not sure that the admission committees of said schools are open until after New Year's. Will applications that come in on Dec. 27 be given any priority to those that come in on Jan. 2?

    I asked the offices and they basically unanimously said the officers don't look at them during the holidays. 12/27 and 1/2 submission are essentially the same, no advantage to applying on 12/27

    This is incorrect. While readers won't be looking at applications over the break, I believe it is standard for top tier schools to review applications based on submission/completion date. So if someone applies 12/27 and another applies 12/28, then the person who applied on 12/27 will have their application reviewed first. Considering that the bulk of applications are coming in late December/January, even a few days difference might mean being ahead of dozens or even a hundred applicants. This gives you an edge.

    Source: In an email from UC Berkeley (with regards to whether I should submit an application before my LSAT score comes in), they said that "Because the volume of applications increases greatly in January and the December score will not post until then [this was 2 weeks ago], the order in which we review is based on the submission date. Applications submitted earlier in the cycle will be reviewed first (e.g., files submitted with today's date) and will receive a notification sooner rather than receive a later response." This is also the same for Columbia, and likely other T14 schools: http://www.law.columbia.edu/admissions/jd/apply/regular-jd

    That being said, I would still not submit your application until it's 100% ready and you feel great about it. It'll be worth it. @"Paul Caint" I would really encourage you to write those essays (Of course, unless it reduces your family and friend time during the holidays, which is more important). Although they are "optional", these essays give you an edge because 1. you provide more information and value to your application, and 2. it demonstrates interest to your school. Demonstrated interest is important because schools want to protect their yield (the percentage of students who accept an offer they've been given) by admitting students they are confident will matriculate and denying students they are sure will not matriculate. Students who don't complete the optional essays are more likely to be seen as less interested.

    In my opinion, there is no such that as optional. :) I believe that you can write a great essay! It's worth the effort. When in doubt, think about experiences you've had or elements of your life that you haven't yet included in those applications, and find a way to tailor them to the prompt.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1264 karma

    I think this depends on which optional essays you're talking about. On schools that (seem) to engage in yield protection, I would suspect "why x" essays would be more important. Is the Yale 250 optional?--if it is, anyways, I would do that if you're applying as well as two of the Stanford optional essay topics.

    And, of course, any scholarship essays are a must if you're interested in those...

    I am really clueless about the advantages of submitting now vs. the beginning of Jan. I feel like submitting back in late oct/early nov would have had more of an impact. Anyways, good luck--A.c.S

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