When Are Optional Essays a Bad Idea?

  • DON’T submit an optional essay if you really have nothing to say about the topic. Admissions committees only want additional material that is helpful to them in evaluating your application.
  • DON’T submit an optional essay if you aren’t willing to spend significant time drafting a strong essay. Admissions committees do not want you to go through the mechanical process of drafting and submitting materials without putting significant thought and effort into them.
  • DON’T write a diversity statement unless you can articulate both (1) genuine diversity, and also (2) how your diversity has shaped you or how it will benefit your fellow classmates’ learning experience.