The essays are short.
You have so much to say!
When there are oddities and unusual aspects to your profile or career path to date, then it can be so hard to fit it all in. This is related to our advice that the essays need to have everything, even when it’s already in the app. In this case, we’re saying, if it’s an important part of your profile, you must find a way to include it.
The main purpose of the optional essay (for most schools*) is to explain things that you’re not able to cover elsewhere in the app. The standard advice is, only use the optional essay if you have to — but don’t be afraid to use it if it’s warranted.
We had a BSer come to us last season who had some twists and turns in the career history that were not obvious. We couldn’t figure it out from the resume alone. He needed to explain these things to the adcom.
Yet when we coached him on this, his response was, “Yeah, I was planning on covering that in my interview.”
There’s one small problem with that:
If the adcom is unable to understand your background sufficiently, then they will be hampered in their ability to evaluate your candidacy. If they cannot appropriately evaluate your candidacy, then you’re at a serious disadvantage in this process – to the extent that you may never make it to the interview.
Even for the few schools that interview candidates ahead of the application being submitted, where there’s ostensibly a chance to explain things before the adcom takes your application under full review, you can never be certain that your interviewer will capture the explanation that you want to provide.
In all cases, this is a seriously risky strategy.
The application needs to stand on its own two feet. Thinking that you’ll be able to explain things separately during the interview is not reasonable. You cannot expect to get such a second chance.
The interview is an augment to the pitch, a chance for you to present your case in person. It needs to be the same case, though. Whoever you are on paper in the written application is the candidate that the adcom will be evaluating.
It’s kind of like your first date with a new person: You need to come out guns ablazin’ (metaphorically speaking) and do your best to impress the person in real time. That means, being your authentic self, and presenting all that ya got. Lay those cards on the table.
The interview is like getting a second date: You are still on your best behavior, but it’s a chance for your love interest to confirm that their first impressions of you are legit, to know if they want to keep moving forward. Or even possibly get engaged.
A robust application is critical. You only get one review with the adcom. It has to be complete.
Our Private Consult is the perfect opportunity to get them answered!