By Violet W
Even if the school doesn’t require a personal statement, you can often still submit it. The only time you should not send in the essay is if the school specifically states that they do not want you to submit it. Submitting the essay when they asked you not to show that you cannot follow directions.
However, if it says that the essay is optional, it is almost always a good idea to send it in. If the school is choosing between two students with similar qualifications, they might choose the one who wrote the essay because they know more about that student. It also shows more initiative on your part. If it is well-written, demonstrates your attractive qualities, and adds something new to your application, sending in an optional essay is almost always a good idea.
If the school doesn’t require essays and doesn’t want you to send in anything, there are other ways you can stand out. Here are some things you can do to showcase your personality, accomplishments, and skills:
Have solid letters of recommendation
A lukewarm letter of recommendation can be detrimental to the success of your application. If the school does let you send in recommendation letters, make sure they come from people who know you well and can speak to your accomplishments. Without a common app essay, it can be hard for you to talk in detail about your extracurricular activities or leadership positions, so the person who writes your letter can do so for you.
Submit a resume
At Moon Prep, we always recommend that our students submit resumes along with their applications. The common app only lets you speak for 150 characters about your extracurricular activities, so it can be difficult to stuff all the pertinent in that small space. You can showcase your skills, talents, hobbies, and extracurriculars by including a resume.
Submit any supplemental information
Some schools will let you send in a portfolio or examples of your high school work. If that is the case, make sure to add that to your application.
Applying to schools with optional or no essays might seem easier, but that means it is more likely for your application to get lost among the student’s grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities. Try to find ways for your application to stand out so the admissions officers are more likely to accept you!
(Violet W is a counselor at Moonprep.)