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Should I Submit My Personal Statement If a School Doesn't Require It?

A strong personal statement can make a difference in admission, but what if it isn't required? Here's some expert advice on this supplemental essay.

Lindsey CongerLindsey Conger
College Counselor and Tutor
Moon Prep
Even if the college you’re applying to 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 don’t want you to. Submitting materials when they ask you not to only shows you can’t follow directions. However, if it says a personal statement is optional, it’s almost always a good idea to send it—especially if it’s well written, demonstrates your positive qualities, and adds something new to your application. If a school is choosing between students with similar qualifications, they might admit someone who wrote the additional essay because they know more about them. It also shows more initiative on your part.

If a college doesn’t want applicants to send personal statements or other additional essays, there are other ways you can stand out. Here are some things you can do to showcase your personality, accomplishments, and skills:

  • Strong letters of recommendation: A lukewarm letter of recommendation can be detrimental to your success. Make sure they come from people who know you well and can speak to your accomplishments. Without an 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.
  • A professional résumé: At Moon Prep, we always recommend that our students submit résumés along with their applications. The Common App only allows for 150 characters about your extracurricular activities, so it can be difficult to stuff all the pertinent information in that small space. You can showcase your skills, talents, hobbies, and extracurriculars in a résumé. Be sure to quantify as much as possible and add details to ensure your accomplishments are apparent to the reader.
  • Unique supplemental information: Some schools will let you include a portfolio or examples of your high school work with your application. If that’s the case, make sure to submit this, whether it’s writing samples, artwork, videos, or another project.

Applying to schools with optional or no-essay policies might seem easier, but that means it’s more likely for your application to get lost among a sea of comparable grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities. Try to find ways for your applications to stand out so admission officers are more likely to accept you!

Want more college application advice from the best source? Check out answers to more burning questions in our College Admission—Ask the Experts section.

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