Harvard Supplement's Optional Essay

<p>Well, I'm writing the essay now, but just want to make sure:</p>

<p>1, Can anyone give adivce on the word limit? Not exact figures, but just to have a sense on the length that's ok for the admission officers.</p>

<p>2, I'm not confined to their "possible" topics, right? But I just wonder...... to what extent should I try to write under those topics? Will writing a topic that isn't on their list be seen as bad? </p>

<p>Thanks for your time.</p>

<p>PS: Is it really "optional"? I mean, throwing away a chance to show yourself when applying to Harvard isn't the best idea?......</p>

<p>Yes, it is really optional; students get accepted to Harvard with and without writing the optional essay. That being said, supplemental college essays should be less than 500 words.</p>

<p>Not more than 2 double spaced, normal font pages is what our counselor advises.</p>

<p>Hmm... at the last count, it's 519 words. And two more paragraphs from finishing.</p>

<p>I wrote it like a Common Application essay, with a story and a discussion...... hard to do it short I guess.</p>

<p>It isn't as though they'll reject you if it's longer as long as it's good.</p>

<p>Mine was a single-spaced, single-page, roughly 500-word essay, and I appended an additional page to serve as a resum</p>

<p>^</p>

<p>Couldn't you have uploaded the resum</p>

<p>^ Submitted it early by accident, so I just tacked it on there.</p>

<p>
[quote]
1, Can anyone give adivce on the word limit?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>There is none. Mine was about 270 words; the above posts indicate that successful applications had different supplemental essay lengths. Make it as long as you feel is necessary.</p>

<p>
[quote]
2, I'm not confined to their "possible" topics, right?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>No, you're not. I, for one, don't recall following any of their advice. My "essay," if it can even be called such, was a diary entry from when I was angsting in a typical preteen fashion. </p>

<p>
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Is it really "optional"?

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</p>

<p>Despite what you may believe, it is optional.</p>

<p>
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I have heard that some of my classmates' supplementals were multi-thousand-word essays, creative writing portfolios or even long-form lists of their extracurriculars.

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</p>

<p>Ooh, that's intense. :) But not necessary.</p>

<p>
[quote]
1, Can anyone give adivce on the word limit? Not exact figures, but just to have a sense on the length that's ok for the admission officers.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Mine was about 750 words.</p>

<p>
[quote]
2, I'm not confined to their "possible" topics, right? But I just wonder...... to what extent should I try to write under those topics? Will writing a topic that isn't on their list be seen as bad?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Of course not :)! I wrote about making a dress... I would think most people come up with their own topics. Let's face it, the topics given on the app were just plain boring:P.</p>

<p>I think I'd generally suggest keeping it under 500 unless you have a really good reason not to. The story could be a little different if your common app essay is particularly short.
The topics that they give you are NOT the only ones you can choose. I did a totally off-the-wall, nebulous, artsy-fartsy essay - and I didn't have any fabulous qualifications, so I'm pretty sure that's what got me in. My advice: Don't even read the "suggested topics." Pretend they're not there.
Good luck.</p>

<p>
[quote]
The story could be a little different if your common app essay is particularly short.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Common Application: 283 words.
Supplement: 270-ish words.</p>

<p>There's no hard and fast rule. Just do you.</p>

<p>Submitting a strong additional essay can only help your chances, so I would encourage you to complete it as long as you have something meaningful to say.</p>

<p>Don't fret about the word count while you write. I took a 723 page essay and sliced it down to a lean 499, and to be honest reading it now I think it is much more effective in the shorter version. You would be surprised how many words can be excised from something like this! Don't worry about length until you're done, then work on it from there.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I took a 723 page essay and sliced it down to a lean 499, and to be honest reading it now I think it is much more effective in the shorter version.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>:eek:</p>

<p>You mean 723 words...right?</p>

<p>lol... yes. Words. :)</p>

<p>Slackers. My optional essay was 723 pages.</p>

1 Like

<p>^
wait, seriously?</p>

<p>Hmm, I'm surprised this thread floated up. </p>

<p>Anyway, I found that there was a similar thread last year; it dealt with the issue more completely there, so anyone looking at this thread may also want to give it a look. You can find it in the "Similar Threads" section at the very bottom - the one with 72 replies. In case it's not there:</p>

<p><a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/harvard-university/839058-harvard-optional-essay.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/harvard-university/839058-harvard-optional-essay.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>By the way, I changed my essay into a booklist after reading the said thread - about 70 books, categorized by subjects and authors, with a short comment about 200 words on each category. 1896 words.</p>

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^
wait, seriously?

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</p>

<p>Nope. Pretty sure prosciutto is not.</p>