The optional section question

<p>I don't get what exactly "the unusual or extenuating circumstances" may be. Can any of you give me an example?</p>

<p>It also says "Please do not submit a resume or another essay." If they don't want an essay, what do they want? What type of writing do they want?</p>

<p>Lastly, is the optional essay truly optional? Will it look better if I did write the optional essay? Did you guys write one for this? </p>


<p>I left it blank. This section isn't like the optionals for Harvard or anything. If you've had bad grades, family problems, or anything like that this is the section to expain it. I was also confused if it was truly "optional" at first, but, yeah, I don't think that space is the place to dazzle them with your wit ;)</p>

<p>I wouldn't consider it an optional essay, just an chance to explain unusual circumstances that are not found elsewhere in your app (I.e., grade-dips, etc.).</p>

<p>It also says something like," most applicants don't submit this." I didn't submit this essay. It's optional if you have special circumstances that you want to talk about- see raven001's post.</p>

<p>Yeah I did not submit an optional essay either.</p>

<p>I didn't submit it.</p>

<p>Didn't do it, but sent a separate letter after explaining circumstances that caused one of my recs to look really bad. In retrospect, maybe I should have explained that in the optional section, but I hadn't decided to tell them until a couple weeks ago.</p>


<p>I filled it out. Basically I just explained to them that I'm an exchange student (yearlong) and some of the challenges that created applying to colleges. It was literally a list (with bullets and everything); I put no energy into creativity or essay-ness since they didn't present it as such.</p>

<p>Yes, definitely don't do it unless you: 1) Have bad grades you need to explain 2) Have an extracurricular lacking you have a valid excuse for (like working 2 jobs to support your family) 3) Have a teacher rec. problem 4) Have had a physical ailment that hurt your academics. For example, my friend was in a car crash freshman year and missed a lot of freshman requirements that she had to make up junior and senior years when she should have been taking harder classes.</p>

<p>Definitely, this isn't room to talk about "I was an immigrant" or "I was poor." Leave that to your big essays. The optional essay is not an essay, and if you send in one, they'll probably be fairly irritated. Good luck!</p>

<p>Actually, I disagree with jellybean about not taking about being an immigrant. I think if you came to the US since 8th grade or so and your freshman grades were poor, but by sophmore year you were doing really well, then you might mention it there. If you were to do that, however, it should be like a 2-4 sentence thing, not a whole essay. If you want to really discuss being an immigrant or being poor, for Stanford the best place to do that is probably the note to your roommate, or possibly the extended essay.</p>

<p>Good point. I retract that statement. The immigrant thing would matter if it had an effect, but yes, it still shouldn't be a whole essay - just a paragraph. For example, I talked about being a first-generation college student in my long essay, but since I have a 1500 and a 4.0, it wouldn't really count as an extenuating circumstance. It would seem whiny to write about in the additional explanation. Same with being an immigrant. That's what I meant.</p>

<p>so if you're an immigrant (with good grades/scores) but haven't been able to do as many ecs and stuff...would it be a good idea to talk about that in an e.c?? not make it look like an apology but more like...'i wish i could have had more time to be involved in blah blah...'</p>

<li>sorry i meant...'would it be a good idea to talk about that in the optional section*?</li>

<p>How exactly did it prevent you from doing more ecs? I would be careful not to let it be an excuse. I say mention it if it was a big obstacle you had to overcome, because that puts you in a positive light. But as jellybean said, looking whiny is NOT a good thing. If you didn't do ecs because you were helping out and supporting your family and your family couldn't run without you... mention it. I guess I'd have to know how it prevented you from doing ecs to see if it would show that you've overcome something or just look whiny.</p>

<p>well..i moved to the u.s in the middle of freshman year..then changed schools soph year..(so i could go to a magnet school)....but i's not like i was working or something to support my family...but it's kind of hard to explain...i mean it's hard for an immigrant to just come and start doing all this stuff that ppl who are familiar with the system are already into....but again..i might not mention this because i don't want to sound like i'm making excuses...</p>

<p>well if it only hurt you freshman year (I didn't go to school with you then, so I don't know) then probably don't mention. Not many people have really beefy stats freshman year or anything. I mean if it only hindered you from joining a few clubs maybe winning some minor awards here or there, I don't think you should mention it. Besides your EC's probably won't fit in the limited space that they give you...</p>

<p>yeah...the more i think about it...the more i feel that i shouldn't mention it.!!</p>

<p>I guess you should put something down from your past experiences if they still have an impact on you today.</p>

<p>Afterall, it doesn't hurt to put that Stanford wont otherwise know about you.</p>