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This is something that I know nothing about. Please enlighten me. Should I use the optional essays considering that I am submitting a 1000-word response to the mandatory essay?
First, I don't think I can add anything relevant that would amount to a whole essay. Second, I am paranoid and see the optional essay as something that would only increase the probability that will I make a silly little mistake which will make me look like an idiot...
I have a slightly different take, everyone has one area of their app which is weak (work ex. gpa, gmat etc) use the optional essay. Especially for schools like Cornell, Darden etc. which have crazy word limits and limited essays it's a great place to add information that explains away a weakness. But as KK said do not use it to talk about something other than red flag issues.
do a search in this forum, there is another thread that discusses optional essays. But in short, for Haas and UCLA, optional essays can be used to talk about a SIGNIFICANT part of your profile that has not been addressed by the other essays.