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I also think that they recognize that they're not going to get everything - of course this is a limit to what we can show. In some ways, you've gotta do a better job with what little you have -- I think that's the challenge. I've been a fan of depth rather than breadth. of course, I won't know how my strategy worked until March/April, but we'll see how it goes!
I think they are testing applicants to see whether or not they just cut and paste from another school. Pretty sure Yale knows the essay topics at other similarly ranked programs and therefore expect something truly original.
I used an essay from another school, and I think it would be very obvious to an ad-com at Yale, think they will know precisely which school's essay I was recycling but I didn't care because the essay was good and captured all the things I wanted it to.
Maybe it's stubborn and stupid of me, but if they give you the option to do whatever you want, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, so hopefully they don't hold it against me. If they wanted something original they could have come up with a unique question.
It's like Edgerrin James said when he was b*tched out for not going to a voluntary training camp, "Hey, I only went to college for three years , but even I know the meaning of the word voluntary."
Well not to get bogged down in semantics, I guess it might be "original" or "unique" if no other school says, "Write an essay about whatever you want," but the fact that you can literally use any essay you've already written means that an applicant does not have to develop anything "original" in response.
I'm sure there are some people who did respond to that Yale question with something original which I guess is admirable, but I can't imagine why someone would waste their time when the process of getting applications together takes so much time. I suppose if you had some really interesting thing to address that you hadn't addressed in any other essays, it would be worthwhile. But I applied to five other schools so I had something like 18 essays to choose from, a handful of which I thought were really really good (the product of hours and hours of revising and editing) and saw no reason not to use those.
Exactly, I changed the question to make it a little less obvious.
At the end of the day I'd like to think the ad-coms would think, "Oh, well obviously they're going to reuse an essay that they already wrote that they're really happy with rather than start from scratch. Only an idiot would waste precious time during application season writing an essay when they have a bunch to choose from already."