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General questions relating to law school or law school admissions.
  • Posts: 3
  • Joined: Nov 24, 2020
Hey! I am hoping that you can shed some light on the "Why X" essays that some law schools prefer. For the most part, I don't see these essays as a requirement for the t14 schools. However, I have heard that some of these schools either do or don't prefer them as an optional essay. There is a lot of mixed information out there about which t14 schools want what. For example, some say Harvard does not want one (they know why you want to go there, it's Harvard), while Columbia looks kindly towards adding it into the personal statement. Are there any resources that are helpful to understanding this? It seems like the schools themselves are very vague about this topic and say that it's a matter of judgement. I have a 174 LSAT and 3.88 GPA, and am unsure if a "why x" essay is weighted enough to be my make or break? Any advice/direction is highly appreciated!!!

Thanks in advance,
  • Posts: 18
  • Joined: Oct 14, 2020
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PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 981
  • Joined: Jun 26, 2013
Hi Jessica!

In general, a "Why X" essay can be a great opportunity for you to explain why you want to go to a specific school and to show a school that you have researched them. So if a school gives you an optional "Why X" prompt, and if you have something to say beyond "I'm applying to all the T14 schools" or something else vague and general that every other applicant might write, then go for it. But if you don't actually have anything specific or worthwhile to write about, optional essays can be more of a hindrance than a help. And I wouldn't submit a "Why X" essay to a school that hasn't offered that as an optional prompt.

So try not to let yourself get too tangled up in all the conflicting advice you can find out there! Trust what the admissions offices at the specific schools you are applying to are telling you: if they say it's optional, it truly is optional. So ask yourself if you really have anything interesting to say. If you think you have real, specific reasons as to why you want to go to that school and you can write an essay that will make you look like a stronger candidate, go for it. (And, again, for the T14s, these reasons have to go beyond "You are a highly ranked school." The T14s know they're highly ranked. They know everyone wants to go to them because they are highly ranked. But the T14s are also competitive with each other and wouldn't necessarily hate it if you can point out offerings that make them more unique among the other schools.) If you can't identify any specific reasons why you want to go to that school and you can only come up with a generic essay that will end up reflecting badly on you, skip it.

I've linked to some more resources below for you:

Forum post on "Why X" essays:

Blog posts on optional essays: ... nal-essay/ ... yes-or-no/

Optional essay examples: ... amples.pdf

Hope this helps! Good luck!


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