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Submitting unsolicited material 
30th-Dec-2012 11:33 pm
fields of gold
What's the generally accepted view on this?

I was caught off-guard when I realized one of my programs did not have a writing sample requirement. In fact, I cannot find one single reference to a writing sample requirement (optional, required, or otherwise) on their website. On the one hand, I feel as if submitting a sample cannot hurt too much, especially since they can hypothetically just throw it away if they don't want to read it. Better to have it than not, no?

On the other hand, it certainly runs the risk of making a bad impression. Getting marked as that one student who can't follow simple instructions can be detrimental.

It's too close to the deadline for me to check with the program itself. I think I am probably not going to submit my sample, but I would like some opinions.
31st-Dec-2012 05:52 am (UTC)
Don't submit things they didn't ask for, particularly ones like a writing sample that would take a good deal of time to consider properly. If they wanted one they would have asked for one.
31st-Dec-2012 06:34 am (UTC)
I'm not sure what others will say, but I submitted unsolicited writing samples, and one professor (who is currently on my committee) suggested it was why I was admitted to the program. I sort of figured they could just toss the sample if they didn't want it, but maybe I got lucky with my programs (none asked for writing samples, I sent one to all of them, and got into all programs). I definitely didn't talk to anyone about my added writing sample. I don't THINK I was totally out of line, but I am only a 3rd year student, and could be totally wrong (which is why I try to avoid giving recommendations if I can avoid it!).
1st-Jan-2013 12:53 am (UTC)
IA. I don't think it hurts to submit unsolicited materials when they directly support your application. That is, don't send in a photograph of yourself thinking it will make yourself stand out, but sending in more papers or references does not hurt, as long as they are strong. I sent in 4 LORs instead of the required 3 for most of the programs I applied for and it didn't affect my application - I was admitted to most of the programs.
31st-Dec-2012 06:47 am (UTC)
What field are you in and how long is the sample you're thinking of submitting?
31st-Dec-2012 06:59 am (UTC)
I already submitted the application around half an hour ago just to get it out of the way, but:

I am in an ancient history field. All the other schools I applied to either required a writing sample or strongly recommended one. It is around 25 pages including notes and bibliography. I had momentarily considered submitting it, because my GRE Analytical Writing is the definition of mediocre, but upon further consideration, 25 additional pages seemed to be a little too overwhelming for a program that doesn't breathe a word about it on their website.
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