Though my essay may not be perfect, my reviewers have said it is good, and I got to have some fun with the topic. Part of the reason for that is that I was working with a page limit rather than a word count, and believe it or not, even though the actual amount of writing is about the same, the latter is very liberating.
I didn't question as much with Yale every word I wrote about my calling, either. Yale's language around calling is more like the language through which I tend to understand my calling. And since I already had a heavily edited statement of purpose, I used that as my launch pad and mostly inserted more "me" back into it.
Other nice things:
- Yale didn't have a place on their application forms for volunteer work to be listed in chronological order, but only to a maximum of three, which allowed me to leave that on my CV and not worry about which of many I would post in just three lines without it looking like there were big time gaps when there weren't.
- The YDS application website did not cut off words in every text box requiring some information to be entered. With HDS you have to answer everything in 20 keystrokes or less it seemed.
- YDS admissions didn't give me a hard time about the schools I attended in the past when I met with them a while back (they in fact told me that schools are mostly "well known" or "not well known" regionally and not to worry about how "well known" my schools were), so I relaxed about it.
- YDS specifically recommended at their open house that prospective students don't submit their GRE scores.
- The YDS application website was easy to get to online and didn't have a random "user name." The HDS user name is a random series of numbers that I have to copy and paste in every time I go to log in, and to get to the HDS application I also had to click a link in the email in which the user name was assigned.
- The YDS deadline is the "priority deadline," so while I want to submit everything tomorrow in order to pay less and also to be make sure I am in line for early consideration (they do say chances of getting in are higher for applicants who meet the priority deadline), I don't feel quite as freaked out about the "what if" question in case my recommender doesn't get my letter in on time.
- Speaking of recommenders, YDS does not require two academic references and instead specifies "academic or professional." What a relief!
- YDS is seeking diversity and explicitly asks for folks to highlight their diversity through their personal statements (I didn't in an explicit way, but it is implied I hope).