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Program says writing sample is not required, but there is a space to upload one in the online app


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I'm applying to Northwestern University. On the program's website, it says they do not require a writing sample. However, there is a part of the application that says, "if your program requires a writing sample, submit it here."


I feel I have a very strong writing sample and want to submit it. But if they say its not required, should I take that as "do not submit one", or is there leeway for "you don't have to but you can." I want to show it off, but I don't want to look like I can't follow simple instructions.



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Why don't you contact the program and ask? They will be able to give you an informed answer, and we here can only guess. 


If you want my guess, though, it's probably fine to submit the paper as long as the program doesn't explicitly say that they don't want a writing sample, or not to submit unsolicited materials. They can ignore it if they want. 

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Yeah, I am going to contact them tomorrow and see what they say. It's just after hours here and I'm itching to submit my application, and that's the last thing on the checklist  :)


Thank you for your response; I was hoping the general thought would be something along those lines. I'm going to call tomorrow to confirm.

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I had the same experience on one of my apps, wrote the department and they replied:

"The writing sample is entirely optional and I cannot guarantee that it will be a part of the application review. We receive a lot of inquiries from prospective students who want to submit a paper they have written, an article, or their thesis, so that is why we have provided a space for a writing sample."

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