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Purpose of supplemental writing samples for MDiv apps


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I have a question about supplemental writing samples.

What are the universities looking for in these samples, say at a place like Harvard or Yale? Are they interested in the content or are they more interested in the writting abilities and/or reasoning abilties of the author?

Let's say I have a writing sample that is fairly simple in style, but is a well-received sermon that covers some aspect of what would make me contribute to a school's diversity. It also happens to be a major part of my life, and also part of how I understand my call.

Knowing that the schools emphasize and are interested in having a diverse student body, should I also cover that same aspect of my life in my personal statement, even if it sounds redundant? Should I choose a different writing sample to avoid redundancy? Should I choose a writing sample that is less simple in style?

What makes a better writing sample for an MDiv candidate: a sermon or an academic paper? Do you include the whole thing, or only part of it?

I should note that it has been over eight years since college, and I don't have a lot of my work from way back then (computer crashes, etc. since that time). I found one nice bit of writing I did in college recently, but it is too long of a project to fit within the length constraints. While I graduated with a 4.0/4.0 in my degree program, I know I probably should highlight my academic potential since I may not be able to get academic reference letters (due to no fault of my own...program turnover). Should I keep digging for old academic work?

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Question: is your 4.0 gpa in a related field (Classics, Philosophy, Literature, etc.)?

If so a 4.0 even from a few years ago, will place you on the high end of the list as far as academic potential is concerned, in which case you have a little more room to experiment with your supplemental materials.

I would say your best bet is to give them both if you can. If I remember correctly, both Harvard and Yale allow you to submit more than one sample of work. In which case send the sermon, and also send a research paper or something else from college... should you find one that you think will help make your case more than your 4.0 does 8)

I could never send a written sermon, I usually just do bullet points (ahh the gift of ad lib)

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Other people might not see it as related (public health).

Another factor to consider is that I saw a couple days ago on the HDS website that they are requiring GRE scores for the M.Div. program this year. I hadn't remembered that when I looked at the materials a few months ago. Yale I think has always required them for the program. I don't have time to study (not REALLY), and I don't test well. I expect/fear a very low score.

My GPA was great, I agree, but I worry about a few things:

1. I probably wasn't as well-rounded as I could have been, mainly because I wanted to get through school more quickly due to financial concerns.

2. I have no language background.

3. The GPA is 4.0 in all schools, but I ended up attending a total of four schools before I graduated, two of them community colleges...this was all due to said financial issues (am I supposed to explain that somewhere on my application?), though I actually liked going to a variety of schools because it gave me a chance to challenge myself in different academic settings (smaller and larger classes, etc.).

Thanks for the advice. I'm going to double-check that they will accept multiple writing samples, and then will look for a college research paper. Oh man LOL, wish I had the gift of ad lib. I've tried it a few times in the pulpit. I think it would take me a lot of practice. I hate to admit it, but I like having the whole sermon written out.

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I got into Yale Divinity for the M.Div. I am starting in about 2 weeks. GRE scores were optional when I applied and when I asked about them at prospective students day the admissions officer talked about them in a manner that made them seem relatively unimportant. HDS apparantly does require them now.

1. What sorts of courses do you have? I dont know much about public health as a program but if it is something involving the social sciences and public policy I speculate it will be looked upon favorably.

2. I majored in philosophy and math, I had no language background and a 3.74, again YDS let me in with 16k a year so I wouldnt be too worried.

3. Its a small issue given that you obviously werent transferring for academic reasons. That said I would still mention it the way you have here (financial constraints, actually a benefit because it exposed you to different educational settings, etc.)

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