I have now filled out, in part or in total, ten different applications. I have decided not to finish three of them for various reasons, so in the end I will be applying to seven schools for my doctorate. I have not found the part on any form where I get to ask "why do you need to know?"
Yes, I'm being silly, I realize, but there are some truly strange questions on some of these applications. I fail to see why any answer should affect the quality of my application, so I wonder why a school would ask.
Joking aside, I have genuinely enjoyed most of the applications. I think each school I have decided to send an application to has made a genuine effort to get to know me through what I can say about myself or through those who would recommend me. They offer various ways to explain my research interests, my education, my work life, and my extracurricular activities. I can imagine the process of sifting through hundreds of these applications can become somewhat tiresome, but it would be interesting to read the essays. I got to read some of the applications by undergraduates to the leadership program I worked with in grad school, and I was amazed by the variety and the quality of people so young. I can only imagine what doctoral applications would bring.
Here's hoping mine somehow rise above the fray.