How Honest Should I Be?

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How Honest Should I Be?

by Strat0caster » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:22 am
I was hoping for some guidance in regard to the optional essay from anyone with insight into the admissions process. Here's the background info:

I attended UT-Austin twelve years ago and was eventually academically suspended from the Mechanical Engineering program due to a 1.5x GPA. This is the obvious black eye that I need to address. The truth is that I developed a substance abuse problem (alcoholism) during my freshman year and my grades landslide over the next 2.5 years before my suspension.

After a very rough several follow-on years, I got help and got sober six years ago. Since then I returned to school through a lousy online university and graduated with a business degree and a 3.4 GPA. I enlisted in the Marine Corps where I was meritoriously promoted three consecutive times. I currently work for a Top 10 company in the Fortune 500, where I supervise 20 managers and ~330 technicians. My GMAT is a 720.

I will be applying to UT's evening MBA, Carnegie Mellon's online MBA, and two fallback schools in San Antonio where I live. I know the acceptance rates are much higher in the alternative programs rather than the flagship full-time programs, and I'm hoping that helps my chances.

Here is my question:
Do I answer the optional essay with candor and outline what really happened, or do I go with the standard "squandered opportunity/won't happen again" essay?

On a side note, if anyone would like to weigh in on my chances at either of these programs the feedback would be much appreciated!

Thanks!

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by [email protected] » Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:55 pm
Thanks for sharing.

It could be interesting to share how you were able to deal with alcoholism, and have accomplished great things with your career, particularly at the Marine Corps, where you have tremendous responsibilities. This would show your personal growth, you may even share how this has impacted you as a leader (e.g. the ability to empathize and bring the best out of people).

Sharing this would make the essay more personal and would highlight your resilience.

All the best!
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by [email protected] » Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:03 am
I agree, this is a turnaround story you should share. cheers, Alex
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by [email protected] » Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:04 am
I agree, this is a turnaround story you should share. cheers, Alex
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by 99Colleges: MBA Admission » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:39 am
As suggested, the turnaround story should help you.

With your workex, test score, and the story, you've good odds at these schools.
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by Strat0caster » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:29 pm
I just stopped in to provide follow up on this thread. I did in fact write my optional essay in the fashion recommended by the admissions experts here. I incorporated how my experience developed me as a leader and a person as well. I received my acceptance letter to McCombs today which was my top choice, and wanted to extend thanks for pushing me in this direction.

If anyone is interested in seeing the essay please message me privately.

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by [email protected] » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:06 am
Strat0caster wrote:I was hoping for some guidance in regard to the optional essay from anyone with insight into the admissions process. Here's the background info:

So happy to hear this worked out for you- I did not see the other expert posts- but my gut says telling the real story and how you learned and grew from it will serve you best- now I really want to see how you handled it! And congratulations to you as that is a great school and I am glad it worked out for you! See there are always second chances and lessons to be learned. I am sure you will be a better person overall from what you learned.
I attended UT-Austin twelve years ago and was eventually academically suspended from the Mechanical Engineering program due to a 1.5x GPA. This is the obvious black eye that I need to address. The truth is that I developed a substance abuse problem (alcoholism) during my freshman year and my grades landslide over the next 2.5 years before my suspension.

After a very rough several follow-on years, I got help and got sober six years ago. Since then I returned to school through a lousy online university and graduated with a business degree and a 3.4 GPA. I enlisted in the Marine Corps where I was meritoriously promoted three consecutive times. I currently work for a Top 10 company in the Fortune 500, where I supervise 20 managers and ~330 technicians. My GMAT is a 720.

I will be applying to UT's evening MBA, Carnegie Mellon's online MBA, and two fallback schools in San Antonio where I live. I know the acceptance rates are much higher in the alternative programs rather than the flagship full-time programs, and I'm hoping that helps my chances.

Here is my question:
Do I answer the optional essay with candor and outline what really happened, or do I go with the standard "squandered opportunity/won't happen again" essay?

On a side note, if anyone would like to weigh in on my chances at either of these programs the feedback would be much appreciated!

Thanks!