MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Have To Write the Optional Essay:

by on August 29th, 2010

These past two weeks, we have started our “myth destroyed” by mentioning how challenging it can be to compete against a faceless mass and how one can feel disadvantaged if he/she does not seize each and every opportunity to do so. And, of course, we want you to seize each and every opportunity, but not attempt to seize opportunities that do not exist and thus turn them into negatives. So, once and for all…

The optional essay does not need to be written by everyone and, by neglecting to write the optional essay, you are not at a disadvantage. The optional essay is an opportunity for you to discuss problems that the admissions committee should notice anyway and thus “get ahead of the scandal.” So, if you have an F, a bad semester, a low GMAT or have been dismissed from a position, you should write the optional essay. Alternatively, if you are applying with a partner and the admissions committee may not know, you might want to use the optional essay to inform the committee of this relevant information, which is not a problem, but simply of interest.

There are many reasons to write the optional essay, but you should absolutely not feel that you need to write it. If you have nothing to explain and have generally performed well, you should not submit an essay from a different school just to fill the space or write a new essay repackaging your strengths. If you have nothing to write, you are in an advantageous position and should take a step back and appreciate it, not fret.

Read Other Admissions Myths Destroyed:


  • Hi,

    I have had some "bad semesters" in the sense that I did not get and A or B in some courses. I have done dual programs and was sometimes overcome with the workload.

    Should I write an optional essay to explain my grades (mostly C, some B and a few A)?

    Can a strong GMAT score compensate for my grades?


  • Andre,

    Yes, you should explain your GPA, taking full responsibility for your actions. No excuses!

    A strong GMAT can help you overcome a weak GPA. The AdCom wants to know that you can manage the rigors of a highly quantitative curriculum. You can prove that through your GMAT, a professional designation like the CFA, analytical work experience and additional classes.

    I hope this helps.


  • HI,
    I'm a management school student of JLU in China.
    I had bad performance in studying in my freshman year, because that year i was busy doing kinds of works for our school as a student leader in my grade, which made me fail to allocate my time to study as a college student. To tell the truth, I think I might have done everything perfectly, and I feel regretful. My GPA that year was 2.63.
    In the last two years, I became the vice president of the students union of our school, which made me more busy. What's more, I took part in a lot of competitions such as SIM (Global Management Challange), Business Plan Competition(National Competition in China).
    Since I got familiar with what i was doing, I got more time to study, and I did it more efficiently. My GPA went up to 3.13 and 3.63 in the last two years.
    I, now, know that how i should study in college, and I believe that I can do well in my later school life.
    Should I write an optional essay to talk about it, and how to express it? Any other tips?

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