Often undermined, Optional Essays can make a serious impact on your application. Few applicants understand the importance and approach for the optional essay and often end up making drastic errors. This short video, with the guidelines it offers, can make a difference to your MBA Applications and lift up the overall quality of the same.

How to Write the Optional Essay in MBA Applications

As the name suggests, this essay, which you may or may not be asked to write is optional. That having been said, it is highly advisable that in case you have the option to furnish an optional essay, you make good use of the opportunity, of course, only if you have relevant information for the same and your content does not sound force-fitted. The more space provided to you by the admissions committee to grab their attention, the better it is always.

There are two versions of the Optional Essay that the admissions committee of a school may typically ask for. The first is to allow the prospective student to explain any extenuating circumstances behind less than stellar elements of their profile. This is where you get to defend your overall case against anything you think might cast your application in a harsher light. Although not every possible thing you may be worried about is supposed to be addressed here, some acceptable topics are low GMAT, low GPA, gaps in education or work experience, any history of academic or legal misconduct and an inappropriate or unorthodox choice of recommenders. In case you have not been able to secure a letter of recommendation from your most recent supervisor, you absolutely must explain the reason for the same in this essay. The correct way to speak about extenuating circumstances is to go about the same in a way that allows you to simply and clearly explain the circumstances that you feel mitigate your failings. Be frank and keep one point in each paragraph. If possible, try to highlight something that you think makes up for the limitation at your end, for example if you have a low GMAT score, try to highlight other academic achievements to show that that alone is not representative of your academic bent and that you will be able to adjust to the demands of a rigorous academic program.

The second type of Optional Essay is an open topic essay. This type is usually expected to be three hundred to six hundred words long. It serves, as an extenuating circumstances essay combined with an open platform to mention anything else that the candidate feels will help his or her profile. If there are at all any extenuating circumstances to be addressed, they should be discussed first in the essay. In the remaining space, the applicant should write about any important aspects of his or her profile that has not been discussed in any of the other essays that the school requires. In cases, where an Optional Essay discussed different types of information, it is suggested that you club similar information together in separate paragraphs along with relevant sub-headings. Unlike the other type of optional essay, the language used here should be more personal and emotive. Remember, this is about reaching out to grab the attention of the admissions committee with anything that could not have been said elsewhere. Always make the most of such opportunities!

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