Like a lot of other business schools, Babson offers you the opportunity to submit an optional essay, that is, an essay to the three required. What is constantly surprising to me, though, is how few applicants really use this essay to their full advantage. Don’t use this essay just to explain your low GPA, or why you did poorly in your major, or why in one semester you earned 3 D’s, an F, and a Withdrawal. Or, conversely, have some stupendous successes on the job?
Here are five ways in which you can successfully use this option, plus: a stylistic tip and a few examples of how misusing the optional essay can diminish your prospects as well as potentially alienate a very busy Admissions Committee. Use it to explain what happened, how you overcame your performance. All these points can be masterfully addressed in a pithy, example-laden essay. Special circumstances College, test taking, work settings—your performance in all of these settings can easily be affected by a major life crisis or personal challenge.
Some Brave Supplicant found our erstwhile blahg with that question, plugged into the trust ol’ Google machine. Or, maybe we’ll qualify it with the ever-unhelpful It depends.
The thing is, there really isn’t much of a “reason” you can offer for why you didn’t do well on the…
Hopefully you have an explanation for these, especially poor grades, which does not come across as an excuse.
You should keep these explanations brief and if there’s something that you have done to address these issues, this is the place to include that information.
Topics to include in most optional essays There are some topics that a school will expect you to address in the optional essay.
Examples of these are poor grades in college (or in masters degree programs), low GMAT score (particularly on the quant section), breaks in education or employment, and recommenders who may not be considered your managers.
One applicant we worked with had several “C” grades in analytical courses in college but she recently took additional quantitative classes through a continuing education program and received “A” grades to show that she can handle the rigor of coursework in a top MBA program.
The rule of thumb is that if you feel that there is something about your candidacy that you “think” the admissions office may wonder about, it’s better to address it clearly and concisely rather than wonder if it’s perhaps impacting the review of your file.