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How indepth should we go for an optional essays

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How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 25 Jul 2012, 08:01
I had an employment gap of about 8 months in the beginning of 2009. During this time I traveled (and moved) across the country, tried to launch a business, and then accepted a roll with the company I've been with since.

As you can imagine, this experience is a great resource for some solid stories that I would have not had a chance to bring up in other portions of an application.

So my main question is, should I really use the full 500 or so words to go into depth about my experiences? Or, should I approach it as a concise explanation of the gap with an effort to not waste the adcoms time?
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 25 Jul 2012, 08:28
Expert's post
Please use all the allowed space to share your experiences during that 8- month with the Ad Com. I am sure you must have had rewarding experiences during your travels , during your efforts at business launch , and also during your job search that contributed to your growth. Reflect on those experiences , make a list and then build a tsory that would not only engage the Ad Com , but also enhance their knowledge .

I `hope it helped.

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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Jul 2012, 02:18
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Most optional essays are short, no more than 250 words. Be detailed, but be concise. You do not need 500 words to talk about everything you did during the gap in employment. Adcoms only want to see that you used the time productively. Also you need to devote a bit of space to why you were out of work.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Jul 2012, 02:25
cheetarah1980 wrote:
Most optional essays are short, no more than 250 words. Be detailed, but be concise. You do not need 500 words to talk about everything you did during the gap in employment. Adcoms only want to see that you used the time productively. Also you need to devote a bit of space to why you were out of work.


Thank you. So, would you say the best approach would be including:
1. Why I was out of Work
2. What I did during that time
and nothing else?

I guess what I'm asking is, should this read more like a description of what happened, or should it have an introspective element to it.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Jul 2012, 07:24
highwyre237 wrote:
cheetarah1980 wrote:
Most optional essays are short, no more than 250 words. Be detailed, but be concise. You do not need 500 words to talk about everything you did during the gap in employment. Adcoms only want to see that you used the time productively. Also you need to devote a bit of space to why you were out of work.


Thank you. So, would you say the best approach would be including:
1. Why I was out of Work
2. What I did during that time
and nothing else?

I guess what I'm asking is, should this read more like a description of what happened, or should it have an introspective element to it.

I think it would also make sense to add

3. And how did I grow from it as a person/professional / how did it give me a unique perspective that only I have?

That way you can show it is actually an asset rather than a weakness.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Jul 2012, 07:53
kingfalcon wrote:
highwyre237 wrote:
cheetarah1980 wrote:
Most optional essays are short, no more than 250 words. Be detailed, but be concise. You do not need 500 words to talk about everything you did during the gap in employment. Adcoms only want to see that you used the time productively. Also you need to devote a bit of space to why you were out of work.


Thank you. So, would you say the best approach would be including:
1. Why I was out of Work
2. What I did during that time
and nothing else?

I guess what I'm asking is, should this read more like a description of what happened, or should it have an introspective element to it.

I think it would also make sense to add

3. And how did I grow from it as a person/professional / how did it give me a unique perspective that only I have?

That way you can show it is actually an asset rather than a weakness.


Well thats my question I guess, and I keep receiving contrasting opinions. Should optional essays be viewed as an opportunity to solely explain weaknesses in your resume/gpa/gmat OR in addition, should it also be used as another essay to reflect on your past experiences and growth from those situations...

If the latter, then isn't this an unfair advantage to those of us who need to write an optional essay? In a sense, we have another chance to complete an entirely new essay...

It is very probable that I am over thinking this... I know
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Jul 2012, 15:59
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highwyre237 wrote:
Well thats my question I guess, and I keep receiving contrasting opinions. Should optional essays be viewed as an opportunity to solely explain weaknesses in your resume/gpa/gmat OR in addition, should it also be used as another essay to reflect on your past experiences and growth from those situations...

If the latter, then isn't this an unfair advantage to those of us who need to write an optional essay? In a sense, we have another chance to complete an entirely new essay...

It is very probable that I am over thinking this... I know


Most schools I applied to last year and what I've seen this year explicitly tell you not to do the latter. This is taken from Fuqua's website but many other school have similar statements.

Quote:
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weakness in your application). Note that you should NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area. The Optional Essay is intended to provide the admissions committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.


To me that is pretty clear that you aren't supposed to use this as a clever excuse to write an additional essay about how great you are. It is supposed to just explain any discrepancy or issue and end it there.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Jul 2012, 17:05
mappleby wrote:
highwyre237 wrote:
Well thats my question I guess, and I keep receiving contrasting opinions. Should optional essays be viewed as an opportunity to solely explain weaknesses in your resume/gpa/gmat OR in addition, should it also be used as another essay to reflect on your past experiences and growth from those situations...

If the latter, then isn't this an unfair advantage to those of us who need to write an optional essay? In a sense, we have another chance to complete an entirely new essay...

It is very probable that I am over thinking this... I know


Most schools I applied to last year and what I've seen this year explicitly tell you not to do the latter. This is taken from Fuqua's website but many other school have similar statements.

Quote:
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weakness in your application). Note that you should NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area. The Optional Essay is intended to provide the admissions committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.


To me that is pretty clear that you aren't supposed to use this as a clever excuse to write an additional essay about how great you are. It is supposed to just explain any discrepancy or issue and end it there.


Thanks, cheetarah, mappleby, and everyone else, always nice to get the perspective of people who have been through the process already.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Jul 2012, 23:45
You need to do all 3 within 250 words.
1) What caused the employment gap
2) What did you do during the employment gap
3) What did you learn/how did you grow during this time period

You don't have the room to wax poetic. It only takes 1 sentence to answer the first part, 4-5 sentences to answer the second part, and 4-5 sentences for part 3. I had to write an optional essay to explain a low GPA. I used the first paragraph to say what went wrong, second to describe what I have done since then to prove my analytical ability and maturity, and 2 sentences to say how I have grown up since undergrad. It was 248 words. It's definitely doable.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2012, 18:18
On a similar note, is a 4/40% score for Integrated Reasoning worth explaining in the Optional Essay?
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2012, 20:03
lv76 wrote:
On a similar note, is a 4/40% score for Integrated Reasoning worth explaining in the Optional Essay?


I definitely wouldn't. What could you possibly say? "I swear I'm good at reasoning!" It will just come out as excuses. If you're that concerned about it tAke the GMAT again. Also the IR section isn't being seriously evaluated. Don't draw any more attention to it.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2012, 06:40
Just an update, I applied to 3 different schools, and used pretty much the maximum in each to explain my employment gap. 1 school was an applicant initiated interview, (denied) and I was invited to interview at the other 2 schools, still waiting on their decisions, but using the entire space did not negatively affect my application. Just make sure there is a good reason behind using the optionals.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2012, 07:34
Our philosophy is to keep it short and to the point. Admissions officers are very busy and they have limited time to read about every aspect of your candidacy. Also, use this space only for unique circumstances that directly impact your candidacy. Many candidates use this space to volunteer information that is not relevent to their candidacy and many circumstances, the information they provide damages their application.

So the take away here is be selective and strategic on what you present and how you present it.

Kimberly Plaga
Senior Admissions Consultant
Manhattan Review

Call for a free candidacy assessment.
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Re: How indepth should we go for an optional essays   [#permalink] 27 Dec 2012, 07:34
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