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How to include extenuating circumstances in essay? [#permalink]
25 Jul 2007, 05:32
So, here's my dilemma: I'm applying to the PT MBA program at OSU. Unlike most other schools, this one only requires one essay. The points that applicants are supposed to cover in the essay (2 page, single spaced) are:
-your leadership, ability to work with others and your skill at resolving conflict,
– your short-term and long-term goals,
– your reasons for seeking an MBA degree in general, and
– why you believe a Fisher College MBA will help you achieve these goals.
My problem is that I have some extenuating circumstances to explain why my grades were pretty crappy for 1 year in the middle of undergrad, which in turn brought down my overall GPA. If you look at my transcript, that year totally sticks out. However, no where in the essay topics is one that lets you write about anything optional.
I also had a meeting a few months ago with someone from the admissions office and I asked how I should go about this and if I should do a separate short essay explaining the situation. Basically, I was told that they weren't really sure, but that a separate essay was out of the question. They finally suggested that I use the first couple of paragraphs at the beginning of my personal essay to explain my GPA and then just move on to the other topics from there.
No, unfortunately there is not an optional essay. I would have thought that that would be the way to go, but the person I spoke with at the school said that they don't accept any optional essays and so I'd have to work it into the required essay somehow.
I'd tend to take OSU's advice on what to do over my own, but I did cringe a bit at the thought of starting your only business school application essay with an explanation of the extenuating circumstances that caused poor performance.
I don't think that is the first impression you want to make in your essays. I would be inclined to write the best, most focused essay i could and then add a separate one or two sentence explanation of the extenuating circumstances. (You always have the interview to explain in a bit more detail.)
Thanks for the advice everyone! I too was thinking that it would be better to try to incorporate the explanation into one of the topics, but I'm having a hard time doing so. It was a medical problem (Hodgkin's disease, chemo for a year, had to go to school full-time to be covered under parent's insurance, also worked 30 hrs. a week).
The person at OSU who suggested that I just start out with the explanation, seemed kind of thrown off by my dilemma (although I can't believe that I'm the first person ever to apply with a legitimate reason for a low GPA) and didn't seem sure what to do.
At one point, I had even thought about forgoing any explanation at all, in the fear that they would think I was just making excuses. But, because of that year, I don't think that my overall GPA is a good representation of my academic ability (and I'm sure that after they look at my transcript, they'd probably have a question about that year anyways).
I'm attending an info. session tonight, and since I believe that they'll have more senior admissions folks there, I might try to corner one of them afterwards and ask. I'll let you all know what happens!
Oh, and rustmonster, unfortunately they don't do interviews for the PT MBA. I really wish that they did though, because I usually come across pretty well in a face-to-face conversation!
Maybe you can stain your application with your tears. Just kidding.
Hey, if it would help me get in...
That is a story to tell. I would use it. One is that your a cancer survivor. Two that you still wanted your education, despite all the medial issues (shows determination), and shows that you finish what you begin as well as overcoming that one bad year (especially if the GPA is within the 80%range).
So, I found out some new stuff at the info. session last night. I spoke with the person in charge of admissions after the session and she said that I could either do another essay and add it as an addendum, or, I could find a way to incorporate it into the personal essay. I'm thinking that I might allude to the situation in the personal essay (as a growth experience), kind of like what zakk said, but then put the specifics in a separate document.
That's too bad they don't interview. Knowing now what happened, if they hold that against you ... they don't deserve you! That's very compelling. I suspect it will reflect well on you - overcoming adversity, perspective on life, inner strength, etc.
I think you can weave this into your essay. Don't make it about your grades, make it about resolving conflict. The obvious story for resolving conflict is about a team you worked with where Joey didn't do his job and you had to make everyone get along and came out with a stellar product, blahblah. But really, conflict could also be about what you had to deal with when you were sick: your work, health, and education needs were clearly in conflict. You can come out very well -- dedicated, resourceful, self-aware, focused, etc -- if you pull it together right. So make this story about you, and throw something in there about, "while my grades suffered that year, I am still proud that I was able to juggle ____, ________ and _____."