The Optional Essay : The B-School Application
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# The Optional Essay

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Senior Manager
Joined: 19 Nov 2006
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17 Oct 2007, 09:29
I was considering using the optional essay to make a couple points and wanted to get others view on it:

1. GMAT Q Score: I got a 44 which is 72%. Overall score is pretty good (710), but I know most schools say they want the breakdown to be 80% in each. I did undergrad in business and information systems so is relatively technical. Is it worth making the point that even though Q score is not that great I have demonstrated I can handle Q through undergrad classes?

2. I have a couple classes from a community college that I took in high school on my college transcript. Is it worth mentioning that this was while I was in high school and was considered similar to AP since it was taught at my high school. Also grading scale was pretty different think B (93-88).

Sarah
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17 Oct 2007, 09:45
skaballet wrote:
I was considering using the optional essay to make a couple points and wanted to get others view on it:

1. GMAT Q Score: I got a 44 which is 72%. Overall score is pretty good (710), but I know most schools say they want the breakdown to be 80% in each. I did undergrad in business and information systems so is relatively technical. Is it worth making the point that even though Q score is not that great I have demonstrated I can handle Q through undergrad classes?

2. I have a couple classes from a community college that I took in high school on my college transcript. Is it worth mentioning that this was while I was in high school and was considered similar to AP since it was taught at my high school. Also grading scale was pretty different think B (93-88).

Sarah

1. In very few circumstances do I think someone needs an optional essay, and you are no exception IMO. First, it makes for more reading for adcoms, which they don't need. Plus, it let's your stats speak for themselves, and they will see your undergrad quant grades and know that you can handle quant classes. Especially, since a 44 is not a bomb.

2. No. They will figure it out when they see your official transcript. I went to one university, but since I was in the college and then the undergrad bschool program I have two separate GPA's. Adcoms tell me that I can do an average myself, but in the end they will figure it out.
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17 Oct 2007, 10:43
I used the optional essay to explain an employment gap and an educational gap.
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Joined: 08 Nov 2006
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Schools: Ross '10
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17 Oct 2007, 10:56
I think this depends on the school. For Ross, I used the optional essay to "add"(hopefully) value to my candidacy. My general take is unless the school prohibits me from putting anything other than an explantion for extenuating circumstances, like Wharton does, I am inclined to use it for what its worth.
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17 Oct 2007, 11:07
I think this depends on the school. For Ross, I used the optional essay to "add"(hopefully) value to my candidacy. My general take is unless the school prohibits me from putting anything other than an explantion for extenuating circumstances, like Wharton does, I am inclined to use it for what its worth.

I am doing the same.
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17 Oct 2007, 11:18
Chicago doesn't call out specifically only use it for gaps in employment or to explain grades/gmat but they do imply that very strongly. I am sure these people read so many essays that someone feeling like they want to write 500 more words isn't going to give an edge. Honestly if I had a strong profile with nothing that needs explaining I wouldn't bother with it, unless the school requests stuff about volunteering or extracurriculars in the optional essay.

I wrote a short essay on why I had a couple bad grades and how I turned it around. I didn't want them to create reasons why (dont want them to think I was drinking and having fun) I had a couple weak semesters and finished with four straight 3.5-3.8 semesters, getting better each one. I had good reasoning so I wrote about it, in the end I think it actually strengthens my app because it allows me to get more details in about my education than I otherwise could.
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Joined: 18 Jun 2007
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Schools: Emory class of 2010
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17 Oct 2007, 12:33
Ummm...but isn't it always drinking and having fun that causes bad grades? Even if we can come up with some other legitimate excuse?
Director
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17 Oct 2007, 12:43
I also have to write an optional essay on a failed grade I received in my last quarter in my senior year.

It's pretty obvious considering my GPA is 3.33 that I slacked off. But I can't say that. It's all in how I try to spin this. *sigh*
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17 Oct 2007, 12:46
emoryhopeful wrote:
Ummm...but isn't it always drinking and having fun that causes bad grades? Even if we can come up with some other legitimate excuse?

I don't drink and I went to a military school with very very few girls...trust me there was nothing fun going on there. Unless you think waking up at 4:30 in the morning to clean the upperclassmen's bathrooms fun. Then again stories like that always come in handy for essays.
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17 Oct 2007, 12:48
Oh no, such a terrible GPA at 3.33. I would kill for that. I don't think you need to spin it any way, other than you've learned from it. At least, that's what I'm hoping will work. I failed two classes in the same semester in the middle of school. It was my only really poor semester, with the rest being at least solid. I really don't plan on addressing it too much in the essays, but will gladly address it in an interview.
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17 Oct 2007, 12:49
riverripper wrote:
emoryhopeful wrote:
Ummm...but isn't it always drinking and having fun that causes bad grades? Even if we can come up with some other legitimate excuse?

I don't drink and I went to a military school with very very few girls...trust me there was nothing fun going on there. Unless you think waking up at 4:30 in the morning to clean the upperclassmen's bathrooms fun. Then again stories like that always come in handy for essays.

Ouch...that's definitely not fun.
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17 Oct 2007, 16:21
I'm on NC's boat in terms of optional essays. If there is a STRONG (key word: strong) part of you candidacy that's not addressed in the essay questions, and the school doesn't limit optional essays to special circumstances (as Stanford also does), then having a 500 word essay is helpful.

For my Haas and UCLA essays, I couldn't use my community service (which shows leadership and giving back to alma mater outside of work) in any of the essays, so I used the optional essay to talk about it. For Stanford, one of the short essays allowed me to talk about part of my community service, so that was good enough for me.

Kellogg also has enough questions that I do not need to write an optional essay.
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17 Oct 2007, 19:05
skaballet wrote:
I was considering using the optional essay to make a couple points and wanted to get others view on it:

1. GMAT Q Score: I got a 44 which is 72%. Overall score is pretty good (710), but I know most schools say they want the breakdown to be 80% in each. I did undergrad in business and information systems so is relatively technical. Is it worth making the point that even though Q score is not that great I have demonstrated I can handle Q through undergrad classes?

2. I have a couple classes from a community college that I took in high school on my college transcript. Is it worth mentioning that this was while I was in high school and was considered similar to AP since it was taught at my high school. Also grading scale was pretty different think B (93-88).

Sarah

S -

My total gmat was the same as yours, but my quant was even worse. I thought about doing the extra essay, but did not. These guys know how to read your app. They'll put the gmat in perspective, and as others have said, you're fine.

As for the second, I'd skip it. It's not earth-shattering enough.
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22 Jul 2011, 12:04
Hi guys!

I had a couple of bad grades in college as in "E- Exposed" which I turned around to "good/above average" respectively in the next year. Other than that I had continuous advancements in the following semesters. My GPA turned out just fine from a top tier school.

Dont mean to make it sound like an excuse but I had far more pressing societal issues during that semester, which felt of greater importance than academics at that point and about which I had done something taking up leadership initiatives.

Am applying only to wharton this year. They have an optional essay to explain the "extenuating circumstances" . It was just those two grades and nothing else at all in the whole transcipt. I could explain I was involved in leadership activities in the society , so lost track of academics but am not that person anymore, etc.

Other than this flaw I have a solid application. Should I just let it be?? or should I explain it??

@riverripper: considering you were in a similar spot, I would much appreciate your answer.

Thanks guys.
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14 Aug 2015, 10:02
Anasthaesium wrote:
Hi guys!

I had a couple of bad grades in college as in "E- Exposed" which I turned around to "good/above average" respectively in the next year. Other than that I had continuous advancements in the following semesters. My GPA turned out just fine from a top tier school.

Dont mean to make it sound like an excuse but I had far more pressing societal issues during that semester, which felt of greater importance than academics at that point and about which I had done something taking up leadership initiatives.

Am applying only to wharton this year. They have an optional essay to explain the "extenuating circumstances" . It was just those two grades and nothing else at all in the whole transcipt. I could explain I was involved in leadership activities in the society , so lost track of academics but am not that person anymore, etc.

Other than this flaw I have a solid application. Should I just let it be?? or should I explain it??

riverripper: considering you were in a similar spot, I would much appreciate your answer.

Thanks guys.

Hey, I'm in a similar spot this year... Not too bad a GPA overall, but there are these black spots on my transcript. How do i explain it in the optional essay?
Re: The Optional Essay   [#permalink] 14 Aug 2015, 10:02
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