Wondering when to submit your optional essay along with your MBA application? Worry not! We are here to assist you and tell you when is the right time to submit an optional essay and how it will benefit your application. 

Most business schools in India and abroad require you to submit an essay as part of your MBA application. These essays can significantly influence your application if written well. The objective of an MBA essay is to indicate and highlight important aspects of your professional life that your resume hasn’t already indicated. This includes aspects such as future career goals, self-reflection, values and qualities you possess, leadership experiences, your contribution to your work, the impact you have created, and achievements and progress in your professional life. Some business schools might even ask you to send a video essay wherein you record yourself within a limited time frame and respond to a question posed by the admission committee. 

An MBA essay is a mandatory requirement by almost all business schools, hence you might already be familiar with it. However, business schools also provide their applicants with the opportunity of submitting an optional essay. Now you might wonder, what does an optional essay refer to? Let’s explore that in the next section.  

Optional Essay: What is it?

As the name suggests, an optional essay is not mandatory and can be submitted by an applicant if they deem it necessary. Not submitting an optional essay does not place you at a disadvantage when compared to other applicants who have. An optional essay serves as an aid for those applicants whose application is weak and that might raise questions from the admissions committee. You can choose to write an optional essay explaining the circumstance behind any kind of discrepancy, inconsistency, or irregularity in your previous one. 

When is the Right Time to Submit an Optional Essay?

You must wonder when would be the right time to write an optional essay. The right time to write your optional essay is after you have submitted your MBA essay and documents such as transcripts, statement of purpose, letter of recommendations, and your resume. You should only consider writing an optional essay if your application has some troubling aspects or if you think it is weak and you might lose the opportunity of pursuing an MBA. In such a scenario, you can explain the strenuous circumstances behind a discrepancy or inconsistency. You can write an optional essay if your application has one or more of these factors:

  • Criminal records 
  • Academic suspension
  • Poor academic  performance
  • Poor GMAT score, or even a low Verbal or Quant score
  • Long term absences
  • Gaps in your resume 
  • Missing letter of recommendation 
  • Lack of academic or professional reference 
  • Losing your job due to negligence on your end 

Writing an optional essay will help you address these issues before the admissions committee questions you on the same and proceed to withhold your application due to these issues. Addressing these issues head-on will indicate to the admissions committee that you are committed, dedicated and honest. Additionally, it will also depict that you have taken the time to reflect on the application and are dedicated to working on your weaknesses. 

Tips for Writing an Optional Essay

If you are considering writing an optional essay for your MBA application, here are tips you should keep in mind while drafting an optional essay: 

Brief and Concise 

When you are writing an optional essay, you should keep in mind that an optional is not a mandatory requirement and that you are writing one to benefit your application. An optional essay is an additional essay that the admissions committee will have to review, so keeping this in mind, make sure to keep your essay brief and to the point. For example, if you want to explain why you have poor grades in your undergraduate degree, do not begin the essay with a background to your course or begin by explaining how you were an excellent student in school. Nobody likes to read an essay where the matter or content is stretched out to no end. Hence, keep it brief and jump to the point by examining the circumstances that caused a hindrance to you performing well in academics. 

Provide a Rational Justification 

As we mentioned above, try keeping your optional essay brief and to the point. However, do not adopt an approach where you only state the problem without an explanation. When you draft your optional essay, make sure to clearly state the issue and accompany it with a rational justification. For example, if you have a low score on your GMAT, address it and justify why your performance was not up to the mark. Make it a point to provide proof that you possess all the necessary skills despite the low score and how it will not hinder your performance while pursuing an MBA. Additionally, provide evidence for the claims that you make. Without evidence, your claims will have no standing and the admissions committee might not see a real potential amidst the claims you make. Hence, when drafting your optional essay, state the issue, address it, make claims, and provide legible proof for the same. 

Avoid Temptation 

Last but not the least, avoid the temptation of writing an optional essay without a valid reason. Most applicants, overcome with stress and anxiety, tend to do everything in their power to get into the university of their choice. As a result, they end up drafting an optional essay, thinking it will increase their chances of getting into top universities. But, an optional essay without a valid reason does not influence your application in any way. Rather, choosing to write an optional essay even though your application has no negative aspects, indicates a lack of confidence in your MBA application. This can also be perceived as a weakness by the admission committee. Hence, if your MBA application is looking good and meets all the necessary conditions, avoid writing an optional essay. 

Now, you know when is the right time to submit an optional essay for your MBA application, right? If you feel the need to submit an optional essay, do it without any hesitation or shame. Addressing your mistakes and weaknesses is often seen as a strength as you have been able to self-reflect and rectify. This might even increase your chances of getting into the business school of your choice. Hence, feel no shame in being honest to yourself and with the admissions committee. You got this!


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