In the past, we have advised MBA candidates to exercise caution in choosing to write the optional essay (see our Monday Morning Essay Tip: The Optional Mistake. Well, our philosophy has not changed, but we do want to make MBA candidates aware of certain circumstances, outside of those in which they might be discussing a problem area, which may necessitate writing an optional essay.

If you have achieved something absolutely extraordinary that is relevant to your candidacy - something that truly strikes at the essence of who you are - but simply will not fit as an answer to the essay questions posed by the school, then you may use the optional essay to illuminate the experience and its importance to you. We would only advise a candidate to make this exception in the most unique of circumstances and remind candidates that they should still be quite conservative in their use of this space. Again, this is not the place for a 500 word extra essay, but may be the place for a few sentences, illustrating the extraordinary experience and its significance. Such an experience will indeed stand on its own; so you do not need to belabor the point and agitate the admissions committee with a long essay detailing a variety of themes and accomplishments.