These past two weeks, we have started our “myth destroyed” by mentioning how challenging it can be to compete against a faceless mass and how one can feel disadvantaged if he/she does not seize each and every opportunity to do so. And, of course, we want you to seize each and every opportunity, but not attempt to seize opportunities that do not exist and thus turn them into negatives. So, once and for all….
The optional essay does not need to be written by everyone and, by neglecting to write the optional essay, you are not at a disadvantage. The optional essay is an opportunity for you to discuss problems that the admissions committee should notice anyway and thus “get ahead of the scandal.” So, if you have an F, a bad semester, a low GMAT or have been dismissed from a position, you should write the optional essay. Alternatively, if you are applying with a partner and the admissions committee may not know, you might want to use the optional essay to inform the committee of this relevant information, which is not a problem, but simply of interest.
There are many reasons to write the optional essay, but you should absolutely not feel that you need to write it. If you have nothing to explain and have generally performed well, you should not submit an essay from a different school just to fill the space or write a new essay repackaging your strengths. If you have nothing to write, you are in an advantageous position and should take a step back and appreciate it, not fret.