In the past, we have mentioned how challenging competing against a faceless mass of fellow applicants can be and how disadvantaged a person can feel if he/she does not seize each and every opportunity to do so. Although we want you to make the most of every opportunity you can to set yourself apart, you also need to be judicious in choosing those opportunities. Some can actually work against you and thereby turn into negatives. So, let us elaborate….
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 will likely notice in your profile, and this essay can allow you to “get ahead of the scandal,” so to speak. So, if you earned an F grade, had a bad semester in college, received a low GMAT score, or have been dismissed from a position, you should write the optional essay to address the issue proactively. 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.
MBA candidates have many reasons for writing 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, do not use this opportunity to submit an essay from a different school just to fill the space or write a new essay repackaging your strengths. If you have nothing new or important to share, you are in an advantageous position and should take a step back and appreciate it, not fret.