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Tips for Writing an Effective Optional Essay

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If given the chance, you should take advantage of the opportunity to write an optional essay as part of a college or employment application. Writing a captivating optional essay may not be compulsory, but taking the effort to do so may help you stand out from the crowd and provide admissions officers a deeper look into your qualifications and experiences. We have put up a detailed guide on how to compose a strong supplementary essay to aid you through this process. Adhering to these rules will help your essay stand out and improve your chances of being accepted.


What is an optional essay and why you need it?

In the realm of college and job applications, you may come across the term “optional essay.” As the name suggests, this type of essay is not mandatory but provides an additional opportunity for you to share relevant information or address specific aspects of your candidacy. In this article, we will explore what an optional essay is and why it can be a valuable asset in your application process.


An optional essay is an extra component of an application that allows applicants to provide further insights into their qualifications, experiences, or personal circumstances. Unlike required essays or application components, which typically have specific prompts, the optional essay gives applicants more freedom in choosing the topic they want to address. It allows applicants to delve deeper into their unique attributes or offer explanations for any potential weaknesses or gaps in their application.


Understanding the Purpose:

The purpose of an optional essay can vary depending on the institution or organization to which you are applying. However, there are several common reasons why this essay option exists:


Additional Context:

Sometimes, a standard application may not provide enough space for you to adequately explain certain aspects of your background or experiences. The optional essay serves as a platform to offer additional context and showcase your unique circumstances, such as overcoming adversity, pursuing a non-traditional path, or balancing significant responsibilities.


Addressing Weaknesses:

If there are any aspects of your application that may be perceived as weaknesses, such as a low GPA, gaps in employment, or disciplinary actions, the optional essay allows you to provide an explanation or demonstrate how you have grown and learned from these experiences. It enables you to present a more comprehensive picture of your abilities and potential.


Highlighting Unique Experiences:

An optional essay can be an opportunity to share unique experiences, achievements, or perspectives that have influenced your personal growth, academic pursuits, or career aspirations. It enables you to showcase qualities or accomplishments that may not be fully captured in other parts of your application, helping you stand out from other applicants.


Demonstrating Interest and Fit:

In some cases, an optional essay may focus on your interest in the institution or organization you are applying to. It allows you to explain why you believe you are a good fit, how your values align with theirs, or how their specific programs or opportunities will contribute to your academic or professional goals. This essay showcases your enthusiasm and dedication, enhancing your chances of being selected.

Understand the Purpose:


The purpose of the optional essay and how it might help your application should be thoroughly explored before you begin writing. Think carefully about what you want to highlight from your past experiences and who you want to present yourself as. Think about how the unique perspective you may highlight in the optional essay will compliment the remainder of your application. Having a firm grasp on why you’re being asked to write this optional essay will serve as a compass when you do the actual writing.


Think About It

Before starting an optional essay, you should evaluate if it’s really important for your application. Writing an optional essay is strongly encouraged if you have interesting facts or experiences that might considerably improve your application. If you don’t have anything fresh to add or if the optional essay doesn’t play to your strengths, it may be wiser to devote your time elsewhere in the application process. Depending on your specific situation, you may want to consider submitting an optional essay.


Choose the Right Topic:


The topic you pick for your supplementary essay should enhance your application, so give it some thought. Pay special attention to details that need more attention than they received elsewhere in your application. You may do this in a variety of ways, such as by revealing your greatest struggles, outlining the experiences that have shaped you into the person you are now, or highlighting your most noteworthy successes. Pick something that gives you a chance to shine and that expands on the information provided elsewhere in your application.


Personalize It 

Your essay, like the rest of your application, should be customized for the specific school or organization to which you are applying. Learn more about the company’s ideals, goals, and culture by doing some digging before applying. Then, tailor your essay to fit these criteria by illustrating how your experience, expertise, and aspirations are in line with their mission. By tailoring your essay to a specific prompt, you may demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position and set yourself apart from the competition.


Keep it real

Sincerity is of the utmost importance while penning a voluntary essay. Stay authentic by not making things up or adding unnecessary information. Sincerity is hard to fake, and admissions officers and hiring managers know it. Instead, you should try to make your presentation a true expression of who you really are. Communicate your innermost feelings, ideas, and understandings. Don’t be afraid to let your personality and what makes you special shine through in your article. Having integrity and being honest always comes across as real to the reader.


Provide Context and Explanation:


If there is anything in your application that needs some background information or explanation, you may use this opportunity to do so in the optional essay. You may need to do this if you have a significant gap in your academic record, if your grades have recently dropped, or if you have decided to switch majors or careers. Use this essay to provide an in-depth explanation that demonstrates your capacity for self-reflection and growth in the face of adversity. The reader will have a better grasp of your situation and a more full image of your qualifications if you include some background information.


Showcase Personal Growth and Learning:


Use the chance to write an optional essay to discuss how you have grown and what you have learned. Think about what you’ve learnt from your mistakes and failures. Explain how you have grown as a person and in your career as a result of these events. Tell us how you’ve used what you’ve learned to succeed despite setbacks. You exhibit resilience, adaptability, and a desire for continual improvement when you highlight your capacity for learning and development.

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Structure your Essay Effectively:


A well-structured essay is crucial to communicating your ideas clearly and convincingly. Write an attention-grabbing beginning that explains why your essay needs to be read. Paragraphs are a great way to keep your thoughts organized and easy to follow. Each paragraph should address a single point or subject, and offer evidence or an example to back up that point. Make sure your paragraphs and thoughts flow together smoothly by using transitions. Conclude with a strong statement that restates your major arguments and gives the reader with something to think about.


Show, Don’t Just Tell:


Instead than listing your characteristics and accomplishments, demonstrate them via specific instances and tales. Paint an image for the reader and get them involved by using vivid words. Give concrete examples to back up your claims of superior abilities and distinguishing characteristics. By citing concrete examples, your article will be more engaging and memorable to the reader.


Edit and Proofread:


Once you have finished your discretionary essay, it is important to revise and proofread it carefully. Spell check, grammar check, and punctuation check. Make sure your sentences are simple, direct, and grammatically correct. Check for awkward wording and contradictions by reading your essay out loud. If you want to grow as a person and learn new skills, it might be helpful to get feedback from people you respect. An error-free, well-written essay shows that you care about quality.


Be Mindful of Length:


Although the optional essay might not have a hard character or word restriction, you should nevertheless keep it manageable. Write a focused and succinct essay. Repetition and digressions away from the core point should be avoided. Give the reader what they want without wasting their time with unnecessary details. Be sure to stick to the word count guidelines provided to show that you can read and follow directions.


Seek Feedback:

Before turning in your final draft, getting comments from people on your essay is a good idea. If you want honest feedback on your essay, have some respected adults read it through. They may assist you develop your essay by providing helpful feedback and pointing out where you could have done better. Be receptive to criticism and eager to make changes to improve the essay’s effectiveness.


In conclusion, it takes serious consideration, deliberate planning, and meticulous drafting to produce a winning optional essay. If you follow these guidelines, you may create a positive impression on admissions officials or potential employers and strengthen your application. Make sure you pick the correct topic, customize your essay, demonstrate genuine growth and development, and pay close attention to structure, clarity, and editing. By following these suggestions, you may improve your application’s prospects by including an optional essay in which you highlight your qualifications, experiences, and potential.


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