Mit Sloan Essays 2016

 

MIT will be issuing interview invites towards the end of February. Good luck if you submitted in Round 2!

 

Based on overall applicant friendliness, MIT Sloan earned EssaySnark’s Radcom of the Year Award in both 2016 and again in 2017! They’re also quite popular with BSers these days: The average GMAT at MIT shot from 716 to now 724 for the Class of 2018 (an all-time high).


 

We do NOT suggest applying to MIT in Round 3 (particularly not this year where we’ve seen so much interest in this school). If you do decide to go for it then may we suggest the MIT Sloan MBA Application guide which discusses all of these important aspects of timing and strategy, and has all the details you need on the cover letter, the new video submission and their ‘mission’ essay too.

2017 MIT Sloan Full-Time MBA Application – Class of 2020

As expected, MIT has retained their cover letter for the 2017 MBA application — and they’ve also added a video component! It has a prescribed question and they’re calling it a “video statement” — you have to record your video and upload it to the app like another essay, as part of the submission. The question is deceivingly simple:

Video Statement

Please introduce yourself to your future classmates via a brief video statement.

This one is going to require some introspection and self-examination in order to answer well! You’ll want to treat this more like a second essay – not to the extent that you’ll literally write out your answer, since that would seriously backfire on you if you were to sit there and read it while you were being filmed. Instead, you’ll outline and prepare your content for both the video statement, and the cover letter, and the optional essay if you need it. Then, you’ll write the cover letter (and write it again – the revision process is critical) and review and adjust your ideas for the video statement. After the cover letter and resume (and optional essay) are all done, when you submit the app, then you’ll also record your video statement too. You need to know how you’re going to handle it before you send it all in! This requires a concentrated approach.

For the cover letter, which is another assignment that Brave Supplicants have found challenging, they’ve thankfully given you BSers a break this year by expanding the max length of that cover letter by 50 words. You may not think that 50 words is very much but believe the ‘Snark, 300 words is WAY more than 250. This is still going to be an exceedingly challenging essay to write (mostly because it’s really not an essay) however you won’t have quite as tough a time as last year’s crop of applicants did.

Here are the full instructions for the written components – these also have been greatly expanded and further explained so you know what you’re getting int. They are helping you significantly here!

Cover Letter

MIT Sloan seeks students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity and respect passion.

Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).

Resume

Please submit a resume that includes your employment history and academic record in reverse chronological order. Other information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged. (no more than 1 page in length)

The cover letter at MIT is actually a long-standing tradition that they resuscitated last year, after previously having it as recently as 2012 (when it was but one of a suite of essays).

Well offer you this from Twitter’s Professor Snarky (no relation):

Dear student: A job cover letter needs to say what they'll get out of hiring you, not what you'll get out of being hired.

— Professor Snarky (@ProfSnarky) September 16, 2017


 

Because of the video question, which is pretty open-ended, then the Additional Information submission for MIT has moved back to text only; it can now be up to 200 words, which means you should use it as you would any other school’s optional essay (meaning, only if specifically needed to explain something that you can’t otherwise explain elsewhere in the application, like low GPA, gaps in employment, etc.). Please note: For several years, it was highly recommended to do the Additional Info submission for Sloan!! That has now changed!!!! You will need to evaluate your circumstances very carefully and see what you’re conveying with the cover letter + resume + video statement! Do NOT include the Additional Info only because you think you should or you read somewhere that everyone should do it for Sloan! That advice is now outdated. If you’re researching posts here on the blahg about your app strategy for MIT, please pay careful attention to the date; anything that does not say 2017 is not likely to be accurate with this year’s application instructions.

But wait! There’s more! 🙂

MIT has a unique element to their process: If you get invited to interview then you’ll need to submit a separate essay as part of that process. The essence of this question is that they’re asking for a story where you’ve being successful in some capacity in your career that demonstrates how you’re in sync with their mission (note that as of 7/31/17 we’ve been informed by a sharp-eyed BSer that it’s a change to the actual prompt from what they had before):

The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. We believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and well-being is a key component of both principled leadership and sound management practice. In 250 words or less, please describe how you, as a member of the MIT Sloan community, would work to create a campus that is welcoming, inclusive and increasingly diverse.

This is now in line with many other schools that are not just focusing on their own culture but also on how each applicant will actually contribute to it in a civil way, to foster growth and change productively (in contrast with the polarized politics a lot of people are fostering in the “real world” right now). This is not an easy question! There’s a lot to parse here and you could go in many different directions with it — which is both a grand opportunity and also a very big challenge. Most people don’t do so well in articulating how they feel they’re a fit through this (it is NOT asking you for the standard info of “I want to take this course or be in this club” stuff that so many applicants use in other essays). This one needs to be part of your full strategy. We actually suggest you write it when you write your cover letter. Our essay guide explains why, and how). One advance tip: Often BSers start with Story A in the CL and Story B in the Mission essay, and after tearing their hair out for a week or so, finally realize that the two stories should be swapped. Which is yet another reason why it’s so strategic to work on them together. Be open to totally juggling around your ideas as you go through this.

Full app requirements available at the MIT website and a full explanation of your best approach to those is in our MIT MBA app guide for 2017!

 
 

Dang, lots of changes again this year, Sloan! The recommenders’ requirements also have been changed! And they shifted their Round 1 deadline out till later in September, which takes the pressure off when you’re scrambling to get other top schools done earlier in the month. And – yes there’s more! – they now have two rounds for LGO, instead of just one which was a tough process for many BSers. These are all awesome improvements; they’re streamlining, clarifying, and otherwise changing for the better. Yet Sloan is still Sloan! You will not be able to reuse anything you’ve done for any other school (except for the parts that capture YOU; those parts won’t need to be changed!). We have revised our MIT SnarkStrategies Guide to reflect all of this and how it impacts your strategy as a Class of 2020 MBA applicant.

There’s also been a number of posts on the EssaySnark blahg about the MIT Sloan cover letter and resume this year – see the Snark Info on Sloan section below for some highlights.

We also definitely recommend getting up to Boston to experience Sloan for yourself, and if not, then be sure to get in front of the adcom in one of their traveling sessions if at all possible. This really will help you quite a bit.

 
 

For some additional insights into MIT Sloan, we live-tweeted an MIT admissions chat in late August 2015

From @MITSloanAdcom: "Common mistake is people who don't follow instructions-seems like common sense but happens more often then you think."

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

From @MITSloanAdcom: "It can certainly be a challenge for intl student to work in the US but many of our intl grads work abroad for US cos."

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

Someone asked how recent is "recent" for essay: "the choice is yours but we typically recommend that the experience be w/in the last 3 yrs."

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

Here's a good Q: "Do you expect managerial experience from candidates or will demonstrated leadership experience in other roles suffice ?"

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

The @MITSloanAdcom's answer: "Leadership in other roles is perfectly fine. The average work experience is typically 5 years."

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

At least they're still consistent on this! "We would prefer a one page resume." All schools do BTW.

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

From @MITSloanAdcom: "The only advice I have for interview is to print your application and think of new examples to talk about!"

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

Confirming what we've been saying for years now: From @MITSloanAdcom: "I always encourage people to apply in round 1 if possible."

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

Pick up the 2017 MIT essay guide to learn how to approach the app! It’s been completely revised for this year’s requirements.



 

Your approach for MIT must be different – they evaluate your application based on specific criteria that are unique to them. If you want to understand how this works, please pick up the SnarkStrategies Guide for MIT – it will help you grasp what’s so very unique about this school’s admissions criteria, compared to other top MBA programs.

 
 

MIT 2017 FULL-TIME MBA Dates and Deadlines

  • Regular MBA and LGO Round 1: – More applicant-friendliness from MIT this year! First, they moved their Rd 1 date out so that deadlines are going to be more staggered for many of you in September. Big win! Second, they’re now letting you apply to LGO in Round 1, too! Used to be, LGO apps were due in December and there was only one deadline, and it was definitely not optimized if you were trying for other schools in Round 1. This is way better

    Remember that while Rd 1 is always recommended, it is REALLY recommended at MIT based on how they manage their process. Rd 1 interview invitations will start going out on October 5th and then come on every Thursday until November 2nd, when applicants they won’t be moving forward with will be released. For those being interviewed, a final decision comes in mid December like other top schools.

  • LGO Round 2: – if you’re interested in LGO then this can work too but for most of you, Round 1 will be better due to timing of decisions with other schools. (LGO is a joint degree with MIT Engineering, you can find out more here .)
  • Regular MBA Round 2: yay thank you also MIT for keeping your Round 2 date later!!!!!! OMG jumping up and down you make the ‘Snark happy on behalf of all future BSers everywhere. Round 2 interview invitations will go out in a first wave on February 22, then on March 1 there will be a second (final) wave and “release” for those not moving forward. Interviews will be conducted by the adcom in international locations throughout March.

Please note that MIT had only two rounds for admission up through the 2015-2016 application cycle, so it’s very possible that you could read posts from the ‘Snarchives that are outdated in how they talk about timing of an application strategy for this school. Always check to see that the information you’re consuming here and elsewhere is current and applicable to the current year!

We REALLY do not recommend a Round 3 application to this school. It will be MUCH HARDER to figure out your reapplicant strategy for Round 1 in Fall 2018 if you don’t make it in the first time, and there are very low chances that you will make it in at this stage of the admissions cycle at this school especially. If you opt for it anyway, then you should definitely pick up our MIT application guide to assist (and we’d also suggest the full Essay Decimator too).

 

There are a lot of changes with the MIT admissions requirements! The 2017 MIT Application Guide is now available, with a full discussion of what to do and how to maximize your chances in light of the new application.

Recommendations

1For 2017, MIT has moved to standardized recommender questions – which is a big win since they used to have a total one-off requirement that was unlike other schools.

 


 

For Reference: MIT’s Past-Season Questions

Included in case anyone wants to see what Sloan asked before.
Click to view last year's questions


2016 MIT Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

They are officially going retro! MIT has restored their classic “cover letter” question, which was the very first form of an “introduce yourself” type essay that any school ever instituted. Good news: We’ve got lots of experience in helping successful applicants work through this important deliverable!

Cover Letter and Resume

Cover Letter: Please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions. (250 words or fewer for the body of the letter)

Resume: Please submit a resume that includes your employment history and academic record in reverse chronological order. Other information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged. (no more than 1 page in length)

Thankfully they’ve clarified now that the 250 words is the body of the cover letter only!

On each of these EssaySnark school essay question and info pages, we always retain our commentary from past seasons’ app requirements at the bottom – and in the case of MIT Sloan, we’re going to recommend you actually go through and read all of that. The info on last year’s app can give some context into the changes that the adcom has been making. Also, to fill you in, the cover letter requirement was a staple of the MIT app through 2012 when it was but one of a suite of essays. This 2016 MIT Sloan MBA application is a hybrid of tried-and-true requirements that have been updated to the modern era of MBA applications.

As an example of the modern era, they’ve again kept their “Additional Information” optional submission, which we actually say is not optional – this is one of the very few schools where you really do want to submit something for this:

Optional Question: The Admissions Committee invites you to share additional information about yourself, in any format. If you choose a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us with the URL.

Suggested guidelines:
Please keep all videos and media limited to 2:00 minutes total in length.
Please keep all written essays to 500 words or less.
If hosting your submission on a website, please ensure you provide an unprotected link (no password required).

Instead of this being a traditional “optional essay” which we typically suggest you DON’T submit unless you have to in order to explain something, in this case, for MIT, we suggest you DO come up with something to include here – particularly this year when there’s only the single essay for the app. Our MIT essay guide goes into all the strategy behind this suggestion.

We have revised our comprehensive MIT SnarkStrategies Guide to reflect all of this and how it impacts your strategy as a Class of 2019 MBA applicant. We do NOT recommend buying any previous season version of this school’s guide; it will NOT help you with the core application and the details involved with this year’s strategy.

They’ve also kept their post-interview-invite essay where they want you to tell a story about being successful in the context of their mission – a classic “culture” type question:

The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Please share with us something about your past that aligns with this mission. (250 words or fewer).

Only those who are lucky enough to get invited to the interview stage will need to do this additional essay (we actually suggest you write it when you write your cover letter though! our essay guide explains why, and how).

Recommendations

MIT has their own recommendation requirements – not standardized recommender questions
  • How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?
  • How does the applicant stand out from others in a similar capacity?
  • Please give an example of the applicant’s impact on a person, group, or organization.
  • Please give a representative example of how the applicant interacts with other people.
  • Which of the applicant’s personal or professional characteristics would you change?
  • If you are an academic/technical recommender, please tell us how well the applicant mastered the subject you taught or supervised and in what ways did the applicant demonstrate this mastery. (LGO only?)
  • Please tell us anything else you think we should know about this applicant.

Our Recommender’s Instruction Sets can be especially useful for this school!

[end discussion of MIT’s last-year questions]



Click to view 2015 questions

2015 MIT Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

Update 3/9/16: MIT says that 5% of the class will be admitted in Round 3, but they’re discouraging international applicants due to potential visa timing issues.

MIT WAS PICKY IN ROUND 1!!! They’re clearly going for an improvement to their rankings based on a strengthening of the class profile. We expect average GMAT score to go up even further at MIT for the Class of 2018, based on the outcomes we’re seeing from them so far this season. (We did predict that, back in May…)

In the “it’s ever more competitive” department: Average GMAT score at MIT is now 716 (up from 713). Wow.

Thankfully (!!!) MIT has modified its application this year. Their essay questions the past two cycles were straight-up awful for BSers to deal with. This year they’ve gone down to ONE main question – which normally we’d be rather unhappy about, except that they’re also introducing a system sort of similar to HBS, where you submit a second essay if you’re invited to interview. (Harvard’s Post-Interview Reflection is not the same, but it’s the same idea: get another submission from the applicant at the interview stage.) AND while on first glance it appeared that MIT retained the worst of the worst of its essay prompts from last year (see below), actually they changed that too! All around positives.

The other big change? They’re EXPANDING their admissions cycle to three rounds. For a very long time, MIT has had just two rounds – yet for several years running, we’ve heard that they accepted “late” applications after their January Round 2 date was past. So they sort of kind of let you apply after their final deadline anyway. They’re now standardizing to do what every other top school does. Three Rounds. September, January, April. Cool.

We’ve written about our impressions on this change on the blahg: “Three rounds at MIT: Does it matter?” (May 11, 2015)

The main application essay question is what we’re most pleased about. Here it is:

Tell us about a recent success you had: How did you accomplish this? Who else was involved? What hurdles did you encounter? What type of impact did this have? (500 words or fewer).

This is such a classic “significant achievement” question that we’re practically rejoicing here in Snarkville. Such questions let applicants communicate in ways that are revealing – at least, provided the applicant does a good job with the question! The question itself is absolutely awesome: It has subparts that guide you on what to focus on, it’s a reasonable length to convey what’s needed, and it’s unambiguous. Thank you, Sloan!

We have a category for posts here on the blahg called “essay types – ‘achievement’ essays” which you may want to investigate if you’re researching how to approach this. Our – wait for it – Accomplishments & Achievements App Accelerator may also be useful in hashing through your possible topics and figuring out which “recent success” is going to be most effective for you to present.

What other goodness is coming from the MIT announcement?

Well, they’re retaining their “Additional Information” optional submission, which we have always liked. Here’s the wording for that:

Optional Question: The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format.

Good stuff already coming @MITSloanAdcom chat: "It is highly recommended you also submit optional essay" (tho it's schoolspecific advice!)

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 26, 2015

They’re also introducing a post-interview-invite essay requirement which looks remarkably similar to what they asked as a main essay prompt for the past two years, except that they fixed the awkwardness of it and now they’re just asking you to tell another story about being successful somehow:

The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Please share with us something about your past that aligns with this mission. (250 words or fewer).

MIT had a near-identical question as its Essay 1 for two years and almost entirely because of that, had been recognized here in Snarkville as having the worst essay questions. This new version of the prompt is much better – though 250 words is very short. If you are in the lucky position of being invited to interview at MIT, you definitely will want to avail yourself of the benefits in our Sloan essay strategy guide — though hopefully you will get the guide right away so that you can benefit from the entire strategy we lay forth!

To get this new app info straight from the horse’s mouth: Here’s the early May 2015 blog post from MIT Admissions announcing these changes .

As of that early May 2015 announcement of the new essay questions, their app requirements page had NOT been fully edited and updated (once again, MIT exhibits sloppiness – as of this writing on 5/10/15, they have the new essay questions listed at the top but then the discussion of Letters of Recommendation talks about an “essay #2” which is a leftover comment from last year’s app). We’re not saying that we never have errors on our site – but on a school’s app requirements page? Proofread, Sloan Adcom, proofread.

7/16/15 Good news! MIT continues to introduce applicant-friendly changes. We’ve now discovered that they ditched the ridiculous suggestion that applicants submit a resume in Sloan’s own resume format, and that the resume could be only “50 lines.” These restrictions were just silly, and created undue stress for candidates. You still should only be submitting a one-page resume (that’s true for any school) but now you don’t have to worry about a particular format for a particular school (especially when that format did not even demonstrate best practices for MBA applicants). Thank you, Sloan Adcom, for coming around!!

MIT 2015 Dates and Deadlines
MIT now has three rounds!
MIT Full-Time MBA Application Deadlines announced
That means: Be careful about any posts you read here on the blahg about “two rounds” and MIT. We have discussed the implications of this change to three rounds in the 2015 MIT Application Guide but we have not gone back over our historical posts here on this site to offer warnings or corrections – what we may have said in the past about application strategy at MIT may not apply to this new world of a standardized admissions cycle.

  • Round 1: – almost a week earlier than Rd 1 was last year. Traditionally this has been the most advantageous at MIT but we don’t know if that will hold true quite in the same way this year (Rd 1 is always recommended but it used to be REALLY recommended at MIT based on how they managed their two-round cycle; Rd 1 will still be an advantage, but it’s a TBD on how big of an advantage it will be going forward at this school).
    Based on a 10/7/15 announcement on the MIT blog , interview invitations this year will work the same as they did last year in Round 1: They’ll start going out in mid-October, through the “week of November 9th” (not sure why they can’t name the actual day?). That’s when the Round 1 “release from consideration” happens, which is a nice way to say “no” to you if they’re not interested. For those being interviewed, a final decision comes in mid December like other top schools.
  • Round 2: . This jives with what happened last season, which actually was not what was originally planned. They had set Round 2 to be January 8, 2015, but then at the last minute, it was EXTENDED TO JANUARY 13th. Round 2 is always viable at MIT. Round 2 interview invitations will going out the week of February 15th (same as last year), with Round 2 release to happen somewhere around March 1st.
  • Round 3 – THIS IS NEW: April 11, 2016. We don’t generally post Round 3 deadlines here on the blahg because it’s typically near-impossible to get in then. HOWEVER: Since Round 3 is NEW at MIT, then we can only expect that they have modified their internal admissions processes to leave spots open for candidates at that stage. We still believe it will be difficult to get in on a Round 3 app but in this case, it may not be quite so difficult as it would be elsewhere. YMMV.

Whew! That’s a lot of change!

If you want to understand how this works, please pick up the SnarkStrategies Guide for MIT (2015 version) – it will help you grasp what’s so very unique about this school’s admissions criteria, compared to other top MBA programs. And of course, you get a full discussion of the impact of the changes with the addition of Round 3 and everything else. The 2015 guide was totally overhauled from 2014; this is not an edit or refresh, it’s a completely new book!

[end discussion of MIT’s 2015 questions]


Click to view 2014 questions

2014 MIT Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

Here’s what we said when the 2014 questions came out… remember this analysis is from a previous year.

Two “essays” (if you can call them that):

  1. The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or fewer)
  2. Write a professional letter of recommendation on behalf of yourself. Answer the following questions as if you were your most recent supervisor recommending yourself for admission to the MIT Sloan MBA Program: (750 words or fewer)
    • How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant? Really, MIT? REALLY?!?
    • How does the applicant stand out from others in a similar capacity?
    • Please give an example of the applicant’s impact on a person, group, or organization.
    • Please give a representative example of how the applicant interacts with other people.
    • Which of the applicant’s personal or professional characteristics would you change?
    • Please tell us anything else you think we should know about this applicant.

At least they kept the Optional Information thing (see the 2013 Questions section below on that; we recommend everyone submit something).

They also kept essentially the same deadlines as they had in 2013.

MIT Full-Time 2014 MBA Application Deadlines announced
[end discussion of MIT’s 2014 questions]


Click to view 2013 questions

2013 Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

Here’s what we said when the 2013 questions came out.

Wow! No cover letter?!??? [They had this cover-letter thing as part of their app for YEARS. Decades, maybe. They ditched it in 2013.] They really switched things up! Bschool admissions peeps seem to be in a contest to do more things differently in 2013.

Here’s the Sloan 2013 essay questions:

Two essays:

  1. The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and generate ideas that advance management practice. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words/one page max)
  2. Describe a time [within the last three years] when you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone. (500 words/one page max)
  3. Optional Question: The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format.

First note: ESSAY 1 IS HARD!!!!!!

Second note: While most every school allows an “optional essay”, in most cases, we advise to only write it when you have something important to explain that you can’t cover elsewhere in the app (typically a gap in employment, not getting a rec from a current supervisor, what happened during college and that low GPA, etc.). For MIT, we recommend that EVERYONE submit the “Optional Question” and in particular that you do so using a non-written format if possible – e.g., video or something snappy. Note though: They don’t allow uploads. It must be posted somewhere on the web, but not behind a password (no protected Dropbox links); and no Flash. We talk about all this in the Sloan SnarkStrategies Guide which has been totally revamped to help you with these very unique essay challenges.

[end discussion of 2013 questions]



 Click to view 2012 questions


2012 questions – these are REALLY OLDBUT, UPDATE JUNE 2016, NOW RELEVANT AGAIN! -ES
A cover letter and two essays:
  1. Please prepare a cover letter (up to 500 words) seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. Your letter should describe your accomplishments, address any extenuating circumstances that may apply to your application, and conform to standard business correspondence. Your letter should be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions.
  2. Essay 1: Please describe a time when you had to convince a person or a group of your idea.
  3. Essay 2: Please describe a time when you overcame a personal setback.

[end discussion of 2012 questions]




 

MIT Links, Important App Info, and Some Snark

official school pages:

 
 

EssaySnark’s posts on MIT:

 

We haven’t reviewed too many MIT essays on the blahg, however there’s plenty of other schools with similar-enough questions that we have covered:

We go into great detail in the Sloan essay guide on how to handle the questions that this school asks. Start there. Then, if you want an MIT essay reviewed – for free! – on the blahg, try sending it over! If you’re looking for personalized and private help, then our standard Essay Decimator is ideal (we strongly suggest writing BOTH ESSAYS together at once; that way, you can get your entire pitch critiqued, and you’ll be ahead of the game when it’s time for that interview invite to come along!).
 

 
 

[Index of essay questions by business school]

Dear MIT Sloan Applicants,

Admissionado here, back once again with hot off the presses essay analyses for Sloan's 2017 application! We wanted to jump in and give you a head-start on those essay questions, jog that imagination, and give you a few tips and tricks to get started on your Sloan essays. Soooooo, without further ado:

MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Cover Letter



MIT Sloan seek students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity and respect passion.

Analysis


Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).

Let’s start by interpreting/translating that opening blurb:

“MIT Sloan seek students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic.”

Basically, they’re saying: “Since résumés flatten a person from 3D to 2D, we’re hoping the essay portion will give us a hint in that direction of what your particular “personal characteristics” are. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students, because the net effect of a single person bettering others will be nonstop betterment in every imaginable direction, the net effect of which is maximal success for the class and, most practically, of the individuals who comprise that class.”

So, MIT is going to look for evidence of two things:

That you have something in your experiences, achievements, personality, leadership style, whathaveyou, that would be beneficial to others.
That you seem like the kind of person who will “lean forward” to have that impact on others, and that you’re not just a taker.

Now, onto the next part of that blurb:

“We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world.”

MIT chose the phrase “exceptional intellectual abilities” on purpose because it goes beyond classic indicators of “intelligence” on a résumé, or through GMAT/GRE scores. “Exceptional” intellectual abilities includes dimensions like “thinking of stuff most other people wouldn’t have” or “questioning long-held truths because something about those truths bothers you” or “succeeding at an attempted solution where countless others have failed.” If you have evidence of THAT kind of intellectual capability, take them on the SCENIC route. They’re saying that the Sloan School of Management welcomes people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. In other words, they want to get the sense that where there’s a status quo, you’re the person who has an itch to disrupt it, and has a track record of doing so.

They want to get the sense that in a situation where others might have played it safe and tried to hit an iron shot into the center of the fairway, you put yourself on the line, took a risk, and reached for your driver, knowing that you might fail, but having the belief in yourself and the courage to follow through on your will. They want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas, because when someone is uncomfortable with “the way things are,” good things tend to happen from a business perspective. Basically they’re saying “Show us that discomfort with the status quo. We demand integrity and respect passion,” but then again, who doesn’t.

Putting it all Together – Part 1

There are two themes that jump out in that intro:

Intellectual Might – No real surprise here, but it’s a specific brand of intellect. The one that’s coupled with that second component:

Restlessness – Sitting around, doing what you’re told to do, choosing NOT to “re-open the case because someone else said that it was unsolvable,” having a great idea, but not having the time to pursue it – these are all the OPPOSITE of the person who’s restless. The restless person is always lusting for some opportunity to improve something, change the game, break the mold.

The smart person alone who lacks restlessness isn’t all that interesting. Similarly, a restless person who isn’t a next-level problem solver is still attractive (and maybe worth taking a risk on), but MIT is lucky enough to have the kind of demand where they can screen for the guys and gals who have BOTH.


Putting it all Together – Part 2

Great, so, now we have a couple themes to make sure we’re going to PROVE in our cover letters: (1) I’m as intellectually next-level as it gets, but also (2) my arch nemesis is the Status Quo. Cool so… how does one… execute… that… in a cover letter?

Awesome question. Let’s step back for a second. What’s an actual cover letter like in real life? In first-date terms, it’s the VERY first impression. The first time you LAY EYES on your date. It’s the way that person LOOKS to you. It’s the body language that sends either attractive or unattractive signals. In other words, it’s mostly animal instinct. In fact, let’s run with that. In animal interaction terms, it’s “is this other animal a harmless friend? Or a predator? What cues do I have from the LOOK of this animal, and the WAY IT MOVES to provide an answer to that?”

It’s important to consider this deeply. Because the “impression” we’re talking about happens very quickly and does not tap into the more evolved (and relaxed) part of our brains that care about nuance. Why is this significant? Because it’s different from an essay where the reader is generally poised to spot you that first impression, and “hear what you have to say.”

The cover letter is the moment before all that where you have to EARN that next part. This has implications for STYLE and HOW you write your cover letter. It’s one of the few instances on an MBA application where HOW you attack this is almost as important as WHAT you’re attacking with. You can’t just write your way into seeming like a forward-leaning, restless person. You have to COME ACROSS that way in your actual writing. You can’t take your time proving that you’re intellectually next-level over the course of four or five sentences. It has to be evident right at the beginning in “the way you look” and “in your body language.”

Writing cover letters is a true art form, and in our experience the meek and conventional are almost NEVER rewarded. Boldness, assertiveness, risk-taking, authority, confidence, borderline brazen-ness… these are all desirable qualities in a kickass cover letter. Just shy of being smug (no one likes smugness). This is the part where you smirk to yourself, and find your swagger before you put pen to paper.

Now for the actual 300 words themselves, you need to convey a bunch of things:

I understand what your program is, and what you’re looking for.
I LIKE your program and I want to be in it BECAUSE (this is the part that most people miss) your program helps me get to where *I* need to go better than any other place.
Now I’m going to give you just a taste that will make YOU ultimately want to chase ME, and not the other way around. Let me walk you through an example or two of what it is that I’m all about. You’ll see within these glimpses (1) that I’m a restless m*********er, (2) My intellect has a headache because it keeps hitting the ceiling, and (3) that I understand what an MBA can do for me, and that my energy right now to TAKE FROM and CONTRIBUTE TO an MBA program is a net win for everyone: me, my classmates, MIT, and eventually… the world, once I’m out of here.

That may sound like a lot for 300 words, and in some ways it is. But, if you stay intensely focused on those three bullets, no matter how long your first draft ends up being, you’re going to have EXCELLENT clay to mold. If you have a natural tendency to write in a tone that isn’t too stiff and has some personality, then great. Your work will be easier. If you DON’T have that natural flair for letting personality invigorate your prose, fret not. Stay focused on those three bullets. Try not to deviate. And you’ll end up with something that’s (at its worst) extremely targeted. Targeted = confident. There’s always room to infuse drafts with some personality, but the hard part is getting the core content NAILED.

MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Résumé



Please submit a résumé that includes your employment history and academic record in reverse chronological order. Other information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged (no more than 1 page in length).

Analysis



We have lots to say about résumés… including all the juicy nuggets contained in this entire guide we created specifically to help you write a killer one-pager. But let’s key in on a few CHOICE words from MIT here.

Reverse chronological order is fairly standard, but the fact that they’re throwing a spotlight on it is a hint that either or both (1) some folks do it the opposite way and LEAD with earlier stuff, like college, and then whatever comes next, but maybe more interestingly (2) that the truly important stuff is the most recent few years of your life.

The dialogue in the reader’s head probably goes something like “Let me get a quick gauge about where this person is at RIGHT now, what s/he’s up to, and what s/he’s achieving TODAY. Got it, now, let me get a sense of the career ARC. Where did this person start out, what was s/he achieving at any given moment, but also, does his trajectory from one node to the next feel sluggish? Or does this person feel like a juggernaut? Is s/he just blowing out the competition left and right, or is s/he doing serviceable-level work? Where does it seem like it’s all headed?

Anyway, use reverse chronological order to offer up that initial high-level glimpse, then they can dip as far back as they need to get as much as of the story as they care to.

The other neat thing worth mentioning is this: “Other information appropriate to a business résumé is welcomed and encouraged.” On the one hand they’re talking about stuff like community service and volunteer activity, but also, they’re asking you to “unflatten” the 2D portrait of yourself with dimension in the form of skills, hobbies, interests, quirks; in other words “stuff that may be unique to you and/or interesting as hell to read about. Some folks go to this section FIRST before scanning the rest, to hunt for signs of life. Have fun here folks. Include FUN stuff. Include weird stuff. Cool talents, weird talents, weird anything. You’ll want someone to reel you in because you CAN go overboard. But take a swing. Straightforward and lifeless just puts that much more pressure on the REST of your writing to provide all the personality and color. This is an easy way to INSTANTLY stand out against a person with a similar “résumé.”

MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Video Prompt



Please introduce yourself to your future classmates via a brief video statement. You will need to use an internet-connected computer, with a webcam and microphone. As part of the application review, the Admission Committee will evaluate your response to see how you express yourself and to assess fit with the MIT Sloan culture. The simple, open-ended question is designed to help us get to know you better.

Instructions:

Please make sure you are using a working Internet connection not wireless or shared wireless connection. If your Internet is not a strong signal you will not be able to upload. Please also make sure you have the most up to date browser.

You will need to use an internet-connected computer with a webcam and microphone.

We suggest using Google Chrome* or Firefox as your browser.

If using Google Chrome – please click the camera icon in your browser to allow the site to access your microphone. If you are having issues with your microphone please re-start your computer for Google Chrome to access your microphone.

Once the video statement question is viewed you will have 60 seconds to prepare, and then 60 seconds to record your answer.

You will only have one attempt to record your response.

Analysis


How on Earth can you prepare for something when you don’t know what they’re gonna ask!? Well, lots of ways:

Step 1: Know Your Greatest Hits. What are the absolute best stories you have, lifetime, ever? Get acquainted with them according to category. Stuff like, what are my one or two best:

Leadership Stories?
Failure Stories?
Funny Moments at Work Stories?
Funny Moments Outside of Work Stories?
Stories That Capture the ESSENCE of who I am?
Business Ideas that would change the world?
People I admire?
Favorite Movies (or books or songs or bands)?
etc.

Step 2: Get a feel for what 1 minutes is. In fact, get a feel for what 50-55 seconds is. Answer some of these questions within that timeframe. Write out a response, look at it on the page. How many sentences is it? Get comfortable with 1 minute.

Step 3: Record yourself ten times, answering ten different questions. How do you look? Are you looking at the camera? Or are you looking AT YOURSELF ON SCREEN WHILE RECORDING? Are you fidgeting? Are you moving your hands too much? Are you stumbling over words? Are you reading from a script?

Step 4: Get comfortable to the point where you no longer need to feel rehearsed, or nervous. Copy a list of “interview” questions, keep them hidden, and then test yourself by revealing a question, give yourself 60 seconds to come up with a response, and then record a response in 60 seconds. Do this enough times, and you’ll start to develop “IQ” for “this kind of question.”

The worst thing you can do? Seem overly rehearsed. Meaning, don’t rehearse and deliver exact sentences. It will defeat the purpose of the ENTIRE experiment. The point is to relax the bad kind of nerves to allow your free-est self to SHINE. For some folks, this comes utterly naturally, and honestly, they can skip maybe all those steps. Others might benefit from some dry runs just so that there’s a better chance at real assertiveness and confidence on “the big day.”

This is not the time for you to convince someone how smart you are, how good a leader you are, how much of a restless intellectual you are——this is the part where you get the other to LIKE you and WANNA GET TO KNOW YOU MORE because you come across irresistible in some way shape or form. This is 100% about personality, and 0% about résumé. If we watch this video and say “wow, what an impressive person!” you shanked it. If, however, we say “holy crap I would KILL to meet that person” or “Man, I’d like to invite THAT person to a dinner party,” then congrats, because that’s the correct reaction.

If you’re not naturally gifted in extemporaneous speaking, then there are things you can do to develop some of that swagger. Those steps above may be worth considering as a starting point.

MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Interview Invitation Essay



Those invited to interview will be asked to answer the following question: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Please share with us something about your past that aligns with this mission. (250 words or fewer).
Details for submitting your essay will be included in the interview invitation.

Analysis


They could just have asked…

“Please share a leadership story,” or “Please provide evidence that you can lead large teams,” or “Please prove that you have the ability to grow a business.” But they’re clearly looking for something else. Let’s find it.

Let’s isolate a few phrases: “principled, innovative leaders,” “improve the world,” and “advance management practice.” If you’re able to draw a line between something in your (recent) past and at least one of those phrases, you’re in good shape. Don’t strain too hard to nab all of em. They’re connected.

Here’s a trick for teasing out the correct story to tell, and then telling it in the right way.

Step 1 – Generate a short list of some of your stronger “leader” or “business” or “decision-making” moments.

Step 2 – Isolate the gear-churning moment for each one that shows why you acted “better” than a competitor might have. “I chose X over Y action, whereas most others would have chosen Y.” Or “I was able to do A because of B skill/talent that others don’t have.”

Step 3 – Now see if you can say, “But it wasn’t just about succeeding in this moment to … improve the bottom line, hit our deadline, get through this impossible challenge, etc.” Because… it was about more than that.

A principle that I believe in that transcended this isolated business moment. A thirst for innovation that had larger implications than success in this moment. A desire to improve the world, through my example. A desire to improve management practice itself.

The worst thing you can do is take a strong “resume” moment, and shoehorn those principles in, “oh and in doing so I was clearly trying to advance management practice and mission accomplished, you’re all welcome!”

One of the best ways to show how genuine you are may, in fact, require a story where you didn’t succeed in the conventional sense, BECAUSE of your commitment to succeed along one of these other, loftier principles. Again, resist the temptation to take a failure story and tack on the idea that “but I failed because of my commitment to advance the world, when you really look at it, I’m a hero!”

It’s subtler than that.

The best version will be some moment where you could have chosen REASONABLE PATH X, but instead chose OTHER PATH Y that may or may not have succeeded in conventional measures, because of your commitment to these deeper principles and aspirations. Take us through THAT decision node: explain Reasonable Path X, but show us why you took on some risk and went with Other Path Y (over Path X), highlighting the importance of what that choice signifies to you specifically.

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And that's that. Helpful, eh? If you have any questions on it or MIT Sloan or anything, just reply here or shoot us a PM. And if you want more Essay Analysis Goodness, check out more schools here. We're updating 'em daily as new prompts are released, so keep checking back.
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Jon Frank
Founder, Admissionado

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