Category Archives: MIT Sloan

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays for 2012-2013

MIT Sloan has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Sloan has made some tweaks this year, including dropping an essay, which continues a trend that we have seen among top MBA programs so far this year. However, the school’s famous cover letter returns. This cover letter is still unique among other top MBA programs’ application essays; apparently its still works well enough that the Sloan admissions committee wants to keep it around.

Here are Sloan’s application essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

MIT Sloan Cover Letter
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.

This isn’t an admissions essay in the traditional sense, but the cover letter is a rite of passage for MIT Sloan applicants every year. Over the years the prompt has evolved a bit, but at its core it remains the same: It serve as your all-in-one, cut-through-the-noise, “This is who I am, this is what I’ve done, and this is why I want to earn an MBA at MIT Sloan.” Whatever core themes you have decided to emphasize in your application, be sure that they are well represented here.

MIT Sloan Application Essays
We are interested in learning more about how you work, think, and act. For each essay, please provide a brief overview of the situation followed by a detailed description of your response. Please limit the experiences you discuss to those which have occurred in the past three years.

In each of the essays, please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did.

  1. Please describe a time when you had to convince a person or a group of your idea. (500 words)

    This question carries over from last year with just some very subtle tweaking. Last year, Sloan’s questions (including for its cover letter) put a great deal of emphasis on the traits that demonstrate leadership. Sloan has toned it down a bit this year, but you can be certain that Sloan admissions officers are still looking for leaders in the applicant pool. If you just read that last sentence and thought, “Uh oh, I’ve never managed anyone or been a team lead,” don’t despair. That’s not how Sloan (or any top MBA program) defines leadership. One practical definition of leadership is the ability to positively influence others, and Sloan directly asks for an example of that ability with this question. Even if your example feels fairly mundane (such as an engineer convincing other engineers to pursue a certain technical solution), you will be successful if you can show real skill maturity in HOW you go it done. That’s what MIT Sloan is looking for.
  2. Please describe a time when you overcame a personal setback. (500 words)

    This question is new this year, and it also addresses some of the traits that admissions officers look for in emerging leaders: the ability to objectively take a challenge and setback and turn it into something positive, coming out better in the end. Many applicants see “setback” and think, “Oh no, a failure essay,” but you shouldn’t be afraid to write about a failure or shortcoming. (You also don’t need to write about one of these… a setback could also be something that happens to you, such as a devastating sports injury.) In fact, writing a response about overcoming a failure or weakness will usually more powerful than answering with “My biggest challenge was completing a marathon.” While that may sound impressive, it’s far less revealing than a story about a time when you had to make a more fundamental change to who you are as a person and as a leader.

To stay on top on all of the latest news about MIT Sloan and other top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Get to Know: MIT Sloan

MIT’s Sloan School of Management is well known for producing grads with strong quantitative skills. But there’s a lot more to Sloan than spreadsheets and operations models. If you’re aiming for the top business schools, you will want to take a long, hard look at Sloan. But how do you know if Sloan is a good fit for you? Today we dig into six things that make MIT Sloan different than other top business schools. If you like the way these sound, then Sloan should probably be on your short list of MBA programs:

Open access to information
Not just Sloan, but all of MIT believes in sharing information, and the school is a pioneer in the way it’s made its educational content — nearly all of it — available for free on the web through the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative. This includes a vast array of Sloan courses, from undergraduate to graduate to PhD. These course materials are open to everyone, though the school does not grant degrees or certificates or provide any proof of completion, and it is no substitute for the actual MBA experience.

A challenging curriculum
The first semester at MIT is notoriously challenging — more so even than other top schools. All students take the same set of five required core courses in that first term, and it’s said to be grueling. Most schools have a fixed core that extends over two semesters and while challenging, typically isn’t quite as brutal as the one-semester core at Sloan.

A flexible curriculum
The reward for completing that difficult core curriculum is that students are given the freedom to design much of their own educational experience thereafter. Many students focus on fulfilling the requirements of one of the certificate programs, and others create an informal specialization of their own. However, past that initial semester, Sloan does not dictate which classes students must take, which means that the educational experience can be tailored at MIT more than it can at some of its peers.

Truncated admissions processes
Besides the differences in academics, MIT also is different in how it handles MBA admissions: Sloan has just two application rounds for its standard MBA program, with deadlines in October and in January. Each of the other Sloan degree programs, including the Leaders for Global Organizations and the new Master of Finance, has its own separate deadline as well, which is usually much earlier than those at other top schools.

Technology
Given the strength of MIT and engineering, it’s no surprise that Sloan has a superior offering in the area of tech ventures and IT. Innovation is a buzzword at many top business schools, but Sloan embodies it, particularly in the area of high tech. Support for an entrepreneur in launching a new venture at business school is stronger at MIT than almost anywhere else.

Sustainability
Sloan has a concerted focus on “green” business, and the relatively new Certificate in Sustainability is one of the few formal programs of its kind at any top school. Sloan also has a track record for putting its money where its mouth is: not only is the new E62 building going to be LEED certified for environmental friendliness, but MIT’s admissions team recently invested in Apple iPads in order to make their entire admissions process paper-free.

Looking for more advice on getting into MIT Sloan? We cover Sloan in detail in our book, Your MBA Game Plan, which is now in its 3rd edition! And, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays for 2011-2012

MIT Sloan has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2014. There are some small changes to the essays this year, although not many, and Sloan’s cover letter returns. This cover letter is still unique among other top MBA programs’ application essays; apparently its still works well enough that Sloan wants to keep it around.

Here are MIT Sloan’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

MIT Sloan Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 25, 2011
Round 2: January 10, 2012

MIT Sloan’s Round 1 deadline is virtually unchanged from last year, but its Round 2 deadline moved back by about a week. Note that Round 1 applicants may not receive their decision from Sloan until early February (although Sloan says it will send earlier notifications to applicants who are denied admission without an interview), so you may not know the status of your Sloan application until most other school’s Round 2 deadlines have passed.

Also, remember that Sloan only has two main admissions rounds, so there’s no “Round 3 or not Round 3?” dilemma with Sloan. Although Round 2 is Sloan’s final round, don’t assume that applying in Round 2 is as bad as applying in Round 3 anywhere else. If you need the extra two months to get your application in order, then take that time to improve your chances.


MIT Sloan Cover Letter
Prepare a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Describe your accomplishments and include an example of how you had an impact on a group or organization. Your letter should conform to standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Director of MBA Admissions. (500 words)

While this isn’t an essay in the traditional sense, the cover letter is a rite of passage of MIT Sloan applicants every year. Over the past couple of years the prompt has evolved slightly to place more emphasis on your “impact on an organization.” This wording was introduced a couple of years ago, and remains the same this time around. Given that the wording has not changed in a while, it’s safe to assume that this phrasing has been working well for the Sloan admissions team. In other words, assume that they’re looking for a lot of evidence of impact in your cover letter!

MIT Sloan Application Essays

  1. Please describe a time when you went beyond what was defined, expected, established, or popular. (500 words)

    This question carries over unchanged from last year. Once again, Sloan must have liked what it saw in applicants’ responses. Just as the cover letter prompt has evolved to place more emphasis on impact, this change suggests that Sloan is really looking closely for evidence of how you have gone beyond your regular job description to make a positive impact on those around you. We consider this as one of the key ingredients of leadership, and Sloan clearly wants to see more of it in its applicants.
  2. Please describe a time when you convinced an individual or group to accept one of your ideas. (500 words)

    This question was new last year, and it is yet another example of how Sloan is really looking for leaders in its applicant pool. If you just read that last sentence and thought, “Oh no, I’ve never managed anyone or been a team lead,” that’s okay. That’s not how Sloan (or any top MBA program) defines leadership. One practical definition of leadership is the ability to positively influence others, and Sloan directly asks for an example of that ability with this question. Even if your example feels fairly mundane (such as an engineer convincing other engineers to pursue a certain technical solution), you will be successful if you can show real skill maturity in HOW you go it done.
  3. Please describe a time when you had to make a decision without having all the information you needed. (500 words)

    This question is new this year, and it gets at another dimension that admissions officers look for in applicants: analytical ability. If you just read that and thought, “numbers and spreadsheets,” think again. It really means having the ability to take a pile of information — whether it’s numbers, words, charts, or anything else — and being able to pull out key insights, even though you probably won’t be able to answer every question that you have. This is an especially hot topic among MBA admissions officers these days, as witnessed by GMAC’s addition of the new Integrated Reasoning section to the GMAT next year. When thinking about your past experiences, don’t feel a need to make your story a quantitatively-slanted one, although we do recommend that you try to make it a work-related story. What was the situation? What questions did you ask? What answers were you not able to get? Despite the lack of key info, how did you make your decision? What was the outcome, and what did you learn from it? Plan on answering all of these questions in this essay.

To learn more about Sloan and other top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Five Reasons to Apply to MIT Sloan

MIT’s Sloan School of Management boasts an innovative curriculum, a strong track record with employers, and a wonderful new building. If you’re investigating top business schools, especially those with a strong analytical bent, then MIT Sloan should be on your shortlist.

But, how well do you really know MIT Sloan? And how do you know if you should apply to Sloan? Today we look at five reasons why you should apply. If more than one of these apply to you, then you should give Sloan a close look:

You’re an entrepreneur, especially in tech.
While it’s probably obvious that MIT would be a good school for someone interested in tech ventures, what may be surprising to some is that Sloan is strong on all things innovation. No matter what type of entrepreneurial business you want to launch, you’ll find good support for it at MIT.

You’re interested in banking.
Many people may not realize how extensive the finance resources are at MIT, nor how deep its roots in the field. Regardless of where you earn your MBA, you will likely learn about the Black-Scholes formula to model the market for a particular equity. Fischer Black and Myron Scholes originated this model, and Robert Merton published a paper on it — all of them professors at MIT. MIT offered courses in finance before most other schools, and it remains a strength of the program, sending almost a quarter of graduates into finance careers.

You’re interested in supply chain management or operations.
With the LGO program and the opportunity to take classes campus-wide at MIT, Sloan students interested in a career in manufacturing or logistics have a wealth of resources and the best academic researchers in the world at their disposal.

You want to get into a sustainable business.
With the new Certificate in Sustainability at Sloan and its institute-wide sustainability initiative, MIT is leading the way in a focus on “green” business. While plenty of other schools have strong social venture programs, with more popping up all the time, the emphasis at Sloan is cutting-edge and integrated.

You’re a woman.
While strong female candidates are well received at most schools, MIT often gets fewer applications from women because of the misperception that it’s a techie school. The LGO program only has 25% women, compared to 34% in the overall MBA class — both these numbers are significantly smaller than the schools with the best ratios, including Wharton (40%) and Stanford (39%). Female applicants still need to present a strong profile, including a good GMAT score and academic history. However those who do have an exceptionally good chance of getting an offer from MIT.

To learn more about MIT Sloan and other top-ranked MBA programs, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

MIT Sloan Admissions Office Ditches Paper in Favor of iPads

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported that the MIT Sloan admissions office has purchased 15 iPads, which its admissions officers will use to review applications in a 100% paper-free environment. Sloan admissions officers estimate that the move will save the school $10,000 per year in paper costs.

The funny thing is that, although most schools moved to online application systems years ago, usually the first thing that admissions officers do with a newly received electronic application is print it out. From there, the paper application goes through a process that has barely changed in decades: It moves from one pile to the next, from one admissions officers’ hands to the next, until it has been reviewed at least a couple of times. While the online application systems make for better tracking, today schools rarely take advantage of this. Now, however, if Sloan can keep every application entirely online, it can make for much more efficient reviewing and tracking of each application.

While much will probably be made of the fact that Sloan will use iPads for this new way of reviewing the 5,000 or so applications it receives each year, we find this move to be interesting whether they’re using iPads, laptops, or anything else electronic. Why? Because, as schools move towards working more multimedia responses into their applications, it only makes sense to keep the entire application in electronic form. Right now, a school that accepts a video “essay” response must match up each video with the rest of an applicant’s file, which is probably a stack of paper that’s sitting in a pile somewhere — who knows where! — in the admissions office.

Why not review everything in one place? Imagine clicking here to review an applicant’s data sheet, clicking there to read Essay #1, and then scrolling down to pull up a short video from that applicant. Pretty cool!

This move to an all-electronic system makes it easier to seamlessly work such multimedia responses in with the rest of the applications. We wouldn’t be surprised if this move precedes a move by Sloan to work multimedia into its applications over the next year or so.

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MIT Sloan Essay Questions for 2010-2011

MIT Sloan recently published its admissions essays. Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:

MIT Sloan Cover Letter
Prepare a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Describe your accomplishments and include an example of how you had an impact on a group or organization. Your letter should conform to standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Director of MBA Admissions. (500 words)

While this isn’t an essay in the traditional sense, the cover letter is a rite of passage of MIT Sloan applicants every year. Over the past couple of years the prompt has evolved slightly to place more emphasis on your “impact on an organization.” (And regular readers of this blog know how much emphasis we place on demonstrating impact!!) This year the question remains the same, so the Sloan admissions office must think that this phrasing helps them more effectively get at what they’re looking for in MBA applicants.

MIT Sloan Application Essays

  1. Please describe a time when you went beyond what was defined, expected, established, or popular. (500 words)

    Sloan added this question last year, and it must have liked what it saw in applicants’ responses. Just as the cover letter prompt has evolved to place more emphasis on impact, this change suggests that Sloan is really looking closely for evidence of how you have gone beyond your regular job description to make a positive impact on those around you. We consider this as one of the key ingredients of leadership, and Sloan clearly wants to see more of it in its applicants.

  2. Please describe a time when you convinced an individual or group to accept one of your ideas. (500 words)

    This question is new this year, and it is yet another example of how Sloan is really looking for leaders in its applicant pool. If you just read that last sentence and thought, “Oh no, I’ve never managed anyone or been a team lead,” that’s okay. That’s not how Sloan (or any top MBA program) defines leadership. One practical definition of leadership is the ability to positively influence others, and Sloan directly asks for an example of that ability with this question. Even if your example feels fairly mundane (such as an engineer convincing other engineers to pursue a certain technical solution), you will be successful if you can show real skill maturity in HOW you go it done.

  3. Please describe a time when you took responsibility for achieving an objective. (500 words)

    This question carries over from last year. Once again, we see a question that gets at signs of leadership. In this case, it’s a willingness to take on the burden of achieving a goal. Once again, the “SAR” technique will be critical to demonstrating not just what you accomplished, but also HOW you accomplished it, which is what the admissions committee really wants to see. They don’t want to simply hear about how you were handed a goal and you easily achieved it; discuss an instance when you took on an especially challenging goal, maybe when others avoided it or had failed in achieving it, and describe what exactly you did to make it happen.

  4. You may use this section to address whatever else you want the Admissions Committee to know. (250 words)

    Our usual words of warning here… Applicants tend to err on the side of overusing this essay to explain away small details in their profiles. Only use this essay if needed! Two examples are if you have a low undergrad GPA (this is the most common use that we see) or if your current supervisor does not write a recommendation for you. But don’t waste the admissions office’s time unless you really need to answer a significant question that admissions officers might have about your application.

For more news and advice on getting into MIT Sloan and other world-class MBA programs, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter!

MIT Sloan Admissions Deadlines for 2010-2011

MIT Sloan recently released its application deadlines for the 2010-2011 season. Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:

MIT Sloan Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 26, 2010
Round 2: January 4, 2011

MIT Sloan’s Round 1 deadline is virtually unchanged from last year, but its Round 2 deadline moves up by almost two weeks. This continues a trend that we have seen at other top business schools, which seem eager to push the Round 2 deadline to as close to the holiday season as possible.

Sloan only has two main admissions rounds, so there’s no “Round 3 or not Round 3” dilemma with Sloan. But, just because Round 2 is Sloan’s final round, you shouldn’t assume that applying in Sloan’s Round 2 is as bad as applying in Round 3 anywhere else. If you need those two additional months to get your application in order, then we recommend you take that time to improve your chances of success.

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