How To Get Into MIT’s
Sloan School of Management
The essentials of getting into MIT Sloan are to demonstrate a past full of leadership and entrepreneurial qualities while establishing a personal idea for the future. The MBA essays provide a great opportunity to showcase these areas and set yourself apart from other applicants.
If they’re like the navy, then MIT Sloan students are like pirates, with a can-do spirit that at times bends the rules.
At Sloan, it’s about the four-H’s: the Heart to strive, the Head to keep up, the Hands to get things done, and the Home to take risks in a supportive environment. The ideal candidate is looking for the big treasure chest – innovation-driven entrepreneurship, market disruption, and economic transformation. It’s a meritocracy, a place where you can be older, less traditional, and maybe just a little wild in your thinking but accomplished in your doing.
You either get it or you don’t. If you get it – it’s the only place for you: if you don’t, maybe somewhere else is a better match. Apparently, a lot of people think they get it; this past year, applications were up 35%. That means 6000 applicants for 350 slots in the MBA program. If you do the math – and they always do at MIT – this year’s acceptance rate is between 7% and 9%. Yikes!
In real terms, how does this manifest itself – and maybe more importantly for our purposes, how does all this affect your application? Well, it all starts with an application that feels somewhat different: simpler and harder simultaneously:
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)
What this really is asking about is what’ve you done, not what you dream about doing. Sloan’s thinking is if you’ve done it in the past, you can do it in the future. Therefore, the cover letter should focus on past achievements and how all the successes that have come before naturally lead to MIT. Of course, some mention should be made about where the candidate is going, but far more words should be used on the details of past experiences and how they reflect on the candidate’s overall capacity to be successful as a professional going forward.
It is important to note that these experiences and past successes should be highly focused on managerial skills, motivations, team work, leadership, grit, drive, and, of course, entrepreneurship rather than on simple tactical skills. The candidate should not bother laying out their quant skills or that they are really a math person, Sloan will figure this out by their GPA, GMAT score and recommendations. Interestingly, the GPA and GMAT scores at Sloan are lower than expected, likely due to Sloan accepting some older, non-traditional students, who have the pirate-spirit they are seeking.
What may be a quirk to MIT is that not only do they want MIT to be the candidate’s top choice for business school, in some sense they want it to be their only choice. This means the candidate must be very clear about why Sloan and why only Sloan. Sloan takes great pride in the connections it has to the rest of campus, and the broader entrepreneurial community in which it plays an out-sized part (much better than Silicon Valley they claim). A successful applicant stresses being part of the MIT universe and why it’s important to them.
Of course, the process doesn’t quite end there, because there’s the optional essay that’s sort of mandatory.
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.
Please keep all videos and media limited to 2:00 minutes total in length.
Please keep all written essays to 500 words or less.
Just another opportunity to “show not tell.” As noted with regard to the first essay/cover letter, there are essentially two levers to push on when applying to MIT. The first is that you have actually done stuff; the second is that MIT is your first and only choice.
Give it to them again: maybe something else entrepreneurial you’ve done, or very specific reasons about why MIT/Sloan/Kendall Square (Sloan’s home).
It is also a good place to explore the nuances that are required for achieving great results. For example, not just talking about the product you created but the internal dynamics of the company (from a team building perspective: What worked, What didn’t? What do you wish you knew when? When leading an organization, how did your own perspective change over time? What do you still need to learn as a manager? Etc.)
One slightly off-topic point but worth mentioning is that Sloan is highly focused on organizational behavior, and the best and most successful essays I have read focus on just this. Its faculty and alumni produce books like “The Fifth Discipline,” “Reengineering the Corporation,” and talk a lot about the “Learning Organization” and organizational theory. An applicant who brings this perspective into their essays will be well-served.
In other words, don’t forget to talk about the heart of the pirate and how esprit de corps matters, more so when you’re pulling together the classic Sloan team for the start-up competition: the 19-year old undergraduate engineer, the French lawyer, the 33-year old African teacher, the Olympic rower and the woman who started the mountaineering business. After all, this is the type of company that is going to change the world.
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Topics: MBA Admissions Insights, MBA Application Tips, School Specific Articles, Your Top Schools | Tags: MIT Sloan School of Management
MIT / Sloan Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
Following up on the release of MIT Sloan’s 2017-2018 application essay prompt, we thought we’d offer some suggestions about how Sloan MBA hopefuls might approach this year’s written materials.
The school has maintained their required cover letter—albeit with a bit more room compared to last year. The video essay is now mandatory and invites applicants to introduce themselves, as opposed to an open-ended optional video for additional information.
MIT / Sloan Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s MIT / Sloan essays:
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.
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).
Rod Garcia has long likened the MBA application process to the recruiting process; MBA aspirants, just like job applicants, need to demonstrate that they know how to market themselves. This is why the school requires a cover letter as part of their application.
As you approach this assignment, keep in mind the many standard cover letter themes—your attributes and skills, why you are interested in joining the ‘company’ (MIT / Sloan), and what you feel you could contribute. These certainly intersect with the ideas covered by other schools’ “career goals” essays, so much so that it may be tempting to simply tack a greeting onto the beginning of a career goals essay you’ve prepared for another program. MIT’s request for these ideas in a cover letter format, however, actually makes it very easy to spot recycled material, so it’s important that you tailor your response to the school’s unique process. It’s also worth noting that the Sloan admissions team has been open about their decision to avoid direct questions about ‘why MIT’ or ‘specific career goals’ – so while those themes may play a role in your cover letter, the focus should be largely on who you are and what you have accomplished, as opposed to a simple expression of your love of the program/plans for the future. With such a limited length, all points must be concise, yet informative.
A potential outline for this essay might open with a couple detailed sentences about who you are and what you would bring to the school; then a short statement of your career goals with a summary of the ways in which your experience to date has prepared you to accomplish them; and finally a brief “why MIT” section explaining why Sloan is the best place for you in terms of what you need from an MBA and your fit with the school, concluding with a thank you. To effectively convince the adcom that your background is uniquely suited to MIT Sloan, it will be important to conduct a fair amount of research on the program. Taking the time to learn about MIT’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities—whether through a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to MIT Sloan—will pay dividends here.
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.
- 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.
This year’s video prompt specifies an audience: one’s fellow students (rather than the admissions committee). While a brief mention of your professional background and career goals may be appropriate, we encourage applicants to use this opportunity to showcase elements of their personalities and candidacies that they will not have the chance to address in their other application materials. Perhaps you have a particularly interesting work or extra-curricular experience to share, or a personal accomplishment or aspect of your heritage of which you’re especially proud. By focusing on a range of qualities and characteristics, this video will allow applicants to demonstrate the well-rounded nature of their candidacies even within the minute limit. Speaking of length, do not hesitate to practice your response to ensure that it will be within the time limit—after all, you will only have one chance to record this. You should also record your response on your own and watch it so you can improve before the actual recording. The key caveat here is to not allow the practicing to lead to a robotic/overly rehearsed final video.
As this is a visual presentation that will be recorded live, ensure you are dressed in appropriate professional attire. In terms of a background, clean and steady may work best—you do not want to make the adcom dizzy by taking them on an unsteady walking tour with your laptop. While many applicants will be tempted to introduce props into their video, such as signs, souvenirs, or any prized possessions that might quickly convey who you are, we would like to urge some degree of caution in this domain. A focused, one-minute, heartfelt introduction (while looking your audience in the eye) may be far more effective than a distracting string of props, signs, charts—each requiring valuable time to make transitions—not to mention careful attention to readability/visibility on screen. This isn’t to say that displaying a prized souvenir from traveling along the Silk Road in Asia can’t work, it’s just that we want you to think carefully about how to best convey your message on video.
Please provide any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to know that may be helpful in evaluating your candidacy (i.e. choice of recommenders, areas of concern in your academic record, other extenuating circumstances, etc.). This information should be provided in a written format (200 words or less).
This prompt offers an opportunity to address elements of one’s application that require explanation (e.g. choice of recommender, a semester of poor undergraduate performance), and may also be an opportunity to share important information that isn’t captured elsewhere in one’s written materials.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s MIT / Sloan MBA essay topic! As you work on your Sloan MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s offerings:
Posted in: Essay Tips & Advice, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays
Schools: MIT Sloan