MIT Sloan has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2014. (You can view the essays once you create an online account to access Sloan’s application.) There are some small changes to the essays this year, although not many, and Sloan’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 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 Admissions 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 Admissions Essays
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.