MIT Sloan Fellows 2015 Essay Tips

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Your three MIT Sloan Fellows essays must collectively convey the unmistakable message that you surpass your peers through consistently outstanding impact, and that you are destined to become a leader in your company and even industry.  Simultaneously, the essays must convey fit with MIT Sloan’s enduring emphasis on being an innovative leader and agent of change.  Use the three essays to present different aspects of your accomplishments and your character, to show that you envision and drive change, and to portray your rightful place in the “global leadership community.”


Statement of Objectives: What are your immediate (1 – 5 years) and ultimate (>15 years) professional objectives for attending the program? Specifically, please indicate your objectives and how they fit with the purposes of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. How would your unique background contribute to the diversity of the Sloan Fellows community? (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Let’s break this question into its three parts:  

First, your professional objectives.  Be specific about position, company/industry, expected scope of responsibilities, and vision for what you want to accomplish. Give more detail for the 1-5 year segment.  For the longer term goals, show direction – but not as detailed.

Second, your objectives’ fit with the program.  Identify and describe specific aspects of your objectives that align with the values and purposes of the program.  Focus on the 2-3 key elements of this fit – fewer, with thoughtful discussion, is far better than a “laundry list” of fit points.

Third, your potential contributions to the community.  Again, focus on the 2-3 key aspects.  “Unique background” certainly could refer to professional background, and it can also include other relevant, interesting experiences if they represent a potential contribution, such as intimate knowledge of a poorly represented geographic region.  This section can be tricky – interesting facts alone don’t show potential contribution; you need to add your insight to make it meaningful.

Essay 1: Discuss an event in your life that has defined who you are today. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This question essentially asks for a story.  Also, note “event” – it can cover a big range, from personal or family events, to large, geopolitical events (unfortunately, war comes to mind). Balance the “interest factor” with the actual influence on you – while it’s great to have an inherently intriguing topic, the point of the essay is not the drama or rarity of the event; rather it is (a) the influence of the event on you and (b) your perception of that influence, and of how you responded and grew.  MIT has always had an interest in your self-understanding and your responsiveness, and this essay continues that trend.

With only 500 words, don’t waste any on a “conventional” intro that gives the ending away. First tell the story, then add a paragraph reflecting on why and how the event was formative.

Essay 2: Tell us about a personal or professional decision in which you took a minority perspective in a group and what did you learn about yourself from this experience. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Another story; follow the above suggested format and structure.

Since the first essay will likely involve a somewhat older event, I suggest using a recent story for this essay, to make the essay do “double duty” strategically by also showing you performing in a high-stakes, challenging situation. Whether or not you win over the group to your view is not important for this essay.  Rather, the quality of your evaluation of your effort – how insightful, frank, and nuanced it is – will matter a lot.  It won’t hurt to briefly mention how you’ve since then applied the learning as well.  

Second deadline: January 5, 2015

Give Your MBA Application that Final Check!Cindy TokumitsuBy Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, “Ace the EMBA.” Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Related Resources:

A Transformational Year: The MIT Sloan Fellows Program
MIT EMBA 2015 Essay Tips
Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right