This year’s MIT MBA application is significantly different from last year’s — and those that preceded it. No cover letter, which was part of MIT’s application for years, and no letter of recommendation from you about you. That was last year’s twist.
This year’s application has one required essay and another short-answer question that applicants invited to interview will need to address. Both these questions are new. Plus the request for additional written information from those invited to interview is not only new, but unique. To my knowledge, MIT is the only school with this requirement. HBS has its post-interview reflections, but that again is post interview and is not a response to a specific question.
Finally, MIT Sloan for years had only two rounds. The second round deadline last year was January 8. This year MIT is adding a third round which extends its application season to April 11. There may be many reasons for this change, but one result: it increases total application volume and reduces the acceptance rate while giving MIT Sloan a chance to admit excellent applicants who may just decide to apply late in the application cycle.
My tips are in blue below.
Please prepare a business resume that includes your employment history in reverse chronological order, with titles, dates, and whether you worked part-time or full-time. Your educational record should also be in reverse chronological order and should indicate dates of attendance and degree(s) earned. Other information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged. The resume should not be more than one page in length (up to 50 lines). We encourage you to use the résumé template provided in the online application.
Go beyond mere job descriptions to highlight achievement. If your title is “consultant.” Saying that you “consulted on projects” is redundant and uninformative at best. Writing that you “Led a 6-member team working on a biotech outsourcing project to Singapore with a budget of $X; it came in on time and under budget.” conveys infinitely more. Quantify impact as much as possible. You want the reader to come away with a picture of you as an above average performer on a steep trajectory
We have one required essay at the time of submission:
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)
The really effective response will tell a story about a success. Yes that means one success.
The story can start with the moment of success or a moment of challenge, maybe even of failure or tension. Then describe your role in turning that situation or challenge into an accomplishment. To provide context and indicate the magnitude of your accomplishment, as well as fully answer the question, talk about impact. What were the results or benefits of your success? Quantify as much as possible.
If you are lucky enough to have several accomplishments to choose from, review “What We Look For,” and choose an experience that presents what MIT seeks.
A second, short-answer question will be asked only of those invited to interview:
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)
Congrats! If you’re reading this after you applied you’ve been invited to interview at MIT Sloan! Of course now you need to respond to this question. Get ready. Get set. Think!
When have you had an innovative idea that in some small way improved the world? When have taken your idea and led the implementation of it or persuaded others to go in with you on this project or initiative? You only have 250 words so you can’t write a long story here. Focus on the elements of your achievement that show you as an innovative leader who has improved the world and has the ability to advance management practice.
Some of you may thing “I already wrote about my best example in the required essay. What am I supposed to do know now?” Choose your second best example. Or choose an impressive example from a different arena of your life, perhaps sports, religion, politics, the arts, community service, or a hobby.
I’m sure you’re not a one-trick pony. Don’t leave them thinking that you have only one achievement that you feel is worthy to share with MIT Sloan’s admissions committee.
The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format. If you choose to use a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us the URL.
I discussed this question a few years ago with someone in MIT Sloan’s admissions office. First of all realize that you can choose an essay or multi-media presentation. The media option is there so you can express yourself in the way you find easiest and most revealing. MIT does not want a recycled essay from another school. The person I spoke to was explicit about that. If you choose the multi-media format, realize it should be something viewable in about a minute — no 20-minute videos or 100-slide expositions or lengthy orations. Keep it short. It’s also fine to link to something you have created for a club, event, or cause that’s important to you.
What’s behind the option? A deep and sincere desire to meet you as a human being. A genuine, animated, real live human being. So don’t regurgitate your resume or spew stuff found in the required elements of your application. Have the confidence to share a special interest or deep commitment. I’m not suggesting Mommy Dearest or True Confessions; use judgment. I am suggesting that you allow the reader to see a good side of you not revealed elsewhere in the application. Let them see what makes you smile, motivates you to jump out of bed with joy, and gives you a feeling of satisfaction when you turn out the light at the end of the day.
MIT Sloan has an excellent video with advice on its optional essay. Here it is:
I think the key phrase in the video is “We really want to get to know you guys as people.” What else would you like MIT Sloan to know about you? Share it here.
If you would like professional guidance with your MIT Sloan MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the MIT Sloan application.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.