MIT Sloan 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out the rest of our school-specific MBA essay tips!

Stata Center at MIT

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. 

Resume:

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. 

Optional Question

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.

MIT Sloan 2016 Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decision Notification
Round 1 September 17, 2015 December 16, 2015
Round 2 January 14, 2016 April 4, 2016
Round 3 April 11, 2016 May 18, 2016

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.

Learn How to Choose the Best MBA Program for You!

Linda Abraham By , 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.

Related Resources:

• School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
• MIT Sloan B-School Zone 
Is My Personal Statement Too Personal?

Harvard MBA Essay Question: Now Required and New

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School

And the Harvard MBA essay question is…

It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting.

Introduce yourself.

Note: Should you enroll at HBS, there will be an opportunity for you to share this with them.

We suggest you view this video before beginning to write.

You can read Dee Leopold’s full thoughts on this question at on her blog, Direct from the Director, as well as her reasons for making this required as opposed to optional, as its been for the last 2 years.

Dee also reviews the purpose of the essay. On one had its a chance for you the applicant to reflect, organize your thoughts, and relate them as you embark on the adventure of business school.  In addition and something that is critical for you to realize as you start that reflection process and choose what to write: The essay is “a chance to get to know you beyond the elements of the application that feel fixed and stationary. Can also be a starting point for interview conversations.”

Check out our free webinar: Get Accepted to Harvard Business School!

 

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools

 

Stanford GSB 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Want to learn more about Stanford? Check out our Stanford GSB B-School Zone!There is very little change between last year’s and this year’s Stanford GSB MBA essay questions.  One minor change to note: You get an entire 50 extra words for your two essays. Last year the total word count was 1100 words. This year the maximum length is 1150. This is noteworthy only because it represents one of the few  times in recent years that schools are allowing you to provide a little more information about yourselves than they allowed previously.  Stanford is bucking the trend here.

Stanford gives a lot of advice and guidance on its website as to what it’s looking for in the essays. You should access that advice. 

Stanford moved its Round 1 deadline up about a week (from Oct 1 to this year’s Sept. 22.). It moved its Round 2 deadline to January 12 from last year’s Jan 7. Round 3’s deadline for 2016 is April 5; last year’s final deadline was April 1.  As I said in a recent podcast, the MBA application cycle — like some sports’ seasons and certain individuals’ waistlines, is expanding.

My tips are in blue below. 

Stanford GSB 2016 MBA Application Questions:

Essays help us learn about who you are rather than solely what you have done. Other parts of the application give insight to your academic and professional accomplishments; the essays reveal the person behind those achievements.

When writing your essays, resist the urge to “package” yourself into what you think Stanford wants to see. Doing so will only prevent us from understanding who you really are and what you hope to accomplish. The most impressive essays are the most authentic.

Essays:

We request that you write two personal essays. The personal essays give us glimpses of your character and hopes. In each essay, we want to hear your genuine voice. Think carefully about your values, passions, aims, and dreams prior to writing them.

Essay A. What matters most to you, and why?

For this essay, we would like you to:

• Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”
• Do some deep self-examination, so you can genuinely illustrate who you are and how you came to be the person you are.
• Share the insights, experiences, and lessons that shaped your perspectives, rather than focusing merely on what you’ve done or accomplished.
• Write from the heart, and illustrate how a person, situation, or event has influenced you.

This superficially straightforward question has been Stanford’s first for the last several years, and it is actually one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult MBA essay questions to answer. It demands introspection. Before you put finger to keyboard or pen to paper, really reflect on what you value, how you have acted upon those principles, and why you value them. Stanford’s advice urges reflection. The question requires it.

When I reflect on our many successful Stanford clients, initiative in the face of need is the common thread among them. They are always the ones who revealed, especially in Essay A, that they do not turn away when they see a problem or need for action. They grab the initiative when faced with an opportunity to contribute. They are comfortable expressing emotion and their values, and their actions reflect both, but particularly the latter. Think purpose-driven, principle-driven lives.

More than anything else, initiative and self-awareness characterize the successful Stanford applicant. Implication: You have to know your values and those times you have acted upon them. Yes I wrote that a few seconds ago, but it bears repeating. Climbing Mt. Everest or suffering from terrible social ills is not a requirement of admission, but you do have to know the person occupying your skin.

Essay B. Why Stanford?

Enlighten us on how earning your MBA at Stanford will enable you to realize your ambitions.

A strong response to this essay question will:

• Explain your decision to pursue graduate education in management.
• Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.

Now that question is succinct, and really says what they want to know.

Similar to  questions that have occupied this Stanford application slot for years, this question is a variation of a standard MBA goals question, as revealed in the two bullet points after it. For this forward-looking question, you say why you want an MBA. The best way to do so is in terms of your desired post-MBA professional direction. Then explain how Stanford’s program specifically will help you travel down that path.

Understand the flexibility inherent in Stanford’s curriculum, its integrated approach to management, its entrepreneurial culture, and how both will help you learn what you need to know to achieve your career goals. Realize that the curriculum allows for personalization based on your goal and your past experience, specifically your previous business education. Two pieces of information are required to answer this question: A clear MBA goal and an in-depth understanding of Stanford GSB’s curriculum. (Folks: It’s not just the ranking, brand, or location.)

Essay Length:

Your answers for both essay questions combined may not exceed 1,150 words. Below are suggested word counts per essay, but you should allocate the maximum word count in the way that is most effective for you.

      •   Essay A: 750 words
      •   Essay B: 400 words

Formatting

• 12-pt. font size
• Double-spaced
• Recommended font types: Arial, Courier, or Times New Roman
• Indicate the question you are answering at the beginning of each essay (does not count toward the word limit)
• Number all pages
• Upload one document that includes both essays

Be sure to save a copy of your essays, and preview the uploaded document to ensure that the formatting is preserved.

Additional Information:

If there is any information that is critical for us to know and is not captured elsewhere, include it in the “Additional Information” section of the application. Pertinent examples include:

• Extenuating circumstances affecting academic or work performance
• Explanation of why you do not have a letter of reference from your current direct supervisor
• Work experience that did not fit into the space provided
• Academic experience (e.g., independent research) not noted elsewhere

This is optional. Respond if you have something to explain or need the additional space because you can’t fit in your work experience or all academic info. Responses should be succinct and to-the-point and should provide the context necessary for Stanford to understand the circumstances surrounding whatever difficulty you are writing about. 

If you would like professional guidance with your Stanford GSB 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 Stanford GSB application.

Stanford GSB 2016 MBA Application Deadlines:

Application Round  Submit Your Application By  Notification Date
Round 1 22 Sept 2015* 09 Dec 2015
Round 2 12 Jan 2016* 30 Mar 2016
Round 3 05 Apr 2016* 11 May 2016

* Applications and Letters of Reference are due by 5:00 PM, Pacific Time

Get Accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business! Click here to learn more!

Linda Abraham By , 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.

Related Resources:

• What Stanford is Looking for: Personal Qualities and Contributions
• What Stanford is Looking for: Demonstrated Leadership Potential
Valentine’s Day, Economics, and Stanford GSB

Save 10% on Med School Application Help! Limited Time Offer!

AMCAS releases its 2016 application this Tuesday, May 5th, which means…it’s time to get to work! We’d like to give you an incentive to get cracking on those apps here and now, by offering you 10% off on all med school admissions services!

Sale-Med-School-Admissions-Consulting-EditingDon’t miss out on this opportunity to get top-of-the-line editing and consulting at a discounted rate!

Now who’s ready to tackle those applications?! Let’s do it!

View catalog of med school services!*Coupon may not be combined with other offers and may not be used on rush services.

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Columbia Business School 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here for Columbia Business School's zone page.Columbia tweaked last year’s questions for this year. Relatively minor changes. Specifically:

• Its short-answer question about your immediate post-MBA goal has gone from 75 to 50 characters. Yes, that was  characters, not words. Two years ago it was a generous 100 characters. And those applicants thought they had it tough. 
• There are wording changes to all the questions. The central focus is the same as in previous years; but nuances have changes. 

Other than cutting 25 characters from the goals question, CBS has not cut essays or essay length. Still, you will need to make every word, indeed every character, count to really allow your essays to effectively and compellingly present your qualifications.

My tips are in blue below.

Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays.

Short Answer Question:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

Note the character limit. Your response must be less than a tweet. Actually it must be just about one third of a tweet. What do you want to do professionally and in which industry immediately after earning your MBA?  Here are CBS’ examples of possible responses:

“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a strategy consulting firm.”
“Launch a data-management start-up.”

Warning: This question is not asking about intended area of study while in business school or a non-professional goal or even a long-term goal. And the subject is assumed to be you. No need to waste characters by including “I.”

Essays:

Essay 1. Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (Maximum 500 words)

They already know what’s in your resume. Don’t repeat “your career path to date” here. That’s a waste of essay real estate and means you’re not telling them anything new or answering their question.

Do tell them what you want to do after your MBA and what aspects of the Columbia MBA experience will prepare you to do it. Keep in mind that the MBA is a bridge between your past and desired future. Show Columbia why its program is the right bridge for you and now is the right time for you to be traverse this bridge. 

To answer this question well,  you will need to really know the Columbia program thoroughly along with why you want a CBS MBA at this point in your career. The essay that shines will do a great job of showing both fit and self-awareness.

Essay 2. Columbia Business School’s location enables us to bridge theory and practice in multiple ways: through Master Classes, internships, the New York Immersion Seminars, and, most importantly, through a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)

Please watch this video before attempting to answer the question and then keep it in mind as you write.

Really think about the points it’s making in terms what being at the center means: Access to an infinite variety of opportunities. Proximity to thought leadership and executive leadership. Convergence of theory and practice. NYC as an — if not the — international business center. Also note the emphasis in the question on bridging theory (the classroom) and practice (the opportunities that New York City provides).

After watching the video, think about how you intend to take advantage of the infinite opportunities and energy that reside at Columbia University and in New York City. How will you take advantage of the entrepreneurial eco-system in New York and Columbia University? The ties to bio science and pharma? Madison Avenue? The cutting-edge research and thought leadership? Not to mention the practitioners who lead Wall Street and teach at Columbia. Or will you explore the cultural riches of NYC and take advantage of the incredible business opportunities present in the arts and media?

Be careful not to speak of those opportunities in the generalities that I have. If you are interested in luxury goods marketing, as stated in your short answer, then write here about how you will take advantage of Madison and 5th Avenues as well as Columbia’s offerings. If you are interested in finance or consulting, Manhattan and all the businesses in it are at your feet. How will you benefit from this incredible location as well as the practitioners teaching at CBS? 

Final point: you don’t have to address all the points raised in the video, but you do have to write persuasively about at least one. 

Essay 3. CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

Please watch this video to have an idea of what “CBS Matters” is about.

Make sure you understand Columbia’s Cluster System.  And if you have any lingering doubts whether this question is about professional achievement, watch the video again. It’s not.

You can use this essay to bring out something fun that you like to do. Would you try to get your cluster to train for a marathon? Set up a karaoke night? Plan a ski trip? Explore New York’s museums? Or you can reveal something non-professional that is important to you.  How have you contributed to social groups or causes in the past? Relate you plans to a past successful initiative, and you will enhance your answer to this question.

Or you could take a more serious approach to this question and discuss a challenge overcome. Show that you are a survivor, not a victim and far stronger as a result of this experience. If you take this approach, be careful to avoid TMI (too much information). You will have barely met these people.

Optional Essay. An optional fourth essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.

Clearly you can use this optional essay question to address a weakness in your profile or qualifications, but in my mind, this question is also open-ended enough to allow you to discuss a diversity element in your personal background or simply some unique area of interest. Also, tucking a weakness explanation somewhere else would allow you to end the application with a strength and not a flaw.

Don’t use this essay as a grand finale or wrap up. And definitely don’t use it to rehash your reasons for wanting to attend Columbia; those reasons should be perfectly clear from the required essays. If you decide to respond to this essay, use it to educate the reader about another talent, interest, or commitment of yours. As always try to show leadership and impact. In short, give them more reasons to admit you.

If you would like professional guidance with your Columbia Business School 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 CBS MBA application.

Columbia Business School 2015 Application Deadlines:

January 2015 Entry: October 7, 2015

Early Decision: October 7, 2014

Merit Fellowship Consideration: January 6, 2016

Regular Decision: April 13, 2016

*All deadlines are 11:59 p.m. New York Time on the date listed.

Want to get accepted to Columbia?  Click here to reserve your spot for the webinar!
Linda Abraham By , 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.

Related Resources:

Podcast Interview With the Columbia Business School Admissions Team
Columbia Business School Zone
• Experiences & Advice from Columbia MBA Student Kendall Miller