MIT Sloan 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips.

The 2013 MIT SLOAN tips are now available.  Click here to check them out!

This MIT Sloan 2012 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. Check out the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice.

MIT Sloan 2012 MBA Essay Questions

Résumé
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).

Go beyond mere job description 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.

Cover Letter
Prepare a cover letter (up to 500 words) 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.

Like all cover letters, this is a sales document. Make your case for admission using your accomplishments, specifically those where you “had an impact on a group or organization” and can show above-average progression. How do the talents revealed in these examples demonstrate fit with the Sloan program, its tight-knit community, and its innovative culture?

Essays
We are interested in learning more about you and how you work, think, and act. For each essay, please provide a brief overview of the situation followed by a detailed description of your response. Please limit the experiences you discuss to those which have occurred in the past three years.

In each of the essays please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did.

The devil is in the details, and Sloan wants them for each of these stories. Look for moments that stand out in your mind. You don’t have room for anything but those stand-outs.

Also, if Sloan is asking for events that occurred in the last three years, that’s what you should write about. “But!!!” No but’s. Stick to the last three years.

Essay 1: Please describe a time when you went beyond what was defined, expected, established, or popular. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

The question on one hand provides direction and is clearly defined. On the other, it provides plenty of latitude for individuality. One of the more interesting and unusual options in this question is “beyond what was … popular.”

You need to write about an experience with an expectation of outcome or performance that you surpassed — perhaps blew past. In writing your essay you could start with the expectation, i.e. what you went beyond. Or you could start with the achievement. You could start with the moment when you accepted the challenge or when you realized you were going in an unexpected direction.

Remember to include analysis in the answer. To what do you ascribe your success? What motivated you? What did you learn from the experience? Say what you felt and thought as well as what you said and did.

Essay 2: Please describe a time when you convinced an individual or group to accept one of your ideas. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

This question really reflects two ideas at the very heart of the Sloan MBA: leadership and innovation. Persuasion is one element in leadership and “your idea” should showcase your problem-solving and innovative thinking.

As in your Essay 1, focus on one event. Make room for analysis. Tell a story, and tell a different tale from the one told in Essay 1. You can use a professional or a non-professional experience for this essay. Sports, community service, or the arts can provide the context.

Essay 3: Please describe a time when you had to make a decision without having all the information you needed. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

Ambiguity. Lack of a clear path or obvious “right choice.” That’s the stuff of life and leadership. Rarely does one make a decision with complete information and certainly not with 100% certainty. When you have compete information and 100% certainty, the best outcome is obvious and there’s not much to decide.

You can choose an example from your professional or non-professional sphere, just balance what you include here with what preceded this essay. Again, choose one experience, describe the uncertainty, reveal your decision making process or how you compensated for the unknowns.

Supplemental Information (Optional)
You may use this section to address whatever else you want the Admissions Committee to know. (250 words or fewer, limited to one page)

If there is some facet of your experience, be it professional, academic or personal, that you have not discussed elsewhere and would like the adcom to know about, include it here, in this optional essay. Give them another reason to admit you, but don’t submit the grand summary, appeal, or closing statement. Keep it focused and cogent. Yes if necessary, you can use this question to address specific circumstances that may have negatively affected your academic performance. Don’t leave them wondering or guessing.

If you would like help with your MIT Sloan MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MIT Sloan School Package which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the MIT Sloan MBA application.

MIT Sloan 2012 MBA Application Deadlines

Round I               Round II

Application Due: Oct 25, 2011      Jan 10, 2012

Decisions Released: Feb 6, 2012       Apr 2, 2012

Application must be received by 12 noon pacific time.

* Reapplicants must submit their application by the Round I deadline. LGO reapplicants must submit their reapplication by the LGO deadline.
**Decisions will be released early for some candidates who will be denied admission without an interview.

Linda Abraham By , President and Founder of Accepted.com.

Another US News Top Ten!

US News is at it again!  The magazine’s newest top ten list is the top 10 Business Schools That Receive the Most Full-Time Applications. Not surprisingly, almost all the top 10 programs listed in US News’s rankings of the best business schools were also on the list of the top 10 business schools that received the most applications for full-time admissions in the 2010-2011 academic year (Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business was the only exception).

A total of 261 business schools provided US News with application data. On average, programs received 525 applications for admission.  But Harvard Business School surpassed them all with 9,524 applications, 32% more than the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which received the second highest number of applications.

However, the US News data does not reveal the number of students accepted into the class, making application numbers misleading. For example, Stanford has a class of fewer than 400, whereas Harvard’s class size is approximately 930. These statistics are also just a close approximation of the upcoming US News’ top 10.

Other schools that made the list of “the 10 business schools that received the most applications for full-time admission in 2010” were: University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)Columbia University, Northwestern University (Kellogg), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan), New York University (Stern), University of Chicago (Booth), University of California—Berkeley (Haas), and Duke University (Fuqua).

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Forbes Announces Top Ten Business Schools

  

Forbes has just released its list of the top business schools in America. The Forbesranking methodology is based on the return on investment achieved by the class of 2006. They surveyed 16,000 alumni at over 100 schools and received feedback from 30% of those grads. They then compared the earnings of the respondents from 2006-2011 to the cost of business school.

While Forbes lists 74 top schools, the top ten are:

  1. Harvard
  2. Stanford
  3. Chicago (Booth)
  4. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  5. Columbia
  6. Dartmouth (Tuck)
  7. Northwestern (Kellogg)
  8. Cornell (Johnson)
  9. Virginia (Darden)
  10. MIT (Sloan)

Poets and Quants analyzes the Forbes’ data in terms of winners and losers, those who went up in the Forbes’ rankings and those who went down; it provides a useful table comparing the salary data by school to previous years’ salary data.

Of greater interest to me is the overall profitable MBA picture presented by the Forbes data: every single program in the top 74 has positive ROI, admittedly less in more expensive locales and a few in single digits, but the overwhelming majority showed a greater than 20% gain after five years. And that’s despite the recession.

So for those of you who have professional goals that require an MBA, it looks like a solid investment.   

Linda AbrahamBy , President and Founder of Accepted.com

 

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MBA Admissions News Roundup

  

  • An article in Fortune Magazine looks at how MBA job recruiters are courting military veterans because of their management experience and ability to work under pressure. Although veterans sometimes struggle with the lingo of the business and consulting world, with the help of their affinity groups and military networks they are rising to the occasion.
  • The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has announced that it is relocating its San Francisco campus to the Hills Plaza building on the San Francisco Embarcadero.  The new campus will provide more space for alumni events and include up-to-date hi-tech equipment.  There are also rumors that Wharton may use this campus to extend its full-time MBA program’s presence on the West Coast.
  • Future MBA applicants should look into the DMAC, the Diversity MBA Admissions Conference held annually at UCLA. The DMAC provides the opportunity for underprivileged or underserved applicants to meet admissions directors from top-tier business schools looking for unique candidates.
  • GMAC explains how it maintains the integrity of the GMAT. Lawrence M. Rudner, vice president of research and development at GMAC, highlights the ways in which the organization ensures that the test is accessible to all, that there is no cheating, and that all the questions are culturally appropriate.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek has posted the top-10 full-time MBA programs with podcasts on iTunes U. MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Columbia University, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, and Wharton  are just some of the schools offering online resources.
  • The Economist describes the hardships faced by a business management program launching in Africa while the country falls into civil war. In January the IESE, a Barcelona-based business school, partnered with Management et Développement d’Entreprise (MDE) in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, to launch the country’s first advanced management program.

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MBA Admissions News Roundup

  

  • The Chronicle presents an interesting article on the physically active, improvisational nature of one of MIT Sloan‘s courses, “Improvisation and Influence: An Experiential Leadership Lab.” Among other things, the class stresses the importance of flexibility in business relationships. (Source: “Future Business Leaders Cut Loose at MIT,” The Chronicle of Higher Education)
  • Business school grads are seeking out less conventional careers as compared to their Wall Street- and S&P 500-pursuing peers of a few years ago. In response to this shift, which is set to be driven by the students, top business schools are spending more time and money reaching out to more startups and nonprofits. “We have to be much more proactive,” says J.J. Cutler, Wharton‘s career services manager. “I need to have thousands and thousands of relationships with these small firms around the world….Part of this is a reaction to the financial crisis, part of it is a generational shift, part of it is that they are coming from much more diverse backgrounds.” (Source: “MBA Students Give Career Services a New Assignment,” BusinessWeek)
  • Stanford University is hoping to open a satellite campus in New York City, reports a recent Poets & Quants article. Apparently, so are 26 other universities including Columbia, Cornell, and the University of Chicago. If Stanford’s proposal is accepted, the top university would first offer business degrees at its new New York campus before expanding to other degree programs. This possibility could materialize as early as 2015. (Source: “Stanford May Offer MBA in New York,” Poets & Quants)

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MBA Hiring Up in Finance and Consulting!

  

The QS TopMBA Jobs and Salary Trends Report for 2010-2011 returned optimistic results for MBAs seeking jobs in consulting or in the finance sector, reports a QS press release titled “‘War for talent’ back on.”

The data shows a 22% increase in MBA hiring in finance in 2010, and predicts an additional 11% increase for 2011. MBA hiring in consulting went up 19% in 2010, with an additional 37% increase expected in the coming year. Both sectors are expected to return to their pre-recession highs within two years.

According to Jacqueline Wilbur, senior director of the MBA Career Development Office at MIT Sloan, “After experiencing a significant decline in opportunities for MBA students between 2008-2009, we saw a return to normal recruitment levels in the third quarter of 2010, which has been maintained throughout the year. Management consultancies and investment banks are again in a war for talent in most markets.”

MBAs…get ready to be fought over!

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2011 Rankings: BW’s Best Undergraduate Business Schools

  

BusinessWeek‘s 2011 ranking report reveals that more than ever, college applicants are seeking a global experience, especially those who plan on pursuing an undergraduate degree in business. Undergraduate business programs are responding by creating more immersion options, overseas internships, and business-related study abroad opportunities. Some schools are even offering business courses that require students to go abroad. Many schools are implementing international experience requirements, maintaining that global exposure is essential in today’s market.

For example, Notre Dame Mendoza, BW‘s top pick for the second year in a row, offers study abroad options in Haiti, Egypt, and South Africa, among many other places, and encourages students to pursue business research projects abroad as well.

Below we have posted BW‘s top 20 undergraduate business schools.

Top 20 Best Undergraduate Business Schools 2011 (Last year’s position is in parentheses.)

1.      Notre Dame Mendoza (1)

2.      UVA McIntire (2)

3.      Emory Goizueta (7)

4.      UPenn Wharton (4)

5.      Cornell (5)

6.      Michigan Ross (8)

7.      Villanova (20)

8.      UNC Kenan-Flagler (14)

9.      MIT Sloan (3)

10.  Georgetown McDonough (23)

11.  Brigham Young Marriott (11)

12.  Richmond Robins (15)

13.  UC Berkeley Haas (6)

14.  Washington Olin (13)

15.  NYU Stern (12)

16.  Boston College Carroll (9)

17.  Texas McCombs (10)

18.  Indiana Kelley (19)

19.  Wake Forest (18)

20.  Babson (17)

You’ll notice there were quite a few significant shifts this year. Three new schools made it into the top 10—Villanova, UNC Kenan-Flagler, and Georgetown McDonough—ousting UC Berkeley Haas, Boston College, and Texas McCombs from their top 10 positions of last year. The only school new to the top 20 list this year is Georgetown, taking a slot away from Miami Farmer.

For more information on methodology, please see BW‘s article, “How We Ranked the Schools.”

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2011 MIT Sloan Executive MBA Essay Tips

This intriguing set of essay questions seeks to distill those applicants who are bold thinkers; who discern, or even better, create connections among disparate elements; and who have the will and the ability to transform sometimes difficult or uncomfortable ideas into effective action – all in one person.  A person who also possesses “leadership performance, global perspective, and functional expertise.”  These questions and the values they reflect accurately represent a university renowned for innovation generally, and for an MBA program famous for management innovation.  While the statement of purpose challenges you to succinctly create your portrait as an applicant, the three essay questions, each in their own way, ask you to follow the arc of grabbing onto or defining an idea, finding synergies, and taking action.  That basic arc reveals that the MIT EMBA adcom is not just interested in your engaging thought process or in your stellar achievements, but in the dynamic connection between them.  People who have fundamentally mastered this arc are the people best suited to this EMBA program.  Another notable aspect of the three essay questions is that they ask you to put yourself on the line, to take a stand.  It appears that the adcom also seeks a certain quality of character.

In an overall plan for the essays, the statement of purpose works as a context, a positioner, an opening pitch.  You will describe experiences in each of the three essays (although essay 1 doesn’t explicitly ask for it, you should still integrate actual experience in the answer), so strategically try to select experiences that are somewhat different from each other, to give a comprehensive and broad view.  Also, it’s advisable to discuss fairly recent experiences, to allow the adcom to see you working at a high level and in relevant circumstances.

Statement of Purpose.  Please provide a statement indicating your qualifications and why you are pursuing the MIT Executive MBA (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Again, this is your portrait – your candidacy at a glance.  Will it be full length or head-and-shoulders?  Will it have a realistic background or a wash of color?  Will it be naturalistic or abstracted?  Will it contain other objects or not?   Will you look directly at the viewer or into the distance?  There are a lot of questions in painting a portrait, and there are a lot of questions in answering the open question that a statement of purpose represents.  It shouldn’t just convey facts – it should have a point of view and a message, and if you decide on these first, it will help you select and elaborate the content.

Beware of a pitfall: in discussing qualifications, do not present a list of accomplishments that repeats your resume in prose format.  Also, don’t present all your qualifications.  Think and select carefully which qualifications to discuss.  Focus on those that (a) are really distinctive and relevant to the MBA and/or (b) support your goals directly or indirectly and also (c) reflect the qualities (directly or indirectly) noted in the introductory section. Don’t just make it a did-this-did-that discussion; have a short meaningful point to make about each qualification, such as the insight it lends or its influence on you.

For why you are pursuing the MBA, presumably the reason relates to your professional goals and objectives.  However, do not focus only what you want to do, i.e., become the CIO, but also on what you want to accomplish for the organization and/or its customers/market.

Essay 1.  The educational mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to “develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world.” Please discuss how you will contribute toward advancing this mission. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

How does the above-defined arc play out in this question?  In answering this question, you should clarify two key ideas: what you consider a principled, innovative leader, and what “improving the world” means to you – i.e., take a stand.  (This essay question appeared last year, and sometimes people were tempted to answer it blandly, as if everyone knows or agrees on what these points are – doing so only sounds evasive.)  Next, identify and articulate the synergies of these ideas with the program’s stated mission.  And, finally, action – what you will contribute.  However, don’t cast the whole essay in the future tense – all the things you’re going to do.  It ends up not sounding credible.  What makes a gripping, memorable essay is real experience and example.  Your answer will have more credibility if you cite a previous time or two when you already have contributed toward the stated mission.  In discussing how you will do so in the future, don’t list of 10 ways, but identify 1 to 3 and provide some succinct but meaningful discussion of them.  Your future contributions may be related to your goals, or you may cite other initiatives.

Essay 2.  Please describe a time when you challenged established thinking or an existing system.  What did you do, and how did you do it? (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This essay will essentially tell a story – a story of when you took a stand.  Don’t hold back.  Show the adcom that you can mix it up and that you don’t shy away from the rough-and-tumble of the business frontier.  If you are challenging established thinking or an existing system, it is because you perceive a problem with one or the other in some way – start the essay right there, with your identification of this issue.   So you see this problem.  Eventually you’ll take some action.  But between the identification part and the action part comes the thought-and-decision part: what were your ideas, your thought process, for how to tackle the issue, and how did you decide on what action to take?  Presumably in this thought process you would be looking for synergies among the possible actions you could take and the people, organizations, and/or principles involved.  Once you decide what to do, you do it – describe how you implement your decision and plan.  A nice structure for this essay is a short opening paragraph showing the problem you perceive, the next paragraph addressing how you decide what to do, and a couple of paragraphs detailing the actions you took and the outcome.

Note that the question does not specify a particular situation or setting.  But there should be real stakes.  And it ideally will be fairly recent, in the last few years.

Essay 3.  Please give an example of a time when you needed to use knowledge from outside your role in order to achieve an organizational goal. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Another story question, another straightforward narrative essay.  Again, start the essay with the moment of recognition: you encounter the situation in your organization that makes you realize the need for outside knowledge.  Walk through your thinking – be specific about how you come to this conclusion.  Discuss how you pursue the knowledge and your thoughts or concerns about how to introduce or present this knowledge to your organization – the synergies.  Finally, describe your actions; how you presented the outside knowledge, the responses to it (and your responses to the responses if there was some resistance), and the outcome.

Application review for the Class of 2013 will be opened on April 1, 2011, and will close at noon on June 30, 2011.  Classes begin in October 2011.

For one-on-one guidance through the MIT Sloan Executive MBA application, process please check out Accepted.com’s MIT Sloan Application Package or our other Executive MBA essay editing and admissions consulting assistance.

Cindy TokumitsuBy Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Success, The Consultants’ Guide to MBA Admission, The EMBA Edge, and author of several articles and the free, email mini-course, “Ace the EMBA.” Also author of the  NEW online mini-course, Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Choosing the One for You.

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More Happy MBA Hiring News

Last week we posted a round up of optimistic MBA hiring news, and today we’re going to supplement that with another positive update.

Today’s good news comes from a BusinessWeek article titled “Better Days Ahead for MBA Job Seekers,” in which author Erin Zlomek assures MBAs that “evidence of a rebound is everywhere.” Bringing data from a recent GMAC study, she concludes that class of 2011 MBAs are likely to have an easier time finding a job than did their peers who graduated last year and the year before.

In terms of pay, the GMAC study suggests that there probably won’t be much of a change between starting salaries for this year’s class as opposed to last year’s.

According to the MBA Career Services Council (CSC), 65% of schools surveyed reported an increase in campus recruiting by consulting firms; 60% said that financial services recruiting was also up. JPMorgan Chase plans on recruiting at 20-25 schools, an improvement over last year’s 15.

It should be noted, however, that job openings in the area of investment banking are still somewhat hard to come by, and many students are shifting their focuses away from that field toward private equity or other areas within financial services.

The positive tech market is also helping the poor investment banking market easier to swallow. At MIT Sloan, an almost equal number of grads entered the investment banking and tech fields (15% and 19% respectively), in 2008; in 2010, that gap had widened to 11.5% to investment banking and 20% to tech fields.

In general, notes J.J. Cutler, deputy vice dean for MBA admissions at Wharton, there has been a surge in interest in nontraditional MBA fields. “We’re seeing more companies coming to campus in industries such as clean tech and new media, industries that haven’t had a history of coming to MBA schools as a place to get talent,” he says.

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More on Application Do’s and Don’ts

A recent blog from KT had a great summary of application do’s and don’ts following his own unsuccessful application year (he’s waitlisted still – so there is hope!). I wanted to add a few thoughts and perhaps even illuminate a point for KT and others like him whose “stats were well above median for all my target schools.”

First, yes, passion and viability are two essential elements of an applicant’s career goals. Part of viability is not only proving that the market you want to serve exists but also that you have the potential to succeed in the role you foresee yourself in. There is plenty of demand out there for neurosurgeons too, for example, but my own expertise in editing is not going to help me succeed in that role! To prove that their goals are truly viable, applicants must show their own understanding of what is required to succeed in a given industry or position and how they uniquely fit that niche.

Second, in my opinion the key elements of the leadership essay examples are not necessarily in which you demonstrated the most “leadership qualities” as much as in which example did you lead the most challenging set of people and make the largest impact? When we lead teams of people that are above us in rank or from outside our team/division/company, then we are able to demonstrate that we had to use influence, charisma, charm, persuasion, and innate leadership ability to succeed, not hierarchical influence, the threat of receiving a negative evaluation, or being fired. These “outside of ourselves” examples make up the best leadership essays in the eyes of admissions committees.

Finally, I would like to address KT’s mention of stats. KT implies that having stats that exceed the median for the schools he applied to was actually a point on the positive side of his application, but unfortunately, work experience that significantly exceeds the average at your target programs is actually a negative factor that an applicant must work around. Many traditional recruiters are seeking graduates still early enough in their careers to mold, so most MBA programs focus on accepting students with 4 to 5 years of work experience to feed this market. If you are more than three years beyond that experience range, you need to go even further to prove that you are 1) being realistic in your post-MBA goals, 2) still in need of an MBA education – not just a stamp on your resume, and 3) going to fit into a class with a bunch of young 20-somethings. If you come across as a stick in the mud or even as someone who has done so well that he doesn’t need an MBA, you are at risk of not fitting in.

For older applicants, I recommend larger programs where age diversity is greater (this excludes HBS, which is large but does not boast great age diversity), lower-ranked programs that will be more eager to gain from your experience and your other above-average stats, European programs less focused on recruiting students with fewer years of work experience, and executive MBAs and Fellows programs (MIT/Stanford/LBS Sloan Fellows/Master’s, Nanyang Fellows, etc.), that provide full-time MBA studies for mid-career professionals.

Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your “stats” is an essential element of your application process. Accepted’s editors have years of experience assessing and addressing them.

Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom, who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 12 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!