Not just for nerds – MIT Sloan Essay Analysis

Not just for nerds – MIT Sloan Essay Analysis

So you have a perfect score on your SAT, you enjoy going to circuitry conferences in your spare time and you met your significant other in the library—MIT is clearly the place for you, right?  Undergrad, perhaps, but not exactly for business school.  One look at MIT Sloan’s 2013-2014 essay questions and you’ll see the school is looking to get into your mind to find the next great dynamic leaders.  Be sure to lay out your stories in advance to determine the most impactful and inspiring stories across your professional, community and personal experiences.  You only have two essays, so make the most of it.  Grab your computer and let’s get on the train to MIT!


Essay 1: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and generate ideas that advance management practice.  Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities.   (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

This is a pretty classic essay for a University built on a technical foundation like MIT.  They are essentially looking for your projections on impact based on historical data.  They want you to not only tell them what you are going to do to make an impact as a business leader, but prove to them that you are likely to achieve it based on historical evidence.  Sounds easy, right?  The devil is in the details.

 Admit Advantage: Start with your MBA brand.  What 3-5 key character traits (i.e. innovation, do you bring to the table based on historical examples at work, in the community and in your personal life.  Tie those character traits into what you actually want to do with your life going forward to demonstrate the tie from what you’ve done to what you want to do.

Admit Advantage:  This is not just about what you’re going to do at work.  The question is broad enough where you can also talk about what you’re going to do in the community and school with regard to being a principled and innovative leader. 


Essay 2: Describe a time when you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

Two of the most basic principles of leadership are courage and intellectual curiosity and that is what Sloan is trying to tease out of you here.   Leaders are not afraid to break ranks if they are passionate about going in a certain direction.  We suggest that you provide three critical components in this essay: 1) background of the situation, 2) why you chose to step out of your comfort zone and 3) what you may have learned from the experience.  This is a great opportunity for you to exhibit leadership and influence skills, especially if you were able to encourage others to follow you down an unconventional path.

Admit Advantage: This essay can take several distinct themes (there are others): 1) Going above and beyond the call of duty (exceeding expectations), 2) Going against the grain because you feel it was important (passion), 3) Redefining scope (creative thinking / innovation); or 4) immersing yourself in something that is unfamiliar to you (new culture, work environment, etc).  This essay question is relatively broad, so make sure to lay out the other essay before determining what topic/theme you are going to choose for this one.  This essay should inspire the admissions committee to want to learn more about you. 

Admit Advantage: Star essays will seek to find stories that exhibit innovation or perhaps a global component as these are key pillars of the Sloan MBA experience.  Don’t make something up if you don’t have it, but if you are considering several potential topics keep those topics in mind. 

Admit Advantage: Outcome is important in this essay.  Make sure to spend time on the setup of the story and what actually happened, but spend meaningful time on what you learned from the experience and how it may have changed the way you do things. 


Leaders for Global Operations (LGO)  Essays

Essay 1: Why do you wish to pursue the LGO Program? What are the goals that you hope to accomplish both as a student and as a graduate of the program? Be sure to include a description of your post-LGO career plans. (250 words or fewer, limited to one page)

Fairly straightforward:  yLGO; ST/LT goals.

Admit Advantage: Be very specific about why you want to be part of the LGO program.  What, specifically, draws you to this program and why do you think this program is a good fit for you in your career goals.  It should be a no-brainer that your career goals and the LGO program go hand-in-hand.

Admit Advantage: We suggest you visit MIT and stop by to find out more about the LGO program.  It is a very specialized and selective program and they want to see that you care enough to spend time with the LGO community to find out what it’s all about.  Clearly not everyone will be able to visit, but if you can make it, we suggest you do.

Additional Essay 2: Why do you wish to pursue the engineering field and specialty area you have selected? (250 words or fewer, limited to one page)

There are seven specialized LGO engineering programs as of this writing date: Aeronautics and Astronautics, Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering (a personal favorite), Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering Systems Division, and Mechanical Engineering.   If you’ve done your homework on the previous LGO question, this should be a no-brainer.

Admit Advantage: If you are changing careers or altering your career path slightly, you need to give a good reason why this particular career path is a good fit for you.  Don’t hesitate to talk about your passion for this specialty area and particular classes or professors that draw you to this specialty.  You can also complement the previous essay by giving a bit more detail around how this particular specialty will help you in your career. 


Optional Question

The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format

This could be an essay, short video, power point or any other format.  This essay usually formulates in one of two ways: 1) a weakness essay or 2) an area of strength/perseverance that you couldn’t fit in one of the other essays.  If you have a gaping hole (i.e. GPA, GMAT, long layoff, etc.), here is your opportunity to address it.  If you have a special talent or circumstance, go for it!  Keep in mind that this specifically asks for content that could not be addressed in the rest of the application.

 Admit Advantage: Don’t be afraid to talk about a positive characteristic that you couldn’t fit elsewhere.  If you’ve done the work upfront and identified what you want to say, you should know what you didn’t get the opportunity to highlight in the previous essays.  Do it here.

 Admit Advantage: Keep focused.  Don’t talk about 4-5 different points that you want to bring up about yourself.  1 maybe 2 ideas here should be the norm to get the point across.

 Admit Advantage: Don’t abuse the lack of word limit / length guidelines.  Keep in mind this is an optional question, so keep videos, power points, essays or any other format should be something the admissions committee can evaluate in 5-10 minutes.

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