Want a seat at MIT Sloan next Fall? You might want to read how they select their exclusive 400-member class and our application essay advice … like now!
The Sloan Admissions Committee wants evidence that you excel among your peers, solve problems creatively, and drive impact as a member of a team, and ask you to show them what you’ve got in seemingly straightforward formats. The challenge becomes striking the right balance among highlighting your personal qualifications, your future career goals, and why Sloan is the right fit for you. Don’t worry – in this article, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a moment to understand how the MIT Admissions Committee evaluates applicants. Like MIT itself, Sloan’s Admissions Committee employs a quantitative approach to admissions (are you really surprised?). Each application is scored by two AdCom members across eight quantifiable categories ranging from “hard” skills (i.e., GPA, test scores) to “soft” skills (i.e., leadership qualities, powers of persuasion). Paramount to the review process is the emphasis that the Sloan Admissions Committee places on past behavior in what is known as the behavioral method of evaluating candidates. In short, this framework assumes one’s past behaviors are the strongest predictors of their future achievements.
Ok, now that we know what information Sloan is seeking from you, how do we use the constructs of their application to deliver? Let’s break these MIT Sloan essay tips down by the major application components:
MIT Sloan’s Infamous Cover Letter
The cover letter has been a staple of Sloan’s application for some time and can be thought of as an executive summary of your candidacy. The format should mirror a standard job cover letter, principally outlining your qualifications while also touching on your future aspirations and your knowledge of the school’s program. Note: “touching on.” You need to provide the reader with enough evidence to persuade them that you’re informed about Sloan’s program and why it’s a good fit for you without letting that overwhelm the substance of your letter. Similarly, it’s wise to show the reader that you’re being thoughtful and strategic about your career aspirations, while never forgetting that the keys to admission will turn based on what you’ve achieved not on what you hope to achieve. The MIT Sloan Cover Letter is the place to present data points from your past where you’ve exhibited leadership, team building, collaborative work, and impact above and beyond your expected responsibilities. Bullet points can be a great way to clearly articulate these abilities if they are well-designed and seamlessly integrated into your letter.
Once considered a sideshow of MIT Sloan’s application package, the video statement has now taken its place on the main stage. The 60-second video is a chance for you to metaphorically “jump off the pages” of your written application and showcase your personality to the Sloan admissions committee. From a content perspective, anything from a story about a personal or professional challenge or accomplishment to a one-minute monologue explaining your passion for Ultimate Frisbee is fair game. Just remember the focus is on good old Y-O-U so you can check your ‘Why Sloan’ pitch at the door here. Your goal is to round out your application materials with the person behind all those impressive accomplishments. The most important things are to have fun with the video and to remember to rehearse until you don’t sound rehearsed!
Just remember – it’s ALL in the details…
The Admissions Committee at Sloan is looking for not one, not two, but multiple examples of how you demonstrate their target characteristics of excellence, leadership, innovation, creativity, and teamwork. Therefore, each piece of your application needs to be additive. Avoid just repeating the exact same points and stories across your resume, cover letter, and video. Instead, use each application element to add a new dimension to the admission officers’ picture of who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and how you will contribute. As one Sloan Admissions Officer pleaded: “give us ammunition to advocate for your acceptance!”
Finally, did you miss what we said about MIT Sloan’s use of the behavioral method? This means you will want to tell your reader what you thought, felt, said, and did. For each experience that you highlight, include specifics around the situation, the task, your actions and the results (often termed the “STAR” method). Think about incorporating details that address questions such as:
- What was the situation and what role did I play?
- Who did I work with and how did I interact with those individuals or groups?
- What challenges did I encounter and how did I deal with them?
- What was my thought process throughout each stage of an experience?
Definitely avoid using buzzwords like “innovation” and “entrepreneurship” but rather show off these attributes within the details of your storytelling. Sloan doesn’t place much emphasis on the result (read: it actually doesn’t matter if the story is conveying an accomplishment or a failure), rather they want to learn about you by understanding your process. Feature the cases where you can really dive into the action of the story because those are the experiences that the Sloan Admissions Committee will focus on to decide if you have the smarts and strengths to deserve one of those 400 precious spots at MIT Sloan.