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Sloan MBA Essays & Analysis

sloan mba essays

The following analysis examines the admissions essay topics from the MIT Sloan School of Management. The Sloan MBA essays for the 2020-2021 admissions season are below. You can also review essay topic analyses for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Sloan MBA Essays & Analysis 2020-2021

Let’s take a closer look at this year’s Sloan MBA essays:

Sloan MBA Essay – Cover Letter

MIT Sloan seek students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity and respect passion. 

Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to the Assistant Deans of Admissions, Rod Garcia and Dawna Levenson (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).
Rod Garcia has long likened the MBA application process to the recruiting process; MBA aspirants, just like job applicants, need to demonstrate that they know how to market themselves.  This is why the school requires a cover letter as part of the Sloan MBA essays.

As you approach this assignment, keep in mind the many standard cover letter themes—your attributes and skills, why you are interested in joining the ‘company’ (MIT / Sloan), and what you feel you could contribute.  These certainly intersect with the ideas covered by other schools’ “career goals” essays, so much so that it may be tempting to simply tack a greeting onto the beginning of a career goals essay you’ve prepared for another program.  MIT’s request for these ideas in a cover letter format, however, actually makes it very easy to spot recycled material, so it’s important that you tailor your response to the school’s unique process.  It’s also worth noting that the Sloan admissions team has been open about their decision to avoid direct questions about ‘why MIT’ or ‘specific career goals’ – so while those themes may play a role in your cover letter, the focus should be largely on who you are and what you have accomplished, as opposed to a simple expression of your love of the program/plans for the future.  With such a limited length, all points must be concise, yet informative.

A potential outline for this Sloan MBA essay might open with a couple detailed sentences about who you are and what you would bring to the school; then a short statement of your career goals with a summary of the ways in which your experience to date has prepared you to accomplish them; and finally a brief “why MIT” section explaining why Sloan is the best place for you in terms of what you need from an MBA and your fit with the school, concluding with a thank you.  To effectively convince the adcom that your background is uniquely suited to MIT Sloan, it will be important to conduct a fair amount of research on the program.  Taking the time to learn about MIT’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities—whether through online events or conversation with alumni—will pay dividends here.

Sloan MBA Essay – Video Prompt

Applicants are required to upload a 1 minute (60 second) video as part of their application. In your video, you should introduce yourself to your future classmates, tell us about your past experiences, and touch on why MIT Sloan is the best place for you to pursue your degree.

Videos should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • No more than 1 minute (60 second) in length
  • Single take (no editing)
  • You should be speaking directly to the camera
  • Do not include background music or subtitles

We recommend using applications such as QuickTime or iMovie to record yourself.  Upload the video file according to the detailed instructions within the application.

We support the following file formats: .avi, .flv, .m1v, .m2v, .m4v, .mkv, .mov, .mpeg, .mpg, .mp4, .webm, .wmv. Apple ProRes is not currently supported. If uploading a .mov, please use an alternate codec.

Should you experience difficulties uploading your file, please ensure that you’re using a modern web browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) on the fastest wired internet connection available. An intermittent or slow internet connection can cause uploads to timeout.
Once again, this year’s video Sloan MBA essay specifies an audience: one’s fellow students (rather than the admissions committee). While a brief mention of your professional background and career goals may be appropriate, we encourage applicants to use this opportunity to showcase elements of their personalities and candidacies that they will not have the chance to address in their other application materials. Perhaps you have a particularly interesting work or extra-curricular experience to share, or a personal accomplishment or aspect of your heritage of which you’re especially proud. Then, you will need to connect to why MIT Sloan is the ideal program for you, keeping in mind that you will be sharing this with “future classmates.”  Talking about clubs, courses, the community itself will work here—the key is to be specific and to show the adcom that you have done your homework. Moreover, the more specific you are, the easier it will be for the adcom to get a sense of your fit with the program.

In regards to length, do not hesitate to practice your response to ensure that it will be within the time limit—after all, you will only have one chance to record this. You should also record your response on your own and watch it so you can improve before the actual recording. The key caveat here is to not allow the practicing to lead to a robotic/overly rehearsed final video.

As this is a visual presentation that will be recorded live, ensure you are dressed in appropriate professional attire. In terms of a background, clean and steady may work best—you do not want to make the adcom dizzy by taking them on an unsteady walking tour with your laptop. While many applicants will be tempted to introduce props into their video, such as signs, souvenirs, or any prized possessions that might quickly convey who you are, we would like to urge some degree of caution in this domain for the Sloan MBA essay.  A focused, one-minute, heartfelt introduction (while looking your audience in the eye) may be far more effective than a distracting string of props, signs, charts—each requiring valuable time to make transitions—not to mention careful attention to readability/visibility on screen.  This isn’t to say that displaying a prized souvenir from traveling along the Silk Road in Asia can’t work, it’s just that we want you to think carefully about how to best convey your message on video.

Interview-Only Essay

Sloan asks the following question of applicants who receive invitations 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. We believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and well-being is a key component of both principled leadership and sound management practice. In 250 words or less, please describe how you, as a member of the MIT Sloan community, would work to create a campus that is welcoming, inclusive and increasingly diverse. Details for submitting your essay will be included in the interview invitation.
This Sloan MBA essay asks applicants to produce some evidence from their past that speaks to their fit with Sloan and its mission. Given the abbreviated word count, the school likely isn’t looking for a full STAR treatment with this response; it’s probably not necessary to walk the adcom through a step-by-step process, though it will still be important to share enough context for the reader to appreciate the before-and-after picture of the impact the applicant was able to have. In selecting a topic for this response, applicants should zero in on the concepts of innovation, improvement and idea-generation in this prompt, identifying a time they enhanced an existing process or introduced something novel to their organization. Applicants will of course want to spell out the details of the impact they had. Finally, the comments about principled leaders and improving the world suggest that Sloan is seeking applicants who’ve done more than bolster their company’s bottom line; linking one’s accomplishment to a positive social impact (or potential contribution to a program or student organization at Sloan could be a particularly nice touch here.

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