Determined adventurers, MIT Sloan students possess a can-do spirit, and at times, a readiness to bend the rules. If that sounds like you, consider the following 10 MBA admissions tips from a Sloan alumni and entrepreneur who has counseled hundreds of MBA candidates seeking admission to Sloan and other top business schools.
1. Demonstrating leadership, entrepreneurialism and vision are essential to gaining acceptance to MIT Sloan. Showcase these three qualities and set yourself apart from other applicants in your MBA essays.
2. An ideal MIT Sloan candidate understands and embraces the four H’s: the Heart to strive, the Head to keep up, the Hands to get things done, and the Home to take risks in a supportive environment. The 4 H’s can be addressed in your MBA essays, and references.
3. Sloan MBA students are seeking the ultimate treasure chest of innovation-driven entrepreneurship, market disruption, and economic transformation. It’s a meritocracy, a place where you can be older, less traditional, and maybe just a little wild in your thinking but accomplished in your doing.
4. MIT Sloan prefers that MIT to be the candidate’s top choice for business school, in some sense they want it to be your only choice. The candidate must be crystal clear about why Sloan and why only Sloan. Sloan takes great pride in the connections it has to the rest of campus, and the broader entrepreneurial community in which it plays an out-sized part (much better than Silicon Valley they claim).
5. Take into account how the acceptance rate affects your application. This past year, applications were up 35 percent, which translates to 6,000 applicants for 350 slots in the MBA program — an acceptance rate between 7 percent and 9 percent.
When directed to, “Please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions. (250 words or fewer), read between the lines so to speak. What this really is asking about is what’ve you done, not what you dream about doing. Sloan’s thinking is if you’ve done it in the past, you can do it in the future. Focus the cover letter on past achievements and how all the successes that have come before naturally lead to MIT. Mention where the candidate is going, but dedicate far more words to the details of past experiences and how they reflect on the candidate’s overall capacity to be successful as a professional going forward.
6. Focus experiences and past successes on managerial skills, motivations, team work, leadership, grit, drive, and, entrepreneurship rather than on simple tactical skills. There is no need to lay out quant skills or passion for mathematics because your GPA, GMAT score and recommendations will speak to that. Interestingly, the GPA and GMAT scores at Sloan are lower than expected, likely due to Sloan accepting some older, non-traditional students.
7. Think of the optional essay / additional information as mandatory. The Admissions Committee invites you to share additional information about yourself, in any format. If you choose a multimedia format, host the information on a website and provide them with the URL.
Please keep all videos and media limited to 2:00 minutes total in length.
Please keep all written essays to 500 words or less.
Just another opportunity to “show not tell.” As noted with regard to the first essay/cover letter, there are essentially two levers to push on when applying to MIT. The first is that you have actually done stuff; the second is that MIT is your first and only choice.
8. Give it to them again: perhaps another entrepreneurial example, or very specific reasons about why you chose MIT/Sloan/Kendall Square (Sloan’s home).
Share the nuances required for achieving excellent results. For example, go beyond discussing the product you created by explaining the internal dynamics of the company from a team building perspective. This includes what worked, what didn’t, and what you wish you had known when. When leading an organization, how did your own perspective change over time? What do you still need to learn as a manager?
9. Sloan is highly focused on organizational behavior, and the best and most successful essays I have read focus on just this. Its faculty and alumni produce books like The Fifth Discipline, Reengineering the Corporation, and talk a lot about the Learning Organization and organizational theory. An applicant who brings this perspective into their essays will be well-served.
10. Remember to speak from the heart and how esprit de corps matters, more so when you’re pulling together the classic Sloan team for the start-up competition: the 19-year old undergraduate engineer, the French lawyer, the 33-year old African teacher, the Olympic rower and the woman who started the mountaineering business. After all, this is the type of company that is going to change the world.
Are you an MIT Sloan MBA student? If you see yourself reflected in the 10 suggestions outlined above, then you may very well be an ideal MIT Sloan MBA candidate.