MIT / Sloan Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
Following up on the release of MIT Sloan’s 2017-2018 application essay prompt, we thought we’d offer some suggestions about how Sloan MBA hopefuls might approach this year’s written materials.
The school has maintained their required cover letter—albeit with a bit more room compared to last year. The video essay is now mandatory and invites applicants to introduce themselves, as opposed to an open-ended optional video for additional information.
MIT / Sloan Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s MIT / Sloan essays:
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 Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions (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 their application.
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 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 a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to MIT Sloan—will pay dividends here.
Please introduce yourself to your future classmates via a brief video statement.
You will need to use an internet-connected computer, with a webcam and microphone. As part of the application review, the Admission Committee will evaluate your response to see how you express yourself and to assess fit with the MIT Sloan culture. The simple, open-ended question is designed to help us get to know you better.
- Please make sure you are using a working Internet connection not wireless or shared wireless connection. If your Internet is not a strong signal you will not be able to upload. Please also make sure you have the most up to date browser.
- You will need to use an internet-connected computer with a webcam and microphone.
- We suggest using Google Chrome* or Firefox as your browser.
- If using Google Chrome – please click the camera icon in your browser to allow the site to access your microphone. If you are having issues with your microphone please re-start your computer for Google Chrome to access your microphone.
- Once the video statement question is viewed you will have 60 seconds to prepare, and then 60 seconds to record your answer.
- You will only have one attempt to record your response.
This year’s video prompt 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. By focusing on a range of qualities and characteristics, this video will allow applicants to demonstrate the well-rounded nature of their candidacies even within the minute limit. Speaking of 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. 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.
Please provide any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to know that may be helpful in evaluating your candidacy (i.e. choice of recommenders, areas of concern in your academic record, other extenuating circumstances, etc.). This information should be provided in a written format (200 words or less).
This prompt offers an opportunity to address elements of one’s application that require explanation (e.g. choice of recommender, a semester of poor undergraduate performance), and may also be an opportunity to share important information that isn’t captured elsewhere in one’s written materials.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s MIT / Sloan MBA essay topic! As you work on your Sloan MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s offerings:
Posted in: Essay Tips & Advice, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays
Schools: MIT Sloan
MIT Requirements: 2 short essays of 100 words each; 3 longer essays of 200-250 words each.
Supplemental Essay Type(s):Why, Community
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2017-2018 Application Essay Question Explanations
There’s an old cheesy joke that goes like this: A college student is standing in the “10 items or less” checkout lane at a grocery store in Boston. When she finally gets to the register, it turns out she has 12 items. The cashier rolls her eyes and says, “Okay, so either you’re from Harvard and you can’t count, or you’re from MIT and you can’t read.” (badum-chhh) Sadly, you will be expected to read and write in college – even at MIT! In fact, MIT admissions cares so much about your writing that they’ve concocted their own separate application with five required essays. Don’t worry, though, you’ll also get to show off your counting skills because each essay has a pretty tight word count; even the longest ones top out at 250 words. So the real challenge of this application is crafting tight, incisive essays that tell focused stories about your life. Got it? Okay!
Rather than asking you to write one long essay, the MIT application consists of several short response questions and essays designed to help us get to know you. Remember that this is not a writing test. These are the places in the application where we look for your voice—who you are, what drives you, what’s important to you, what makes you tick. Be honest, be open, be authentic—this is your opportunity to connect with us.
Alright, now let’s dig in!
We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)
Think of this prompt as a continuation of the introduction. MIT is explicitly asking you to back away from the resume, and forget your structured activities. It’s not about proving what you can do, but revealing what you love to do. Put another way, this prompt is about self-care: What always, without fail, brings a smile to your face? What helps you recharge your batteries? What do you do and where do you go when you’re feeling down? When you start to think of things that feel a little silly or personal, you’re heading in the right direction. The activity you choose should be informal and unique to you.
Although MIT invites you to be honest, we also suggest you balance your honesty with specific details and storytelling. You might want to try to come up with something a little more original than sleep, read, or hang out with friends, but if these are your options, then you have to commit. If you like to spend time with your friends, what sorts of things do you do together? If you like to sleep, have you perfected the art of the power nap? What are your favorite things to read and how do you organize your personal library? Let your personality and tastes shine through! And before you start to say, “But I really do love volunteering at the soup kitchen during my spare time,” don’t worry. There’s a community service essay a little later in this supplement.
Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
Believe it or not, this is MIT’s version of a classic Why essay, wrapped in an academic disguise. It’s not really about your academic interests and achievements (which can be gleaned elsewhere on your application); it’s about the kind of student you hope to be. If you can build a bridge between your own interests and the resources available at MIT, you’ll be well on your way to demonstrating your fit. So set aside a few hours and commit to some hardcore research on the MIT website (sorry, there’s no way around this, folks!). Beyond the basic departmental listings, look up information about news and research coming out of your department, the kinds of courses available, and the opportunities that other undergrads have had studying in your area of choice. Even if you have a wide array of interests, consider explaining how two to three departments might complement each other or foster your interest in a larger idea or theme. Your ultimate goal is to show that your interest in MIT (just like your intellectual curiosity) runs deep!
At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200-250 words)
We recommend working your way backwards through this prompt because the last sentence really says it all! Your community can be any size or scale, from your family to your town. You likely already have a specific community service experience in mind, but before you dive in, we encourage you to take a moment and brainstorm some smaller, more informal options. You’ll also want to keep in mind how your work relates to “the world’s biggest challenges,” but starting small could lead you to a more unique and thoughtful essay. Think of a moment where you felt like you made a change in your local community. It can be something small; it does not have to be monumental, but it should mean a great deal to you. Maybe you babysit for your mom while she’s at work, and this has led you to think more seriously about the childcare challenges single parents face. Or perhaps, in helping your teacher grade papers, you feel you are taking some pressure off of an already overwhelming workload.
If you choose to write about a more formal experience, here’s another backwards piece of advice: When writing about community service, you should always start with yourself. It’s the only way to avoid platitudes and clichés. You need to ground your writing in the specificity of your life. Don’t start with the action and end with what you learned. Instead, dig into your motivations. If you spend weeks petitioning your school community to raise the hourly wage for custodial staff, what prompted you to act? What assumptions did you have about income inequality and what did you learn about your community in the process? No matter what, make sure you choose a topic that is meaningful to you.
Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)
If you were torn about what to write in your community service essay, you’re in luck! MIT has gifted you a second chance to sound off about a community that matters to you. But while the earlier prompt asked about your impact on a community, this one is all about your community’s influence on you. The fun thing about community essays like this one is that the word “community” can mean anything. It could be something traditional like your church or extended family, but it could also be any other group you consider yourself a part of. Maybe you found an important group of friends and mentors once you got into breakdancing. Or perhaps there’s an online community of writers that you rely on for honest feedback. If you’re drawing a blank, try to list out a few individual people who have impacted your life for the better. Then try to fit them into a larger community. If you picked your grandpa, think about how your extended family has shaped who you are today. How have your family traditions or fishing trips given you a lens through which to see the world? How can you lead admissions to a new way of understanding the person you are today?
Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)
You can check out our guide to Common App Prompt #2 for a full rundown on how to tackle this kind of prompt, but in summary we’ll say this: a question about failure or struggle is really a question about resilience and success! Also, if you chose to write about prompt #2 for your Common App personal statement, we’ve got some extra good news for you: MIT isn’t on the Common App! You’ll need to cut your essay down to size, but other than that, you’re home free on this prompt. Good for you!