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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) Essay Analysis, 2008-2009

Cover Letter

Prepare a cover letter (up to 500 words) seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Describe your accomplishments and include an example of how you had an impact on a group or organization. Your letter should conform to standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Director of MBA Admissions.

MIT Sloan has finally changed the wording of its unique request for a cover letter, streamlining its language and incorporating some of the text from its “impact” essay question of past years. In some ways, by requesting an example of your impact, MIT Sloan is challenging you to reveal how worthy you are of taking your place in their classroom. Candidates would be wise to offer a powerful example and then connect it with expected contributions to MIT Sloan and personal/professional benefits that will be derived from its MBA experience. (Although it is not entirely clear in the wording of the essay, we think that it is implicit that if you are asked to explain why you are seeking a place at MIT Sloan that you should offer details of your connection to the school.)

A quick point about your introduction: for some reason, candidates feel compelled to start cover letters with “my name is X and I am applying to MIT….” This is a typical and boring introduction offering information that the school already possesses. By creating a different and compelling opening, you will grab and hold the attention of an Admissions Officer who has read thousands of these essays.

While the MIT cover letter is different form the typical personal statement, there are still some “global” fundamentals that apply. Thus, we offer our “MBA Mission Personal Statement Guide” to you, free of charge, via our online store.  Please feel free to download your copy today.

Essays

We are interested in learning more about you and how you work, think, and act. For each essay, please provide a brief overview of the situation followed by a detailed description of your response. Please limit the experiences you discuss to those which have occurred in the past three years.

In each of the essays please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did.

Essay 1: Please tell us about a challenging interaction you had with a person or group. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

It is important to note that “challenging” need not be interpreted as “heated.” In this essay, you do not have to tell the story of a confrontation, but need to show the reader that you encountered a dynamic that was difficult to navigate and, of course (despite the fact that the question does not ask for it), diplomatically attempted to resolve or did in fact resolve a problem. Through your efforts at resolution, you will reveal your character and management/team/interpersonal style to the Admissions Committee. So, it is important that you carefully consider the message that you send via your actions. Ask yourself objectively, “Am I revealing ‘Sloan-friendly’ qualities?”

Essay 2: Please tell us about a time when you defended your idea. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Each year, Sloan has a question about your ability to advocate, persuade or, in this case, defend an idea. In terms of semantics, the word to take notice of in this essay is the “your” in “your idea.” This is not an opportunity for you to discuss a time when you advocated for someone else – you need to “own” this idea to answer the question properly. Of course, your ownership will have its foil – those who do not believe in it. While it is important that you show that you defended your idea passionately, it is also vital that you show that you were not stubborn or inflexible. You want to show that you were willing to consider alternatives and reason through counterarguments. Although this is not a rule, many successful essays will show that you were persuasive and succeeded in changing minds. 

Essay 3: Please tell us about a time when you executed a plan. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

In this essay, you will lead the reader not through the mechanics of a business implementation, but through your process as you were taken by a possibility and gathered the resources and momentum to see it through. What is important to note is that this should not be a “hard” business case, but should be an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to understand your personality through your actions. So, you will need to concentrate on the “soft” aspects of the process (indeed – “what you thought, felt, said and did”). We remind you to think of this as a narrative, not as a formal essay. Tell the story of how you executed, not the results at the end of a successfully executed plan. 

Essay 4: Please tell the Admissions Committee whatever else you would like us to know. (250 words or less, limited to one page)

Considering that MIT limits your choices above and forces you to answer all of its questions, it will likely be a relief to many candidates to have this free opportunity to convey something that is not captured in the essay questions above. If you have a unique passion, hobby, activity or life experience that you have not had the opportunity to share, but shapes you personally, then this would be a good place to write about it. Candidates should take note of the fact that there is still an additional 250 word area in the supplemental information space to explain academic/GMAT problems. So, essay four should be viewed as an opportunity to reveal character, not explain how you can or have overcome academic obstacles. 




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