Sloan MBA Essay Guidance for 2023-24
Aside from HBS and Stanford GSB’s notoriously open-ended prompts, MIT Sloan’s essay ‘question’ (if you want to call it a question) is undoubtedly the one that leaves applicants scratching their heads about what to write. Not only is Sloan’s ‘Cover Letter’ format unique, but the word limit is incredibly short and forces you to have a laser focus on the elements of your personality / experience that demonstrate your fit with Sloan’s culture. To help steer you in the right direction, today we’re sharing our best Sloan MBA essay guidance.
If you’re just getting started on your Sloan application, here is the prompt for quick reference:
“MIT Sloan seeks 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 professional examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to the Admissions Committee (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).”
Sloan MBA Essay Guidance – Frameworks
Let the Prompt Be Your Guide
Pay close attention to the language of the Sloan cover letter prompt because it helpfully describes the qualities Sloan seeks in a successful applicant. Many of these are similar to those sought by all of the top MBA programs – intellectual strength, track record of accomplishments, and ability to bring dimension to the cohort. However, the critical things to note here are those that make Sloan different – its orientation towards an independent mindset and creative problem-solving. They don’t just want someone who ‘got the job done’, they want the person who redefined the problem and came up with a solution no one had thought of before.
With only 300 words at your disposal, you simply don’t have space to separately demonstrate you possess each of the more basic traits. For these, utilize the other components of the application – your GMAT/GPA can help prove your intellect, your resume showcases your history of accomplishments, and your video essay should highlight what makes you unique. In the cover letter, make a solid case – supported by one or maybe two stories – that you are an innovative thinker who isn’t afraid of rocking the boat to enable progress.
Anchor on One Story that Highlights a Capstone Accomplishment and Demonstrates Fit with Sloan
The ideal story to use is career-focused (given the tone of the prompt and – new this year – the fact that it explicitly asks for professional examples), recent, and has a connecting thread with how you will contribute at Sloan if admitted. Make a list of your ‘capstone’ accomplishments and select the one (or maybe two if they are short) that highlights how you led in a way that transformed others’ thinking, creatively solved a problem that had stumped others before, or identified an opportunity that no one had thought of (or had the courage to raise) before. These are the types of stories that will resonate with the Sloan adcom.
In addition to telling this story, your cover letter should read similarly to one you would use to apply for a job (that you REALLY want). The adcom has provided the ‘job description’ (i.e., what they look for in candidates), you need to convincingly pitch that YOU are the best candidate to fulfill these criteria. Tell your story but also tell the adcom why they should care. In other words, draw the connection as to why the story you’ve told about yourself (and the qualities it proves you possess) will make you a perfect fit for Sloan. Additionally, explain how you will put these qualities to use while at Sloan to benefit the experience of your peers in class, clubs, recruiting, etc.
Past Accomplishments, Not Future Goals, Should Be the Focus
We find that applicants always want to build in a discussion of their career goals and why MBA / why Sloan into their cover letter. We get why this is tempting! That said, 300 words is incredibly limiting, and the Sloan cover letter should be more about sharing what you will ‘give’ to Sloan than about what you will take away from it. You can certainly orient the ways you will contribute at Sloan towards things (i.e., clubs, classes) that are relevant to your future career goals. But, in our experience, it is hard to fully develop both what you will ‘give’ and what you will ‘take’ in 300 words.
Sloan MBA Essay Guidance – Structure
For your cover letter, we recommend a structure somewhat like this:
P1: Without restating your resume, lay out the differentiating or notable qualities you bring to the table and overview why these should matter to the Sloan adcom
P2: Share a story that supports this ‘brand’ and hits on the Sloan-specific qualities mentioned above
P3: Drive the argument home by asserting why these qualities will make you an asset to the Sloan community, with 1-2 concrete contributions you will make while in the program
*Bonus* Sloan MBA Essay Guidance – Video Statement Tips
In addition to the cover letter, Sloan asks you to submit a 60-second video statement, as described in the following prompt:
‘Introduce yourself to your future classmates. Here’s your chance to put a face with a name, let your personality shine through, be conversational, be yourself. We can’t wait to meet you!’
Since your cover letter will likely be professionally focused, the video statement is a great place to share who you are outside of work and the unique attributes you would bring to the class. Specific content will vary from person to person of course, but remember that Sloan values independent thought, fearless creativity, and passion. What about you hits on these notes?
Perhaps the most important thing to do to ensure you submit a strong video statement is practice. Unlike other schools’ video essays, you know the prompt and can record and re-record yourself until you are satisfied with the output. And so can the competition! So, give this application component the thought and attention it deserves to ensure you stand out.
If you’d like expert, personalized Sloan MBA essay guidance, reach out to request a free consultation.