Thoughts on MIT Sloan (Class of 2016, Starting Fall 2014)

My first thought was, "Thank God they finally got rid of that confusing, contrived Cover Letter!"  In my long history as a consultant, I probably spent more time and tears explaining that damn thing than any other essay, including Stanford's "What Matters Most to You and Why?" As mentioned elsewhere, MIT Sloan's decision mirrors that of many other schools this year to drastically simplify their essays and applications. So what are we left with this year?

Essay 1: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and generate ideas that advance management practice.  Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities.   (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

The wording threw me off the first few times I read it, but after working through it with several clients it is pretty clear to me that this is, underneath it all, a pretty straightforward Goals essay. Well, it's straightforward if you can provide an idealistic expression of your goals that fulfill as many of the criteria outlined by Sloan as possible, while also providing a personal and professional track record that demonstrates your potential for success in those goals. On balance I think the track record is more important as Sloan has long believed in "past success being the best predictor of future success." Again, it is helpful if you’ve completed a few schools and/or developed several accomplishment (personal or professional) essays before starting with Sloan.

Essay 2: Describe a time when you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

Pretty classic leadership/accomplishment essay.

Optional Question: The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format.

A few things of interest here.

1)    Sloan is not limiting you to explaining only weaknesses or gaps in your application.

2)    They are not limiting you in terms of format either.

If you are planning on doing something more creative than just text, then choose a format that supports your message. Don't sing a song extolling your virtues as a leader just to be cute. However, if you're a musician and you like writing clever songs, then why not?