MIT Sloan is one of "those" schools - the ones that seem to slip into the nooks and crannies of the admissions process. People don't talk about Sloan as much as its elite counterparts. Nobody immediately thinks about it in terms of being a top 5 program until you start digging and realize, whoa, this program is insanely good.
In the past, we have chalked this up to its unique end-of-October deadline and equally unique two-round admissions process. We even went as far as to say that we would bet on the application quality at Sloan is far lower than on other top business school programs. Candidates would not even even start on their Sloan apps until after the October 3-16 gauntlet of deadlines and then they race to finish because they fear waiting until the "last" round. Simply put, a lot of applicants have viewed Sloan as an after thought, and we've done our share of walking clients back from making mistakes associated with that mindset. Well, all of that has changed.
Entering 2015 school year, Duke Fuqua comes out on top when it comes to sending MBA graduates (as a percentage of all graduates in 2014) into the pharmaceutical, biotech and healthcare industries - 9% of its graduating class get jobs in these industries. Dartmouth Tuck, Wharton and MIT Sloan hold their own, coming in at 2nd, 3rd and 4th best.
Quick post today, because time is short and nobody wants to read the screed I had in mind for MIT's new "essays." Why the quotation marks? Because writing your own letter of recommendation is not an essay. It's a gimmick at best, and, if I'm being honest, a bit of a mockery at worst. Yes, people write their own employee assessment reports, which is a great cheat for supervisors (heck, I had a high school "world studies" teacher who figured out that he could just the class to teach itself - no joke), but that also precedes a discussion that can (and usually does) flesh out the exercise. It's hard to imagine a company making huge promotion or bonus decisions based solely on a self-written employee report, with no discussion to follow. I mean, come on. Yet that is what MIT is basically suggesting when they draw a comparison between what takes place in the office and what they are asking candidates to do on the application. It's such a weird, weird assignment. (Okay, so I went on a bit of a screed.) That said, there are three things to keep in mind that can make it not only doable, but a chance to shine.
The common myth surrounding Round 3 of the MBA application process is that you can't, or shouldn't, apply late in the admission cycle. "The class is pretty much full" is one refrain. "You have to be a truly unique applicant" is another. "Only European programs admit people that late" is yet another. As with anything, there are bits of truth in these sound bites ... but only bits.
For those of you that saw my Columbia Business School mind map post from earlier this week, I wanted to also simplify MIT Sloan's retro website for any applicants currently working on their Sloan MBA essays and application. The following MIT Sloan mind map should quickly give you a lay of the land. Hopefully this will allow you to see where you fit into Sloan's clubs, curriculum and student culture.
If you find it useful, feel free to download a copy of this mind map or create your own online copy and edit as you please.
Our clients are reporting to us that during their visits to MIT a number of admissions committee members are "strongly encouraging" applicants to submit Sloan's Supplemental (Optional) essay. This is advice that should definitely be considered, but only if you really have something to say - not just a rehash of prior content or an ill-advised attempt at a goals statement. At a high-level, the supplemental essay is a test of your ability to deal with ambiguity. So consider this a de facto requirement, but (again) only if you have a different dimension of your character to bring to the table. If you can pass that sniff test - read on.