2011 MIT Sloan EMBA Essay Tips

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This MIT EMBA 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at http://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/tag/2011-mba-application-tips. Our tips for answering the MIT EMBA essay questions are in blue below.

Looking at the 2011 MIT Sloan EMBA essay questions holistically, it’s clear that they seek to draw out a person who, assuming basic qualifications, is focused and self-aware, and also confident and mature enough to change and adapt when warranted.  The questions convey a balance of broad and specific.  The statement of purpose and essay 1 present a more conceptual challenge, and essays 2 and 3 probe your ability to take action and then identify and communicate your motivations and rationale for it.  Another way these essays summon a holistic perspective is in asking you to discuss your purpose for pursuing the EMBA, which presumably relates to your future goals, followed in the last question by a request to identify a time that you have pursued, and met a goal (albeit organizational).  Given how these essays interrelate, I suggest sketching out your topics for each and ensuring that they resonate as a whole before writing.  For example, for the objective you portray in the statement of purpose, you might select stories for essays 2 and/or 3 that amplify some experience, knowledge, skill, or quality that would support that objective.  Finally, note that the essays enable you to discuss either all professional topics or a mix of work and non-work.

  • A statement of purpose, indicating your qualifications and why you are pursuing the MIT Sloan MBA for Executives. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

I suggest starting by conceptualizing the second part of this question (why you are pursuing the MBA) first.  Presumably the reason relates to your professional goals and objectives.  However, do not focus only what you want to do, i.e., become the CIO, but rather on what you want to accomplish for the organization and/or its customers/market – the former will be competent and acceptable, the latter will be exciting and will have a better chance of  turning your readers into your cheerleaders.  This goals/objectives portion should be succinct.  The details come in the next portion: how the goals/objectives require the learning that the Sloan MBA for Executives will provide.

In selecting the qualifications to discuss, remember that the adcom will have your resume.  Hence, you don’t have to present all your qualifications.  Select those that (a) are really distinctive and relevant to the MBA and/or (b) support your goals directly or indirectly. Have a short point to make about each, such as the insight it lends or its influence on you.

Three essays (all three are required of all candidates):

  • The educational mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to "develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world." Please discuss how you will contribute toward advancing this mission. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This is a relatively open question.  Early in the essay, briefly convey what “improving the world” means to you, creating context. For the “how,” you can discuss factors outside of work as well as work-related.  There is a danger lurking: “… how you will contribute” – the use of the word “will” might lead you to cast the whole essay in the future tense.  You do have to address how you will contribute, but your answer will have more credibility if you cite a previous time or two when you already have contributed toward the stated mission.  The bulk of the essay will focus on how you will do so in the future – don’t give a list of 10 ways, but identify 1 to 3 and provide some succinct but meaningful discussion of them.  Your future contributions may be related to your goals, or you may cite other initaitives.  Bear in mind that the stated mission is not just “improving the world,” but “to develop principled, innovative leaders” who do so.

  • Please describe a time when you changed your opinion, and why. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Since you will write about work in the statement of purpose, and probably essay 1 and 3, you can choose a work or non-work topic here – whichever best illuminates and ehnances your profile.  While the essay doesn’t require it, I believe the essay will have more substance and heft if you can find a topic that involves your taking some action based on your change of opinion.  Also, choose something not too far in the past, ideally within the last few years.  First, tell the story (no  need for an introduction in this short essay – just jump into the story).  If you use the story approach, the “why” will appear naturally as you progress in the narrative.  But still provide a short summary paragraph reflecting on the “why,” and ideally showing the action you took as a result.

  • Please discuss an occasion when your resources and time were limited and you needed to achieve a significant organizational goal. What did you do, and how did you do it? (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This essay will offer evidence in the application that you meet goals and that you make things happen when faced with real-world constraints (as all executives are)—you literally move the organization forward.  Hence, choose a story that is substantive, and one that occurred within the last few years – the bigger the impact, the better.  If you have some good stories to choose from, think about other factors you might like to highlight in your essay for strategic purposes: international dimension (in a given region or generally), leadership in a given context such as healthcare or IT, integrating organizations due to a merger or acquisition, etc.  Here too keep the structure simple: present the story straight off, skipping an explanatory intro paragraph.  As you describe what you did, integrate how you did it, going right through the narrative.  No fancy ending needed; just a concise summary sentence or two.

The MIT EMBA application deadline is August 15.

If you want to start now on your MIT EMBA application, please keep in mind that Accepted.com is running an Early Bird Special: 10% off all MBA essay consulting and editing.  Consider also our MIT EMBA Consulting and Editing Packages.They too are 10% off thru July 31.

By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Success, The Consultants’ Guide to MBA Admission, The EMBA Edge, and author of several articles and the free, email mini-course, "Ace the EMBA." Also author of the  NEW online mini-course, Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Choosing the One for You.

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