A few days ago, we blogged about Harvard Business School’s first round application and the checks applicants should perform before pressing the “submit” button.
As the MIT first-round deadline is approaching, we thought that a refresher would be useful for MBA applicants to the Sloan School of Management.
In the last few hours leading up to the dreaded deadline, here are the 5 essential steps you should take to ensure that you are submitting a solid and comprehensive application package:
1. Touch base with your recommenders
This should be your absolute priority if your recommenders have not submitted their letters of recommendation yet. Be ready for a lot of stress, as you try to get in touch with busy executives, who in many cases haven’t committed your deadlines to memory. Although schools probably have a bit of tolerance for letters that arrive a few hours late, do not count on it. So pick up your phone, send them an email, or drop by their office if they work with you, and kindly remind them that the deadline is tomorrow and that you’d be relieved if they were able to submit their LOR by noon EST. Make sure to offer your help should they have any difficulty submitting their work.
This is the time to be micromanaging, so make sure that they get your message and understand the urgency of the situation. Ultimately, you are the one accountable for making sure that the schools gets your recommendations by the official deadline.
2. Confirm that your CV follows the school’s recommended template
MIT Sloan has strict requirements regarding the resume you submit. Its length cannot exceed one page, and you should not go beyond 50 lines. Too many candidates believe that their situation is so special that this kind of constraints does not really apply to them. Our advice: just download the template provided by the school, and follow instructions by the letter.
3. Submit original transcripts (or certified translations for international students)
MIT Sloan’s application website clearly indicates that “applicants invited to interview will be required to provide an official transcript from each school attended. Any discrepancy between the scanned transcripts and official transcripts may result in a rejection in our decision or a withdrawal of our offer of admission”. If you are not submitting original transcripts, make sure that your document accurately reflects what will appear on the official transcript submitted by your undegrad institution.
For international applicants, while some schools do not require a certified translation of your transcripts when you submit the online form (you usually have to provide them by the time you interview), MIT actually demands it explicitly. Don’t take a chance: if you haven’t done so, find a certified translator to vet your translation and submit the certified document. Alternatively, ask your school to send you a copy of you transcripts in English. It might be too late for first round’s deadline, but you’ll need certified translations by the time you’re invited to interview with the school. This was the first thing my interviewer asked me for when I interviewed with MIT Sloan 3 years ago.
4. Verify that your essays answer all prompts, both explicit and implicit, within word constraints.
It is too late to change your story radically, but before hitting the submit button, read the essay questions again, and analyze each word carefully. Now ask yourself whether you feel that you have answered both questions comprehensively, within the word limit (do not test the adcomm’s patience… although exceeding the limit by 5% to 10% is believed to be ok, there is actually no valid reason to exceed it by more than just a few words).
- 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. Please discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or fewer).
This first essay in particular requires you to demonstrate several character traits, within a tight word constraint. Have you really fully answered it? Does your essay show that you are a principled, innovative leader in the making? How have you contributed to improving the world and advancing management practice, and how will you help MIT advance its mission when you join the school? Feel free to mention clubs you’ll join or create, volunteer work you intend to perform, conferences you’ll organize, startups you’ll launch, etc.
Furthermore, are your essays showing why MIT is the right place for you? Do they demonstrate that you fully did your research and know what the school has to offer, and why you are a great fit?
- Essay 2: Please describe a time when you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone. (500 words or fewer).
Essay number two seems much easier to deal with than the first one, but you should answer many more questions than just the one provided… Have you explained what you learned from the specific experience you’ve described? How is that experience still influencing you today? You should not just brag about your achievement in this essay, but instead thoroughly describe what you had to go through to overcome the fears or difficulties you then faced. Remember to show the school “how you you work, think, and act”. Show humility, drive, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes and successes.
5. Check the online form for inconsistencies, typos and grammatical errors
This is certainly our most basic advice, but also one of the most important. You are applying to business school, so act like a professional. Print your entire application, and read your application form, resume, and essays a few more times. Have a friend or coach review your application as well. After weeks spend putting it together, you probably no longer have the ability to truly step back and review it critically.
We hope this is helpful. Feel free to contact us should you have questions, or if you need last minute support.