Ideas for the 2015 MIT Sloan Optional Question

For those of you who don’t know, I have a crush on MIT’s admissions office. I just love their essay questions every year, how organized their website is (for both undergraduate and grad school), and just, yes, be my boyfriend, please, MIT Admissions Office.

For the 2015-2016 admissions year (Class of 2018), MIT Sloan has an optional question. I thought that since I love to brainstorm, I would provide you all with a list of possible ways to approach this question as well as some topic areas you could cover in your optional question.

The MIT Sloan Optional Question

The Admissions Committee invites you to share additional information about yourself, in any format. If you choose a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us with the URL.

Source.

Why you should submit the optional question

Yes, the optional question really is optional. However, I recommend anyone who has the time to do their best on the submission to put something together and share it with the Sloan admissions committee. This is an opportunity to show a different side of yourself than the 2D black-and-white text-on-paper word-limited version of yourself.

I always tell my clients that getting into a top graduate school in the U.S. is not a mathematical formula of grades + test scores = admission. It’s closer to competing in the Olympics combined with American Idol. You need endurance, a memorable, likable authentic persona, and of course, expert guidance and coaching to get you in shape for the competition.

The MIT Sloan Optional Question is a chance to make yourself sparkle in your unique way. And yes, you are unique even if you don’t feel that interesting or special.

Possible topics to cover in your submission

Regardless of the medium you choose for your response, here are some possible topics to consider including in your submission.

Now, don’t try to include all of these in your submission. Focus on 1-3 of these areas and go in depth.

  • Some areas of concern with my application might be…but this is what I’m doing to improve in those areas…
  • The highlights of my life have been…
  • My greatest passions are…
  • I am the following type of leader…
  • If I had limitless resources, I would…
  • A business/nonprofit idea I have is…
  • When on a team, I motivate my teammates by…
  • What most drives me is…
  • I am most proud of…
  • In my free time, I love to…
  • One thing I’d really love to learn over the next 1-2 years is…
  • A painful lesson I once learned was…
  • My life has been shaped by…

Ideas for what you could submit as your Optional Question

You could submit one of the following or even a combination of the following:

  • a talking head video (basically you sitting in front of your laptop with a non-distracting background). You could introduce yourself to the admissions committee, tell a story about one of the above topics, etc. recommended length: 1 min – 3 min
  • 1-3 poems about one or more topics above. recommended length: 1 page or shorter
  • a comic strip illustrating/storytelling one of the topics above (this is my favorite idea). recommended length: fit it in 1-2 pages
  • a business case written in the style of the (sometimes very corny) Harvard Business School case studies about an experience you’ve had—and include 1-2 exhibits. recommended length: 1-2 single-spaced pages for the case. 1-2 pages of exhibits.
  • a song about something related to you. I recommend staying away from love songs, rage music, etc. recommended length: up to 3 minutes
  • a game or app. recommended length: the player should be able to win, lose, learn, or accomplish something within 1 minute of playing. This is my second favorite idea.
  • photo collage. recommended length: 1-2 pages.
  • slide show. recommended length: 3-7 slides. Don’t put very much text on the slides.

Those are just a few ideas to get you started. If you’re interested in working with The Art of Applying team on brainstorming what you could submit or polishing something you’ve already created, our hourly coaching service would be a great way to do that. Feel free to share your additional ideas below. Happy creating!

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