Last week, I attended an MBA Information session organised by the MIT Sloan School of Management here at London. It was one of their “Sloan on the Road” (SOTR) sessions and it was, in true MIT style, outstanding.
MIT had rented the ultra modern auditorium at Nomura House in the City of London and the venue didn’t disappoint. I arrived at the venue well ahead of time and was issued with a Guest pass by Nomura’s reception desk. I found the signage lacking a bit but after orientating myself, it was easy for me to find my way to the auditorium. MIT had their brochures, name tags and own branded goodies stacked outside the venue and after collecting one of each, I took my seat in the auditorium. The event was chaired by two admission directors- Leah Schouton and Jeffrey Carbone, from the MIT MBA/LGO Admission department and one admission director from the MSMS programme.
The SOTR was scheduled to start at 7PM BST but as most of the prospectives were late, the event started about half an hour late. I don’t know how people can come late to these information sessions. This is where you make your first impression on the school, but clearly most others did’t think the same way. Interestingly, the alumni, in-spite of their hectic jobs showed up on time, ahead of the prospectives!
Anyway, it was 7:30PM when we finally started the Information Session. MIT followed a pattern that I had not seen before. Most other schools start off with a detailed presentation by the Admission Committee about why their school is the best and what is on offer. This is then followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with the alumni. However, MIT’s Admission Directors went straight into the panel discussion. It was like an FAQ session with the chair asking questions to the alumni and getting their perspectives. She was then adding additional information to their answers and highlighting any recent developments that the alumni might not be aware off. To be honest, I thought this worked perfectly and I actually preferred this over the traditional Info Sessions. This approach gave us what we needed to know without repeating details that are easily available on the school’s website.
The alumni were from varied sectors and were truly a class apart. Their experiences were as varied as their job profiles. From PE / VCs to people in Media, Biotech and Airlines. There were current students as well as alumni who had graduated in the 90s, when business education was a completely different affair. Their collective insight and breadth of experience was extremely useful to me. One theme that was omnipresent was the link between Sloan and the wider MIT Community. I truly felt the passion these people had for not only the business school, but MIT in general. I could see MITs motto of “Mens et Manus” (Mind and Hand) shine through these individuals who were transforming the World with innovative, thought provoking leadership.
The admissions directors were very helpful with their tips about the admission process. There was a real stress on MIT’s culture of innovation and leadership. The Admission Committee wanted us to focus on our past experiences to prove that we would be worthy contributors. The MIT admission process, they stressed, is very data oriented. They get around 5000 applications, which they rank based on GMAT scores, GPAs, recommendations and competencies demonstrated in the essays. The top quartile are then selected for interviews, which are conducted by the admission directors. Finally, they make offers to around 450 students.
On academics, they highlighted how Action Learning works and the various options students have to cross register for classes across MIT. The one semester core was mentioned and the flexibility of the curricula was the highlight of the session. It gave me goosebumps when one alumni described how he learned the Modigliani-Miller theorem of Corporate Finance from the late Prof. Franco Modigliani himself. It was a leading example of the contributions the MIT community has made to the advancement of finance and management. In another instance, highlighting the overlap between practice and theory, another alumni mentioned the MIT Billion Prices Project led by Prof. Roberto Rigobon. He described how sitting in Prof. Rigobon’s class, the students were the first to peer into the vast data set that is used globally to predict realtime inflation. Goose-bumps 2.0!!
I came out the SOTR thoroughly impressed and fully motivated about the gruelling applications process. There are miles to go still and I don’t know what the outcome will be. But after this info session, one thing is for certain, it is going to be a very interesting year ahead. Fingers Crossed!
I was rejected by MIT early in the application stage. The views expressed here are from the Information session that I attended in London. I have no other associations with the school.