Posted on July 2, 2015

Yale Essay Question Analysis: 2015-16

From Yale Website

Application Deadlines

Round 1
Application Deadline: September 16, 2015
Decision Release: December 7, 2015
Enrollment Deadline: February 12, 2016

Round 2
Application Deadline: January 7, 2016
Decision Release: March 25, 2016
Enrollment Deadline: May 6, 2016
Round 3

Application Deadline: April 21, 2016
Decision Release: May 20, 2016
Enrollment Deadline: May 31, 2016

In addition, for those candidates applying through the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, the Round 1 application deadline will be October 15, 2015, and the Round 2 deadline will be January 5, 2016.

Guiding principles:

Our founding mission to educate leaders for business and society has multiple interpretations:

  • We educate purposeful leaders who pursue their work with integrity.
  • We educate leaders for all sectors of society—public, private, nonprofit, and entrepreneurial.
  • We educate leaders who understand complexity within and among societies in an increasingly global world.

In all of these manifestations, the mission is a powerful means of thinking about how business leaders can contribute value to their organizations, communities, and society at large.

Essay Question:

Yale School of Management has confirmed that the essay question for this upcoming admissions season remains unchanged from last year. According to Admissions Director Bruce DelMonico, the admissions committee decided to stick with this question because it, “…really gets to the core of what Yale SOM is about and embodies our founding mission of ‘educating leaders for business and society.’”

Click here for more details.

Let’s take a look at the essay question:

The Yale School of Management educates individuals who will have a deep and lasting impact on the organizations they lead.  Describe how you have positively influenced an organization as an employee, a member, or an outside constituent. (500 words maximum)

The purpose of this question is to find out how the applicants are making an impact on their personal and professional lives. This essay prompt offers you a broad choice to choose your stories/ examples from your professional life, personal life, or community involvement.  You may choose to discuss more than one experience where you had made a positive impact on an organization. I suggest that you pick 1-2 professional stories and 1 story from your personal life or your involvement in the community.  For an effective story, you don’t need to be in a leadership role to make an impact; Yale recognizes that people have an ability to create a lasting impact as a member of an organization as well.

To brainstorm ideas for this essay, I would encourage you to look for examples when you stepped out of your comfort zone and took initiatives that significantly change or resulted in the improvement of processes subsequently followed by an organization or a group. One time accomplishments when you successfully led a project that was far behind schedules or a project that resulted in huge financial gains but did not have any long term influences on your organization may not be the right examples for this question. In order to demonstrate your fit with the school’s mission, you need to discuss experiences where you were able to make a “deep and lasting impact”.

For structure, I again recommend following the same 4 part structure:

  •  The situation/the challenge (what was the context of the organization?)
  • The action (what initiatives you took?)
  • The outcome/result (what were the results of your efforts?)
  • The significance ( what was the impact you made)

Let’s look at the following example where the candidate is discussing the ‘outcome’ of his experience and the long-standing ‘impact’ he made on his organization.


“After working several unpaid overtime hours, we succeeded in getting the project got back on track with a better client relationship. Also, we recently received the Inov@r Accenture Brazil award, for the FY12/13 most innovative project in the risk management practice.

  The experiences, though demanding, were unmatched because of the challenge of initiating change by me and influencing others. Also, they prepared me to adapt my leadership style to different contexts.”

In the end, you can conclude the essay with a final statement about how you hope to make an impact on the Yale community.

For questions, email  me

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