The mission of Yale School of Management is “to educate leaders for business and society.” Yale seeks “students who care deeply about the problems afflicting our world" and “equips them with the knowledge, the resources, and the networks to pursue positive and ambitious change.”
|Round 1||Sept. 13, 2022||Dec. 06, 2022|
|Round 2||Jan. 05, 2023||Mar 24, 2023|
|Round 3||Apr. 11, 2023||May 18, 2023|
Yale SOM asks applicants to write only one essay. This essay prompt, which was developed in “collaboration with Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM” remains unchanged for the last seven years.
Let’s look at the essay question:
Essay Question: Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made? (500 words max.)
From the Yale website: "The content of your essay is every bit as important as the topic. Regardless of the commitment that you choose, the most effective essays do a great job of describing your approach to commitment. Point to the specific actions that you have taken, over time, to bolster your commitment. This is especially important if you have chosen a broad topic, such as an ideal or a belief. Don’t just explain why a commitment is important to you; we want to understand how your behaviors have demonstrated and supported your commitment.”
Maria Derlipanska, Senior Associate Director of Admissions, explains why the question is so broad.
“The first thing that may come to mind about our essay question is, ‘Why is it phrased so broadly?' That’s intentional. We don’t want candidates to think that we are trying to steer them towards a particular kind of commitment, either in nature or scope. The question is meant to elicit self-reflection and result in you describing a commitment that is truly meaningful to you.”
This is a broad question that appears simple at the outset. But it is not. It requires a significant amount of self-reflection and soul searching. You will have to make the most of the single essay question to talk about yourself, your values, motivation, and beliefs. The Yale admission committee places great emphasis on values and is keen to understand the choices you have made to learn about your value system. You can choose an example from personal or professional experiences where you made a commitment to a person, job, or organization. What was the situation that motivated your decisions? Sift reasons in your mind as to why this experience qualifies as the most significant commitment. Give specific details of the challenges you faced and the actions you took.
It’s vital to share your thought process to make the reader understand your values and the motivation that drove you to make those decisions. Your commitment should highlight your values, motivations, and impact on your family, community, or organization. For example, you might have made a commitment to your family for which you had to sacrifice your career or personal comforts. Explain what prompted you to make that sacrifice? You may also have made the biggest commitment of your life to a voluntary organization that required you to devote years of your personal time without any financial gain. Discuss your desire to contribute to that cause and the actions you took to make a difference in society. Your commitment may not necessarily be personal or community involvement; it can also be in your professional life – share your thoughts and behavior to explain why that responsibility qualifies as the most significant commitment of your life.
Guidelines From Yale Website:
“When it comes to choosing a topic, be genuine…… The content of your essay is every bit as important as the topic. Regardless of the commitment that you choose, the most effective essays do a great job of describing your approach to commitment. Point to the specific actions that you have taken over time to bolster your commitment. This is especially important if you have chosen a broad topic, such as an ideal or a belief. Don’t just explain why a commitment is important to you; we want to understand how your behaviors have demonstrated and supported your commitment.”
To cover a broad topic in only 500 words, you need to be extremely precise and make every word count. For 11 strategy tips on saying ‘more in less,’ click here.
Video Question: Designed to set you up for success.
From the Yale website, “You will receive access to the video questions after you submit your application and pay your application fee. The video questions are not a substitute for the interview; they are a component of your MBA application.
Every candidate will receive three randomized, previously recorded questions asked by an admissions team member. No two applicants will have the same set of questions. The questions asked are similar to typical interview questions, and there are no “trick questions.” We are not trying to stump you."
To see the person behind those meticulously crafted essays, Yale continues to ask applicants to submit 3 video essays. Video essay offers you a platform to showcase your personality and character. So, reflect on new stories instead of repeating material from the written essay.
Kristen Mercuri, Deputy Director of Admissions: “Here are a few tips on the video exercise. First, know you’re going to be great! This is not a deal-breaker or maker. It doesn’t require any preparation beyond the practice tool you can access before you start your recordings. Don’t stress; we aim to set you up for success. One piece of advice for the recorded responses is to familiarize yourself with the 60-90 second time frame. You don’t want to feel rushed in your answer, and you also don’t want to only utilize 10 seconds. Next, practice using Skype so that you can be comfortable speaking to a computer camera, which can feel awkward for some. And finally, be sure you have a good internet connection and a quiet, private space. You’d be surprised how many ‘bloopers’ we see in the video questions due to an unexpected colleague, partner, or pet joining your session!”
The important thing to do here is practice, though it is natural to feel a little intimidated, don’t stress; be spontaneous. Practice talking to the webcam for 60-90 seconds to familiarize yourself with the 60-90 second time frame. Answer the questions the way you would in an interview. Use the STAR method (Situation-Task-Action-Result) for answering behavioral questions. Also, make sure you have a good internet connection and a quiet, private space without any distractions. Please note that video essays are part of your application, so you need to ensure that your responses align with your essay’s overall themes /stories.
The Assistant Dean of Admission Bruce Delmonico offers four Pointers to help you master the MBA Application Video questions. Click here for the four-pointers.
Behavioral Assessment: This application component is a unique feature of the Yale SOM application. They introduced it two years back to evaluate candidates’ soft skills and are continuing with it.
Behavioral Assessment: We are going beyond the academic record
From the Yale website: "The Behavioral Assessment is an online admissions tool administered by the research division of ETS. It measures a set of interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies associated with business school success. It is a forced-choice module that takes about 20 minutes to complete and should be completed in a single sitting. You do not need to do anything in advance to prepare for the assessment, nor does it require any specialized knowledge or background. While the assessment alone will not be the deciding factor for admission, it can provide valuable information when used in context with other elements of an application."
Laurel Grodman, Managing Director of Admissions: "The Behavioral Assessment gives us an additional piece of information to use in assessing who will perform effectively in the curriculum, specifically by helping us predict who will perform better than their academic history would suggest. So, it will allow us to take more chances on candidates without the strongest academic or testing profiles, but who nonetheless have what it takes to succeed in the classroom and who undoubtedly will make significant contributions to our community because of their experience and perspective."
The optional information section is not an additional essay, and most candidates do not need to complete this section. This is a space where you can address any questions you think the admissions committee may have about your application. For example, if there’s a gap on your resume or you’ve chosen an unconventional recommender, this is the appropriate place to provide clarification.
An optional essay is an opportunity for you to give relevant information to the Ad Com that you could not provide in other parts of your application, essays, and resume. For example, if you have a lower-than-average GMAT score, any grades below a C on your transcript, academic probation, or a significant employment gap, you can explain in this essay. To provide a context for a weakness in your profile, make sure your reason is genuine to convince the Ad Com that your low grades or employment gap occurred due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. Your response should be positive, straightforward, and fact-focused and should not sound like you are making excuses for a weakness in your profile. Also, if you cannot get your recommendation letter from your current supervisor, please explain that in the optional statement. As directed in the essay prompt, do not feel obligated to write this essay if you do not have any weaknesses in your profile.