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Yale SOM Admissions Essays and Application Deadlines

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The Yale School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2014. Yale has made some tweaks this year, which we will dig into below. Here are the school’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments:

Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 6, 2011
Round 2: January 5, 2012
Round 3: April 12, 2012

Yale’s Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines are basically unchanged from last year, but Yale has pushed back its Round 3 deadline by almost a month this year. Perhaps they recognize that very few North American MBA programs have deadlines past late March, and want to keep its doors open for as long as possible so that strong candidates don’t have to turn to European programs (which tend to have later or different deadline cycles than U.S. programs). We still advise that you aim for Round 1 or Round 2, but this is a subtle signal that Yale truly does consider applications that come in after Round 2.

Admissions Essays

Short Answers

Please answer each of the four (4) questions below with a short paragraph of no more than 150 words. This is an opportunity to distill your core ideas, values, goals and motivations into a set of snapshots that help tell us who you are, where you are going professionally, and why. (600 words total)

  1. What are your professional goals immediately after you receive your MBA?
  2. What are your long-term career aspirations?
  3. Why are you choosing to pursue an MBA and why now? (If you plan to use your MBA experience to make a significant change in the field or nature of your career, please tell us what you have done to prepare for this transition.)
  4. The intentions of our students to engage in a broad-minded business school community and to connect to an eminent and purposeful university greatly influence the Yale MBA experience. How do you plan to be involved in the Yale SOM and greater Yale communities?

These super short questions carry over unchanged from last year, with the exception of number four, which is new and replaces a more straightforward “Why Yale?”-type question. These essays challenge you to be succinct and get right to the point in answering the school’s questions. But, that’s okay. Each of these “micro-essay” questions covers a topic that you should be well prepared to answer by now. Yale just wants you to cut the fat and get right to the point, so the best thing you can do is answer these questions head-on. Career switchers should take special note of the additional instruction in Question number three. In this economic climate, Yale SOM, like all schools, is especially interested to know how well you will do in the post-MBA job market. Career switching is fine, and is actually a great reason for pursuing an MBA, but you need to show that you have  done your homework and are realistic about your intended career. The new question (number four) is a little wordy and “highfalutin” in our opinion, but at its core, it is still a “Why Yale?” question that asks you to demonstrate that you've done your homework on Yale and are passionate about the program.

Personal Statements

Choose two (2) of the following topics and answer them in essay form. Please indicate the topic number at the beginning of your essay. (500 words maximum)

1. At the Yale School of Management, we believe the world needs leaders who:

- Understand organizations, teams, networks and the complex nature of leadership;
- Understand markets and competition in different contexts; and
- Understand the diversity of economies throughout the world and the relationships between business and society.

What experiences have you had that demonstrate your strength in one or more of these areas?

This question is new this year. It asks you to demonstrate at least one of the following: teamwork, leadership, a global outlook, and a philanthropic, “do good” bent. At first glance it looks like this questions asks you to pack A LOT into your (approximately) 250 word response, but keep in mind that it asks you to demonstrate your strength “in one or more” of those areas. We recommend picking one story from your past that adequately describes at least one of these traits, and then telling it in the Situation-Action-Result (“SAR”) format. No need to get too ambitious here… Simpler is better!

2. What is the most difficult feedback you have received from another person or the most significant weakness you perceive in yourself? What steps have you taken to address it and how will business school contribute to this process?

This question carries over from last year. We like this question because it gives you a chance to show off your self-awareness. Applicants are uneasy about discussing their weaknesses and failings, but being able to show how you maturely and constructively handled tough feedback — and then how you put that feedback to use in a later situation — is terrific for your candidacy.

3. Imagine yourself meeting your learning team members for the first time in Orientation. What is the most important thing your teammates should know about you?

This question is new this year, and is similar to the “Introduce yourself to your future classmates” essay prompt that other schools have used. Think of this essay as the quintessential “elevator pitch.” You have just a couple of paragraphs in which you can highlight what the admissions committee absolutely must know about you. This is not an exercise in seeing how much information you can cram into approximately 250 words. Instead, your challenge is to distill down your candidacy to no more than a couple of key points. What do you think are your most memorable experiences or attributes?  It will be interesting to see how applicants tackle this one, but we recommend erring on the side of being less formal — friendly, written in the first person, and maybe even a little humorous. That tends to work better (when done well, of course) than many applicants realize.

4. Required for Reapplicants: What steps have you taken to improve your candidacy since your last application?

This question says it all when it comes to describing what every top MBA program looks for in re-applicants. Ideally you will have at least one or two significant achievements or experiences that will bolster a weakness that may have kept you out of Yale SOM last year. The most obvious examples are a big promotion at work, a higher GMAT score, or strong grades in some post-college coursework, but anything that demonstrates leadership, teamwork, maturity, or innovation — if one of these was a weakness in admissions officers’ eyes last year — can help your candidacy.

Read about the deadlines and admissions essays of other top MBA programs on the Veritas Prep blog.