Mission and Admissions at Yale School of Management [Episode 169]

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Which MBA program just revealed that over half its alumni network gives back to the school? Yale SOM. That’s more than double most schools’ giving rate.

Which MBA program experienced a 6% increase in applications in 2016 on top of a whopping 25% increase in 2015? Yale SOM.

And which MBA program is in the top 10 for average GPA, average GMAT, and overall selectivity in Accepted’s Selectivity Index? You guessed it – Yale SOM?

And as it happens, the AST podcast we did with Bruce DelMonico about Yale SOM a few years back is one of our top 5 MBA admissions podcasts.

Bruce DelMonico joins us again today. He’s Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at Yale School of Management. He has been on the admissions team at Yale since 2004, becoming the director in 2006 and the Assistant Dean in 2012. Welcome!

What’s new at Yale SOM? [2:10]

There’s been a lot going on in the last 2 years! When we last spoke, we were just starting our entrepreneurship program. Now we’re 2 years in: we have a dozen new courses, a startup weekend, and lots of activity and business being created.

Our Global Network for Advanced Management is celebrating its 5th anniversary this spring – there are lots of opportunities for students to engage globally.

And our centers for excellence are very active – for example, the YCCI (Yale Center for Customer Insight) brings companies to campus with real problems for students to work on.

Our leadership program is changing in an exciting way, with new and reconfigured courses. And we’re excited to have many distinguished new faculty members coming onboard. We’ve also been working on diversifying the faculty – our FT faculty is approaching 30% women.

In terms of job placement, we don’t have the final numbers for the class of 2016, but it’s on pace with the last few years. There’s a strong diversity of interest among Yale SOM grads: 130 different companies for a class of 325 (and half of the top 10 hiring companies turn over every year). More companies are coming every year: our career services are adept at sourcing opportunities.

Yale SOM’s mission is “to educate leaders for Business and Society.” Dean Snyder’s video on Yale SOM’s mission highlights 3 key elements in achieving that mission: 1) SOM’s connection to its home university, Yale, 2) Distinctively global, and 3) Best source of leaders. Practically, what does that mean? Starting with leadership. [7:55]

We really think about how our grads can lead across sectors. Our core curriculum is different from other b-schools in that we don’t divide the material into functionally discrete courses (marketing, etc). Our core orients material according to stakeholder perspectives – it’s much more interdisciplinary, and helps students to see content across functions/industries and see how sectors interact.

In terms of leadership training: we require leadership training throughout the 2 years (not a single course). This year some of those courses are being realigned. We want to scale up from individual-team-organization-perspectives in leadership.

In the first year, we used to have courses called “leadership fundamentals” and “advanced leadership.” Now they’re being consolidated into a course called “Power & Politics” (through our Organizational Behavior group).

The other big change is that in the second year, instead of lockstep curriculum, students can choose from a menu of electives to satisfy the leadership requirement.

What are some of the options for the second year? [12:08]

The courses include: Leadership Practicum; Strategic Management of Non-Profits, Human Capital Strategy; Strategic Management Across Sectors; Non-Market Strategy; Managing Global Catastrophes.

How does Yale SOM take advantage of its connection to Yale University? [13:10]

We’ve always been well-integrated with Yale, but we’re trying to emphasize that.

When you take your electives, you can take them anywhere across the university. Yale is a very open place, and taking courses in other fields (public health, law, etc.) can help you get a deeper and richer understanding of issues. Also, about 15% of our students pursue a joint degree with another program at Yale, which is a high percentage.

On the flip side, students from across the university take courses at SOM (about 1200 students from outside SOM took our courses last year).

The connectivity extends to conferences that engage students across the university (public health, medicine, nursing, law, etc.), as well as clubs that span the university (entrepreneurship, etc.).

And that connection continues in your life as an alum – there are joint alumni boards in many cities.

You can start taking electives in the spring of your first year? [17:05]

Yes. It’s a customizable curriculum.

One example: imagine a student who’s planning to go into Real Estate/Finance. In addition to courses at the SOM, s/he can take sustainable development courses at the School of Forestry and Environmental Science; real estate law classes at the law school; and classes at the architecture school.

The other part of the mission is “distinctively global.” What does that mean? [18:25]

When our integrated curriculum rolled out 10 years ago, we required an international trip. Now we have a menu of international experiences available – different opportunities than you might have at other US b-schools.

An important part of that is the Global Network – a network of b-schools across the globe. Students can participate in Global Network Weeks (during fall and spring breaks), where they travel to one of the other Global Network schools to learn there with students from a variety of other schools from around the world. The last program in Turkey had 17 participating schools.

There are also Global Network online courses – which you take with students around the world. You do projects with them in a virtual setting.

(As an aside: one of our new programs is “Global Virtual Teams.” Students learn to work virtually across time zones and geographies.)

We also have international courses: for example, social entrepreneurship in India and elsewhere. And there are semester-long international exchange programs.

The virtual global network courses are unique to Yale. [24:05]

Some of the Global Network schools are in developed countries, some are in developing countries.

Yale SOM alumni giving: to what do you attribute this impressive rate of giving? [25:55]

It’s a big achievement this year! It went up this year when other schools’ giving went down. We had over 50% giving, and over $50 million. Beyond the (impressive!) work of the development team, it speaks to the level of engagement of the alumni: there’s a sense that the school is doing good things and building momentum.

You have a new essay question this year: “Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made.” Why the change, and why this question? [28:10]

Our previous question focused on impact – we liked it and kept it for two years.

We asked this question specifically because we wanted to get a sense of how you think about commitment. To be successful here (and after graduation), you need to be someone who makes commitments, who honors commitments, who really gives of yourself.

We wanted to get a sense of how you think about that. So the question helps us focus on commitment: it helps people differentiate themselves, and helps us get information on a trait that’s important.

In looking at responses: we’re not looking to make value judgments about what commitment you choose – it’s more about demonstrating how you fulfilled the commitment (the actions you took). (On the other hand, maybe don’t tell us about committing to watching all of GOT.)

You require a video essay: how has it helped you, and how has it changed this year? [32:00]

We’ve experimented with the video for 5 years. This’ll be the 4th year it’s required for all applicants.

One major thing it allows us to do is assess English language skills. We added the video and dropped the TOEFL/IELTS requirement – so it helped us and hopefully is less cumbersome on the applicant.

It gives us a 3-dimensional view of the applicant. The application process is inherently artificial. On paper, you see only a thin slice. Adding the video allows us to see how well you think and speak on your feet, and see your language skills and presentation skills. Three to four minutes of you speaking won’t outweigh your professional background – we don’t see this as something disqualifying, but as something that can help people stand out.

There are three questions. After you submit your application, you get a link to the video questions, which allows you to record your answers using your webcam.

The first has to do with leadership. The second is a behavioral question. And the third is a “thought question” (a statement that presents a conclusion – we ask you to agree/disagree, and why. Your stance is not important – we’re interested in your thought process and how you support your stance).

There are practice questions available so you can test your connection. People often find recording by webcam to be the most disorienting part.

We understand these are extemporaneous and we don’t expect perfection.

What’s the worst advice you’ve heard given to MBA applicants? [39:55]

I haven’t heard it given directly, but we see the results. We often see applicants who’ve tried to create a non-profit orientation/angle to their application, when it doesn’t fit their profile, because someone told them we’re a “non-profit” school. My sense is that’s how people approach other schools – School X is known for X, therefore I need to say X. Just apply based on your profile. Otherwise the application looks misaligned.

[Linda: It comes down to telling the school what you want them to know vs what you think they want to hear.]

Any advice for applicants just starting out? [43:50]

Don’t overthink it! People get so tripped up in thinking about what the adcom is looking for vs just making their case. Our application isn’t overly complicated. Just keep it simple.

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Related Links:

• Yale School of Management: MBA Program
• Yale SOM 2016-17 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
Yale School of Management Zone Page

Related Shows:

Bruce DelMonico on The Yale School of Management
What You Need to Know About Finding a Job Post-MBA
The Lauder Institute Changes to Reflect the World
UCLA Anderson: Cool, Chic, and Tech
Insights into MIT Sloan MBA Admissions with Dawna Levenson
Tuck Talk: IV with The Dean Of Admissions



This article originally appeared on blog.accepted.com.

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