Yale SOM Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2012, Starting Fall 2010)

DEADLINES[table id=17 /]


Overview: To use one of Yale's terms, they've "distilled" their questions for this year to focus on your goals, leadership experiences, self-awareness, and idealistic passion. In fact, I would say that, along with HBS and Stanford, Yale is one of the strongest believers in the power of business to transform society for the better, something applicants should keep in mind as they develop their individual essays and craft their overall portfolio.

SHORT ANSWERS Please answer each of the four 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 headed, and why. (600 words maximum)

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. What attracts you specifically to the Yale School of Management’s MBA program?

Analysis: Yale has done applicants a big favor by asking for a typical goals essay broken down in this fashion. Makes everything much clearer. The parenthetical comments of #3 caught my attention because they would seem to apply to everyone except current undergrads or recent grads without significant working experience. Even then, you've hopefully had some contact with your desired future career, perhaps through a class, internship or volunteer experience. For most everyone else, Yale expects that you are not jumping blindly into a new career or otherwise acting on a whim. They want to see that you've taken action or made progress towards your goals, which is great advice for any goals essay, but particularly important to Yale.

PERSONAL STATEMENT 1 Describe an accomplishment that exhibits your leadership style. The description should include evidence of your leadership skills, the actions you took, and the impact you had on your organization. (500 words maximum)

Analysis: This question, along with choices #1, #2 and #4 below can all be answered quite effectively with a typical MBA leadership accomplishment essay. I'll explain the subtle differences individually.

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

1. A central premise of our teaching about leadership at the Yale School of Management is that true leadership—leadership that helps to address a significant problem in a new way—is necessarily personal. It is only when personal passion aligns with meaningful aspirations that individuals are able to inspire others to act in support of an important goal or cause. What are you most passionate about, and how have you demonstrated a commitment to this passion?

Analysis: Analogous to Stanford's famous "What matters most to you and why?" question, Yale wants to see when you've been driven by personal ardor to make a significant contribution or improvement to a situation. This is different from Personal Statement 1 above, which is "cooler" and doesn't require your personal fire to get the job done. This question involves significant self-awareness to know what drives you at your core, and while it can be answered effectively with a situation where you acted alone, you can prove a much tighter fit with Yale's philosophy if you show how you created a "movement" among others that was important to your success. If you answered Personal Statement 1 above with a professional accomplishment, you could provide a nice balance with something personal/extracurricular here, especially if you have organized volunteer experience.

2. What achievement are you most proud of and why?

Analysis: In addition to a typical MBA leadership accomplishment essay, the scope of this essay can include something you take great personal pride in, perhaps learning a language, leading a sports/debate team to victory, running a family business, overcoming illness - the possibilities are endless. If you've covered a work accomplishment in Personal Statement 1, writing about a personal achievement could provide good balance.

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

Analysis: Usually, the kind of difficult feedback or self-awareness that Yale is interested in comes from a failure or setback, making this question similar to a typical MBA failure essay. In addition, Yale wants you to identify what aspects of their program will accelerate your growth. Avoid the natural temptation of writing about a "non-failure", such as one stemming from a lack of technical skills that you hope to gain at Yale. If the weakness is something you can eliminate by reading a book and doing some homework, chances are it is not a good topic. Be sincere in your self-assessment. Judging by Yale's other questions, they want applicants with the self-awareness to confront their own weaknesses and the determination to overcome them.

4. Describe a situation in which you devised and implemented a creative or unique solution to a difficult problem. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

Analysis: This is a typical MBA leadership accomplishment essay with an emphasis on your ability to devise and successfully carry out an innovative or inspired solution. The more unexpected or even wacky the better, as long as it succeeded.

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


If any aspect of your candidacy needs further explanation, please provide any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider. (250 words maximum)

Analysis: This is the place to address any glaring weaknesses in your application (low test scores, gaps in employment, poor grades, etc.) as well as your reasons for choosing a recommender who is/was not a direct supervisor. Make sure you are not complaining or making excuses, but rather providing legitimate reasons and, most importantly and where applicable, your pro-active steps to address these problem areas. If you don’t have any weaknesses then this can be used to add something positive that was not covered elsewhere, but make sure your topic is adding something new to your overall application profile.