How To Approach The Yale SOM MBA Essay
Yale School of Management, which ranked number 10 in P&Q’s “Top Business Schools” ranking, seeks out applicants who can demonstrate making an impact. In 2019, Yale SOM debuted a new essay question asking applicants the following:
“Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words)”
Zachary White, a Fortuna Admissions expert coach and former Yale SOM Assistant Director of Admissions, recently offered tips on how applicants should approach the Yale SOM required essay.
White highlights Yale SOM’s “bias towards action,” a statement that—in other words—means that actions speak louder than words.
“They are looking for ‘behaviors that support’ your stated commitment, and they implore applicants to ‘be honest with themselves,’” White writes. “Yale is looking for something more objective and dispassionate than other schools. There are bound to be strong feelings, values, and motivations backing your actions, but Yale isn’t asking what moves you – they want to witness what you’ve done.”
To approach the Yale SOM essay, White recommends applicants to ask themselves the tough questions around what matters most to them.
“If a stranger shadowed you for several years and had unfettered access to your life – spending patterns, reading habits, physical moves, contact with other people, emails, meals, etc. – but couldn’t read your thoughts or know your feelings, what might they infer about what matters to you?” White writes. “What could they conclude based on how you invest your most precious resources: time, attention, social capital, emotional energy? When faced with a high-stakes decision, which path did they see you choose? When forced to make a thousand everyday decisions, what patterns would they have observed?”
While these are tough questions to answer, White says, the best way to approach the thought exercise is to simply be honest with yourself.
“The trick here is to link up your honesty and your confidence and let them reinforce one another,” White writes. “That’s no easy task in this business where everyone is stretching to project a vision of their best self, but that just makes authenticity all the more precious.”
HIGHLIGHT YOUR POINT EARLY ON
With the 500-word limit, White stresses the importance of getting to the point effectively when writing the Yale SOM essay.
“Yale welcomes personal or professional angles, but whatever you choose, state it clearly in the first few sentences of your essay,” White writes. “Use the straightforward nature of the prompt to inspire your writing style. Keep the focus on yourself as the main character and keep your sentences concrete, specific, and action oriented. Do that, and you’re likely to end up crafting some pretty good prose along the way.”
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