Yale SOM MBA Application Essay Questions and Tips

Yale School of Management is known as one of the top schools for MBA applicants with a Finance or Non-Profit post-MBA focus.

Cracking the code of any top business school’s MBA admissions is not an easy job. Even when you think you have the perfect formula; you might end up getting a ding. That’s just the unpredictability that an applicant has to face during MBA admissions.

However, uncertainty increases with top business schools.

Similar to other top schools in the US, Yale places great focus on an MBA applicant's story. While your GMAT/GRE scores, GPA, Work experience, matter to the school, they are also interested in getting to know the person behind the MBA application.

Yale SOM isn’t looking for a single perfect candidate. They are looking for a diverse range of individuals who have the potential to use the culture, and education at their MBA programs to create success in their choice of industry.

But sharing your personality can become a great pain with a 500-word limit.

Yale SOM only asks one essay question every year and has stuck to the same for the upcoming intake as well. The fact that this question also has a 500-word limit only makes it harder for applicants to share their story in the most effective way to the admissions committee without any guidance.

However, there is a saving grace. The question that Yale asks it’s MBA applicants is open-ended. This lets your personality truly shine through for the admissions committee members to correctly evaluate you. Let’s look at how you can optimize your answer to the iconic Yale SOM MBA essay question.

Yale MBA Application Essay Question

Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words)

Laurel Grodman, Managing Director of Admissions (Analytics and Evaluation) at Yale, explains the purpose of this broad question. She says, “The prompt is intentionally broad to allow for a wide range of topics. Your commitment can be personal or professional, specific or expansive. One type of commitment is not inherently better than another, and we have received strong, compelling essays covering each of these types of commitments.

What we care about most, and what helps provide the most insight into you as an applicant, is how you have approached the commitment. Let us know what it is you set out to do and how you have gone about doing it. Whatever topic you choose, you should be specific and detailed in describing that approach.” Here are a few things to know before you start writing this essay answer:

Mention a commitment that’s been met by you.

We all have either a personal or professional commitment to our future selves. Your goals are exactly that. But you aren’t trying to show Yale the promise of a future. You want to share your actions of the past.

What you consider your biggest commitment, why you consider it your biggest commitment, and how you fulfilled it, speaks volumes about who you are. Through this answer, you want to share who you will be in the future by referencing your past.

Emphasis on growth

The admissions committee at Yale SOM places a special emphasis on growth. Growth for them doesn’t only signify career growth or educational growth but more of a holistic approach of having a growth mindset. The admissions committee suggests students look at themselves as products of Yale SOM rather than customers. Thus, improving with every day they spend at the institution.

A growth mindset can be portrayed by simple things. Recently I asked a friend of mine, “how will you get a scuba certification when you can’t even swim?’. He smiled at me and added, “yet”. While I had portrayed a fixed mindset by stating my limitation, he had portrayed a growth mindset by stating that the gap was fixable. All it took for him was one word.

Similarly, you don’t need to write a separate essay or add a whole new incident to explain to Yale SOM that you share their idea about the growth mindset. The way you choose to formulate your sentences could easily make your growth mindset evident.

Show emotional intelligence

It is a rather bizarre skill to have for MBA admissions, right? Emotional intelligence is only for your personal relationships and not the professional environment. Well, not really. The importance of Emotional Intelligence in a professional capacity has gained popularity in the past decade.

Organizations were the first ones to crack the code of why a high Emotional Quotient was as important as a high Intelligence Quotient. However, business schools caught up pretty quick.

Yale SOM integrated the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) in their first-year curriculum, a couple of years ago. They have now figured out the best way to integrate the same into MBA admissions for the school through a Behavioral assessment.

That should be enough convincing for why you should showcase your emotional intelligence through your essay as well while submitting your MBA application.

These might seem like difficult aspects to add to your Yale Som essay, but a well thought out essay will allow you to do so. Start by creating a blueprint, and as I mentioned, sometimes a single word is enough to get your message across. So use the 500 words that Yale gave you wisely.

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