The Yale SOM provides many options to communicate your story to the admissions committee in a choice of multiple personal statement questions. Approach the application with your strategy in mind, and make sure to choose questions that can highlight your personal qualities, management potential and passion for your goals and background. Keep in mind that specific examples are the best way to demonstrate who you are clearly.
1: Why the Yale SOM?
What is the impact that you wish to have on the world? How will your previous experiences and the Yale SOM enhance your ability, in the short-term and long-term, to pursue a career that will allow you to achieve this impact? (500 words maximum)
The most telling aspect of this question is that the Yale SOM starts with the impact you will have on the world. The Yale SOM is known as a program that has particular interest for those with unconventional or non-profit interests, and this question seeks students who (at the very least) plan to use their MBA to have an impact on the world. In the end, this question is a career goals essay similar to that of the Columbia Business School, Wharton Business School, or the Kellogg MBA, and you will want to make a solid connection between your career progress thus far, the MBA you hope to obtain, and your short and long term goals. At the same time, you need to clearly articulate your vision for the impact your goals will have on the world around you.
2: Leadership Example
Describe a professional accomplishment that exhibits your leadership style. The accomplishment should include evidence of your leadership skills, a description of the actions you took, as well as the impact you had on your organization. (500 words maximum)
This question seeks to understand your behavior and style. The accomplishment should be work oriented and leadership focused. When you discuss your accomplishment you need to provide solid evidence in the form of specific information about your actions in the situation. Describe the impact you had, both in solid business terms, and potentially the impact on the teams and people you worked with.
3: Personal Statement 1
Choose one (1) 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?
This is similar to the cornerstone Stanford GSB question – “what matters to you most and why.” Similarly, look for threads in your background and actions that demonstrate an important goal or cause to you. Where is their evidence of passion and commitment in your background – whether personal, professional, or community oriented? Focus on that area and provide specific examples to support your commentary. The question specifically mentions leadership, suggesting that you will be most effective in choosing a passion that you have shown initiative or drive in pursuing, and perhaps persuaded others to join your cause.
(2) What personal achievement are you most proud of and why?
This question is similar to the Harvard Business School accomplishments essay. Focus on an achievement that is especially important to you, and take equal space to explain why the achievement holds significance. The question asks for a personal achievement, allowing room for you to choose an example from your personal life, work life or community service activities.
(3) Describe a situation in which your values were challenged. How did you respond to the situation and what did you learn from it?
This could be an essay to use an ethical dilemma example for, or simply a situation that did not fit in with your core values. As Yale SOM seeks inspired and principled leaders, either may be appropriate. In the space you have available, be sure to answer all parts of the situation. Describe the situation quickly, explain how you responded and the action you took, and then reflect on what you learned. To take the essay to the next level you can discuss a similar situation since where you applied what you learned.
(4) A phrase often heard among Yale SOM graduates is that they aspire to lead a life that is a “Yale SOM Story” – that of a broadly engaged, values-based leader who owns and solves hard problems that matter. How will you create your own Yale SOM Story? Describe a situation in which you devised and implemented a creative or innovative solution to a difficult problem. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
While you will certainly want to relate any example to the idea of a “Yale SOM Story,” the core of the question is to describe a time you were innovative in the face of a problem or issue. This example could be either professional or extracurricular. Describing the situation, what the problem was and how you devised your solution will be the first task. Then you will want to outline the issues and obstacles you faced, and specifically describe how you overcame them and were ultimately able to create an impact on a “broadly engaged, values-based” level.
(5) The Yale School of Management is a community of individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests. What unique attributes would you bring to the Class of 2011?
Similar to the Kellogg MBA question about your unique background, this is a great opportunity to differentiate yourself from other applicants. If you have a diverse background you will certainly want to highlight the impact of your background on your life and perspective. In addition, describe how this perspective will be of benefit to your fellow Yale SOM classmates. If you do not have a diverse background, but have an interesting interest or other unique attributes, similarly focus on how you will utilize your attributes to enhance the experience of your fellow students.
(6) What is the most difficult feedback you have received and how did you address it? Looking forward, what skills are you most eager to build or improve upon in business school?
Proactively addressing difficult feedback and constantly working to improve oneself are important traits for business school and professional success. This question is actually two in one, as it asks you to both describe a feedback experience that led you to grow and learn, as well as providing an idea of how you hope to develop your leadership skills at the Yale School of Management.
Demonstrating maturity and introspection will be important to this question. Quickly outline the situation and feedback, and devote the remainder of the essay to reflection and lessons learned. You will want to tie in the skills you hope to develop at Yale with this feedback opportunity.
(7) Required for reapplicants: What steps have you taken to improve your candidacy since your last application?
This is a fairly straightforward question about how you have improved yor application since last season. Think about any promotions, awards or accolades you have received since you submitted last year. Even if you did not receive a promotion or increase your GMAT score by hundreds of points, you may have a project that was particularly challenging at work, have increased your community involvement, or focused your career goals more clearly.
4: Personal Statement 2
Choose one (1) of the other topics listed in Personal Statement 1, or create a topic of your own about a subject that is meaningful to you, and answer it in essay form. Please indicate the topic number (or state the topic if it is not one of the ones listed) at the beginning of your essay. (500 words maximum)
The Yale SOM is providing every opportunity for you to create the application that most clearly communicates who you are. If none of the previous questions suit your application strategy, you have the additional option to create your own.
If you do opt to create your own question, keep in mind the types of questions the Yale SOM has posed above and demonstrate an aspect of your values, attributes, and leadership and teamwork skills that will showcase your fit for Yale SOM.
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)
The optional essay should always be used to address any areas of concern in your application clearly, succinctly, and without excuses. Focus on your more recent actions and how they demonstrate your maturity and ability to thrive within a competitive MBA program.
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