The Yale School of Management has left the one required essay unchanged this year. “In asking this question, the Admissions Committee is interested not just in the commitment itself but also in how you approach the commitment and the behaviors that support it,” Assistant Dean Bruce DelMonico writes in the Yale Admissions Blog announcement.
Keep in mind the Yale community values: “The [Yale SOM] community is united by the belief that acting on our mission requires us to address the biggest and most pressing challenges in the world today. Such problems can’t be solved through solitary gestures—it takes teamwork, an ability to leverage human capital, and the building of active connections between people, ideas, and resources.”
Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words maximum)
This is an open-ended question which is often intimidating to begin. As you approach this essay remember the type of MBA student Yale is most interested in admitting. Ideally you are coming across as an intellectually curious student with a diverse background deeply interested in the integrated curriculum.
Yale prioritizes diversity of background so highly that the tuition for the MBA program is on a sliding scale based on your pre-MBA salary. This helps Yale attract people from non-traditional backgrounds and geographies, which leads to a true diversity of experiences in your class. How will you bring your own values and unique background to the community and classroom?
Behavioral questions like this one (the tip off is “describe”) seek to understand how you actually operate in various situations. Think about what a commitment is to you. Was it a job or an organization that you were involved in? Maybe your commitment was to a value or a person. Try to be as specific as possible your commitment and why it qualifies as the biggest commitment you have made. What did you think or say when you were determining what to do? What did you actually do? How did you feel about the result?
You may decide to focus on a solo commitment, and that may be entirely appropriate since most MBA applicants are individual contributors. However, ideally you can demonstrate how you work with others as a leader. Regardless of whether you choose an individual or team commitment, try to show how you have made a significant positive impact on an organization or people within the organization.
If appropriate to the commitment, you may want to highlight specific projects at work or in community service that have most excited you and shaped your future goals. This could align with your resume and projects that recommenders comment upon. Strategically designing all of the application components to showcase your best qualities will enhance your candidacy.
Because this is the only essay question available to highlight your personal qualities and leadership ability, make sure your resume and recommendations can answer any questions about your career and accomplishments.
The 500-word limit may be daunting. Instead of censoring yourself on the first draft and limiting what you write, start by describing each step in of your accomplishment in detail in terms of what you did, the reaction of others and your own reaction. From there you can cut out anything that is too detailed or too superfluous to the story to maintain the 500-word maximum. Using an outside reader to help you determine what is most important to the story may help you streamline your essay.
Contact us to learn more about designing the best Yale application possible with Stacy Blackman Consulting.