The Yale School of Management has published the application essay for the 2018-2019 admissions season, and it is the same question as in last year’s application.
In his blog post, Assistant Dean of admissions Bruce DelMonico explains: “This application essay question evolved from a conversation with Professor of Organizational Behavior Amy Wrzesniewski about how to get a better sense for what our applicants care about in the world.
She notes, ‘Reading about future plans is helpful, but actions speak louder than words. What big commitments have applicants already made in their lives to date, how did they follow through on them, and what does this tell us about who they are? That is what is at the heart of this question’.”
While writing this essay keep in mind the Yale SOM’s mission, as explained by Dean Edward A. Snyder: “Yale SOM is persistent and disciplined in our efforts to connect to big issues, to integrate with Yale, to be distinctively global, and to work across all sectors. All of our efforts are guided by a strategy that accounts for how the world has changed over the last several decades and the implications for leadership. The success of our efforts depends entirely on extraordinary alignment and superior teamwork—internally and externally.”
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Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words maximum)
As the Assistant Dean mentions, this question is about your past actions, not what you plan to do. 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 about your commitment and why it qualifies as the biggest commitment you have ever 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 and team member.
Yale is a program focused on making a difference in the world and the subject of this question will tell the admissions committee what you value, ideally something that impacts the greater community or world. Regardless of whether you choose an individual or team commitment, try to show how you have made a significant positive impact.
Because this is the only essay question in the application and should be used 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.