Yale SOM Application Essay Tips, 2022-2023
Yale SOM’s one official essay prompt delves in an interesting way into applicants’ values, priorities, and sense of dedication. The information you’ll provide in your essay response will not likely overlap with any other information about you that the admissions committee can glean from the rest of your application. The essay is therefore a great chance to show the school who you are beyond your resume and transcripts, what makes you tick, and what you are passionate about.
Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words maximum)
Another way of framing this essay is that the admissions committee wants to know what commitment means to you. So, it is not enough just to name your commitment —you have to demonstrate how you followed through with it.
We encourage you to not think too narrowly in defining “commitment.” You might immediately think of committing to a person or a goal, of course, but you could also commit to a value, a cause, a lifestyle, a project… you get the idea. Really run through all the possible options from both your personal life and your career to find the one thing that has captured your devotion above all else. Consider what excites you and what your passion is. If you choose something finite, such as a goal or project, you’ll likely end up sharing a single anecdote in your essay, but if you want to illustrate your commitment to a cause, ideal, or the like, your essay will be more effective if you describe multiple events or situations that underscore your allegiance. That said, at only 500 words allowed, you will have to be judicious in how you approach offering various examples.
This question (and therefore your potential answer) really is as wide open as it sounds. In other words, there is no one “right” answer that the admissions committee wants to hear. So, you must be completely genuine. Your essay will not ring true to the admissions reader if you claim dedication to something but then have only shallow evidence to support that claim. Whatever you choose to discuss, you need to have a sincere and meaningful connection with it. Maybe your biggest commitment is playing the piano, improving your spoken English, or helping your parents as they age. Don’t be afraid to share these kinds of commitments if they are truly central to who you are and how you live your life.
Ask yourself why you made this commitment and convey your motivation in the essay as well. Also consider any challenges you’ve faced. How has this commitment evolved over time? What parts of your life does it affect (especially if this might not be immediately obvious to an outsider)? You can treat this as a “hero’s journey,” taking the reader along a narrative that exemplifies your perseverance. Often, a good structure begins with the “Aha!” moment that started you on the path toward this commitment, followed by the trials that nearly took you off the path. But don’t fall into the trap of making your essay just a laundry list of challenges because you need to leave room to describe the actions you took to overcome the challenges and what the outcomes of your efforts ultimately were.
Finally, share any lessons you have learned as a result of your dedication. How have you grown personally since making the commitment? If appropriate, share how your commitment sets you up to contribute to the Yale community in a meaningful way. Alternatively, if your commitment is related to your career aspirations, share what you plan to do at Yale to continue to engage with your interest or passion. It is not imperative that you tie SOM into your answer, however. The admissions committee would rather you tell a complete story about your commitment than try to insert a “Why Yale?” element here. So, connect your core story to Yale only if the connection is relevant and you have enough space to address it appropriately.
Yale also poses the following questions, which together make up a kind of mini essay prompt, in its application:
Which industry best aligns with your short-term, post-MBA career interests?
Which industry best aligns with your long-term, post-MBA career interests?
How did you arrive at these career interests? How have you or how will you position yourself to pursue them? (250 words maximum)
To respond to these questions, you need to identify the position you’d like to have immediately upon graduation from Yale’s MBA program and where you want to be ten to fifteen years later. Your goals should be ambitious yet attainable. If you are looking to use the MBA to pivot or change careers, be sure to explain what motivates this interest. Your desire to change careers might be motivated by wanting to leverage the skills and knowledge you have developed through your professional experience in a role that would allow you to pursue a passion and make a more meaningful impact through your work.
Yale also asks how your professional interests have developed, so you’ll need to provide some context for your choices. The admissions committee will of course already have your resume, which will offer some of this information, but you’ll need to fill in the gaps from a more subjective angle. Explain what has inspired you to pursue your stated goals and what keeps you motivated to reach them.
The last part of this prompt is a sneaky “Why Yale?” question, so be clear about what you expect to learn at Yale SOM that will set you up to be a strong candidate for your desired post-MBA position. The immediate post-MBA role might allow you to develop additional exposure that will accelerate your career toward your career aspiration. With respect to your long-term goal, you can be a little less specific, but you still need to show a clear trajectory to which you are dedicated. And it’s important that your long-term goal is actually achievable via your short-term goal. Building that bridge will show that you have educated yourself about what’s required to achieve your objectives, how SOM fits into that plan, and how you are ready to take the steps necessary to get there. Consider how your aspirations intersect between business and society to demonstrate that Yale SOM is the best program to put you on a path to reach your goals.
Optional Information: If any aspect of your candidacy needs further explanation (unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, promotions or recognitions, etc.), please provide a brief description here. (200 words maximum)
The optional essay is just that: optional. Therefore, you should approach it judiciously. If you feel that your application already conveys a complete, accurate picture of who you are as a candidate, then you should probably refrain from submitting an optional essay. You have little to gain from adding to the admissions committee’s workload by asking them to read another essay that doesn’t add anything significant or compelling to your profile. But if you have something truly unique to share that you believe would make you stand out, or if you have an issue of some sort in your candidacy that could benefit from additional explanation (such as those listed in the prompt), then this is your chance to share or clarify it.
In Stratus Admissions’ Guide to Getting into Yale School of Management, you will find information on a variety of the MBA program’s offerings, such as Closing Bell, the raw case method, Global Study, and Global Network Week. Download our brand-new guide to learn more about Yale SOM!