TheYale School of Management has left the one required essay unchanged for the 2017-18 admissions cycle. “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.
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Yale School of Management MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018
We continue with our Essay Topic Analysis, as Yale SOM announced their MBA essay question for 2017-2018. For the second year running, Yale MBA hopefuls are required to respond to a 500-word essay about their biggest commitment. Last year, Admissions Director Bruce DelMonico commented that the Yale MBA adcom developed this “seemingly simple and straightforward question” essay prompt in collaboration with a professor of organizational behavior at SOM.
Yale SOM MBA Essay Analysis
Let’s take a closer look at the 2017-2018 Yale SOM essay question:
Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words maximum)
With such a broad, open-ended mandate, it’s important to impose a structure on the response. Consider the main categories of what one can be committed to:
- An idea
- An organization
- A person
The benefit of being committed to an idea is that it likely allows for the broadest approach to responding to the prompt, as an idea could be supported in one’s professional and personal lives. For instance, perhaps you have been most committed to raising awareness of social injustice and have sought to introduce this in your office and community. Or perhaps you are committed to lessening the environmental impact that humans have on our planet and you have pursued that commitment via volunteer work, initiatives at work, and changes in your personal life. In short, it’s easy to see how commitment to an idea offers a broad array of possibilities to showcase various aspects of your candidacy.
One important note regarding commitment to an idea is that some individuals may gravitate towards religion or politics. While these are clearly fair game in light of the question Yale SOM has posed, it’s important to remember that these can be sensitive topics (and that we typically advise candidates to tread carefully when broaching them). In short, if religion or politics has been your priority, the key will be to focus on your actions and positive results as opposed to ideology.
Before we look closely at a response around an organization, we want to remind our readers that organizations can be of a professional or community nature. In addition, because the question originates from a professor of organizational behavior, it likely makes sense to reflect on one’s efforts within a group or in conjunction with groups. This would also afford the opportunity to showcase one’s leadership and teamwork skills—both desirable skills at MBA programs. Candidates do not need to feel confined to the professional realm; Yale SOM, after all, does seek to “educate leaders for business and society.” Perhaps you organized a community fundraiser or launched a community event—the key is to show how you engaged a group and led them to a positive result.
With regards to a person, it’s understandable that one’s go-to response would be a spouse or child; however, we would like to remind readers that taking this course may present some challenges. First off, there are likely to be many other applicants following the same path with their essays, and that could make it harder for you to stand out in a crowded applicant pool. Second, it may be a bit harder to speak to elements of your commitment to a significant other or child in a way that relates to your potential skills as a future business leader and ability to contribute to life at Yale SOM. Of course, if you truly feel that the biggest commitment you have ever made has indeed been to a loved one, and that you can write about this in a compelling fashion, then by all means give it a shot. With all that said, we would like to remind you that “a person” doesn’t have to be a loved one. For instance, perhaps you have maintained a strong mentoring relationship either at work or in your community; detailing the interpersonal challenges of your relationship and ultimate success in achieving goals together could fit well here. Once again, honesty is the best policy here, as the most compelling descriptions of commitment will stem from something or someone you are passionate about.
Things to Avoid
While we’ve covered what potential topics could be discussed, there are likely a couple of choices to avoid. Namely, though it may be tempting, this essay should be limited to one commitment. You may have multiple examples in support of an idea, but the theme should be singular. Additionally, ‘applying to business school’ or ‘pursuing an MBA’ as an answer should probably be avoided. It is certainly a grueling process to apply to business school–and a big decision to commit to an MBA–but the adcom wants to get to know who you are, not just your passion for an MBA. Also, remember that everyone applying to Yale SOM is theoretically making a commitment to an MBA, which would make it harder for you to stand out.
Final Thoughts & Structure
Underlying each of the aforementioned categories, consider what it means to be committed: overcoming challenges consistently and staying the course. A commitment takes work, takes time and can take sacrifice or compromise. Consider what made achieving your goal difficult (in other words, what made you want to walk away or give up on your commitment), but, ultimately, what made you stick with it (some sign of progress, the impact of the ultimate goal). Finally, because this should be one’s “biggest” commitment, reflect on the scope and scale of the project. Your commitment should be worthy of the moniker, “biggest.”
As for structure, 500 words is not a lot of space, so it should be used wisely. Start with a concise and straightforward explanation of your commitment—ideally in a sentence or two. Then, move onto the meat of the content, which should include examples that showcase how you are committed to the idea, organization or person you have chosen. Space permitting, it would be nice to suggest how you would continue to pursue this commitment at Yale SOM and beyond. The essay can then be wrapped up with a brief reiteration of your biggest commitment and the satisfaction you get from it.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Yale SOM MBA essay topics. As you work on your SOM MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Yale offerings:
Posted in: Essay Tips & Advice, Essay Topic Analysis, Essay Topics, Essays
Schools: Yale SOM