After a disastrous interview at one school, a friend gave me some great advice. She said, “Talk about what excites you and makes your face light up! People find enthusiasm compelling.” I found this very useful because I was worrying so much about what I thought the school “wanted to see” that I wasn’t doing a good job explaining what I wanted out of the experience. At the end of the day it is important to find a school that is a good match for you; you can aid that process by being open about what your vision for yourself is.
If I could tell myself one thing while applying to business school, it would be, “Talk to people—early and often!” While I did speak to some students who were at SOM, I did this pretty late in the process, and I didn’t always talk to people who had the same interests as I did. In retrospect, speaking to students who spoke candidly about their experience was a great way to learn about the school and its culture. It helps to visualize yourself at the school and is a great way to build a relationship with people who will eventually help with your career search and navigating your first year.
The business school application is meant to be a reflective process, both from a professional and personal standpoint. It’s critical to ask yourself the important questions early on, so you can align your story end-to-end. At the same time, remember that the application process is not a solo journey. Reach out to family, friends, colleagues, and mentors, as they’re able to provide an outside perspective on your growth. Finally, I cannot recommend how important it is to connect with current students/alumni. We’re always happy to chat, so feel free to reach out!
If I could tell myself one thing while applying to business school, it would be, “Control what you can control.” The business school application process can be a stressful time. Having an internal calendar is helpful for keeping track of all the deadlines. Once you have completed the application process, I recommend taking a step away from everything (especially those stat-tracking websites). Mental health is important. Beyond that, remember to thank everyone who has supported you on your business school journey. I assure you the end goal is worth it—enrolling at Yale SOM has been the best decision for my career!
Take some time and put in writing everything you’ve accomplished, no matter how small. Speaking specifically to anyone who grew up in very humble, put-your-head-down type of cultures and environments, or to those who are always on to the next thing, I would say it is an important part of the process to just stop and smell the roses. There is something rewarding and confidence-building that comes through your application when you have a full view of who you are and what you’ve done.
I usually reiterate this advice to applicants who are women, minorities, or international students: you do not cross the “arrogant line” by showing “this is all I have done, how, and why.” Go for it!
If I could tell myself one thing while applying, it would be, “The GMAT prep is important for sure, but make sure you put as much value on the essays, even the small ones of 250 words.” It will serve you well beyond the application, regardless of the outcome. Writing about yourself can teach you things about yourself and what you want to do that you may not have known.
I was advised to not worry about what sort of profile the admissions committee was looking for. Not trying to fit myself in a certain box allowed me to put together an authentic application and communicate what I’m passionate about pursuing in my career.
If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be, “Trust your gut.” If you don’t feel like you connect with a certain school, that’s OK! You may not click with every program, and you should be honest about that with yourself. Think about the current students and alumni you’ve met throughout the application process and whether you can see these people being your peers and your friends. The interactions I had with professors, students, and alumni during the application process were a big reason why I chose SOM.
My wife gave me the best advice during my application journey. I was stressing out about my Yale SOM essay and application when she said, “Stop stressing. Just be yourself; be genuine. If they take you as you are, that’s great. If not, it just wasn’t the right fit.” Her words calmed me down and reminded me that the application process goes both ways. She was right, and today I can't imagine myself at any other school.
You might feel overwhelmed right now studying for the GMAT, asking for recommendation letters, and writing essays, but it’s going to pay off. Stay strong.