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From the Assistant Dean for Admissions: Application and Essay Tips Every Applicant Should Keep in Mind

Bruce DelMonico and current Yale SOM students weigh in on how to best showcase yourself throughout the application process.

Last month I offered some general suggestions on how to think about the MBA application process, and earlier this month we hosted an Application Tips Panel that went in deeper detail into the application and provided specific advice on how to approach each element of it. (You can review that advice at any time, along with our Application Guide, which provides additional insights into each aspect of the application process. We’ve also embedded the advice from the guide into the application itself, so that it’s available to you when you most need it as you’re working through the sections of the application.)

Now, with a little less than a month left before our September 14 Round 1 application deadline, it’s time for you to turn in earnest to tackling specific elements of your Yale SOM application. For example, if you haven’t done so yet, you should ask your recommenders to write a recommendation for you to give them plenty of time to complete it in advance of the deadline. And be sure to order transcripts from all your academic institutions so you have them on hand to upload into the application. Also, of course, you should make sure to have test score (GMAT or GRE) in hand before the deadline and start to think about how you will answer the essay prompt, “Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made.”

Beyond these specific reminders, though, there is broader guidance about how to approach the application that should help you in this final month before the application deadline. To offer the most relevant advice possible, we asked current students—who were in your position not too long ago—for their suggestions as you head into the final stretch toward the application deadline. Below is what they had to share. I hope it’s helpful. Good luck with your application!

Approaching the Essay

Yale’s essay question is unique and requires you to reflect on all aspects of your life. Really take some time to step back and assess what has influenced your career and personal life to date. The MBA is a transformative experience, and the essay should highlight the experiences you’ve had and how you have been able to learn from these.”
Gokhul Ramakrishnan ’22

“When it comes to the main essays, resist the urge to copy/paste from others that you authored. MBA applications take time, and those shortcuts are tempting, but try to craft as unique an essay as possible, especially for Yale SOM. They’re looking for personality and character traits that are distinct from those that other business schools are seeking, and if that’s not obvious now it hopefully will be when you meet your classmates in the fall.”
—Youssef Elnahas ’22

“I would recommend asking friends or family members to read your essays. Their reactions helped me refine my writing and ensure my key takeaways and personal voice were clear.”
—Sherry Li ’22

“For your essay, you should not only highlight what your commitment is, but also outline how you will continue to honor that commitment at SOM and how SOM will inform that commitment post-MBA. This will help you write your essay and envision your SOM experience more tangibly.”
—Alice Yuan ’22

“Be authentic. Know your story and write about things you care about.”
—Emily Fung ’22

“When I was going through the application process, I constantly asked myself three questions: ‘Why do I need an MBA to achieve my goals?’ ‘What have I done thus far to move towards those goals?’ ‘Why is now the right time to get an MBA?’ Asking myself these questions helped me craft stronger essays and deliver more focused, reflective answers during the in-person interview. So, my advice to all applicants is to ask yourselves these three questions. No matter where you are in the application process, take a pen and write down your answers. Write down anything that comes to mind. Doing so will help you step back, visualize the narrative of your career, and prepare you to excel in the application process.”
—Jessica Lee ’22

“Take the time to reflect on your journey so far and how the MBA can position you for where you want to go, what you want to do. When did you feel engaged and fulfilled at work, and what were some of the circumstances that enabled that? (e.g. having ownership over a specific workstream or collaborating in a team, providing high-level strategic recommendations, building out a new program, etc.) What would you like to be doing in five, 10 years? How would this MBA program help you get there? What would your journey look like if you didn't do the program, or went to this other program? As you articulate what you're looking to gain through a particular program, your ability to develop genuine affinity with specific schools grows, and it will show in your application.”
—Sherry Li ’22

“Make up your mind about the school even as they make up their mind about you. Reach out to students (past or present) and get to know the school beyond the marketing material and the rumor mill. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. From the time you apply to business school to landing your first job offer can feel like one long unbroken chapter of your life. Take every step seriously (it will be worth it), but don’t lose the motivation to finish what you set out to do if things don’t go the way you expect.”
—Youssef Elnahas ’22

Telling Your Story

“Applicants should understand that best way to be different is to be themselves. Buzzwords may not do the trick when an application reviewer has already seen thousands of them, but authenticity shines through and differentiates a candidate much more than they may believe.”
—Austin Broussard ’22

“Make the admissions committee’s job easy. Have a clear connection between your past, present, and future professional experience, whether it’s advancing your career in the same industry or function or highlighting transferrable skills from your past role to the next. Tell a concise story and connect the dots for them so you don’t leave them guessing on how you realistically and practically plan to achieve your professional goals.”
—Jem Shin ’22

“Instead of asking what an admission committee wants to hear, focus on what makes you who you are. Everyone wants to get into one of the top programs, but you also want to attend a school that wants you for who you are.”
—Aki Onda ’22

“Be true to yourself and your own story. When you’re writing about what you’re passionate about it jumps off the page—there’s no “right” story for each school; it’s just your own story that matters.”
—Sammy Marrus ’22