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From the Assistant Dean for Admissions: How to Get into Yale SOM

There isn’t just one route to being admitted. But, Bruce DelMonico writes, thinking of business school as a step toward your long-term goals will make you a better candidate.

OK, maybe that headline is overstating it. Obviously, there’s no single path to Yale SOM and no specific thing—or specific series of things—that would guarantee admission. But there are better and worse ways to approach the application process and position your candidacy. I’d like to share a few thoughts that I hope will set you down a better path and increase your chances of admission.

I’ll start by saying I’m not going to offer detailed strategies for approaching specific elements of the application itself. We’ve already done some of that in the Inside the Application, Literally event that was part of our recent Open House week, and we will do more of that in the Application Tips Panel that I will host next Friday, August 6, at noon ET.  Instead, I want to give you more general advice for approaching the application process, which hopefully will complement and inform the advice in the Inside the Application event, next week’s Application Tips Panel, our Application Guide, and elsewhere.

The main thing I will say is that you should approach business school—and the application process by extension—as a milepost in your development rather than an end point. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked by potential applicants what job they should take to help them get into business school, or what major (or classes) they should choose to best position them for admission. My feeling is, this is the wrong way to think about business school.  At Yale SOM, we teach students to have a strategic, long-term perspective when making decisions, understanding that you make different decisions in the short term when you’re thinking about the long term. I think this mindset applies to the business school application process as well.

So when you think about your professional and academic choices, you should do so with your long-term plans in mind. Don’t take a job that takes you away from a professional path that makes sense to you, for example, just because you think it will help you get into business school. There’s no job that will inherently position you better for business school than any other. If someone tells you otherwise, walk away; they don’t know what they’re talking about. Let your interests and enthusiasm be your guide, not what you think we’re looking for. The thing we care most about is how well you perform in your job, and you will invariably perform better in a job you enjoy and that you’re excited about than one you’ve chosen simply because you think it will enhance your chances for graduate school admission. This approach will make all aspects of your application better: your recommendations will be stronger if you’re doing a job you enjoy; your essays will be more compelling if you’re writing about something you care about; you will interview better if you’re speaking about things that matter to you.

Again, think about business school as a stepping stone in your overall professional plan, and treat it as such. Your MBA application is a by-product of this larger plan. It should be a reflection of the decisions you’ve made, not the cause of them. If you approach the application with this mindset, the individual application elements will fall into place more easily. 

I’m looking forward to talking about those elements with you in next week’s Application Tips Panel. I hope that this putting this larger frame on your application process is a helpful starting point.

Bruce DelMonico
Assistant Dean for Admissions
Admissions Office
Yale School of Management
165 Whitney Avenue
Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
203.432.5635, Admissions Office
203.432.6380, Visitor Center
fax 203.432.7004