2023-2024 Yale SOM MBA Essay Analysis



The Yale School of Management (SOM) is one of the few top business schools that require applicants to write only one essay. This year, however, Yale SOM has given you the option to choose one essay topic out of the 3 topics.

We want to know what matters to you, and our essay question is designed to help us gain insight into your background, passions, motivations, responsibilities, ideals, identities, challenges, or aspirations, depending on where you take your response. To ensure that you’re able to write about something important to you, we offer you three essay prompts from which to choose:

1) Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. Why is this commitment meaningful to you and what actions have you taken to support it?

2) Describe the community that has been most meaningful to you. What is the most valuable thing you have gained from being a part of this community and what is the most important thing you have contributed to this community?

3) Describe the most significant challenge you have faced. How have you confronted this challenge and how has it shaped you as a person?

Choose the prompt that speaks most strongly to you and about which you have the most enthusiasm. In answering the prompt – whichever one it is – you should think about the life experiences that have been most meaningful to you and that you most want to communicate to the committee, and pick the question that will best allow you to express that aspect of yourself. We find that the most compelling essays are the ones that are truly most important to you, so make sure that’s your guide in choosing what to write about; don’t try to guess what we’re looking for or what you think we want to hear. Importantly, regardless of which prompt you choose, you’ll want to support your essay with concrete examples.

There is a 500-word limit on the essay, so you need to be clear, direct, and brief in your answer. There shouldn’t be much preamble or extra text.

Yale SOM MBA essay analysis and tips

 If you think the required essay topic won’t let you talk about an important or interesting part of your profile, or if there’s something about your application that needs more explanation, you can use the “optional information” space to fill in the blanks.

Yale SOM MBA Application deadline

Round 1September 12, 2023December 5, 2023
Round 2January 4, 2024March 26, 2024
Round 3April 9, 2024May 16, 2024

Who is Yale SOM looking for?

“The Yale School of Management embraces diversity. We believe that effective leaders are those that understand and benefit from the perspectives of people with different backgrounds and that a commitment to building a diverse community is a key element of our mission of educating leaders for business and society.”

Yale SOM MBA Essay Analysis for 2024 intake

Yale University’s revamped essay prompts signify a strategic shift, broadening the evaluative criteria for candidates.

By introducing inquiries about community involvement and challenges faced, they’ve diversified the judging criteria, reshaping the competitive landscape.

This modification empowers applicants to spotlight their passions, unfettered by limited options.

The selection of prompts, however, hinges on the availability of concrete examples. Similar to last year, the emphasis should be on transcending anecdotal narratives, prioritizing quantifiable impacts traceable to personal growth trajectories.

Yale’s directive is clear: establish robust connections between events and your developmental journey, setting your essay distinctly apart within the pool of submissions. This strategic approach ensures a compelling narrative that aligns with Yale’s evolving expectations.

Consider your journey as a series of measurable achievements and significant milestones that have contributed to your personal growth. Link these achievements to how they have sparked transformative changes in your life. Utilizing specific metrics and concrete examples is pivotal in illustrating the impact of your experiences.

For instance, let’s say you are committed to teaching underprivileged children. You could elaborate on how you collaborated with government-led initiatives to establish after-school voluntary tutoring services.

Present a compelling case study of a particular student who not only exhibited improved academic performance but also displayed a positive shift in their attitude towards education.

Highlight how this student expanded their horizons, engaging in extracurricular activities like sports and hobbies, and even initiating their community projects with your mentorship. Furthermore, showcase your proactive engagement in your workplace or through CSR initiatives. Describe your efforts to improve school infrastructure, increase access to resources, and involve a larger pool of volunteers and interns.

By presenting these clear advancements, you showcase your progress and the tangible impact of your endeavors.

Integrate these achievements with the lessons you have learned along the way and demonstrate their application in your current life.

Yale’s flexible stance on post-graduation goals allows you more room to delve into quantifiable achievements, growth, lessons learned, and their practical implementation.

This approach not only aligns with Yale’s preferences but also provides a comprehensive view of your journey, emphasizing your dedication to making a positive difference.

Utilizing this framework to shape your responses is a proven method for crafting a narrative that aligns with Yale’s interests. Aim to correlate your story with the qualities Yale seeks in potential candidates, including:

  • Initiative takers
  • Focuses on and drives toward delivering on goals, objectives, and performance improvement
  • Self-motivation
  • Guided sense of purpose
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Emphasis on values and ethics
  • Cooperation and teamwork
  • Effective communication skills
  • Constructive challenge and mutual support

How to write the Yale SOM MBA essay for 2024 intake

Selection and writing

Once you have selected the ‘focus’ of your narrative, i.e. commitment, community involvement, or challenge as the central theme of your narrative, delve into the following guidance tailored to each specific focus:

Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. Why is this commitment meaningful to you and what actions have you taken to support it?

When delving into your commitment, it’s essential to paint a vivid picture of the endeavor. Begin by clearly defining the commitment itself—its nature and scope.

Explain the catalyst that prompted your involvement, detailing why you chose to dedicate your time and energy to this particular cause.

Delve into the specific role you played and the contributions you made to further the commitment’s goals. As you elaborate on your journey, consider the key actors who influenced your decision to engage in this commitment.

Were there mentors, peers, or personal experiences that guided your path? Transition smoothly into narrating instances that highlight your dedication. Address potential roadblocks that emerged along the way and how you managed to overcome them, showcasing your resilience and problem-solving skills.

Detail your successes as well—whether they were milestones achieved, positive impacts made, or valuable lessons learned. These successes serve as stepping stones that propelled you forward and molded your growth.

Explain how you harnessed these achievements to enhance your commitment’s trajectory. Moving forward, shed light on your enduring dedication to this commitment. Explain the reasons behind your decision to persist on this path and continue your journey.

Delve into your aspirations, hopes, and plans for the future. How do you envision further propelling this commitment? Are there strategies you’ve formulated to ensure its sustained success? Elaborate on the steps you intend to take to navigate challenges, expand its reach, and continue making a meaningful impact.

Describe the community that has been most meaningful to you. What is the most valuable thing you have gained from being a part of this community and what is the most important thing you have contributed to this community?

When delving into your community involvement, provide a comprehensive introduction to the community itself—its nature, purpose, and significance.

Explain the factors that prompted your intervention or decision to become a part of it, highlighting the meaningful cause that resonated with you deeply.

Narrate how you embarked on this journey, outlining the steps you took to immerse yourself within the community. Elaborate on the specific initiatives you undertook as part of your community involvement.

Clearly describe the projects, campaigns, or activities you engaged in to contribute positively. Discuss the challenges you encountered along the way, demonstrating your ability to navigate obstacles and remain steadfast in your commitment.

Emphasize the support—both personal and communal—that played a pivotal role in your efforts.Delve into your contributions to community-driven initiatives.

Articulate how your involvement significantly enhanced these endeavors, marking them as crucial additions to the overall project. Highlight the outcomes and impacts of these initiatives, showcasing how your efforts amplified their success and brought about tangible change.

Transition to a reflection on the profound significance of this community involvement in your life.

Explain why this particular engagement holds immense personal value and how it has reshaped your identity.

Describe the ways in which the community has influenced your perspectives, values, and character, illustrating a deep connection that has endured over time. Connect this transformation to your career journey.

Outline how the lessons and insights you gained from your community involvement have directly influenced your professional path.

Discuss the ways in which the skills, values, and empathy cultivated through this experience have positively impacted your approach to your career.

Illustrate how the lessons learned within the community have translated into your interactions, leadership style, and decision-making in the business world.

Meticulously detailing each aspect of your community shows involvement and its enduring impact, and creates a narrative that aligns seamlessly with the qualities Yale seeks in its candidates—initiative, empathy, adaptability, and a commitment to making a positive difference both personally and professionally.

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced. How have you confronted this challenge and how has it shaped you as a person?

When addressing a significant challenge you have encountered, commence with a succinct introduction to the context within which the challenge arose. Set the stage by providing a concise overview of the circumstances or environment that led to the emergence of this obstacle.

Subsequently, delve into a detailed description of the challenge itself. Clarify why this particular situation posed a substantial hurdle, elaborating on the complexities and intricacies that made it demanding.

Highlight the potential repercussions and complications that could have ensued if the challenge was not adequately addressed. Keep this section succinct, focusing on the essential elements that define the challenge.

The crux of your essay should revolve around your approach to tackling the challenge.

Detail the strategic measures you formulated to overcome the obstacle, showcasing your analytical thinking and problem-solving prowess.

Describe the actions you took to implement your strategy, outlining any difficulties or barriers you encountered during the process.

Emphasize the outcomes of your efforts, illustrating how your approach yielded positive results. Quantify the impact wherever possible, utilizing metrics and data to underscore the effectiveness of your solutions.

Delve into the lessons you extracted from this experience, reflecting on the insights you gained about yourself, your abilities, and your approach to overcoming adversity.

Conclude your essay by illuminating how these takeaways have continued to influence your personal and professional growth. Explain how the lessons from this challenge have equipped you with a newfound resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving acumen. 

How to write the Yale SOM MBA essay effectively

You need to 2 things to write the Yale SOM MBA essay effectively:

  1. A framework
  2. Expert Tips

Let’s discuss both

Yale SOM MBA essay framework

  1. Begin by setting the stage, addressing the core aspect of the question.
  2. Transition smoothly into detailing the specific methods, actions, and strategies you employed (‘how’).
  3. Delve into the lessons you gleaned from the experience and explore its impact on both personal and professional dimensions. Outline your intentions for incorporating these insights into your future endeavors.
  4. Conclude by elucidating how you envision applying these learnings within the context of your MBA journey.

Yale SOM MBA essay tips for 2024 intake

Create clear transitions

Crafting a seamless narrative requires connecting your initial motives or purpose with subsequent actions.

This connection showcases your thoughtful and strategic approach, highlighting your commitment to translating ideas into tangible results.

This step is crucial in portraying your proactive attitude towards turning intentions into reality.

To effectively convey your journey, address both the “why” and “how” behind your chosen commitment, community involvement, or challenge.

Employ precise wording and strategic keywords to emphasize significant moments that underscore your narrative. By skillfully interweaving your motivations with concrete steps, you present a coherent and impactful account of your endeavors.

Ultimately, the essence lies in demonstrating your ability to turn inspiration into action, showcasing your capacity to execute plans that align with your aspirations.

Create a narrative

Constructing a narrative that unfolds across the different phases of your pursuits serves to depict your journey in a relatable and human manner. This enables you to illustrate the evolution that has transpired since your initial endeavors, showcasing your capacity to adapt and embrace change. Embracing authenticity, it is important to reveal your vulnerabilities and remain genuine. Avoid embellishing your responses with superficial details for the sake of enhancing your narrative. Instead, focus on providing honest insights that genuinely reflect your experiences and growth.

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