October 13, 2022

Yale SOM Essay Tips

Yale School of Management’s Round 1 application deadline has passed and the Round 2 deadline is January 5th. The Admitify team would like to share our guidance on the required and optional essays.


Required Essay: Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words)


Admitify Guidance

  • Yale states in its guidance that “actions speak louder than words”: that means they want you to demonstrate—to illustrate with examples–the behaviors that support your commitment.
  • Your response should clearly state the commitment you’ve selected
    • Why did you select this particular commitment – was there a problem or a challenge you were responding to?
    • How did you approach it? What obstacles stood in your way (a commitment that the reader perceives as easy to live up to will seem less impressive)
    • What were/are the specific behaviors—that is, examples of you ‘in action’–that supported/continue to support it? What did you think, say and/or do in living up to your commitment?
    • What did you learn from that?
  • Don’t try and select a commitment that you think ‘fits’ Yale – this is the time to be authentic, so choose something that was/is deeply important to you, as evidenced by some sustained involvement or excellence or challenge in your life.
  • You only have 500 words so be concise.


Optional Essay: If any aspect of your candidacy needs further explanation (unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, promotions or recognition, etc.), please provide a brief description here. (200 words maximum)


Admitify Guidance

View the optional essay as an opportunity to proactively strengthen your application. According to Bruce DelMonico, Yale has “…carefully and intentionally built our application so that each component seeks complementary pieces of information, and in this way it is streamlined to help you communicate with us most effectively. Each of you has your own unique and complex identity; you will stand out by using the application to share that identity with us.” Review your complete application: the required essay, behavioral assessment, video questions, your resume and letters of recommendation. If anything in your story is missing or there is anything that hasn’t been addressed thus far, the optional essay is the place to do it. Yale’s question does not limit you only to explanatory/exculpatory content. You get to decide what “needs further explanation” and it doesn’t have to involve explaining away a negative (maybe you think your career trajectory/job-choice decisions need further explanation or perhaps your performance in your job). Just make sure the new information you provide adds value and has substance—and clearly/explicitly add a sentence stating why you think the content merits further explanation.


Of course, if you need to do damage control (which is the primary purpose of this essay), you can tackle the essay by making a case, with evidence, that what appears to be an issue really is not, or acknowledging the weakness but building the case that you have grown past it.  Admitify’s advice for damage control essays is to be brief and specific about the topic of concern, explain your case for viewing the issue in the most positive light, and provide examples of how you have offset the issue.

Check back each week for more essay tips, and contact us now to speak with one of our expert coaches for help on your essays!