Yale Admissions Chat
Yale School of Management recently introduced a new curriculum that has students taking classes organized around constituencies such as customers. In addition, the school is looking to increase the number of international students in its ranks and is looking forward to the construction of a new building.
On Dec. 11, Yale Admissions Director Bruce DelMonico (BruceAtYale) and students Abby Kowaloff (AbbyAtYale) and Michael McLaughlin (MichaelAtYale) fielded questions about these changes and more from an audience of prospective students and BusinessWeek.com reporter Francesca Di Meglio (FrancescaBW). They discussed everything from the Yale SOM culture to its joint-degree programs. Here are edited excerpts of the event:
Nomad83: Bruce, Will some Round 1 admission decisions be made before the January deadline? If so, when might they start going out?
BruceAtYale: We do our best to release decisions as soon as we can. We will try to release decisions before the holidays, but most decisions will probably be released closer to the deadline.
TFA2MBA: I have read about your partnership with Teach for America. Would you recommend that Teach for America candidates apply directly out of the program or gain other work experience before applying?
MichaelAtYale: I think the best advice is to apply when you feel ready. If you think Teach for America has given you the experience and skills you'll need to be successful in an MBA program, then applying directly out of the program is fine.
sar712: What is the structure of the on-campus interview?
BruceAtYale: On-campus interviews are 30 minutes long and are conducted primarily by trained second-year students, although staff do some as well. The purpose is to get a sense of your background and experiences, why you want to get an MBA, and what you plan to do post-graduation.
mfandrei: If you are looking for a global career, is attending an international business school the best way to go?
MichaelAtYale: I think most business schools today have an international feel/focus. Yale has definitely moved strongly in this direction with our International Experience requirement. I know we have alumni working all over the world right now in a variety of fields, so Yale definitely prepares you for a global career.
maggiecxq: How soon does an interviewer write up his/her opinion once the interview is conducted?
MichaelAtYale: I'm an on-campus interviewer, and I try to write up my interview reports no later than 24 hours after the interview. It's important for me to make sure I write the report sooner rather than later, so that I can remember the interview in great detail. Otherwise, I feel like it's not fair to the candidate!
yeny:For the regular MBA are you eventually going to offer the option of studying abroad for a semester?
BruceAtYale: Yes, we are working on rolling out a semester-long study-abroad program starting next fall. We are looking to partner with select schools primarily in Asia and Europe at the outset, and then expand the program from there.
jokeram: Do the interviewers have access to the applicant file, or do they go into the interview blind?
MichaelAtYale: All we (as interviewers) know about the candidate before the interview is what's on their résumé. We always let candidates know that up front, so that they don't feel like they need to talk about other stuff not covered by their essays.
jokeram: What percentage of applications have been reviewed? What percentage of interview invites have been sent out?
BruceAtYale: We are roughly halfway through the applications at this point and have probably sent out about that many interview invitations as well. It definitely takes us the whole round to review applications and invite people to interview, so please be patient!
loafer: How is Yale's focus in the health-care sector, especially in the biotech and pharma industries?
AbbyAtYale: Yale has a particularly strong focus on health care across campus. I am a joint-degree student between the schools of Management and Public Health here and have found the interdisciplinary focus very stimulating and applicable to both the biotech and pharma industries. In addition, it has prepared me well for a career in consulting to these industries.
Yong08: Mike and Abby, how do you feel about the required international experience? Since it is only 10 days, will it really provide any significant benefits?
MichaelAtYale: I think the International Experience is a great program. I went to China, and it was truly a learning experience. Ten days is rather quick, but a lot of what you do in business school is fast, so it actually matches the pace of the program quite well.
AbbyAtYale: I am a teaching assistant for this year's International Experience trip to Israel and Turkey and it is a fantastic trip. It blends cultural exploration with top-level executive meetings; it is really a one-of-a-kind experience that distinguishes SOM from other schools.
RCF: Can you tell us a little about what the admissions committee wants to learn about candidates from Essay Three?
BruceAtYale: Essay Three is a chance for you to tell us about yourself. We are interested to see not only what you write but also what you choose to write about. The main piece of advice I would give is that you should write about what is important to you rather than trying to guess what we are looking for. I would also suggest trying to focus on some aspect of yourself that is not readily apparent from other aspects of your application.
sriswetha: What is the view of the admissions committee toward recommendations from a graduate school adviser for a research position held during school?
MichaelAtYale: The best advice on recommendations is to have the people who know you and your skills write your recommendations. If you're currently in graduate school, it's likely that the person who knows you best is your adviser!
Yong08: Yale SOM enrolled only 21% of international students in 2009. Is there any specific reason why it is relatively small compared with other top MBA programs? Are you doing anything to improve the diversity?
BruceAtYale: That is a very good question. We are actually looking to increase that percentage this year. Our admission rate among international students has been a little lower in the past few years than other schools, and does not fully reflect the international status and international focus of SOM.
Yong08: Dean Joel Podolny is a contributor to the Global Compact's initiative on responsible management education. Are there any ongoing internal discussions about Yale SOM's strategy and action to further its top-ranked social/environmental programs?
AbbyAtYale: Yes, there are ongoing internal discussions regarding our strategy and action to further our social/environmental programs. We engage actively with the Aspen Institute's Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey yearly and frequently have the largest business-school attendance at the annual Net Impact Conference to support socially responsible business.
SGT: Hi Bruce, what distinguishes an applicant that is accepted from one who is placed on the wait list?
BruceAtYale: SGT, There's no single thing that distinguishes admits from WLs, other than that they are on the whole stronger in terms of their experience, academic credentials, and other application metrics. We are looking to admit people who have strong intellects, leadership abilities, teamwork skills, and are motivated and passionate about what they do.
gseattle: Do you have an age restriction for your full-time MBA program?
AbbyAtYale: No, there is no age restriction for our full-time MBA program.
abhijit_gan: I am interested in a management consulting career post-MBA. Does SOM have any experiential learning opportunities with partner companies for students to work on?
MichaelAtYale: I'm actually going to work for a big management consulting firm next year, so I can speak to your question. We have lots of opportunities to gain good relevant consulting experience, from case competitions to clubs, where you literally manage and conduct a consulting project for local nonprofits. Additionally, I just want to say that the new core curriculum is great for training people interested in going into consulting. It really trains you to see the world through the eyes of a CEO.
stephane88: How intense is the program? Can an international student work part-time for financial support?
BruceAtYale: The program is intense, so we do not recommend people working part-time during the program. Students usually do not have any problem securing loans and other support to afford the program, and we have a loan specifically designed for international students that does not require them to get a co-signer.
jokeram: Would you suggest a dual degree or a concentration for someone looking at entering the health-care consulting industry?
AbbyAtYale: It depends on your background and where you think the holes in your education and/or experience may be. I pursued a joint degree because I didn't have a science background and wanted to get at least a bit of technical experience. If you feel that it is business skills and/or professional industry networking opportunities that you are looking to gain, then the joint degree is not necessary.
jokeram: Is there a significant increase in the number of applicants for R1?
BruceAtYale: We are up by double digits for the first round, on top of solid double-digit gains the past few years.
ktchow: With the construction of a new business-school building, are there plans to expand the incoming class size in future years?
MichaelAtYale: Yes, there are plans to increase the class size with the new building. I don't think there's an exact number we'd like to get up to— it depends on the building—but 300 students per class is a number that's often cited.
Venezolano4Yale: Did you start your interviews abroad? I am in Latin America.
AbbyAtYale: We will be doing alumni interviews in Latin America this year.
ktchow: How late do interview invites go out? Until the notification date, or is there an interview cutoff date?
BruceAtYale: Given the volume of applications, we will invite people to interview up until the notification date. I know this can be difficult, but we appreciate your patience.
Nomad83: How are scholarship decisions made? Will the offer of admission also include the scholarship offer or does it come later?
BruceAtYale: Yes, scholarship decisions are made concurrent with the admission decision. So scholarship recipients will learn of the scholarship at the time of admission.
TFA2MBA: Is there a certain quota you keep in mind while accepting applicants from various fields?
MichaelAtYale: We aim to have a diverse class in terms of past work experience, but we don't have any specific quotas in mind.
maggiecxq: Does the whole application get read again by staff members after the interview? Or would staff have already reviewed the application, and the decision is solely based on the interview?
BruceAtYale: The whole application does not get read again. The applicant is brought back to committee after the interview and considered again in light of the interview. So, we will discuss the whole application but will not read them again.
hthompson: In the activities section of the application, should I include bullets about what I did at each organization or just include the basics (organization, title, dates)?
BruceAtYale: It really depends on how much room you have, but I would suggest including a few brief bullets about your involvement in the activity to give us a sense of the organization and exactly what you do for it.
sriswetha: If you needed to pick one, in what area of the MBA would you say Yale is the best?
AbbyAtYale: We are a school focused on training leaders for business and society; our program is extremely broad and trains people to excel in whichever area of management they are most passionate about. So, we don't really have one area that is stronger than others.
cuggyer: Would you share more on your point of view of the new curriculum?
MichaelAtYale: That's a broad question, but I'll add a few thoughts. What I like about the "Perspectives" in the new curriculum is that they map the way that a CEO sees the world. CEOs have to worry about "What are my competitors up to?" one minute, then "Am I properly motivating/utilizing my employees?" the next minute, and then "Are my customers happy?" the next. The way the core curriculum is structured, it really drives home that managers need to be cognizant of ALL stakeholders to be successful.
stephane88: What are the criteria for scholarship eligibility?
BruceAtYale: All applicants are automatically considered for a scholarship; no separate application is required. In terms of awarding scholarships, we do so to the strongest overall applicants to the school across the various admissions criteria (grades, scores, work experience, recommendations, essays, interview).
ktchow: How has this year's summer intern class done regarding receiving full-time offers. I remember visiting a few months back and in terms of investment banking, 100% received full-time offers. How about other job functions such as consulting, industry, nonprofits, etc.?
MichaelAtYale: You're right about the investment banking numbers. We had a 100% offer rate this summer! We're also doing really well when it comes to full-time consulting interviews. We've had quite a few offers to students from firms like McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. I think firms are really starting to realize how effective the new core is at training people for consulting.
sar712: Are you looking to increase the number of dual-degree students with FES (Forestry and Environmental Studies) this year? What size dual-degree class are you planning to have?
BruceAtYale: We don't have any targets for dual-degree students, although historically about 10% of each class has been dual-degree people. FES is the largest dual-degree program with SOM. We have no specific target number of joint-degree people; if we get strong joint-degree applicants from FES and other Yale schools, we will take them.
guoan: Reading the activities section, does that mean we don't need to mention those activities in the résumé?
BruceAtYale: It still makes sense to include your activities in your résumé? At the very least, it will be helpful to your interviewer, who will only have seen your résumé before the interview.
FrancescaBW: How would each of you describe the culture at Yale SOM?
MichaelAtYale: I would say the culture is very collegial. I know pretty much everyone in my class, and have had substantive conversations with pretty much everyone (I think!).
You build a network here without even knowing it, just by getting to know your classmates and through building friendships. That's one of the benefits of a smaller school.
AbbyAtYale: The culture here is very collaborative. It's challenging, but people are extremely friendly and ready to help out their peers. I found that I learned as much from my fellow students as I did in the classroom, and everyone benefits greatly from the diversity of backgrounds from which our students come. I also find New Haven a great place to go to school. It has amazing restaurants, good bars, access to the Yale Rep theater, and is close to Boston and New York, but is not as distracting or as expensive.
BruceAtYale: I would say the culture here is very community-spirited. SOM is such a small school that everyone knows each other and everyone gets very good at working together and in groups. I think that is a strong and very unique aspect of SOM that serves students well after graduation, where teamwork and the ability to get along with others plays an important role.
FrancescaBW: What kind of student fits in best at Yale SOM?
MichaelAtYale: My classmates are pretty diverse. That's a tough question to answer. I would just say that we really value integrity. In a small school, being able to trust and rely upon your classmates is really important.
AbbyAtYale: We have students from many different backgrounds, so students who enjoy learning from different perspectives will be especially happy here.
BruceAtYale: That's a tough question to answer because there's no one type of person we're looking for at SOM. Diversity along all dimensions is very important here. That said, all our students share a passion for what they do, high ethical standards, and come to SOM with the common goal of becoming leaders for business and society. So that is one thread that unites all the students here.
FrancescaBW: What is New Haven like?
MichaelAtYale: New Haven is a great college town. I've actually lived here for four to five years now, and it's a great spot for bars, restaurants, and cultural events. Plus, it's close to both New York and Boston, which is key.
BruceAtYale: I am actually a New Haven native, so I love it here. It's got a lot of things going on in terms of arts and culture, but is on a very livable scale, which makes it a great combination of big-city options and small-town closeness. I've also lived in Providence and Austin (among other cities), and I think New Haven has a very similar feel to them, although I find that it tops both of those cities along many dimensions.
FrancescaBW: What do you think is the biggest trend in MBA admissions right now?
BruceAtYale: Francesca, There are a number of interesting trends right now in MBA admissions. I think one of the biggest ones has been the tendency of schools to admit students sooner out of college. It will be interesting to see how this trend plays out in the future.
ktchow: What are some myths about Yale that aren't true?
MichaelAtYale: I'd say there's a myth that we're purely a nonprofit school. While we're very strong in that area, I'd say that we're first and foremost a very strong general management school. The success we've been having with for-profit recruiting points to this.
lindad1024: I'm looking to apply to business school this year, but I don't know that I'd be able to get my application in by the second-round deadline. Should I rush to get it in by round two or would it be okay to wait until round three?
AbbyAtYale: If at all possible, we encourage people to try to get their applications in by round one or round two.
FrancescaBW: What is your best piece of advice for applicants looking to make a good impression with Yale SOM?
MichaelAtYale: Think hard about the picture you're trying to paint of yourself.
The framework I recommend is: Where have you been in your career? Based on where you've been, where is it that you want to go (who is it that you want to be)? And why do you need an MBA (and specifically a Yale MBA) to get there? Strong candidates that I speak to can answer all of these questions in a coherent, logical way.
BruceAtYale: The two things I tell people are: No. 1: Pay attention to your essays. A good, clear, well-written set of essays can go a long way; and No. 2: Pay attention to whom you ask to write your recommendations. Make sure they are people who know you well rather than just a high-level executive at your job. Those two things can make a big difference in your application.
AbbyAtYale: I'd say that before beginning the application process, it's important to figure out what makes you stand out from other applicants, and to determine how best to communicate that. Also, it's always a good idea to figure out what you think you'd like to do and, if you're not sure yet, to at least be able to communicate clearly what you're passionate about.
stephane88: Is entrepreneurship a strong focus of your program?
AbbyAtYale: Entrepreneurship is an important component of our program, yes. We have a very strong class in this area, where students create their own business plans for entrepreneurial ideas.
guoan: What area/aspect of SOM can be improved?
AbbyAtYale: We are all looking forward to the construction of our new building/facilities, planned for fall of 2011. This will be a huge improvement for all of us.
SGT: Are there any additional changes planned for the curriculum?
BruceAtYale: We are always looking to tighten the curriculum in terms of how it is delivered, including building out more SOM-branded cases. In addition, we are looking to implement an exchange program with select international schools starting next fall. And with our new building coming, we will have all of the cutting-edge technology in place to fully exploit the unique features of the curriculum.
saukumar: Are there any specific guidelines for applicants for alumni interviews? How are adcom interviews different from alumni interviews? Do the alumni have access only to the résumé?
BruceAtYale: The guidelines that apply to on-campus interviews apply equally to alumni interviews. In fact, many of our alumni interviewers interviewed for us when they were students, so the hope is that the experience is as close to as possible to the on-campus interview experience.