The Yale School of Management seeks to educate leaders who will serve both business and society. By ‘leader,’ it means someone who combines a sense of purpose in life with commitment and accountability, and who uses those qualities to inspire others to achieve excellence. It looks for applicants who demonstrate those leadership qualities along with intellectual gifts and a desire to be part of Yale SOM. It provides those students with a rich learning environment that exposes them to the best in business education, research, and thinking.

Here is our August 2005 interview with Anne Coyle, Director of Admissions at Yale SOM.

How would you describe the applicant pool for Yale SOM’s most recent admissions cycle, compared to last year?

We are happy to say that our applications were up slightly. We’ve had three years in a row of similar application numbers.

Many schools reported a drop in applications during the same cycle. What would you attribute this slight increase to?

We’re finding that this cohort of applicants — people of this age who apply to business school — seem to be interested in more than just quarterly profits. They’re interested in corporate citizenship. We have a long history of putting topics like corporate social responsibility at the core of what we do, as opposed to treating them as some elective. Prospective applicants are figuring out that this is a good place to go if they are interested in topics like that.

Is Yale implementing any new admissions strategies for the future?

We are involved in a number of initiatives with a collaborative approach. With four of our peer schools, we have formed something called the MBA Diversity Alliance. We’re holding five events in November, aimed in the direction of minorities, to get the word out on our MBA program.

For our new admits this year, we put together a new binder full of information. It comes in a big welcome box, with a mug for the Class of 2007 and a book about restaurants in New Haven. In particular, we really worked hard this year to make sure our admits had multiple points of contact ranging from current students to alumni in their cities.

We have also streamlined our application from last year. It is really straightforward. We started with a blank piece of paper and just thought about what information we really need to make our decisions. We made sure that we didn’t burden the applicant with anything more than that.

There are two essays. We do think that is enough for us to make a decision. One of them is about short- and long-term career goals. It is very important for us to read that essay, especially in the context of the résumé, the interview, and the application. The second essay is the applicant’s choice. We really want them to have the freedom to give us any essay they think will tell us about them, as we are very interested in learning about and understanding the applicant.

We are very interested in people who are working hard and are really busy. We understand that sometimes their time is not their own. It’s hard to imagine someone working a 70 to 80 hour work week and then going home to write 10 essays.

In addition to making the application so straightforward, we’ve also ramped up our alumni interviews. That includes having sent staff to major cities to put in a day or two of interviewing. That’s because a strong interview is an important part of being admitted here.

You mentioned the MBA Diversity Alliance. Can you tell me a little bit more about it? Are there any other channels you are using to encourage specific population groups to apply?

We are participating in the MBA Diversity Alliance with Duke, USC, Cornell, and NYU. The idea is that, by working together, we can hold events in major cities in the US and attract a critical mass of under-represented minority professionals who are thinking about an MBA program.

In each city we will have a panel discussion where there is one admissions officer from each school, and each officer addresses a topic. We’ll also have one alumnus on the panel. We do a brief presentation, and then we open up to questions and answers. Finally we break for more of a reception, where participants can mingle freely and talk one-on-one with the alumni and admissions officers. It’s about extending the pipeline. There are many events in many cities for our working professionals. It would be difficult to get to each individual event. So we thought that by holding an event together, we could attract the critical mass.

We also participate in MLT, Management Leadership for Tomorrow. We visit some colleges and set up panels and information sessions. We went to a panel in Wellesley College, which is all women.

We hold a women’s recruiting event in New York every year in the fall. That’s a very exciting event. We have a panel which consists of some of our women alumni from different eras and from different industries and functional groups. That is a great opportunity for women who are thinking about an MBA to listen to the panelists, to ask questions, and to really think about the issues of specific concern for an MBA program. Among the panelists is Ellen Shuman, who is the Chief Investment Officer of the Carnegie Corporation. There will also be a top executive from Avon. It is an interesting opportunity for women to think about their career possibilities.

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