Admissions Director Q&A: Bruce Delmonico of the Yale School of Management
We’re continuing our round of interviews with Yale School of Management (SOM) Admissions Director Bruce DelMonico, who has been leading the charge at the New Haven business school since 2006. (A lawyer by training, DelMonico grew tired of sleeping in his office and traveling for weeks on end, so he took a job in his hometown as part of the Yale SOM admissions team. A decade later, he’s still there.)
It’s an exciting time to be at Yale SOM, DelMonico tells us. Under the leadership of Dean Edward Snyder, who joined the school in 2011, Yale SOM has continued to expand the Global Network for Advanced Management, a consortium of leading business schools, and moved into its sparkling new home, the Lord Norman Foster–designed Evans Hall.
In the interview that follows, DelMonico elaborates on some of the things that make him excited to go into work each day and shares tips for applicants on how to submit the strongest possible application they can.
Enjoy! And look for additional interviews with admissions directors from other leading schools here on the Clear Admit blog in coming weeks…
Clear Admit: What’s the most exciting development, change or event happening at Yale SOM right now?
Bruce DelMonico: Dean Snyder has continued in the time since we last spoke to build on the momentum here at Yale SOM. The Global Network for Advanced Management (“GNAM”) has grown to include 27 top business schools from around the world, and it continues to expand and evolve. It now also includes a series of Global Network Weeks, which draw together students from across all the schools to pursue intensive study in focused mini-courses that leverage the programs and faculty expertise of the individual member schools. The GNAM is a truly unique network of business schools that dramatically expands Yale SOM’s global reach.
The Leadership Development Project (LDP) also continues to be a major point of focus. After a year-long hiatus, the LDP was re-imagined by Jim Baron and a team of Yale SOM faculty and is now being led by Brigadier General Thomas Kolditz, formerly the head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. We are incredibly excited to have Gen. Kolditz at Yale.
That brings us to our new campus, Evans Hall, which was still under construction when I last spoke to you. We have now moved in, and the change has been more significant than I expected. I was one of the people who thought, “How much difference can a building really make?” But the building actually looks just like the drawings suggested it would. It is very open and transparent, which was symbolically important to represent because we are about transparency. It creates a real sense of community. Because you can see through the entire building – where everyone is – it makes it feel much more humane. It has a true warmth to it that everyone really appreciates.
One final exciting development that I’d like to mention is the fact that we have expanded our Executive MBA (EMBA) offerings. We have had an EMBA program for healthcare for the last half dozen or more years. This year we have added two new verticals – one in sustainability and another in asset management. These new cohorts will come to campus this summer. While these new offerings don’t affect fulltime admissions directly, they do serve to underscore that there is a lot of dynamic activity happening at the school.
CA: What is the one area of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?
BD: That question gets at something I think is particularly interesting about Yale SOM. Depending on who the applicant is and what they are looking for, I find that people think of Yale SOM in varying ways. There are those who feel as though we are the nonprofit school. There are others who think of us as a finance school. And, for example, because of our joint degree with the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, there are also those who think of us as the sustainability school.
We are really a multi-sector, mission-based school. Our mission – educating leaders for business and society – spans all sectors. So we see ourselves in a different way, not as being strong in one particular area over another. To the extent that candidates are thinking about business school based on different industries, the one area of our program that I wish they knew more about is the overarching mission of the school and the way we educate.
CA: Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision (e.g. how many “reads” does it get, how long is each “read,” who reads it, does the committee convene to discuss it as a group, etc.).
BD: After an applicant submits an application, we make sure it is complete by adding to it any supplemental materials that were submitted separately. Once it’s complete, we send it out to read. Applications are reviewed independently by two different members of the Admissions Committee.
Applications are read in random order and, as a result, applicants can be invited to interview at any time in the round – whether early in the round after a preliminary review of the file or later in the round after coming before our “Interview Committee,” as we call it.
Once an application receives two reads and, if applicable, an interview, it comes to the Admissions Committee for a decision. The Admissions Committee meets regularly throughout the year to make decisions. Admissions decisions are made collectively by the Admissions Committee using a consensus decision-making model – all members of the committee must agree on the decision.
Although we try to release decisions as soon as possible and may release some decisions before the posted decision deadline, the majority of candidates will learn the outcome of their application on or a little before the deadline date.
I should note that there has been one major evolution in our application process since we last spoke, which is the roll out of the video question component. Like many other schools, we are continuously looking at how best to gather the information we feel we need to evaluate and make decisions on applicants. The addition of the video element is part of this continuous evolution of the application. We are also looking at other ways to gather the most relevant information – including recalibrating the balance of written essays with other application elements. This year, for example, we reduced the number of essays from two to one.
The video component is not meant to be high stress. It is not about crafting the perfect response. Because applicants are answering in real time, we recognize that the response is not going to be perfectly polished like an essay. This is really much more of an extemporaneous exercise. We are just looking for your sincere, straightforward response.
The video component will not include questions you should feel you have to prepare for or questions for which there is a single right answer. It is really designed to give us a better sense and a fuller sense than just reading about the applicant on paper.
CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read the essays? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? One key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write them?
BD: The essay portion of the application does continue to be an important component. Other than the interview and the new video portion, the essay is the main place where applicants can speak directly to us in their own voice.
It is also the one element over which an applicant has the most control during the application process – their GMAT and undergraduate records are already in place by the time they apply, as is their work experience. And once they select their recommenders and send them the recommendation form, that is out of the applicant’s hands as well.
Applicants therefore often feel that spending more time on their essays is the main way they can improve their application. As a result, essays tend to cause applicants a lot of stress. But they really shouldn’t, and I think if applicants took the approach that less is more – or, perhaps, simpler is better – they would be far better off.
To this end, the main piece of advice I would give applicants on essays is very simple: answer the question. Too often, we will read essays in which the applicant has something to say, but it bears no relation – or just tangential relation – to the essay question. We give applicants a good bit of leeway in terms of essay topics, but we do expect them to stick to the topic.
A related piece of advice is not just to answer the question, but to do it clearly and concisely. Don’t feel as though more is better. Beyond the substance of what you write, we are looking to make sure you can articulate yourself clearly and directly in writing, so keeping it simple is a good thing. We know this isn’t an essay-writing contest, so we’re not going to get hung up on stylistic niceties. Just tell us what you want to say.
Which brings me to the last piece of advice, which is to write what’s important to you. Many times, applicants will write what they think we want to hear. It’s clear when this is the case. We care about sincerity and are not looking for you to tell us what you think we want to hear; we want to hear what’s most important to you. If you write about what matters to you, your essays will not only be more compelling, but they will likely be written more clearly as well because it’s easier to write about things that matter to you.
CA: Anything else you’d like to add?
BD: I can tell you that we may have a few other pieces of news to share in the coming months, but they are still in progress and are not yet official. We’ll be sure to share details about those with Clear Admit as soon as they are.
I would just like to say again that the momentum of the school continues to pick up pace with Dean Snyder – and now with Evans Hall and the Global Network and the expansion of our EMBA programs. It really does feel like there is a lot happening here.
Every day I come in there is a new conference, new groups visiting from all reaches of the globe. I don’t know that I appreciated it fully before. But now, being in Evans Hall, you really can see everything that’s going much more easily. It creates a more palpable sense of all that is happening at the school.