UPDATE: And then of course we have the tragic news this morning of another shooting in the U.S., this time on the campus of the University of Virginia…
In the long-ago past here on the blahg, we routinely cautioned candidates to be careful of overdisclosing personal information in their MBA applications. This was a time when stigma against mental health diagnoses was very high in American society, and talking too much about issues of depression, anxiety, or other such afflictions could make an admissions committee take pause.
More recently, we’ve softened that stance and have been able to advise applicants that they can disclose the truth of their situation transparently in their apps, because the admissions teams have a more human understanding of the realities of stress and will not overreact to such disclosures any more.
Well, we’re now not so sure what the right answer is.
We had thought that, given the extreme challenges that all of us have gone through with nearly three years of a pandemic and economic hardships and probable recession and seemingly out-of-control inflation (not to mention the marching grim realities of global warming and the ongoing wars in so many parts of the world) that it would be fine to talk about mental health issues in an application, because the schools are well aware of what students frequently go through, and they get it. Stuff is hard. People struggle. We shouldn’t be holding the struggle against anyone.
Not so fast.
Check out this damning article by the Washington Post on how Yale has handled student distress (trigger warning: significant discussions of mental health crises including suicidality and loss of life from suicide). The PDF posted here in case you can’t get past the paywall.
We’re appalled at the process that Yale requires students in distress to go through in order to be “reinstated’ including the additional essay, letters of recommendation, and classes taken elsewhere. This is outrageous.
Given the extreme measures that they are apparently taking to protect their brand (for what else could it be?? they clearly don’t want the negative publicity of another student suicide on their hands) then we have to issue caution to all of you applying to MBA programs, at Yale SOM or anywhere else.
If this is how the school treats current students who are suffering, it seems highly likely that admissions teams are going to be reluctant to admit a candidate who shares prior or existing mental health struggles in their application.
Obviously the schools do admit folks who disclose mental health challenges to their MBA programs; we’ve had many clients share such struggles in their applications, and go on to be admitted.
However, we are issuing caution here to all of you, to consider this strategy carefully, rather than our more recent advice that such stories can be powerful parts of an app strategy.
Sorry to be delivering this change of recommendation from Snarkville. It goes against all that we believe in, in advising that applicants be transparent, honest, and authentic in their applications. However, apparently the schools don’t really want the liability, which is causing us to change our tune to you all.