The domain of business schooling is overflowing with MBA programs requiring some form of work experience. Students, with a prior three to four, or even more, years of office exposure offer a rich environment for peer learning in the current experientially designed curriculum.
In the recent years, however, American B-Schools are flirting with the idea of early-MBA options. By early-MBA, we mean opening the doors to fresh out of school graduates with no experience.
Harvard 2+2 program allows MBA admits, with no experience, to defer their admission by 2 years as long as they use the deferred time gaining a meaningful practical knowledge in a job.
Stanford GSB attracts college seniors by dangling a low hanging deferred enrollment fruit which they can use towards shelving that admission until they are done with getting a real-world work experience. Chicago Booth does something similar, though only for undergraduates within the University of Chicago system, with its Booth Scholars Program. It is a deferred enrollment scheme with three years off to gain substantive work experience.
Even outside the US, like in the Indian School of Business (ISB), the Young Leader’s Program offers young blood the taste of business education right out of college.
Yale’s Silver Scholars Program (official site link) has also been developed with similar sentiments of giving recent college graduates the in into business training. However, there is crucial difference that gives Yale’s early-MBA its edge, or its silver lining, so to speak. The Yale Silver Scholars Program is not a two-year MBA but rather a three-year extended program with a sandwiched second year dedicated towards a full-time internship.
In this article, we will discuss the program – its curriculum, eligibility, etc – and follow it up with the advantages, or disadvantages, attached with it.
Yale distinguishes itself by incorporating a unique curriculum, for its early MBA track, not offered by any other reputed b-school. The Yale Silver Scholars program began in 2004 to incorporate a larger diversity within their MBA cohort, by bringing in students with experiences outside the usual business genres.
Its Silver Scholars program began with the intention of availing this opportunity to students graduating from Yale. However, over the years, it has encompassed a wider pool of applicants – college seniors from all over the globe.
The program is, as mentioned above, unique with its three-year full-time MBA format.
Only college seniors, on their way to a recent graduation, are eligible to apply for the program. Their website specifically mentions the need for a three-year undergraduate degree for international students. Students who have questions or are in four-year programs can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) the admissions office to clarify their situation.
The applicants undergo the same application process, as their experienced fellow MBA applicants, leaving out sections on information about previous employments and post-undergraduate activities. Two LORs are needed – one academic, and one from a previous employer (whether part-time, summer, or voluntary).
The deadlines, for applications, follow three rounds – R1 in September, R2 in January, and finally R3 in April. The ultimate decision is based on previous academic record, intelligence, and other positive qualities that set these undergrads apart from their peers.
The scholars come from a variety of backgrounds, dominated by Humanities, Social Sciences, and Economics, undergrad majors. It is globally recognized. Most candidates, thus far, have been Asian (44%) followed by North American (39%) (Source). The Admission process is very selective.
So much so that it puts other elite b-school admission statistics to shame. According to a 2014 article, on Yale Daily News, the number of admitted students has approximately doubled since its conception. Beginning with 6 to 7 admitted in its early years, the program now takes in 10-15 each year. And these are decided from a pool of over 200 direct admission applicants. That makes for an acceptance rate of about 5% with a less than 3% portion of a full MBA class strength.
If you do make it to the exclusive group of scholars, you will be sharing classroom space, and participate, with a diverse body of experienced professionals, affording you the chance to increase your network and imbibe lessons from their career path.
The program design also helps to, in some sense, open up doors to twice the network you would’ve developed in any other two-year MBA track. Silver Scholars co-learn with two independent set of full-time MBA cohorts, in the first and third years, rendering them different perspectives during the two distinct stages of their business education.
The Yale SOM Career Development Office is a great resource for internship, placement and career counseling available to the scholars. EMC Corporation, Edgewood Management LLC, LegalZoom.com, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Bain & Company, Trader Classified Media, are only some of the firms where scholars have interned in the past.
Students have secured prestigious permanent positions, even launching their careers as founders and CEOs of their own enterprise, using their early business learning as a launching pad for their entrepreneurial careers.
The early-MBA track, in itself, does have some hidden drawbacks though. As with all good things, such programs come with a cost. Especially for the small number of selected candidates, far outnumbered by the vast body of experienced students in their immediate environment.
The nature of MBA education requires active participation drawing on those very experiences that these scholars, like in many other early-MBA tracks, are lacking. This situation, while being equally enriching by virtue of the exposure to such a cohort, can, in principle, cause an imbalance in the learning process.
Early career MBA students are also very much still in the nascent stages of finding out their career interests and goals. Most other business candidates, after having been employed and acquainted with various management roles, are better informed when it comes to pursuing their business aspirations.
Candidates right out of college, even with their inspired ideas, can miscalculate the merits of a business specialization, with respect to their interests, on account of not having any true real-world experience of them. Unfortunately, by seeking a head-start in a business career, there is the possibility of a presumption that such a career is indeed meant for them, only to later realize their other calling.
In fact, we have previously captured the pitfalls and virtues of early MBAs in the article on Early career MBA: Is it for you?
Concluding this discourse, Yale SOM’s Silver Scholars Program presents a great scope to be part of one of the best business schools and its top-rated MBA program, packaged with flair for the sprightly chosen few who have not yet been touched by the cynicism of reality. Its curriculum mandated internship yields a guaranteed, and formal, introduction to business, enabling these scholars an advantage over other young professionals who venture into it half-cocked and unprepared.
So, if you want to be a part of the program, we suggest you explore your match – not just your eligibility but rather, more importantly, whether this is the right fit for your career goals.
For more information, here are some useful links.