This post about the Yale supplemental essay to the Common Application is part of a series of posts providing advice you can use when completing The Common Application for 2012-13.
A student wrote me an email a few weeks ago. In it, he asked, “Do you think I should submit a version of the essay about economics that I wrote for Penn as the Yale essay?”
I’m in favor of streamlining the essays for your college applications. Often there are ways to reuse an essay or theme that you have crafted for another college with few additional edits. This time however, I sent a single sentence reply. “Is your interest in economics the most important thing you have to share with Yale?”
We didn’t need to discuss this further. Of course he had plenty of other experiences to draw upon in crafting an essay. And they are far more important to him than his budding interest in economics.
Yale’s request, to “reflect on something you would like us to know about you that we might not learn from the rest of your application or on something you would like to say more about,” is completely open-ended. It also encourages applicants to think creatively and cohesively about their entire Yale application. Don’t repeat themes or topics you have already written about in the Common Application. Do choose a topic that is important to you and that you would like Yale to know about.
Aspiring engineers applying to Yale will also need to write an additional essay outlining their interest and experiences related to engineering
My favorite part of the Yale application is the Short Takes section. Five questions, each requires an answer of less than 25 words. It’s a chance to be creative, concise, and human. “What would you do with a free afternoon tomorrow,” and “What is the best piece of advice you have received in the past three years,” Yale wants to know. With these, often the first answer that comes to mind is a version of the correct one, but I encourage you to be certain that you have shared your own personality in your answers.
As with all of your applications, this is the only chance you have to be understood, in your own words, by the admission committee. Take your time, be judicious, draft carefully, and edit thoroughly.