This post about the Yale supplement to the Common Application is part of a series of posts written to help you complete the 2015 Common Application supplement for Ivy League and other top schools.
Yale University is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world. It requires the Common Application essay plus additional Yale-specific short answers and a Yale writing supplement. For applicants interested in engineering, there is a third optional essay. This prestigious Ivy League school prides itself on providing undergraduates with an exceptional foundation in liberal arts education that focuses on cultivating knowledge and leadership skills. “Yale’s commitment to each student – to challenge, expand, and ultimately better understand the life of one’s own mind through undergraduate study.” The supplemental writing response is a chance for you to convey how the Yale experience augments your passions and perspectives in terms of learning, living, and your future.
If Yale is your first choice, it offers a single-choice early action program for freshman applicants (November 1st deadline). If you choose to use this option, you may not apply to early decision or early action programs at other schools. There are a few exceptions to this rule, check the Yale admissions website for details. Under this program, Yale will notify you of its admission decision by December 15th. The deadline for submission of applications for regular action is January 1st.
Before you begin writing your essay(s), thoroughly research all that Yale has to offer and consider how those opportunities bolster your objectives. This is a time to get excited about the prospect of attending Yale! Visit the website, speak with current students and alumni; envision yourself as a part of its exceptional learning community. The curriculum at Yale is designed to provide both breadth and depth of study as the foundation for students to pursue inspired lives and careers. It strives to foster independent critical thinking. Yale is one of the only universities that allow you to try-out your classes before you finalize your schedule. The first ten days of each semester are an opportunity to visit a number of classes to determine which are most interesting to you!
Located in the small town of New Haven, in an urban setting that is primarily a residential campus, Yale offers a supportive community-feel through its system of twelve residential colleges. This configuration, complete with its own residential deans and masters, creates a sense of intimacy within the larger university. Residential deans serve as primary personal and academic advisors. Masters work with students to shape the residential community. This is a powerfully dynamic way of bringing together students and faculty. Think about how this structure can support your intellectual growth.
Yale’s essay question are required for all freshman applicants:
In this second essay, please 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 about which you would like to say more. You may write about anything—from personal experiences or interests to intellectual pursuits (500 word limit).
This is a completely open-ended prompt! Consider your overall application, what sort of picture does it paint? Do you feel there is something significant missing? This is an invitation to present a more complete image. Is there something essential that you feel compelled to discuss further? Are there elements of your culture or life experience that are meaningful to your identity? What really matters to you? Your response to this question reveals your character and values. It also touches upon how you make sense of the world around you and how you see yourself within that world. Think about your goals for the future. How do your personal experiences, interests, or intellectual pursuits relate to your potential as a student at Yale?
Optional essay for prospective engineering majors:
If you selected one of the engineering majors, please write a brief third essay telling us what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you.
This is your chance to share your excitement about engineering and Yale. What sparked your interest in the field? How did you nurture that drive to expand your exposure to engineering? Elaborate on extracurricular activities that support your intellectual curiosity. Can you demonstrate leadership in your pursuits? How did you invest yourself in engineering-related experiences? How will an education in Yale’s engineering program support your aspirations? Think about this question in both broad and specific terms. Connect your discussion to specific aspects of the engineering program at Yale. What sort of Yale engineering student might you be?
The tone of your essays should reflect your drive and enthusiasm for learning in general and at Yale in particular. Convey your perspectives in your own voice. Be thoughtful and reflective.
In addition to the supplemental essay(s), Yale also requires five short answer responses with limits ranging from 40 to 100 words. These are another a way to help the admissions committee to get a better idea of who you are as an individual. These responses reveal aspects of your personality, interests, character, and ways of thinking about the world around you.
What in particular about Yale has influenced your decision to apply? (100 words or less)
This is a direct question, so answer it directly. Why do you want to attend Yale? Write clearly and honestly. Articulate your motivation for applying to Yale with gusto. How will an education at Yale make your life more meaningful?
Please respond in 250 characters (roughly 40 words) or fewer to each of the questions below:
• What excites you intellectually, really?
• Think about a disappointment you have experienced. What was your response?
• Suite-style living – four to six students sharing a set of rooms – may be an integral part of your Yale College experience. What would you contribute to the dynamic of your suite?
• What do you wish you were better at being or doing?
Yale is looking for the best and brightest students with diverse interests and life experiences. The admissions committee wants to evaluate “qualities such as motivation, curiosity, energy, leadership ability, and distinctive talents.” Consider how your responses to the above questions express your personality, resilience, and disposition. What do your answers indicate about how you engage with your others?
Applicants to Yale have an exceedingly competitive profile. Yale received 30,932 undergraduate applications (single choice early action: 4,750; regular decision: 26,182) for the class of 2018. Only 7% of applicants were offered admission, the freshman class was comprised of 1,361students and 95% of them ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. In addition, consider average SAT scores of 755 in critical reading, 750 in math, 760 in writing and an average ACT score of 33 and you get a sense of your cohort.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers. At this point, it is heartening to bear in mind that Yale is dedicated to a holistic application evaluation process for admission. Your short responses and supplemental essay(s) facilitate a more comprehensive review of you as a prospective student at Yale. The admissions committee takes the time to read your responses carefully. Make sure you allow yourself appropriate time for thoughtful reflection and effective writing. Use your writing supplement to set you apart from your peers. The best approach is to be true to you and communicate your thoughts, experiences, hopes, and dreams in a way that highlights your genuine enthusiasm for the extraordinary educational journey at Yale!
By Marie Todd, Accepted’s college admissions specialist. Marie has worked in college admissions for over twenty years. She has both counseled applicants and evaluated applications. Most recently she evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology. She is available to assist you (or your child) with your applications.