Not surprisingly, Yale University is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world. It accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and QuestBridge Application. All three applications require a personal statement essay plus additional Yale-specific short answers and a Yale writing supplement. For applicants interested in engineering or computer science, 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 responses are 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 2nd.
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.
Short Answer Questions:
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application are asked to respond to the following short answer questions:
Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
This is not a trick question. Yale is trying to gauge your unique interests. Indicate up to three of your top academic areas of study.
Why do these areas appeal to you? (100 words or fewer)
The challenge in this response is discussing your rationale for your selected areas into less than 100 words. Consider your experience thus far in these areas. What sparked your interest? What burning question or issue motivates you? How might these concentrations support your goals? Provide some context to support your interests.
What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
Here again, you are under significant word limitations. Don’t underestimate this prompt. It is extremely important to demonstrate good fit in your discussion—what unique aspects of an education at Yale attract you? This is an opportunity to convey your enthusiasm for a potential Yale experience. Sometimes making a list can help you get started. Then review your list and make sure each reason relates specifically to Yale. Consider both what Yale has to offer you and what you might be able to offer the Yale community.
Additional Short Answer Questions:
Applicants submitting either the Coalition Application or Common Application are asked to respond to respond in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words), to each of the following questions:
What inspires you?
This response touches on what motivates you as well as what you find valuable. Discuss something that makes a difference in your way of thinking and subsequently influences your actions and/or behavior. Think about what your response might convey about your character.
Yale’s residential colleges regularly host intimate conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask?
Although you are under significant word count limitations, let your imagination go with this one! The person you identify is just as important as the question you would ask in this response. Your discussion reflects something about your thinking process, how you perceive the world, and how you engage with others. Remember to consider what your response might reflect about your values and character.
You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called?
This is a chance to infuse some fun and creativity into your response. Be careful to avoid any controversial statements. You never know how your suggestion might be interpreted so try to steer clear of potentially offensive topics.
Most Yale freshmen live in suites of four to six students. What would you contribute to the dynamic of your suite?
This question hones in on the sort of person you might be within the Yale community. How will you get along with others? How might you help to build relationships within your residential suite? Consider what your friends admire about you and why.
If you are using the Coalition Application, you will select one of the first two essay prompts below (you don’t have the third option). There is a slightly higher word count limit for your response – 300. In addition, you will upload an audio, document, image, or video file that you have created and which relates to the respective essay topic. Above your essay, include a one-sentence description of what you have submitted. Please note the audio/document/image/video does NOT require professional-level editing. Although there is not a length-limit on these elements, it is best to keep it short and sweet to ensure the entire submission is viewed. Acceptable file types: mp3, Word, pdf, jpeg, mov, and mp4.
If you are using the Common Application, choose two of the following topics and respond to each in 250 words or fewer. Please indicate the number of the topic you are writing about at the start of each essay. For instance, ‘Topic #3’.
1. What do you most enjoy learning?
Remember to convey your enthusiasm as you discuss what truly excites you about learning! Consider what sparks, maintains, and tends to attract your interest? Your response to this prompt sheds light on how you learn, the topics you are drawn to, as well as how you process the world around you. What makes learning fun for you?
2. Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community?
This is an opportunity to discuss your role in just about ANY community and the impact you made there. It also demonstrates your ability to reflect on your community from different perspectives. Topics can vary from a school club to a larger cultural or religious community to the global community. The most important things are to convey why that community is valuable to you and how you contributed in a meaningful way. What did you learn from this community about yourself? How might this community inspire, support, or ground you and vise versa? How might these experiences prepare you for this next stage of your life?
3. Write about something you would like us to know about you that you have not conveyed elsewhere in your application.
This can be ANYTHING! This is a good prompt to select if after you review your overall application components, you determine there is some important aspect that is missing. Think about what you value most in life. Once you decide on a topic, make sure to go into detail about WHY it is so important for you to share this information. Why is it significant? What might this convey about your character or place in the world? How does what you shared spill over into other areas of your life? Remember to avoid repeating information that is already included in your application.
Optional Engineering and Computer Science Essay:
If you selected one of the computer science or engineering majors, please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in computer science or engineering, and what it is about Yale’s program in this area that appeals to you. (Please answer in 500 words or fewer.)
The optional Engineering and Computer Science Essay is the same for the Coalition and Common Applications. Although this is an “optional” essay, it is your chance to share your excitement about engineering or computer science at Yale! What sparked your interest in the field? How did you nurture that drive to expand your exposure to engineering or computer science? Elaborate on extracurricular activities that support your intellectual curiosity. Can you demonstrate leadership in your pursuits? How did you invest yourself in engineering or computer science related experiences? How will an education in Yale’s engineering or computer science program support your aspirations? Think about this question in both broad and specific terms. Connect your discussion to specific aspects of the program at Yale. What sort of Yale engineering or computer science 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.
Applicants to Yale have an exceedingly competitive profile. Yale received 32,900 undergraduate applications (single choice early action: 5,112; regular decision: 27,788) for the class of 2021. Approximately 6% of applicants were offered admission; the freshman class was comprised of 1,579 students and 96% of them ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. In addition, consider average SAT scores of 770 in evidenced based reading and writing as well as 770 in math, average ACT score of 33.5 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!
If you’re applying to Yale, you already know you’re up against tight competition. Don’t be overwhelmed. Get the guidance of an experienced admissions specialist who will help you stand out from the highly competitive applicant pool so you can apply with confidence, and get accepted! Click here to get started!
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***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. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!