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 might augment your passions and perspectives in terms of learning, living, and preparing you for the 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.
Yale University short answer questions
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application are asked to respond to the following short answer questions (note QuestBridge applicants will complete the questions via the Yale Admissions Status Portal after the application has been received):
- 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 in 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 long-term 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.
Yale University additional short answer questions
Applicants submitting either the Coalition Application or Common Application are asked 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 do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?
This question hones in on the sort of person you might be within the Yale community—what might you contribute and what do you hope to gain? 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. Also think about what attracts you to engage in social settings.
Yale University essay questions
If you are using the Common Application or the Coalition Application, you will answer the essay prompt below.
Yale University essay question #1
Think about an idea or topic that has been intellectually exciting for you. Why are you drawn to it? (250 words or fewer)
Identify the idea or topic and then remember to convey your enthusiasm as you discuss what truly excites you about it! Consider what sparked and maintained your interest. Your response to this prompt helps to shed 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?
Yale University essay question #2
If you are using the Common Application or Coalition Application, choose one of the following two topics and respond in 250 words or fewer.
- Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How has this engagement affected you?
Last year, this prompt asked you how you contributed to a particular community. This year, the focus is on how being a part of a particular community shaped you. This is an opportunity to discuss your role in just about ANY community and the impact it had on you. 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 parts are to convey why that community is valuable to you and how it influenced you in a meaningful way. What did you learn from this community about yourself? How might this community inspire, support, or ground you and vice versa? How might these experiences prepare you for this next stage of your life?
- Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international importance. Discuss an issue that is significant to you and how your college experience might help you address it.
This can be any issue of significance to you, large or small! However, make sure to avoid repeating information that you already included in your application. This is a good prompt to select if you have an issue you are passionate about. Think about what you value most in life. Consider the global community, humanitarian efforts, or any issue you would like to fix or ponder more deeply. You can tie this response to community service activities, thoughts about empathy, discussions about agency, and individual responsibility. Once you decide on a topic, go into detail about WHY it is so important. 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? Clearly explain the problem, convey its significance, share your plan to address the issue, and then discuss how the education you will receive at Yale might help you improve the situation. Consider how your peers, instructors, and/or the larger Yale alumni network might bolster your efforts.
Additional requirement for applicants using the Coalition Application
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application must also 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, jped, mov, and mp4.
Optional essay for applicants to engineering and computer science programs
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 engineering, and what it is about Yale’s Engineering program that appeals to you. (Please answer in 300 words or fewer.)
The optional Engineering 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 at Yale! What sparked your interest in your particular field? How did you nurture that drive to expand your exposure to this field of engineering? Elaborate on extracurricular activities that support your intellectual curiosity. Can you demonstrate leadership in your pursuits? How did you engage 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 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.
Final thoughts on applying to Yale
Applicants to Yale have an exceedingly competitive profile. Yale received 35,308 undergraduate applications for the class of 2022. Only 2, 224 or 6.3% of applicants were offered admission and 95% of them ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. In addition, consider average SAT scores around 1500 and average ACT scores 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 answer 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 University, 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.***Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for over twenty years. Marie has both counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch with Marie Todd.