Yale Supplemental Essays 2023-24

Yale supplemental essays.

Want to know how to get into Yale? Well, every strong application starts with well-crafted Yale supplemental essays. 

As one of the nation’s top schools, the Yale application process is highly competitive. Therefore, by crafting unique and interesting Yale supplemental essays, you can ensure you impress the admissions team. 

In this article, we’ll go over each of the Yale supplemental essays in detail. Additionally, we’ll review tips for responding to the Why Yale essay, as well as the other Yale short answer essays. 

Yale Essay Prompts: Quick Facts

  • Yale University Acceptance Rate:  5%–  U.S. News  ranks Yale University as one of the  most selective  schools in the nation
  • 2 short answer essays (125-200 words each)
  • 4 “short take” questions (35 words each)
  • 1 longer response essay (400 words)
  • Yale University Application:  Students must submit their Yale University application through either the  Common Application , Coalition Application , or Questbridge Application . Make sure to have all of your Yale University supplemental essays and other  required application materials  ready when applying. 

Single Choice Early Action: November 1 st  

Regular decision: january 2 nd.

  • Yale University Essay Tip:  Though there are several Yale supplemental essays, make sure to answer each one in detail, demonstrating why Yale is a great fit for you.

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website. 

Does Yale have supplemental essays?

Yes, there are Yale supplemental essays.

Students should think critically about the Yale essay requirements. There are a total of seven Yale supplemental essays. These vary in length and format. 

You’ll submit the Yale supplemental essays in addition to your main personal statement, sometimes called the Common App essay . As such, you will need to submit eight essays as part of your application. 

Writing all of these Yale supplemental essays by the Yale application deadline might seem daunting. However, if you plan ahead, you can ensure all of your Yale supplemental essays highlight your strengths. 

Overall, make sure you have a strategy when working on your Yale supplemental essays. To help you get started, let’s review the Yale essay prompts in detail. 

Does Yale have a Why Yale essay?

Yes—one of the Yale supplemental essays is a Why Yale essay. The Why Yale essay is a short answer essay that can be a maximum of 125 words long. The objective of the Why Yale essay is the same as it is for other Why School essays—to demonstrate that you have researched the school well and explain what makes it the right fit for you. 

The Why Yale essay for 2023-24 is worded as follows:

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? 

The keywords in this essay question are “Yale” and “you.” In short, in your Why Yale essay, you must demonstrate that you have done research on Yale. You can do so by emphasizing aspects of the school’s academics, culture, clubs, research opportunities, or anything else that stands out to you. By the end of your Why Yale essay, a Yale admissions officer should have a clear sense of why you belong at Yale. 

Secondly, every one of the Yale supplemental essays is a chance to showcase more about yourself. As such, use the Why Yale essay as a chance to talk more about passions, values, and interests that make you unique. Since you only have 125 words to write for the Why Yale essay, it’s important to be concise.

Yale Questbridge Essay Requirements

Yale University is a Questbridge partner . Students wondering how to get into Yale should explore Questbridge further, as it is one of the three ways to apply to Yale.

But, what is Questbridge? Questbridge is a scholarship program for students from low-income backgrounds who wish to attend elite colleges. Some of these, like Yale, are Ivy League colleges . As part of their application, students rank schools that they would like to attend. If a school they ranked admits them, then they are considered a “match” and receive a full scholarship to attend the school. 

Check out this virtual information session for 2022 Yale Questbridge Finalists to learn more about Questbridge at Yale and how to apply.

Understanding the Yale requirements for Questbridge

Students who apply via the Yale Questbridge application complete slightly different Yale supplemental essays than students who apply regularly through the Common App or Coalition App. Indeed, the Questbridge application only requires two short answer essays.

Specifically, the Questbridge Yale essay prompts only include the academic interest and why Yale essay. They do not include the “short take” or longer response questions. Instead, the Yale Questbridge application gives more space for students to discuss their backgrounds and unique circumstances. 

In the next section, we’ll go into further detail on the Yale short answer essays, which are required of all students regardless of whether they are applying to Yale through the Common App, Coalition App, or the Questbridge Scholarship application.

Yale Short Answer Essays

The first set of Yale supplemental essays are the three short answer essays. These Yale supplemental essays are required for all applicants, regardless of which application they use to apply.

The Yale short answer essays are as follows:

Short Answer Question 1: 

Students at yale have 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., short answer question 2: , tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. why are you drawn to it (200 words or fewer), short answer question 3:, what is it about yale that has led you to apply (125 words or fewer).

Since we already discussed the Why Yale question above, we’ll focus on breaking down the first two short answer questions.

Question 1: Your Academic Interests

The first of the Yale supplemental essays asks you to identify three academic areas of interest. Yale is a liberal arts school that allows students to choose a major but also requires them to take courses outside of their major via their distribution requirements. As such, it is important to demonstrate your flexibility in learning many different subjects. However, these subjects do not have to be related. In fact, in some cases, it may be more intriguing if they are not. For example, a student who states an interest in Asian American history and evolutionary biology definitely makes an intriguing candidate.

However, you should respond to this question as you do all of your Yale supplemental essays—genuinely. Indeed, Yale wants to know what you are truly interested in. Therefore, listing majors simply to impress or seem intriguing won’t serve you well.

Question 2: A Topic that Excites You

The next short answer essay asks you to discuss a topic that excites you. This should be directly related to one of the academic interests you described in the first question. 

In this question, focus on the “why.” What makes this topic interesting or meaningful to you? How does it relate to your background, experiences, or future goals? The more specific you can be, the better. 

Wondering how to select a topic or idea to highlight in your Yale essays? Here are a few tips:

Tips for Selecting a Yale Essay Topic

1. brainstorm 3-5 ideas..

Take a few minutes to jot down specific memories you have associated with this topic. For example, if you are interested in evolutionary biology, maybe you remember learning about how birds evolved from dinosaurs. Use descriptive language to show us what you learned and bring the topic to life. 

2. Choose a meaningful topic.

After you have brainstormed, note which topic makes you feel excited. Don’t choose the topic that you think sounds more impressive to others. Choose the one that impresses you.

3. Write a lot and then edit it down.

Don’t limit yourself by focusing on the word count. Instead, begin by writing freely. From there, edit out words or sentences that don’t seem essential. Additionally, you can ask mentors or friends to help you revise.

A successful response to these Yale essay prompts will have the following characteristics:

How to Respond to Yale Essay Prompts

1. relate to yale’s academics..

As supplements must be specific to each school, it’s important that you highlight topics and majors that you know can study at Yale. First, think about Yale’s academic strengths, and then use these as a basis for your essays. 

2. Demonstrate a passion for learning.

Yale values students’ intellectual curiosity. As such, the topic you discuss must demonstrate your passion for learning. 

3. Tell us why you are drawn to the topic.

As the question denotes, Yale doesn’t just want to know what you are interested in, but why. Does the topic have some kind of personal relevance? Does it excite you because it’s baffled scientists for centuries? Make your reasoning clear.

Now that we’ve looked in detail at these Yale requirements, we’ll explore the Yale short answer essays that are even shorter. Indeed, these Yale supplemental essays are sometimes known as the “short takes.”

Additional Yale Supplemental Essays

In addition to responding to the Yale short answer essays above, you’ll need to respond to four “short takes” and one longer response which offers you three Yale essay prompts to choose from. First, we’ll discuss the “short takes.”

Inside the Yale “Short Takes”

There are four Yale “short takes.”  These Yale supplemental essays ask students to respond in 200 characters or less, which roughly equates to 35 words. As such, you must be extremely concise in your response while still answering the question. Still, use these essays to showcase your unique brand or personality, helping the admissions team understand who you are.

Below are the Yale essay prompts for the “short takes,” followed by tips for responding well: 

1. What inspires you?

For this prompt, take some time to simply free-write and brainstorm a list of things that inspire you. Don’t limit yourself by thinking your response must relate to academics. There is no right response to this question. The key is to express what inspires you in a way that enriches your profile. 

2. If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?

As we shared above, Yale is a liberal arts college very interested in intellectual curiosity. This question allows you to showcase your creativity and passions. Rather than trying to think of an idea that will impress admissions officers, focus on choosing one that speaks to you. 

3. Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? 

This question alludes to Yale’s focus on “improving the world.” By asking you to highlight a person who has influenced you, they get to see what you value in others and whether you can recognize the interdependence of the world. Note that the question asks you to highlight someone “other than a family member.” So, logically, avoid writing about family members in this Yale essay. Lastly, even though you are writing about someone else, the core of your response should demonstrate more about who you are. Therefore, briefly name the person and their relationship to you. And then, mainly focus on how they impacted you. 

4. What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

The final of the Yale supplemental essays “short takes” could potentially be the most challenging one to answer. This question is open-ended on purpose. Unsurprisingly, Yale values diversity as much as most elite schools. As such, they provide space for you to share something that they may not have asked you about yet. To brainstorm, perhaps ask friends and family to read your application and then tell you a few aspects of your personality or experience that aren’t represented. Then, express that uniqueness in 35 words or less. Additionally, this could be a space to express more about any challenges or unique circumstances you have faced that impacted your life or academics significantly. However, those details may also be better suited for the “Additional Information” section. So, think about what information is best suited where.

Breaking Down the Yale Longer Response Essay

The Yale longer response essay is the final of the Yale supplemental essays. While it is indeed the longest of the short answer essays, it is still only 400 words maximum in length. You can choose from three Yale essay prompts for this question. 

Here are the three Yale essay prompts, along with guidance on how to respond:

1. Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?

With this question, Yale hopes to gauge whether you can engage in the “free exchange of ideas” they mention in their mission statement. To respond well, choose an example of a conversation that truly did impact you. Describe the conversation with enough detail to make it clear what the opposing views were. In the end, the most critical piece of this essay is showing how the experience impacted you. Since Yale values learning, Yale hopes to see whether you can find opportunities to learn in your day-to-day life just as much as you do in the classroom.

2. Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

This Yale supplemental prompt seeks to learn more about the communities you are a part of and how you interact with them. Consider your neighborhood, school, family, religious group, or any other group of people to which you feel closely connected. Remember that the focus of this essay is still you, so avoid spending too long describing the community. Instead, jump right into why it is meaningful to you.

3. Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?

As we noted above, Yale values diversity in the broadest sense of the word. As a result, they look for students who can bring new experiences to campus. However, those experiences don’t have to be grand, like living in five different countries as a child. In fact, perhaps you lived in the same house for all your childhood and this taught you to value history, tradition, and legacy. As with all the other Yale essays, the right answer is the one that resonates most with you.

At this point, you may be wondering which of the Yale essay prompts to choose. While there isn’t one essay prompt that Yale admissions officers value more than another, there might be one that feels more authentic to you. Another way to decide is to choose a prompt that allows you to talk about an aspect of yourself that you haven’t yet divulged. In this way, you can fit more about yourself on the page and avoid repeating previous information.

What does Yale admissions look for in essays?

If you’re wondering how to get into Yale, you’re probably also wondering what Yale looks for in Yale supplemental essays. Here are a few tips to make your Yale essays stand out:

Each year, Yale aims to build an incoming class that reflects a diverse array of identities, experiences, and interests. Beyond that, admissions officers are skilled at reading for authenticity. This means that trying to impress them will likely come across on the page and discourage them from accepting you.

2. Passion for Yale.

Each of the Yale supplemental essays gives you space to highlight aspects of your experience that overlap with Yale in some way. As such, they must be Yale-specific in some sense, even if only by highlighting how your values align with Yale’s mission. 

3. Stick to your own voice.

While your essay must be written formally, only use vocabulary words that you would use. Avoid looking for the fanciest possible vocabulary word (unless it’s one you actually use), since this will only come off as ingenuine.

4. Proofread.

As Yale is a prestigious academic institution, they are looking for writing that reflects conventionally proper grammar and spelling. Make sure you have multiple people read your essays. In fact, reading your Yale supplemental essays out loud can help you catch errors or missing words.

What is the application deadline for Yale?

In addition to understanding the Yale requirements, students must choose one of two Yale application deadlines.

You have two main options for your Yale application deadline. They are as follows:

Early Action is a Yale application deadline that allows students to apply early. SCEA means that you are only allowed to apply to one school’s Early Action deadline. 

If you apply to Yale through Early Action, you cannot apply to any other school’s Early Action or Early Decision program. There are a few exceptions to this restriction. For instance, students may apply to public institutions as long as they are non-binding. At Yale, applying SCEA tends not to dramatically increase students’ admissions odds. However, for some schools, applying early can make a huge difference in terms of demonstrated interest. 

This is the date by which most students apply. There are no restrictions on how many schools you can apply to through Regular Decision.

A note on Questbridge students’ application deadlines :

Students applying via Questbridge must complete their application by September 26 . Then, they will be notified of whether they matched with Yale on November 1. 

Starting early on your Yale supplemental essays is key to a successful application. By starting early, you have time to brainstorm ideas, get multiple people’s opinions, and incorporate feedback. Plus, starting early helps you avoid feeling stressed by the Yale requirements.

More Yale Essay Resources from CollegeAdvisor

As always, CollegeAdvisor is committed to helping you find your way in the college admissions process. As such, we have several tailored resources to learn more about how to get into Yale. 

To learn more about the Yale supplemental essays, check out this webinar for more tips on responding to the Yale essay prompts. In addition, our college admissions experts will share guidance on writing efficiently so you can complete your other applications as well. 

Want to hear from a Yale alum about their admissions pathway to Yale? Listen to one of our experts talk about how they aced the admissions process. This webinar includes an excerpt from their Yale supplemental essays. It also discusses how this student put together their application so their profile stood out.

Lastly, check out this article full of sample Why Yale essays. Inside, you’ll get a clear perspective on how students responded fully to this question using their own unique flair.

Yale Supplemental Essays – Takeaways

In this article, we broke down the Yale requirements, ranging from Yale supplemental essays to Yale application deadlines. We talked about how to write compelling essays that showcase your unique personal brand, even in your Why Yale essay. We also provided resources for you to continue with your research on Yale requirements.

As you continue researching, read the Yale website regularly for updates . Consider reading sample essays for other Ivy League schools’ applications and make sure you research other schools’ supplemental essay requirements to find overlap in essay topics.

Most importantly, reach out to CollegeAdvisor for additional customized support. We’re here to make your college journey as successful and stress-free as possible.

This essay guide was written by senior advisor, Courtney Ng . Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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September 15, 2023

Tips for Answering the Yale University Supplemental Essays and Short Answer Questions [2023-2024]

how to write a college essay yale

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, and to apply to Yale using any of them, candidates must also submit additional Yale-specific short answers and a writing supplement. 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. 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 for the future. 

If Yale is your first choice, it offers a Single-Choice Early Action program (also known as Restrictive Early Action) for freshman applicants that has a November 1 deadline. Check the Yale admissions website for details. Under this program, Yale will notify you of its admissions decision in mid-December. The deadline for submission of applications for regular action is January 2. 

Before you begin writing your essay(s), thoroughly research all Yale has to offer and consider how those opportunities bolster your objectives. This is the time to get excited about the prospect of attending Yale! Visit the website and/or campus, speak with students and alumni, and envision yourself as a part of the school’s 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. The university strives to foster independent critical thinking. Yale is one of the only universities that allow you to try 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! Also, keep in mind that applicants are not admitted to a specific major, and students do not declare a major until the end of their sophomore year. 

Located in the small town of New Haven, Connecticut, in an urban setting that is primarily a residential campus, Yale offers a supportive community feel through its system of 14 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 will respond to respond to the following short answer questions:

Students at Yale have 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. With approximately 80 majors to choose from, Yale is trying to gauge your unique interests. Indicate a maximum of three of your top academic areas of study.

Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)

This prompt allows you to explain how your academic interests relate to the fields of study available at Yale. The challenge in this response is to discuss your rationale for your selected areas in less than 200 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 and convey your enthusiasm.

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. 

The Yale site notes that QuestBridge applicants will complete these short answer questions via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, which candidates can access through the Admissions Status Portal after their application has been received.

Additional Short Answer Questions– Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will also respond to respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words): 

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. 

If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?

Use your imagination! Consider a creative title to set the tone for your course, book, or art piece. This is a chance to infuse some fun and creativity into your response. Do you have a unique set of skills or interests that might contribute to some expertise on a particular topic? What is your specialty? 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.

Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? 

You can select just about anyone, other than a family member! This could be someone famous (dead or alive) or your next-door neighbor. The essential component is explaining how they influenced you and the extent of their impact. Is there something you admire about them? Did/do they motivate or inspire you in some way? Have they changed or encouraged you in some way? Keep the focus on you and the result(s) of their impact. Remember to consider what your response might reflect about your values and character.

What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

Before you respond, take some time to review your overall application materials for Yale. You should share something meaningful about yourself that you didn’t mention elsewhere. Your response provides a glimpse into the sort of person you might be within the Yale community, so consider what you might contribute and what you hope to gain. You might mention something you always wanted to explore or learn how to do – perhaps something you are not very good at but love to do. Whatever you select will reflect something about your character. How might what you shared relate to attending Yale? 


Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or fewer.

  • Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?

This prompt asks you to reflect on a time when you dealt with conflicting views. This discussion might have made you feel vulnerable expressing your viewpoint. How do you engage in a civil exchange about controversial or emotional issues? What was the issue, and why was it important to you? Explain both your position and that of the other person involved. What was at stake? How did you work through the conflict and come to an understanding of the other person’s perspective? Were you able to convey your perspective? What was the outcome? Did you change your stance or clarify and strengthen your position? Most importantly, why was the experience you shared important to you? What did you learn from this process? Your response to this prompt helps to shed light on how you learn, the topics you are drawn to, how you interact with others with diverse perspectives, and how you process the world around you. 

  • Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

This prompt asks you to place yourself within the context of a particular community. What is this community? Consider how being a part of this community shapes or supports you. The focus is on why you feel connected to this community. This is an opportunity to discuss your role in just about ANY community and the impact you had on it and vice versa. It also allows you to demonstrate 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, but community is however you define it. Your goal is to EXPLAIN your relationship to the community and convey WHY that community is valuable to you. What did you learn about yourself through your connection to this community? How might this community inspire, support, or ground you and vice versa? What might this reflect about your character or place in the world? How might these experiences prepare you for this next stage of your life?

  • Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?

If you haven’t already done so, take a detailed look at Yale’s residential college system. The 14 residential colleges strive to create a more intimate living and learning atmosphere that fosters a stronger sense of community connection. Incoming students are assigned to a college and remain affiliated with that college for the duration of their time at Yale.  As stated on the school’s website, “each college is a microcosm of the larger student population.” Identify something about your personal experience that might provide a different or unique perspective to enhance your college community. Then discuss how what you shared shaped you, motivated you, influenced your sense of identity, or reflects something essential about you.

The tone of your essays should convey your drive and enthusiasm for learning in general and at Yale in particular. Share your perspectives in your own voice. Be thoughtful and reflective. 

Applicants to Yale have an exceedingly competitive profile. Yale received 52,250 undergraduate applications for the Class of 2027. Overall, only 2,275 or 4.35% of applicants were admitted, and 95% of them ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. Although Yale continued to offer test optional admissions for the Class of 2027, you can consider the test scores from the Class of 2024 – average SAT scores over 1500 and average ACT scores of approximately 33 – to get a sense of your likely 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 yourself and communicate your thoughts, experiences, hopes, and dreams in a way that highlights your genuine enthusiasm for the extraordinary educational journey at Yale!

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Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for more than 20 years. Marie has counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated more than 5,000 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 .

Related Resources:

  • Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your College Application Essays , a free guide
  • Common App and Supplemental Essay Tips
  • Make the Most of Your Common App Activities Summary

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How To Answer Yale's 2023/24 Supplemental Essays: Tips & Insights

How To Answer Yale's 2023/24 Supplemental Essays: Tips & Insights

What's New in 2023/24

What Are Yale's Essay Prompts?

Answering the Short Answer Questions

Answering the Short Essay Questions

General Guidelines

Dive into Yale's 2023/24 supplemental essay updates, grasp the intricacies of each prompt, and garner insights on penning standout answers with our comprehensive guide, enriched with expert advice and links to exemplary Yale essay samples.

Yale’s 2023/24 Supplemental Essay Updates: What's Changed?

Securing a spot at Yale University , with its acceptance rate between 3-4% , is undeniably challenging . In such a competitive landscape, your supplemental essays become instrumental in distinguishing your application.

Every academic year, elite institutions like Yale refine their application process to ensure they holistically understand their applicants. For the '23/24 admissions cycle, Yale University has introduced some significant changes to its supplemental essay questions .

Previously, applicants were posed with questions about hosting a guest speaker in Yale's residential colleges and suggesting a title for a new Yale course they envision teaching. These have now been replaced.

The current cycle invites you to highlight personal academic interests and directions, and share unique insights into who has inspired you or influenced your personal growth.

The longer essay section appears designed to help Yale see how you engage with campus and community life. While this section retains two past themes — discussing opposing viewpoints and community involvement — a fresh prompt has been added. This third option encourages applicants to reflect on personal experiences that would enrich the Yale community .

These modifications underscore Yale's ongoing commitment to understanding its applicants' personal narratives, values, and potential contributions to a dynamic university environment.

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What Are Yale’s Supplemental Essay Prompts for 2023/24?

For the 2023/24 application cycle, Yale University has introduced specific supplemental essay prompts to delve deeper into the profiles of its applicants in tandem with the Common App or Coalition App questions. These prompts are designed to uncover your academic interests, personal insights, and your unique connection to Yale.

Short Answer Questions — Academic Interests & Motivations

All applicants are required to address three core questions: one asks you to identify three academic disciplines of interest, another is a short essay about a topic of interest related to one of those academic disciplines, and the third is about your reasons for choosing Yale. The word limits are 200 words for the second item, and 125 words for the third item.

  • Academic Exploration: Students at Yale often evolve their academic directions. As of now, which academic areas align with your interests or goals? Please select up to three from the provided list .
  • Topic of Interest: Discuss a topic or idea related to one or more academic areas you selected above that genuinely excites you. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)
  • Connection to Yale: What aspects of Yale have motivated you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

Short Answer Questions (Common & Coalition App Applicants)

For those using the Coalition or Common Application, additional short answer questions are capped at roughly 35 words or 200 characters. These questions probe into personal inspirations, potential academic or artistic contributions, influential figures outside of family, and unique aspects of one's identity not mentioned elsewhere in the application.

  • Inspiration: What inspires you? (Approximately 35 words)
  • Creative Endeavor: If you could teach a college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art, what would it be? (Approximately 35 words)
  • Significant Influence: Other than family, who has significantly influenced you, and how? (Approximately 35 words)
  • Unique Aspect: What's something unique about you not mentioned elsewhere in your application? (Approximately 35 words)

Short Essay

Lastly, in the essay section, Coalition or Common Application users will select one of three prompts , responding within a 400-word limit . The options in this section include discussing opposing viewpoints, reflecting on community ties, or narrating a personal experience that you believe will help you enhance the college community.

  • Discussing Opposing Views: Reflect on a time you discussed a vital issue with someone holding a contrary view. Why was this experience significant to you?
  • Community Connection: Reflect on your membership in a community that resonates with you. Why is this community meaningful?
  • Personal Enrichment: Reflect on a personal experience that you believe will enrich your college community. How has it molded you?

These prompts provide you an opportunity to present a comprehensive picture of your personality, background, values, and aspirations — ensuring Yale gets a multifaceted view of who you are.

Seeking some inspiration? Explore these Yale essay examples to understand what makes an application stand out!

How This Student Got Into Yale

How to Answer Yale’s Supplemental Short Answer Questions?

Three short answer questions about academic interests.

  • Academic Exploration: Students at Yale have 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 select up to three from the provided list .

Short Answer Question 1

Students at yale have 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 select up to three from the provided list. please select up to three from the provided list. please indicate up to three from the list provided., academic exploration — choosing one to three disciplines from the list provided..

Yale's reputation for academic rigor and intellectual engagement is renowned. The university fosters an environment where students are encouraged to explore various academic interests before settling into their major(s) . This flexibility is a testament to Yale's commitment to producing well-rounded individuals who are not just experts in their fields but also possess a broad knowledge base.

Be genuine when deciding whether to indicate one, two, or three disciplines from the list. There’s probably little to gain from selecting a discipline if it won’t tie into responses to other questions or essay prompts and doesn’t have any connection with academic interests and motivations you want to emphasize.

You may want to preview the other two questions in this section, as well as the remaining short answer and essay prompts — making sure to select a discipline from the list if you anticipate talking about it in other responses.

Short Answer Question 2

Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. why are you drawn to it, - 200 words or fewer.

The subsequent question offers an opportunity to delve deeper into a specific academic topic or idea . This is your chance to demonstrate genuine passion. Instead of providing textbook answers:

  • Discuss unique perspectives or insights you've developed about the subject.
  • Share personal experiences or projects that have enriched your understanding.
  • Reflect on contemporary issues or debates within the subject and where you stand.

1. Unveiling Your Academic Passion

Yale's second short answer question is a direct invitation to showcase your academic passion. The university, renowned for its intellectual vibrancy, seeks students who are not just academically competent but also deeply passionate about their chosen fields of study .

2. Diving Deep into Your Chosen Topic

This question is your space to "nerd out" and demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for a specific topic or idea. Reflect on:

  • Personal experiences or projects that deepened your interest in this topic.
  • Contemporary debates, research, or developments in the field that excite you.
  • Unique perspectives or insights you've developed about the subject.

Avoid merely regurgitating textbook knowledge. Instead, offer a fresh take or a personal connection to the topic.

3. Connecting Past, Present, and Future

While the previous prompt may have focused on your broader academic interests, this question allows you to home in on a specific topic . You can:

  • Draw connections from past experiences or studies that ignited your interest in this topic.
  • Discuss how your current engagements (like readings, projects, or discussions) have further fueled this passion.
  • Envision how deepening your understanding of this topic at Yale will benefit your future aspirations.

Yale's second short answer question emphasizes depth over breadth. It's an opportunity to delve into the intricacies of a specific academic topic that excites you . You can convey to the admissions committee why this topic resonates with you and how it aligns with your academic journey at Yale by showcasing genuine passion, thoughtful engagement, and a clear understanding of the subject.

Short Answer Question 3

What is it about yale that has led you to apply, - 125 words or fewer, 1. decoding the "why yale" question.

Yale's third prompt is a classic " Why this school? " question, albeit phrased with a twist. It's not just about why you want to attend Yale but what specific aspects of Yale resonate with your aspirations and interests .

2. Beyond the Generic

Avoid generic answers that could apply to any top-tier university. Yale's admissions officers are looking for applicants who have genuinely understood what makes Yale unique .

3. Research is Key

To craft a compelling response:

  • Dive deep into Yale's academic programs. Are there specific courses, professors, or research opportunities that align with your interests?
  • Explore Yale's extracurricular landscape. Are there clubs, organizations, or events that you're excited to join or initiate?
  • Reflect on Yale's community and culture. What aspects of Yale's student life or traditions resonate with you?

4. Envisioning Your Yale Journey

Discuss how you see yourself fitting into the Yale community:

  • How will Yale's offerings help you achieve your academic and personal goals?
  • In what ways do you plan to contribute to the Yale community, both in and out of the classroom?

The "What is it about Yale?" question is an opportunity to demonstrate your genuine interest in the university and how it aligns with your goals . By showcasing a deep understanding of what Yale offers and articulating how it fits with your aspirations, you can convey a sincere desire to be a part of the Yale community.

5 Tips for the "Why This School?" Essay

Additional Short Answer Questions (35 words)

For applicants using the Common or Coalition App only.

Short Answer Question 4

What inspires you, - approximately 35 words, 1. understanding the question's intent.

The question aims to delve into your intrinsic motivations and passions . Yale wants to understand what drives you, what makes you tick, and what fuels your academic and personal pursuits. This is not just about what interests you but what deeply moves and motivates you.

2. Being Authentic and Specific

While it might be tempting to provide an answer you think the admissions committee wants to hear, it's crucial to be genuine. Reflect on moments, people, books, artworks, or experiences that have profoundly impacted your perspective or aspirations .

3. Connecting to Your Broader Application

Your answer should ideally resonate with other parts of your application. Discussing a related inspiration can create a cohesive narrative if you've mentioned a particular interest or activity elsewhere.

4. Avoiding Clichés

Steer clear of overused phrases or generic inspirations unless you can provide a unique twist or a deeply personal reason for why something commonly cited truly inspires you.

Question 4 offers a window into your inner world. By sharing what genuinely inspires you, you give Yale a glimpse of your passions, values, and potential contributions to their community . Ensure your response is both authentic and reflective of your unique perspective.

Short Answer Question 5

If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be, 1. channeling your creativity.

This question is a playground for your imagination and intellectual fervor. Yale is keen to understand the depth of your interests and how you might bring a unique perspective to their campus.

2. Intersecting Passions

Reflect on the subjects or hobbies that resonate with you. This question allows you to merge different areas of interest to create something novel. If you're a history buff with a penchant for drama, perhaps you'd write a play set during the Renaissance. If you're passionate about biology and art, maybe you'd create an intricate sculpture representing cellular structures.

3. Beyond the Ordinary

While authenticity is key, strive to think outside the box. Consider topics or ideas that aren't just personal but also bring a fresh perspective or address contemporary issues. For instance, if you're intrigued by psychology and technology, you might design a course on "The Psychological Impacts of AI on Human Interaction."

4. A Nod to Yale's Ethos

Yale is a hub for innovation and interdisciplinary exploration. Your response should echo a spirit of inquisitiveness and a hunger to delve deep into subjects, reflecting how you'd enrich the Yale community with your unique insights.

Yale's Question 5 is more than just a query; it's an opportunity. You're offering a window into your intellectual and creative soul by suggesting a course, book, or artwork. Craft a response that's not just distinctive but also deeply reflective of who you are and what you'd bring to Yale.

Short Answer Question 6

Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you what has been the impact of their influence, 1. identifying your influencer.

This question seeks to understand the people and experiences that have shaped you outside your immediate family . It's a chance to highlight mentors, teachers, friends, or even public figures who have left an indelible mark on your life.

2. Depth Over Popularity

While it might be tempting to choose a well-known personality, ensure that your choice genuinely reflects a deep personal connection . It's not about the prominence of the influencer but the depth of their impact on you.

3. Narrating the Journey

Discuss specific moments, lessons, or interactions that encapsulate the essence of their influence.

  • Did a coach instill resilience in you?
  • Did a teacher ignite your passion for a subject?
  • Or did a friend's kindness redefine your understanding of empathy during a tough time?

4. Beyond the Obvious

While the direct influence is essential, it also reflects on the ripple effects. How did their influence shape your actions, decisions, or perspectives in broader areas of your life?

Yale's Question 6 is an introspective journey into the people who have molded your character and values . Yale aims to understand the external forces that have shaped your journey through this prompt. As you craft your response, focus on authenticity, detailing who influenced you and how their influence continues to resonate in your life.

Short Answer Question 7

What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application, 1. unearthing the hidden gems.

This question offers a unique opportunity to share a facet of your personality, experience, or aspiration that hasn't been covered in your application. It's a chance to provide a fuller picture of who you are.

2. Beyond Academics and Extracurriculars

While your academic achievements and extracurricular activities are essential, this prompt seeks insights into your character, passions, or experiences that aren't necessarily tied to school or structured activities .

3. Personal Anecdotes Shine

Perhaps there's a hobby you're passionate about, a quirky tradition you uphold, or a personal project you've embarked on. Whatever you share, find a way to make your short response shine a spotlight on something unique, about yourself — perhaps something ingratiating, humorous, or compelling .

4. Reflect on the Why

It's not just about stating the 'what.' Be sure to share how this aspect of your identity, psychology, experiences, or personality shapes your values, your aspirations, or how you interact with others in friendships or in community settings.

Yale's Question 7 is a canvas for you to paint a more comprehensive picture of yourself . It's an invitation to share something special that make you unique. As you respond, ensure that what you share is relevant to an admissions context and offers a fresh insight into something that makes you unique and may make your application more memorable.

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Discover insider tips and tricks for crafting a memorable personal essay and supplemental essays that stand out, from a Former Harvard Admissions Interviewer and a Northwestern Application Reader!


How to Answer Yale’s Supplemental Short Essay Questions?

Applicants submitting the Common App or Coalition Application will respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or fewer.

Essay Prompt 1

Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. why did you find the experience meaningful, - 400 words or fewer, 1. the essence of intellectual engagement.

Renowned for its academic rigor, Yale University values students who can engage in meaningful discussions , especially when faced with opposing views. This question seeks to understand your ability to engage in such dialogues, emphasizing your intellectual curiosity and interpersonal skills.

2. Narrating the Experience

Begin by setting the stage.

  • What was the issue at hand?
  • Why was it important to you?
  • Who were you discussing it with?

The depth of your reflection on this experience is crucial. It's not just about the disagreement but about understanding and learning from it .

3. Showcasing Growth and Understanding

Discussing an opposing view can be transformative. Reflect on how this conversation changed or solidified your perspective . Did it teach you the value of understanding different viewpoints or the importance of effective communication?

4. Beyond the Conversation

This prompt isn't just about a single discussion; it's about how you approach disagreements and challenges in general . Reflect on how this particular experience is indicative of your broader approach to challenges and learning.

Yale's Question 1 is an opportunity to showcase your ability to engage in meaningful, constructive dialogues and to learn from them . It's about demonstrating intellectual curiosity, respect for diverse viewpoints, and personal growth.

Essay Prompt 2

Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. why is this community meaningful to you you may define community however you like., 1. defining your community.

Begin by clearly defining the community you're discussing . This could be based on ethnicity, shared interests, geographical location, a shared challenge, or any other binding factor. Remember, the definition of 'community' is broad, and Yale gives you the freedom to interpret it in a way that's most meaningful to you.

2. Your Role and Connection

Discuss your role or membership within this community . Have you been an active member, a leader, or an observer? How have you engaged with this community, and how has it shaped your identity or perspective?

3. The Significance of the Community

Delve into why this community is meaningful to you . Is it a source of support, a platform for shared experiences, or perhaps a space where you've faced challenges and grown from them? Reflect on the emotions, experiences, and lessons this community has offered you.

4. Personal Growth and Reflection

End by discussing how your connection to this community has influenced your personal growth . Has it taught you the value of diversity, the importance of support, or perhaps the strength in unity? Reflect on the broader implications of your membership in this community and how it might influence your future endeavors, especially at a place like Yale.

Yale's Question 2 is an opportunity to showcase your understanding of community, your place within it, and the personal growth that arises from such connections . It's about demonstrating empathy, understanding, and the ability to connect with diverse groups of people.

Essay Prompt 3

Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. how has it shaped you, 1. identifying the experience.

Start by pinpointing a specific personal experience or element of your life. This could be a unique cultural background, a challenging obstacle you've overcome, a hobby or passion you've pursued, or any other experience that has significantly impacted your life.

2. The Value to the College Community

Discuss how this experience or element of your life will enrich the college community . Perhaps your unique background offers a diverse perspective, or maybe a challenge you've faced has equipped you with resilience and adaptability. Consider how your experience can contribute to classroom discussions, group projects, extracurricular activities, or casual dorm conversations.

3. Personal Transformation

Reflect on how this experience has shaped you as an individual . Has it instilled certain values in you? Has it changed the way you approach challenges or interact with people? Dive deep into the personal growth and self-awareness that emerged from this experience.

4. Future Implications

Consider how this element of your personal experience will influence your future at college and beyond . Will it drive you to join certain clubs, advocate for causes, or pursue specific academic interests? How will it continue to shape your journey?

Yale's Question 3 is an invitation to introspect and share a facet of your life that not only defines you but also adds value to the diverse tapestry of a college community. It's about showcasing self-awareness, growth, and the potential for future contributions.

General Guidelines for Answering Yale's Supplemental Essay Questions

  • Research and Specificity : Yale's prompts often ask about your interest in the university or a specific program. Always back your claims with specific details. Mention professors, courses, clubs, or traditions that resonate with you. This shows genuine interest and that you've done your homework.
  • Show Self-awareness : Yale values introspective students who can reflect on their experiences. Whether discussing an intellectual interest or a community you belong to, always tie it back to your personal growth or what you've learned about yourself.
  • Diversity of Thought : Like many top-tier institutions, Yale values diversity in all its forms. This doesn't just mean ethnic or cultural diversity but also diversity of thought, perspective, and experience. Highlight experiences or viewpoints that make you unique.
  • Be Authentic : It's tempting to write what you think the admissions committee wants to hear, but they can spot inauthenticity. Be genuine in your responses, even if it means discussing failures or weaknesses. Authenticity often resonates more than a polished facade.
  • Quality Over Quantity : With word limits on these essays, it's essential to be concise. Focus on depth rather than breadth. Dive deep into one or two experiences or ideas rather than skimming over several.
  • Narrative Storytelling : Engage your reader with narrative storytelling when possible. Instead of just stating facts, weave a short story that captures the essence of your experience. This makes your essay memorable and showcases your writing skills.
  • Proofread and Revise : Always proofread your essays multiple times. It's not just about catching grammatical errors but also ensuring that your essay flows well and effectively conveys your message. Consider getting feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors.
  • Connect to the Bigger Picture : Always tie your responses back to how you'll contribute to the Yale community and how Yale will facilitate your personal and professional growth. This shows forward-thinking and a commitment to being an active member of the university.

Remember, the supplemental essays are an  opportunity to showcase aspects of yourself that aren't evident in other parts of your application . Use them wisely to provide a holistic picture of yourself and why you'd be a great fit for Yale.

Looking for inspiration? Dive into these  Yale essay examples  to see what successful applications look like!

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Final Thoughts

Embarking on the journey to Yale is about more than showcasing academic excellence; it's about weaving a narrative that deeply resonates with the admissions committee. Your supplemental essays offer a unique lens into your character, aspirations, and the distinct contributions you'll make to the Yale community.

Every Yale hopeful possesses a unique story. This is your golden opportunity to narrate yours. Approach your essays with authenticity, introspection, and a genuine enthusiasm for your narrative.

If you're uncertain whether your essay truly encapsulates your essence or if it will distinguish you amidst the sea of applications, our essay review service is here to assist. Our seasoned experts will meticulously review and provide feedback, ensuring your essay strikes a chord with admissions officers. Explore our ebook , which features essays from students who secured places at elite institutions for added inspiration. And for those aiming for Yale, our collection of successful Yale essay examples will offer invaluable insights.

For those at the onset of their college application journey, consider booking a free consultation with our experienced college counselors. We're committed to guiding you in crafting an application that amplifies your chances of walking through Yale's historic gates. Your dream of becoming a Yalie is attainable, and we're here to support you every step of the way.

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Key Resources & Further Reading

  • Everything you need to know about US Application Supplemental Essays
  • Acing your College Application Essay: 5 Expert Tips to Make it Stand Out from the Rest
  • How to Tackle Every Type of Supplemental Essay
  • 2023-24 Common App Essay Prompts
  • What are the Most Unusual US College Supplemental Essay Prompts?

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How to Write the ‘Why Major’ Yale Essay

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Hale Jaeger in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 

What’s Covered:

  • “Why This Major” and “Why Yale”

Applying With Multiple Majors

Applying undecided, be authentic, reasons to avoid.

In this article, we discuss strategies to write Yale University ’s “Why This Major” supplemental essay. For this essay, applicants must respond to the following prompt: 

“Students at Yale have 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.

Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words)”

‘Why This Major’ and ‘Why Yale’

When responding to Yale’s “Why This Major” essay prompt, keep in mind that the real hidden question is “Why do you want to pursue these fields of study specifically at Yale?” While it is important that you draw connections between your academic interests and Yale, you also will be writing a “Why Yale” essay, so you don’t have to cover every reason that you are interested in the school in this essay. 

That said, try to write about any specific programs or opportunities that you want to take advantage of within the department you are interested in at Yale. This essay is a great place to mention those academic opportunities unique to your major at Yale.

When you apply to Yale, you are asked to choose at least one and up to three majors. A wide range of disciplines are offered, with the three most popular majors at Yale being economics, computer science, and molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. 

It is common for Yale applicants to select two or three potential majors when they apply. If you do this and can connect them, even if they’re seemingly not connected at all, that is a great aspect to demonstrate within your essay. 

For example, when Hale applied to Yale, he applied as a chemistry and English double major, which on the surface seemed to be different fields. Hale was able to connect these fields by discussing his interest in scientific writing and scientific communication. In his essay, he discussed wanting to be able to both discover things and write about them in ways that were accessible to the average person and not just the scientific community.

If you are considering multiple majors that are not connected, try to think about the reason why you are interested in them. Is there something that they share even if they seem to be very different? 

Applying Undecided and Changing Majors

Many students are not yet sure as to what exactly they want to study in college, and it is fine to be undecided. When applying to Yale in particular, students have the option to select “undecided” as their major. 

Many students change their major at some point in college. For example, Hale is no longer a chemistry and English double major. He changed his major to biology before he even got to Yale, and then changed once again to his current major, neuroscience.

Writing About Undecided Majors

As you approach this essay, keep in mind that by writing about your academic interests, you are not setting in stone your future academic goals, and you will not be held to the major that you include in this essay. If you are undecided, try choosing one, two, or even three majors that you are considering studying, and talk about why those things interest you. Even if you haven’t made a real decision yet, it’s good to show why you’re interested in potentially pursuing certain fields because it gives the admissions team a window into what you’re passionate about.

Additionally, Yale has some interesting joint programs and interdisciplinary opportunities, such as computing in the arts, which is a combination of computer science and music. If you have multiple interests, you can use Yale’s course and department website to find unique programs that might be a good fit for you.

As you write your essay, it is important to highlight the authentic reasons that you’re interested in your field of study, rather than superficial ones. Authentic reasons are those that mean something and tell the admissions committee something important about who you are.

Some sample guiding questions to help you add authenticity to your essay are: 

Do you have past experiences that have made you interested in this major? Do you have goals for your future that this major will facilitate? What are the specific things about the major that are appealing to you? Is there a particular methodology associated with this field that aligns with your style of learning? Do you like to work with your hands and that’s why you want to go into your specific field? Do you like to ask questions and then go through a process to find the answers? What are the real reasons that you’re getting this degree? 

There are also some reasons for pursuing a major that don’t translate well in this essay. Reasons to avoid include post-graduation salary, clout and prestige, and family pressure.

It is important to show that you are not pursuing your major just because it’s something that will make you look good or give you a particular lifestyle. Instead, aim to demonstrate that you chose your major because it is actually what you want to do. There are plenty of careers that pay well, are prestigious, and seem cool, but there are only so many things that you’re passionate about, and that’s what a reader looks to see. 

Avoid talking about pursuing your major to make your parents proud or because they want you to study it. Your parents aren’t applying to college; it will be you attending this school, getting your bachelor’s, and starting your career. Yale wants to know what you want, not what your parents want.

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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Yale Supplemental Essay Prompts

how to write a college essay yale

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Yale Supplemental Essay Prompts

Yale is a popular Ivy League school located in New Haven, Connecticut. The Yale campus is known for its overall striking architecture, especially the beauty of its older stone buildings. Since Yale is an Ivy League school, that means it is extremely competitive in terms of admissions. Yale’s acceptance rate lies around 5% . The best way to make your application rise above the rest is through your Yale supplemental essays! 

Yale University’s supplemental essays

Yale’s supplemental essays are one way Yale gets to know their applicants and ultimately reach an acceptance decision. Fortunately, Yale asks candidates to respond to a wide selection of supplemental essays through the Common or Coalition Application.  

Applicants are able to share multiple sides of their personalities and experiences. When complete, responses should give admissions officers a good sense of “who you are” as a person. Read more in this guide on how to nail the Yale supplemental essay prompts!

Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

Breaking down the Yale supplemental essays 

All applicants to Yale have to complete the Yale supplemental essay questions. The Yale supplemental essay questions differ slightly depending on the application platform you choose to apply to Yale with. The options depend on whether you apply through the Coalition Application , Common Application , or QuestBridge Application. 

Short answer questions

Yale asks applicants to respond to both short answer questions and essays. The short answer questions range from 250 words to only 200 characters or 30 words. Therefore, it is best to not overthink these short answer questions! Rather just write what comes to mind. Just be sure to review your responses after to ensure you are not repeating yourself or leaving out any critical information. 

Essay responses 

The Yale essays must be 400 words or fewer. Once again, that does not leave a lot of room for lengthy sentences. Therefore, be short and concise. If you struggle with cutting down your responses, ask a trusted friend to help you cut out words.  Be sure to write an outline of the main points you want to include in your response and get rid of the filler words in your response. 

Short answer questions for Coalition Application, Common Application or QuestBridge Application applicants

“students at yale have 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 a pretty straightforward question. What do you want to major in or study while at Yale? It is best to be honest in this response. If you know what you want to major in, describe it. Be sure to double check the list of majors that Yale provided to ensure you are not selecting an area of study that is not available. 

Not sure about your major?

If you do not know exactly what you want to major in at Yale, do not worry! As  mentioned in the question, students often change their minds about what they want to study, so don’t pressure yourself about deciding your future right now. Rather, write about a few majors that truly interest you. Describe how they fit your interests and goals, and discuss what you hope to accomplish with a degree(s) in this field. 

Questions to consider

  • What is your intended major at Yale? 
  • What are you interested in academically? 
  • Why do you want to get a degree? What are your future career goals? 

“Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it?” (200 words or fewer) 

This is a continuation of prompt #1. Your goal for this prompt is to tell a cohesive story about what piques your intellectual curiosity. To begin, try to recount a story from your past that illustrates your long-held interest in your chosen academic field. For example, perhaps you broke your ankle playing soccer when you were in middle school and became fascinated by your physical therapist’s care. Whatever the reason behind your intended major, describe its significance! Make sure that you connect back to yourself as you relate to your selected major(s). 

The best way to approach this prompt is through a story or anecdote! Be as specific as possible when describing how you became drawn to your chosen academic area. 

  • Why are you interested in your major? 
  • Are there people in your life who studied what you want to study? 
  • What excites you about your intended major? 

“What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?” (125 words or fewer)

This question differs from the two previous short essay questions because it wants you to discuss “why Yale?” This is a great place to detail how Yale’s location, academic programs, and extracurriculars appeal to you. Make sure that you are not just listing the great things about Yale, but rather, explain how these aspects will benefit you. For example, you can write about how Yale offers a particular major that they are highly regarded in. Is there a particular professor you would like to study under, or a project that you want to be part of? If so, be sure to share! The most important thing is to connect your interests and future with what Yale offers. 

Try to avoid cliche answers such as describing how Yale is a prestigious Ivy League school. Rather, be specific and descriptive about what truly drew you to apply to Yale.

  • What makes Yale stand out from other colleges? 
  • Why did you choose to apply to Yale? 
  • Why is Yale a dream school for you? 

Additional short answer questions for QuestBridge applicants

Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete questions that will be available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received. 

Additional short answer questions for Coalition Application or Common Application applicants

The following short answer questions are for Coalition and Common Application applicants only and should not exceed 200 characters or 35 words. 

What inspires you? (200 characters or fewer)

This question can ultimately be answered in any way. You can write about a person, a time you failed, a television show, and so much more. The most important part is that you are being true to yourself in your response! 

If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be? (200 characters or fewer)

This question aims to gain some insight into your interests and passions. What do you absolutely “nerd out” about? You want to select a subject or topic that you can lecture about for hours, write hundreds of pages or paint for days. Once again, you have a lot of creative freedom with this response. Be sure to not choose something that is already a course at Yale, a book or a piece of art! Yale wants to see that you have interests beyond just the “typical” of these subjects. 

Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence?  (200 characters or fewer)

Whoever you immediately thought of while reading this prompt – write about them! It can range from a high school teacher to a famous athlete to an Instagram model! As long as it is not a relative you are discussing, anyone you choose is fair game. Make sure you are describing the relationship between you and this person if it is not obvious. Also, detail what this person means to you and how they have helped you thrive thus far in your life. 

What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application? (200 character or fewer) 

This prompt is very straightforward and is the perfect opportunity to make sure your Yale application is well-rounded and represents all aspects of your life. Read over your application and look for any missing pieces. Are there any interests, hobbies, philosophies, quirks, etc that are missing? If there are, be sure to list them here! This can also be a good opportunity to elaborate on anything listed on your application. For example, if being a captain of your high school cross country team is listed on your application you can detail how that experience allowed you to be a leader and you locked into your entrepreneurial skills by starting a business making xc merch for everyone on your team. Ultimately, use this space to ensure you are being accurately represented in your Yale application. 

Essay questions for Coalition Application or Common Application applicants

For the Coalition Application or Common Application, you only need to respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or less . 

Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful? 

Knowing how to engage in a meaningful conversation with someone with an opposing view is a challenging, but vital life skill to possess. Therefore, this prompt is not looking for a dramatic story of how you completely changed someone’s mind and completely altered their life. Rather, it is searching for an individual who is not afraid to stand up for issues that they care about.

While at Yale, you will be forced to interact with many diverse people who will have different options on topics than yourself. Therefore, you should show Yale that you are able to learn, listen, and grow from these conversations and experiences with people who share different opinions. 

Forming an answer

To begin answering this prompt, think of a time in which you had an uncomfortable conversation with a friend, family, or a stranger. Remember, your goal is to stand out when writing any college application essay. So, try to pick a moment that allows Yale to see a unique angle of your life. 

Once you have established the uncomfortable conversation, summarize the opposing views. This shows that you are able to analyze both sides of the argument and know how to listen to someone even if you disagree with their views. You can establish which side of the argument you supported in this section of your response. 

Lastly, share any lessons you learned from this experience. How did you grow from this conversation? End your essay with a clear explanation of what you learned and how you will use this lesson as you continue on in life. Remember to connect back to Yale and how you will use this lesson while attending Yale specifically. 

  • Why is it important to talk with people who have different opinions? 
  • What have you learned from discussing a topic with someone with an opposing view? 
  • How can you bring what you have learned from this experience to the Yale community? 

Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you?  You may define community however you like.

Community is such a critical part of college. It provides students with a sense of unity with their classmates and ultimately leads to a better overall college experience. Therefore, Yale wants to see that you are able to connect within a community! 

A community does not need to be large scale, rather, it can be a small group. For example, maybe you were a part of the recycling club in high school and that club community was like your second home. Or maybe you were a student athlete and being on the track team in high school gave you a sense of community and purpose. Or, maybe your very own town community made your time living at home so great! 

There are plenty of instances in which community is present in your life. Therefore, just take the time to truly think about the different communities you are a part of and which had the most impact on you. 

Once you have decided on a community, be sure to reflect on how being a part of it improved your life. You want to highlight how important community is to you and your growth. Be sure to detail how exactly being a part of that group helped you thrive. For example, you can describe how it gave you a lot of people and connections you could reach out to for help.

Remember, Yale wants to see that you can not only be a part of a community, but thrive in one! You can even discuss your role in the community you chose and how vital it would be for you to play that same role in Yale. 

  • What does community mean to you? 
  • How does being a part of a community help you? 
  • In what ways do you hope to find a community at Yale? How will you go about this and contribute to this new Yale community? 

Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you? 

This is a very broad prompt! Therefore, try to brainstorm and create an outline if you are selecting this prompt to ensure you have a response that makes the point you want it to. 

Try to pick a specific personal experience that reveals a characteristic of your personality that you feel will enrich your intended time at Yale. Think of any unique characteristics, backgrounds or identities you may possess.Once you have decided on the aspect that best represents you, detail a narrative that truly shows without directly telling the admissions committee what it is that is unique about you. This show not tell method will help you stand out in your response and allow the admissions committee to truly get to know you.  

How to format your response

  • Tell a story or anecdote about a personal experience you have had 
  • Describe how this experience has changed you and what you have learned from it 
  • Detail what lessons you have learned from this experience
  • Connect to Yale and how you will bring this new knowledge to their campus 
  • What will you bring to the Yale community? 
  • How is your story different from other Yale applicants? 
  • What has influenced who you are today? 

Final thoughts on responding to the Yale supplemental essays

Now that you have completed reading our guide for responding to the Yale supplemental essay questions, it is time to write and perfect your responses! Be sure to double check which application you are using to apply to Yale whether it be the Coalition Application, Common Application or QuestBridge Application. 

If you are still feeling stuck responding to the Yale supplemental essays, Yale offers resources to help you. Yale has a few podcast episodes on how they make decisions on applications as well as offering some advice and strategies of what to include in your responses! In addition to their podcast episodes, they have a website with advice on putting together your application. 

By now, you are more than equipped to answer the Yale supplemental short answer and essay questions! Remember, be sure not to repeat yourself throughout your responses. You want to showcase every side of yourself so Yale gets a clear picture of who you are. 

Next steps after applying to Yale

Once you have perfected your Yale supplemental essay responses, it is time to submit your flawless application! 

Now what should you do? You can sit back and relax after being so diligent. Continue to check your Yale portal and email to stay updated on your application status. You can even follow Yale on social media to stay updated on other events and deadlines you may need to be aware of. 

Additional resources

As you are submitting your perfect Yale application, be sure to check out our guides on how many schools to apply to . In addition, check out our guide on what looks good to submit to colleges to make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Unsure about which standardized test you should take? Read more on the ACT vs SAT ! Already completed the ACT or SAT? If you are wondering about test optional schools, read here about whether or not to send your SAT/ACT scores. Finally, check out our free scholarship search tool to help you afford your education. Good luck! 

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 4 tips for a standout "why yale" essay.

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College Essays


For students applying to Yale, the "Why Yale" essay may seem straightforward, but it can also be very intimidating due to its low word-count limit and the specific nature of the prompt.

You might be wondering what you can write to make sure your application stands out from the crowd...and gets you accepted!

In this article, we're going to:

  • Break down the "Why Yale" essay
  • Explain what the university is looking for in your response
  • Suggest topics to write about that'll help you make an impact
  • Give a "Why Yale Essay" sample to get inspiration from another student's answer

So let's dive in!

The "Why Yale" Essay Prompt

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

Wow! This is a short essay prompt. You might be wondering what you can possibly write about to stand out from other applicants with such a brief assignment.

For instance, you may be thinking that everyone applies to Yale for the same reason: the school's stellar academic reputation.

While that's undoubtedly true, the admissions committee already knows that Yale is a great university. The admissions committee wants to know why you'd rather go to Yale than any of the other Ivy League universities or other top schools in the world.

What Is the Purpose of the "Why Yale" Essay?

Why do schools like Yale require you to answer a " why this school " essay?

No matter which schools you're applying to, this type of prompt is one of the most common that you'll see on your college applications.

Why? Because colleges want to see that you really want to attend their school. Students who love their school are more likely to be active and happy students—and later, active and happy alumni.

In short: your essay should show the admissions committee that you really love Yale, which will make them feel more confident that you'll be a great addition to the campus.

Because the " why this college " type of essay is common, it might be tempting to recycle one you wrote for a different school and plug it into your Yale application. That's not a good idea!

If your essay is generic or nonspecific to Yale, the admissions committee will worry that you're not invested in going to Yale. They may even think that you don't care about getting into Yale, which could cause them to pass over your application in favor of another student who really wants to attend Yale. The admissions committee wants to accept students who will attend Yale the next year.

Basically, Yale wants to make sure you know and value what they offer, and they also want to assess how you'll take advantage of the many opportunities on Yale's campus to further your academic and professional career.


What Should You Write About in Your "Why Yale" Essay?

Yale might be best known for its academics but there are many features of the university that you can talk about for your essay. Here's a list of potential topics:

  • Majors or classes you're especially interested in
  • Professors whose work you admire and whom you'd like to study with or conduct research with
  • Extracurriculars that you'd be interesting in joining
  • Research opportunities you'd like to have
  • Current and past Yale students you've met who you admire
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Professional opportunities
  • Campus life

You should make sure that the points you choose are unique to Yale itself. For instance, Yale's residential college system is very unique and creates a different campus life experience than most universities. Talking about how you appreciate that feature of Yale's campus will show that you have done your research and like Yale's unique features.

No matter which topic you choose, you should be sure to connect it back to your own interests.

For instance, if you talk about a professor whose work you admire, describe how studying under that professor will help your academic career.

Your answer to this prompt must be specific ; you can't just say that you are intrigued by Yale's stellar faculty. You need to give examples of which faculty members you want to learn from. Focus on your chosen feature of Yale, how it relates to you as a student and person, and how Yale can help you achieve your future goals.

Want to build the best possible college application?   We can help.   PrepScholar Admissions combines world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've guided thousands of students to get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit and are driven to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in:

Tips for a Great Response to the Why Yale Essay

Regardless of how you decide to answer this prompt, there are four tips everyone should keep in mind to make sure they're fully answering the question, giving the information Yale wants to see, and making sure they stand out from other applicants.

#1: Do Your Research

Before you begin writing your response to this essay prompt, you should know exactly why you want to attend Yale. There are multiple ways to do this research. You can check out the school website or course catalog . You could also schedule a campus visit, meet with an alum or current student, or chat with a Yale professor.

#2: Be Specific

From your research, you should have come up with specific reasons why Yale is a great school for you. The more specific you can be when answering this prompt, the better.

Don't say Yale has great academics, caring professors, and an interesting student body. The vast majority of schools have that.

Instead, try to mention opportunities only Yale can provide , like specific professors, course names, extracurriculars, or research opportunities.

#3: Show Your Passion

Yale wants students who care a lot about their studies and their school, so make sure this comes across in their response. A bland statement like, "I am impressed by Yale's drama program" doesn't tell the school anything about you or help you stand out from other applicants.

You've done your research so you can mention specific qualities of Yale that have enticed you, and now you need to discuss specific qualities about yourself as well. Why does the drama program make you so excited? What do you want to get out of it? Be detailed, specific and honest.

Showing a passion that's unique to you will help differentiate you from other applicants and show Yale that you're going to take your studies seriously.

#4: Proofread

Your Yale essay should be the strongest example of your work possible. Before you turn in your application, make sure to edit and proofread your essays.

Your work should be free of spelling and grammar errors. Make sure to run your essays through a spelling and grammar check before you submit.

It's a good idea to have someone else read your "Why Yale" essay, too. You can seek a second opinion on your work from a parent, teacher, or friend. Ask them if your work represents you as a student and person . Have them check and make sure you haven't missed any small writing errors. Having a second opinion will help your work be the best it possibly can be.


"Why Yale" Essay Sample and Reasons Why It Works

To help you get a better idea of what a great response to this prompt can look like, below is a "Why Yale" essay sample that we wrote. We'll also explain what makes it an excellent response.

The first song I could sing was Puccini's "O mio babbino Caro." I don't think that my mother realized she was sparking a love for opera by teaching me a party trick. That love has grown into a driving ambition and a door into my favorite areas of study: history, drama, language, and music. As a college student, I have always hoped to combine all of these fields.

While visiting Yale, I took a voice lesson from a mezzo soprano from the School of Music. She told me about how she studied Roman and Greek literature, leading her to specialize in baroque opera. Her inclusive approach to her craft inspired me and let me know that I can do the same at Yale. I cannot imagine giving up the study of language and history in favor of music, and at Yale I wouldn't have to.

Let's take a look at what makes this "Why Yale" essay work well.

#1: Answers the Prompt Specifically

This essay gives examples of personal experience with the school and reveals an applicant who did their research. The applicant is clearly interested in the music program at Yale, since he or she has taken a lesson with a student and talked with the student about their experience.

#2: Gives Details About a Program

The applicant's essay illustrates that they know the subjects they want to study at Yale: music, language, and history. They also show that they took the initiative to seek out a current vocal student to assess the kind of skills that could be gained by Yale's program.

#3: Shows Where the Applicant Fits In

It's clear from reading this essay where the author sees him or herself at Yale. They've shown that Yale has opportunities they want to take part in and contribute to, and they tie this into their academic goals for the future.

#4: Shows Interaction With Current Students

The applicant's experience with a current student is the main feature of this essay. It shows that the student had the foresight to take a lesson with someone who was a product of the school's undergraduate music program, and the evidence that she collected to support her goal of finding a school that wouldn't limit her learning experience to music alone.

Recap: Writing a Great "Why Yale" Essay

Your "Why Yale" essay can help give the admissions teams a good idea of why Yale is a great fit for you. The purpose of this essay prompt is for you to show Yale that you've done research on their school, feel it's a good fit for you , and already know some of the opportunities at the school you want to make the most of.

In your Yale essay, you can write about multiple topics, including academics, the student body, extracurriculars, and research opportunities. When writing your essay for this prompt, be sure to do lots of research on the school, be specific, show your passion, and mention plans you have for the future. Looking at "Why Yale" essay examples can also help, though they are hard to find.


What's Next?

Getting into college requires a strong application, including SAT/ACT scores. Wondering how high of an SAT score or ACT score do you need to get into your top colleges?

Worried about paying for college? Here's a complete guide to figuring out how much college will cost for you .

Know exactly what you want to study in college? Check out some of our best-of-specialty-school lists, including the best film schools , best video game design schools , best journalism schools , and best creative writing schools .

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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Yale University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision Deadline: Jan 2

You Have: 

Yale University 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

Short Answers dominate the Yale application. So, in brief, they’re looking for confidence. When an essay must clock in at under 100 words, you don’t have time to waffle. There’s no room for you to circle your main idea with broad statements. You’ve got to get straight to the point, and clearly. The successful applicant will choose precise words that can do double — even triple duty — telling your story (literally), bringing vivid details to life, and highlighting your overall intelligence.

The Requirements: 1 list; 6 short answer questions; 1 additional short essay of 400 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s):   Why ,  Short Answer , Community ,  Oddball

Short Answer Questions

Students at yale have 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..

There’s only one trick to generating a straightforward list of your academic interests: be honest. If you already know what you want to major in, or have it narrowed down to a few departments, you’re set! Don’t waste time trying to strategize. Choosing anything other than your true interests would be a misrepresentation of who you are and a disservice to you and the admissions office. This assignment will no doubt be most challenging for the undecideds, but to help you narrow your focus, try to tell a story with your choices. How can you use this to reveal something about what you value and what excites you intellectually? You could try to illustrate a general inclination (art history, studio art, and American studies). Or if you really feel like you could go any direction, try to show a balance, picking majors across domains that link to each other in a way that still makes sense (biology, psychology, classics)—you’ll thank yourself when answering the next question.

Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)

You’ve only got 100 words, but if you chose wisely (and honestly) in the previous question, answering this one should be a cinch. Whether you listed one or several interests, your goal is to tell a cohesive story about your intellectual curiosity. Ideally, you should try to recount an anecdote that illustrates your engagement with your chosen field, or demonstrates your ability to link seemingly disparate fields. Perhaps you’re interested in both religion and astrophysics because each offers a way for you to contemplate our place in the universe. But while you may be tempted to wax philosophical, you should beware of veering into overly abstract territory. This is a great opportunity for you to explain how your intellectual interests relate to who you are as a person. Don’t waste it!

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

This is a short version of the Why essay, the mini Why. Yale wants to make sure you are psyched for the full college experience at their school. So, we’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: DO. YOUR. RESEARCH. As a top school, Yale attracts many applicants based on its reputation alone, so it won’t do you any good to go on and on about the world-class education you will receive. Yale admissions officers know — and they know you know. Locate specific opportunities within your department and related programs and centers that really make your heart sing with excitement.

And make sure you talk about yourself! Yale doesn’t need a summary of its website (even if you write about a forgotten page deep in the Math Department website). Talk about your academic and professional goals and how Yale will help you achieve them. What unexpected classes might you want to take to sate your curiosity? How will you drive yourself to succeed? Don’t forget to include details about personal growth. If you think you can accomplish this and that on campus, what experience do you have to back up those claims? What about the Yale experience will enrich your life overall? Which extracurricular activities and organizations will you take advantage of? Do they offer quidditch ? If so, you should definitely play. Figure out why you’re applying to Yale over all the other schools out there – and then deliver it with eloquence and confidence.

Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete the questions above via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received.

Applicants submitting the coalition application or common application will also respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words):, what inspires you (200 characters or fewer).

200 characters is not a lot of characters, especially when it comes to a concept as broad as inspiration. You don’t have time to describe what the word means to you, and admissions officers don’t have time for vague answers (“nature”) or trite ones (“my mom”). First and foremost, have fun with this prompt. Think of the 200 character challenge as a game. Then, get specific. What experiences have launched some of your best ideas? Although you won’t have time to relate the whole story, you can draw upon your personal experience for a hyper-specific, memorable answer like “the color of fresh drosophila eggs” or “Goldie Hawn’s crazy eyes in Death Becomes Her .” You get the idea.

If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be? (200 characters or fewer)

The previous question asked you what inspires you, and this one is asking you what you can do. What are you good at? It’s time to show your stuff. Reach beyond the traditional academic areas and toward skills you may have cultivated on your own time (e.g., gardening, rock climbing, baking, etc.). Then, think about how you might share this talent with others, whether that be through a course, book, or artwork. Maybe you’ve been making TikToks reviewing your favorite YA novels for some time now. Would you teach a class on the politics of the modern heroine in YA fiction? Perhaps you could talk about marine life for hours on end. Would you write a book on the idiosyncrasies of giant isopods? There is no right or wrong answer here, so write about the subject that interests you the most!

Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? (200 characters or fewer)

Since you have so much to say in so few words, our advice is to summarize this person’s accomplishments succinctly and leave room to offer admissions deeper insight into their influence on you, what you value, and the kind of person you aspire to become. The person you choose to write about can be someone in your local community—a friend, a teacher, a community leader—or someone you haven’t yet had the chance to meet IRL. Maybe there is a renowned scientist who inspired you to pursue your chosen field. Perhaps an artist or thought leader has altered your understanding of what it means to be human. No matter who you choose, remember that this should say more about you than it does about them, so stay the course!

What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application? (200 characters or fewer)

This is one of the hardest prompts! What do they want to know?! Where do you start? Birth? School? Puberty? First, take a breath and calm down. Think about why they’re asking you this question and it will all fall into place. While many applications look similar, with impressive grades, extracurriculars, and teacher recommendations, this essay makes it so you can stand out from the crowd with your personality. Do you have a very sarcastic sense of humor? Do you make more dad jokes than your own father? Do all of your friends refer to you as the “artsy” one? Yale wants to know that you’re more than your transcripts, so take this opportunity to share a piece of yourself that they wouldn’t otherwise get to see. This prompt also lends itself to recycling previously written essays for other schools quite well, so you might want to consider revisiting it once you’ve made a dent in writing your supplemental essays for other schools.

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or fewer. 

1. reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. why did you find the experience meaningful.

Engaging with others in meaningful conversations about important issues can be intimidating and challenging, and the Yale admissions committee knows this. Nevertheless, we have all experienced standing up for our beliefs in some capacity, so scroll through your memory to identify a time when you had an uncomfortable conversation with friends, family, or even mere acquaintances. Maybe you engaged your grandparents in a conversation regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. Were you able to clearly communicate your perspective? What did you take away from the discussion? Perhaps you learned that one of your friends was a passive supporter of an organization that you vehemently disagree with. How did you broach the subject and what was the outcome of your conversation? You don’t need to have changed someone’s mind (or your own!) to impress admissions here. You just need to show that you’re not afraid to engage with those who may have different opinions than you. College will present you with a plethora of opportunities to meet and interact with people who are very different from you, so show Yale that you’re game to learn, listen, share, and grow.

2. Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

“A community to which you feel connected” could be anything: your family, a club at school, your dance troupe, women in STEM… you get the idea. If you’ve been wanting to spin your 8-bit video game obsession into an essay, this prompt is offering you the opportunity to describe your community of old-school gamers. Whatever community you choose, remember to define your place within it. Who are you to your fellow community members? How does being in this community add to your life or identity? Why is it meaningful? As always, try to be as concrete as possible as you develop your story, giving examples as you go. Just brainstorming your topic may remind you of a video you made or photo you took that you can use as a jumping off point. You might even consider digging through old photos and notebooks as a way to brainstorm!

3. Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?

This is a fabulous prompt because it’s just about as open-ended as it gets. If the other two essay prompts didn’t speak to you, this one is here to save the day! Yale wants to know what has made you into the person you are today. What you focus on here can really run the gamut, but it should be something that you feel will help you to contribute to Yale’s community in a unique way. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? What has influenced your identity? What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at Yale?

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Yale Supplemental Essay Examples

Yale Supplemental Essay Examples

A most important puzzle piece to your application are the supplemental essays, and the use of Yale supplemental essay examples is one of the best ways to prepare for writing your own perfect piece.

Don’t let the term “supplemental” fool you into thinking that these are throwaway or optional – supplemental college application essays contribute to your chances of being accepted into a program at one of the top schools in the world, so treat them as absolutely required.

Learning how to write a college essay can be done with tips and instructions, but there are excellent insights to be gained from reading sample college essays as well.

This article will give you sample essays for all of Yale’s supplemental essay prompts, as well as a small overview of additional writing and essay requirements in the supplemental section of Yale’s application – short answer questions and additional requirements for the coalition application.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 11 min read

Yale supplemental essay #1.

For: Coalition Application or Common Application

Prompt: Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it?

Word Count: 250 words, or fewer

Sample Essay #1:

Programming is a language I longed to learn and understand, so I bought the C++ programming language when I was fourteen to program my own video games. My lofty aspirations were stymied quickly: I couldn’t program a window with a button that closed the window.

Computer science classes in high school helped me progress. As I continued to learn coding, I began to become interested in AI. Artificial intelligence has kindled human imagination since before we even had the word “robot”, the Golem, for instance, or Frankenstein’s monster.

Computers think very differently than we do. An AI will go about accomplishing tasks very differently from a human. Machines are, unsurprisingly, more linear thinkers than we are. So, it is unsurprising that speaking with them is still impossible, if you’re looking for a real conversation.

But we have Siri and Alexa. Talking to machines has become an obsession of mine. I spent four hours in one session alone speaking with chatbots online. I believe that, within our lifetimes, we will take computers further, perhaps even to the point where we can “hang out” with them, and just chat. At that point, programming language will become “language”, and then the future will be now. As for me, C++ is only the beginning. Soon, we will be able to genuinely talk with artificial intelligences.

Want to learn more about Yale?

Sample Essay #2:

Triple threat performer is a term for a theatre artist who can sing, dance, and act. With all three skills on their resume, they can easily perform in any show and be an asset to any theatrical production. Right?

That’s only if we accept theatre as a static discipline with a confined set of rules and skills needed to perform it. I don’t think that it is static, or confined, and I don’t think it has rules, either. Any skill can be used.

We live in a world of ever-expanding technology, and we are also painfully aware of how the “rules” of social interaction can change – both in the positive sense, such as through communications media, and the negative sense, such as isolation.

In these strange times, I am exploring what I call integrated performance techniques: not just triple-threat, but how to integrate any skill into a performer’s art. Integrated performance combines live art with video technology and other disciplines, including fine art, technology, cooking, and anything else.

I have been trying, and mostly failing, to experiment with theatre performances that don’t look like normal theatre performances. Every attempt is basically a weird, messy showcase of a variety of skills and approaches that don’t work together. But I’m having fun and learning a lot while failing. And I think, if I fail enough, I’ll start to succeed, and maybe open up a whole new way of looking at what performance is.

I read an article, published in Nautilus by an astrophysicist, that scares, thrills, and excites me. It posited that the universe’s very laws of nature might be extremely advanced alien intelligence.

He cited Arthur C. Clarke, talked about dark matter, and opened up the idea that the cliché of the fabric of reality might be the real truth at the center of everything, or at least the next phase in discovering that truth.

We think of physics as “how” the world works and philosophy as “why” the world works. If the very laws of nature might be life forms, as per the article, it’s possible that the how and the why are the same.

Very few people are talking about this idea, but I formed a group at my school to talk about the limits of science – if there are any – and it has grown into a large collective. The most exciting day was when a couple of teachers at my school showed up to a meeting, having heard of the heady concepts we were tackling, and wanting to participate. We have started thinking of ourselves as a think-tank.

I believe that studying natural law can give us insight into moral law, and that we don’t have to think of intellectual achievement and moral advancement as separate. I think a lot of our troubles as a species have arisen from this separation.

Questions are all I have at this point, but they are exciting questions that could change the world.

For: Coalition Application or Common Application – respond to either 2a or 2b.

Prompt: Reflect on a community to which you feel connected. Why is it meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

Word Count: 250 words or fewer

I play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D. Thanks to popular shows like Stranger Things, it’s a more accepted hobby than it used to be, but it’s still seen as pretty niche, and I’ve been called some pretty unflattering words as a result.

Every year, I go to as many conventions as I can. These fan conventions, or cons, are places where people who play D&D, watch anime, read Lord of the Rings, and debate the philosophical implications of video games go to, meet their sci-fi-fantasy heroes, and “geek out” as much as possible.

This community is so welcoming, and I can’t describe it any better than seeing a person dressed in a demon monster costume talking with a middle-aged man dressed as Sailor Moon like it was the most natural thing in the world.

It’s a place for the outliers to go and realize that we aren’t so strange after all. Through connections I’ve made at cons, I have built an online community that I can go to for help, for answers, for support, and for friendship. We’re all very into online connectivity, so staying in touch is a breeze, and always fun.

Through this community’s support, I have increased my self-confidence, made some contacts in industries that I’m interested in, such as gaming and comics, and learned how to be more accepting of myself and others.

The smells of cinnamon and nutmeg come along every holiday season for a lot of people. They are associated with autumn’s apple pies and Christmastime’s hot chocolate. I associate it with Three King’s Day in January, because my family are Latvian Orthodox. But I also associate it with chilis and molasses, because my family are also Jamaican and we eat jerk chicken on Three King’s Day. My family are weird, and I love them.

As my mother told me, she was on Spring break down in Jamaica, and came back raving about her new boyfriend – the man she would marry, bring to the US, and start a family with. She said the two families came from radically different places, but none of that mattered; they were brought together through my parents’ love.

.... . .-.. .-.. ---

I’m saying “Hello”.

My father owns a HAM radio set and frequently communicates with other amateur radio enthusiasts. I wanted to know what all the beeping was about, and dad started to teach me. I knew how to send messages in Morse code by the time I was a teenager.

There is a whole group of people who communicate with each other only by Morse code over HAM radio, who have never seen each other’s faces or heard each other’s voices, only a constant series of long-and-short bursts of beeps.

I’ve started talking to them and gotten to know some of the other HAM operators on my dad’s network, and it’s such a warm, friendly group of aural tones.

To me, this is such a brilliant, shining microcosm of humanity and our achievements. We are the animals with tools, who have abstract reasoning, and can find a friend in a series of beep-beep-beep-beeps. Very few people choose to communicate this way these days, and there is a specialness in sharing something so unusual with people. It’s like a secret club.

To be able to reach out with a signal and interpret that signal as a strange friendship is what is so special about our technological place. We live in the communication era. These days we’re all firing signals into the dark, whether as a series of tweets, or Morse code beeps, or texts.

--. --- --- -.. -... -.-- .

Yale Supplemental Essay #2b

Prompt: Reflect on something that has given you great satisfaction. Why has it been important to you?

I’ve never considered myself to be a very physical guy – I'm the classic tech-dweeb type – and I mostly spend my time studying mathematics and statistics. I stay indoors, I’m sedentary, and I have no sports or athletics in my hobbies.

Or, at least, I didn’t use to. My buddy Rod got sick about three years ago, and a lot of it had to do with malnutrition. I didn’t realize that you could get that sick with poor diet and exercise. I knew it was bad for you, but I never pictured it.

That’s when I read up on how to be healthier and started jogging. Of course, I continued to do calculations. “If I jog at 6 m/ph for 30 minutes, I’ll have covered 3 miles, and over the course of four weeks…” and on and on like that.

I found my love of statistics could fuel my jogging, letting me keep track of achievements and set goals.

Last summer I ran my first marathon. Well, by “ran” I mean I mostly walked it or jogged, but I completed it. I’m not going to the Olympics, but I finished a marathon. It’s important to me because it represents perseverance and attaining goals, and because I broke out of a set path to become somebody new. I don’t have to stop being a tech-dweeb to love athletics, or vice-versa, and opening up my world means a bigger horizon – one I’m jogging towards right now.

I was lying in my coffin, waiting for the beginning, and I had to keep quiet or those in attendance would hear me. The problem was that I was so excited to have made it there.

We were performing my first self-made show at an outdoor theatre festival. How did I end up here with so little experience?

In theatre class at school, a guest speaker once advised, “Book a space,” meaning that if you spend money and book a space for your show, you commit; there’s no backing down. I signed up for a theatre festival the next day.

Time seemed to warp over the next months as I tried to fit in the challenge of self-producing, writing, casting, and rehearsing the show, and building a prop coffin that I was going to be mock-buried in.

Nothing went smoothly. A cast member dropped out and had to be replaced, we couldn’t afford rehearsal space, so backyards and garages were used instead. Every challenge seemed too much, but we had to keep going. Learning to produce a show has taught me about administration, scheduling, creativity, and management, and grew my confidence and artistic ability.

Getting to hear and see the crowd reaction once I was out of the coffin made all the problems go away. I got to tell a story and learn about all aspects of theatrical production, and my love of this art form was taken further than ever before. I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere else.

Need more tips for navigating your college apps?

Sample Essay #3:

My father is a professor of English literature. I am somebody who doesn’t consider herself to be particularly “bookish”. I read non-fiction, and I’ve always felt like there’s a chasm between my father and myself – we have had a hard time bonding.

Last year, I set a goal to read James Joyce’s Ulysses – one of my father’s favorite books, and one of the most infamously-difficult books in the English language.

At 730 pages, I figured I could read Joyce’s monolith in a little over a week – 100 pages a day, two weeks if it was hard going.

I read 100 pages quickly before realizing that just reciting the words in my head would mean nothing; I had to understand it. So, I started again, slowed way down, and tried to crack the tome.

Two months in and I wasn’t half-way through – frustrated, almost to the point of tears. I chewed onwards, studying it for almost five months. That in itself was an accomplishment, but that’s not why I’m proud of this. Punishing myself with reading isn’t the treasure.

The next week, dad was talking about a student struggling with Ulysses in his class, and I said, “Cut him some slack, it’s a hard book.”

“You’ve read it?” he asked me.

When I nodded and started talking to him about the plot points and themes – the stuff of the book that I had struggled with – we had a great conversation.

I didn’t read a book – I built a bridge across a chasm.

Supplemental essays are a great way to stand out in the application committee’s minds, so put extra effort into them; you’ll never regret doing your best.

Note that, in addition to these prompts, those submitting under the Coalition Application are required to upload an audio file (mp3), video (mov), image (jpeg), or document file (word or pdf) of their own creation. Whichever method chosen, this file should complement one of the prompt response essays. Only the indicated file types are accepted. Yale’s application says that “advanced editing is not necessary”.

Furthermore, all applicants, whether applying through the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application, will respond to short answer questions – three in total. These questions are:

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer) "}]">

These are the three ways to apply to Yale as a first-year applicant. No preference is given between the three, so the choice of which application type to undertake is left with the prospective student to decide for themselves.

The Coalition Application is an application platform, allowing prospective students to create an application that is used by 100 colleges and universities in the US. The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is geared to give needs-based financial aid, and grants access to other resources: an online “locker”, a collaboration space, and a MyCoalition Counselor. Coalition applicants through Yale are required to send in an additional supplemental file (document, audio file, video, or image file) which is meant to directly relate to one of their essay prompt responses.

The Common Application, or Common App, is an application platform, used by 600 colleges and universities worldwide. This allows you to upload applications to up to 20 of those institutions. It is a central platform, but Yale still requires the Yale-specific supplemental questions and essays answered.

The QuestBridge Application is for low-income applicants and is designed to help those applicants through the process of application as well as with navigating the procurement of financial aid at Yale. It is used by 42 partner institutions (including Yale).

They are required at Yale.

Applicants have the option of choosing between writing essay 2a or 2b, but they must write one of them.

We also encourage applicants to consider no essay to be truly optional. If the form says you have a choice, the only real choice is to give yourself every point in your favor possible: write the essay.

The only exception is if essays are optional with specific conditions. For example, if a school requires an essay from international students and you are not international, you won’t write that essay.

Anything that applies to you, whether it is officially optional or not, you should do.

With such low word-counts, brevity is required, so get immediately to the point.

The first question is about what you want to study. Yale asks you to select up to three from the list provided.

The second question asks why the areas of study, those you picked in the first question, appeal to you. Focus on why you’re passionate about that subject. Connect it to you on a personal level, show why it’s imperative that you study it, and maybe site some aspirations of what you’re going to achieve by entering that particular field.

The third question is about why you want to study at Yale. What you want to do is look up faculty of note in your field(s) of choice, any interesting research being done, specific courses offered that are unique to Yale, and information on syllabi that you can site to show that Yale, above all others, is the place for you. If you have clearly researched course offerings and Yale’s research, the committee will understand that you know about the school and value its uniqueness.

You can also highlight values that the school holds – their core, foundational principles.

Don’t site its prestigious status. Don’t site its location or how beautiful the campus is.

While this is only a short answer question, reading up on why this college essay will give you some good insights into how to create your own answer.

The main subject is yourself, and what makes you unique.

You should choose to accentuate your best traits, but also how those traits will relate to Yale and the courses you would like to take.

Good qualities include perseverance, growth, skillsets, and unusual experiences that helped you grow (positive or negative).

If you can mention an area of research or a particular, singular aspect of Yale while you do so – so much the better.

It depends on how much shorter. You don’t have to hit the word limit exactly, but if you’ve only written fifty words out of two-hundred and fifty, you’re likely not going in-depth enough on your topics.

Concise writing is good, but you also need to make sure you’re accomplishing your goals of showing your abilities and standing out for the admissions committee.

If you have any doubt, it’s good to use college essay advisors to check your work. In fact, to ensure optimal results, essay advisors are a good idea anyway.

They are very important.

Every aspect of your application should be treated as though it is of utmost importance. You want only your best work to be submitted, because that’s your best chance for admission.

Essays let you show yourself off in ways that pure numbers won’t, so take extra advantage of the opportunity.

Yale’s international applicants follow the same procedures and forms as a US student, for the most part.

You do need to make sure that any transcripts or documents that are not in English are translated, and if you are a non-native English speaker, you will be required to take an English language test.

Getting college admissions counselling for international students is a great way to make sure you haven’t missed anything and you application is the best it can be.

Up to three times, yes, but three is the limit. This includes first-year applicants, transfer students, non-degree applicants, and students who are applying through the Eli Whitney students’ program.

Studying up on Yale university can prevent you from needing to reapply at all, of course.

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Essay topics.

All first-year applicants will complete a few Yale-specific short answer questions. These required questions are slightly different based on the application platform an applicant chooses. The 2023-2024 Yale-specific questions for the Coalition Application, Common Application, and QuestBridge Application are detailed below.

Short Answer Questions

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application , Common Application , or QuestBridge Application  will respond to the following short answer questions:

  • Students at Yale have 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.
  • Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)
  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete the questions above via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received.

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application  will also respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words):

  • What inspires you?
  • If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?
  • Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? 
  • What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or fewer. 

1. Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?

2. Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

3. Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?

The New Ivies: As Employers Sour On The Super-Elite, These 20 Colleges Shine

The Ivy League is losing its standing as America’s producer of great talent. Here are the schools producing the hard-working high achievers that employers crave.

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Critics cite university responses to campus protests as just one of many grievances they have with the Ivy League.

For the entirety of America’s existence, the Ivy League has provided an essential service. In sorting the best and the brightest upon admission and then rigorously educating them, these “Ancient Eight” universities have provided employers, investors and even voters a meritocratic seal of approval. Some one-third of U.S. presidents and the current Forbes 400 list of richest Americans are Ivy alums, as well as eight sitting members of the Supreme Court.

But as evident just by reading or watching the news, something feels distinctly off on Ivy League campuses. The eight colleges have faced a barrage of complaints in recent years over admissions policies that put together a class of amalgamated specialists instead well-rounded, bright students; grade inflation at top schools Harvard and Yale; and most recently, university officials’ responses to on-campus protests against the war in Gaza.

So if the Ivies aren’t the Ivies anymore, which schools exactly are? Using an exclusive survey of hiring managers, Forbes introduces the New Ivies—the 10 public universities and 10 ascendant private ones turning out the smart, driven graduates craved by employers of all types.

Our methodology was as follows. After disqualifying the Ivies (and we used the Ivy-plus yardstick, which includes Stanford, MIT, Duke and the University of Chicago, as well as the eight classics Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Penn, Columbia, Dartmouth and Cornell), we started with 1,743 colleges of at least 4,000 students (understanding that small liberal arts schools have always offered a more boutique experience and are hard to compare with research universities). Using 2022 admissions data, the most recent available, we then screened for schools with high standardized test scores (our New Ivies average a robust 1482 SAT and 33 ACT) and where at least half the applicants supplied the scores, regardless of whether they were required to do so for admission—in other words, places that still rely heavily on objective measures of success.

We also screened with a selectivity yardstick (below a 20% admission rate at private schools, 50% at publics). And then from there, we took the 32 remaining schools and surveyed our hiring manager respondents about each one.

Many of the schools on our list are well known; Johns Hopkins and University of Michigan have long been considered Ivy caliber institutions, while Vanderbilt, Rice and Emory are often referred to as Southern Ivies. Others like New York’s Binghamton University are already respected in their geographic areas, but now are attracting wider notice.

Data Research: Rina Torchinsky


These 10 state universities, spread across the U.S., attract high-achievers and turn out hard-working, highly-regarded employees. (Military academies were not included in our analysis. California universities were excluded because they don’t consider test scores.)


These 10 private schools, located in nine states and Washington D.C., are attracting the smartest students and plaudits from employers. Our analysis excluded schools with fewer than 4,000 students, the eight old Ivies and four Ivy-plus schools—Stanford, MIT, Duke and Chicago.

Emma Whitford

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I was accepted into my dream colleges: Duke, Columbia, and Yale. I flipped a coin to decide which one was right for me.

  • I was accepted into Duke, Columbia, and Yale, so I had to choose which one was right for me.
  • Serious deliberation removed Columbia; it took a coin flip and following my gut to make up my mind.
  • I'm a student at Yale, and I now realize my choice didn't really matter all that much.

Insider Today

College application season is finally over, but the stress isn't gone completely.

For many students, April is still a stressful time; you may still be debating which school to go attend. Sometimes, the college decision isn't so clear-cut. For example, what do you do if you apply to multiple dream schools expecting to only get into one, and you're lucky enough to get into multiple?

That was the case for me this time last year. As a kid, my dream school was Columbia, and for most of high school, it was Yale . At the last minute, Duke crept near the top spot. In the end, I was blessed enough to get into all three, and while it took some time, here's what helped me decide.

Make sure to learn as much as possible about each school

Doing your homework before decision season is crucial. Visit colleges early to get a feel and plan what you could see yourself doing. Of course, you will change your mind over time, but getting a sense of your playing field is important.

Many schools offer fly-in programs to admits, and while they can make for a hectic schedule in April, attending these can give you a great sense of what the school is like. While Duke was initially below Yale on my list, attending their Black Student Alliance Invitational brought them way up.

At these programs, you get to see the schools, sit in on classes, check out clubs, and meet students. I met people at BSAI that I instantly connected and still do my best to keep up with.

Revisit what made you want to go to each school in the first place

Ok, so you've done your research, gone to the fly-ins, and are now trying to decide. First, ground yourself and check on the factors that are most important to you. While getting into great colleges can feel like the stars have aligned, it's worthwhile to remind yourself of what led you to apply to each school in the first place and what you anticipated valuing before decisions came back.

Related stories

For me, this meant looking very closely at financial aid and location. Being from a somewhat well-off family, I received substantial aid from Yale, Duke, and Columbia, but none offered me a full ride. All three schools were also situated in very different environments and were different sizes.

Both of these factors eliminated Columbia from my list. The aid package there was less substantial, and while I have loved New York for short periods, I couldn't imagine living there, much less making the most of it.

However, after considering these hard factors, I was left with two equally good options. Duke and Yale gave me two different but incredibly enticing visions of my future. I couldn't possibly choose myself; I was torn.

So, I flipped a coin.

Trust me, the coin flip works

I know it sounds stupid, but a coin flip is the best method for figuring out what school to go with if you've done everything you could but can't decide. You shouldn't follow through on what the coin flip says, but you should act like you will. Your reaction to the coin flip will tell you where you want to go.

In my case, it landed on Duke, and I felt unsettled. I planned on going to North Carolina after undergrad school anyway because my dream is to go to Duke Law on a Mordecai scholarship, so I wondered if Duke was right for my undergrad years, too. Yale was my dream school, and Duke's emerging quad system was different from Yale's residential college system, which I loved.

All these factors made me realize that I wanted to go to Yale. I committed before even going to Yale's fly-in program, Bulldog Days.

After you pick, don't dwell on it

Do I think about what would have happened if I had chosen Duke? Of course. But in the end, it doesn't matter. Going to college is already an incredible privilege, and picking between multiple top-tier schools is an abundance of riches. There is no wrong answer.

In the end, it's important to have confidence in yourself. I would still be Miles at Columbia or Duke. Sure, the environments would have molded me into a different version of myself, but in the end, I would still be Miles. That's what matters.

Watch: What new Citadel military college "knobs" go through on day one at the controversial school

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College protesters seek amnesty to keep arrests and suspensions from trailing them

What started at Columbia University has turned into a nationwide showdown between students and administrators over anti-war protests and the limits of free speech

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Maryam Alwan figured the worst was over after New York City police in riot gear arrested her and other protesters on the Columbia University campus, loaded them onto buses and held them in custody for hours.

But the next evening, the college junior received an email from the university. Alwan and other students were being suspended after their arrests at the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment,” a tactic colleges across the country have deployed to calm growing campus protests against the Israel-Hamas war.

The students’ plight has become a central part of protests, with students and a growing number of faculty demanding their amnesty. At issue is whether universities and law enforcement will clear the charges and withhold other consequences, or whether the suspensions and legal records will follow students into their adult lives.

Terms of the suspensions vary from campus to campus. At Columbia and its affiliated Barnard College for women, Alwan and dozens more were arrested April 18 and promptly barred from campus and classes, unable to attend in-person or virtually, and banned from dining halls.

Questions about their academic futures remain. Will they be allowed to take final exams? What about financial aid? Graduation? Columbia says outcomes will be decided at disciplinary hearings, but Alwan says she has not been given a date.

“This feels very dystopian,” said Alwan, a comparative literature and society major.

how to write a college essay yale

What started at Columbia has turned into a nationwide showdown between students and administrators over anti-war protests and the limits of free speech. In the past 10 days, hundreds of students have been arrested, suspended, put on probation and, in rare cases, expelled from colleges including Yale University, the University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and the University of Minnesota.

Barnard, a women’s liberal arts college at Columbia, suspended more than 50 students who were arrested April 18 and evicted them from campus housing, according to interviews with students and reporting from the Columbia Spectator campus newspaper, which obtained internal campus documents.

On Friday, Barnard announced it had reached agreements restoring campus access to “nearly all” of them. A statement from the college did not specify the number but said all students who had their suspensions lifted have agreed to follow college rules and, in some cases, were put on probation.

On the night of the arrests, however, Barnard student Maryam Iqbal  posted a screenshot on the social media platform X  of a dean’s email telling her she could briefly return to her room with campus security before getting kicked out.

“You will have 15 minutes to gather what you might need,” the email read.

More than 100 Barnard and Columbia faculty staged a “Rally to Support Our Students” last week condemning the student arrests and demanding suspensions be lifted.

Columbia is still pushing to remove the tent encampment on the campus main lawn where graduation is set to be hosted May 15. The students have demanded the school cuts ties with Israel-linked companies and ensure amnesty for students and faculty arrested or disciplined in connection with the protests.

Talks with the student protesters are continuing, said Ben Chang, a Columbia spokesperson. “We have our demands; they have theirs,” he said.

For international students facing suspension, there is the added fear of losing their visas, said Radhika Sainath, an attorney with Palestine Legal, which helped a group of Columbia students file a federal civil rights complaint against the school Thursday. It accuses Columbia of not doing enough to address discrimination against Palestinian students.

“The level of punishment is not even just draconian, it feels like over-the-top callousness,” Sainath said.

how to write a college essay yale

More than 40 students were arrested at a Yale demonstration last week, including senior Craig Birckhead-Morton. He is due to graduate May 20 but says the university has not yet told him if his case will be submitted to a disciplinary panel. He worries about whether he will receive a diploma and if his acceptance to Columbia graduate school could be at risk.

“The school has done its best to ignore us and not tell us what happens next,” said Birckhead-Morton, a history major.

Across the country, college administrators have struggled to balance free speech and inclusivity. Some demonstrations have included hate speech, antisemitic threats or support for Hamas, the group that attacked Israel on Oct. 7, sparking a war in Gaza that has left more than 34,000 dead.

May commencement ceremonies add pressure to clear demonstrations. University officials say arrests and suspensions are a last resort, and that they give ample warnings beforehand to clear protest areas.

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How Columbia University’s complex history with the student protest movement echoes into today

Associated Press

Vanderbilt University in Tennessee has issued what are believed to be the only student expulsions related to protesting the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to the Institute for Middle Eastern Understanding. More than two dozen students occupied the university chancellor’s office for several hours on March 26, prompting the university to summon police and arrest several protesters. Vanderbilt then issued three expulsions, one suspension and put 22 protesters on probation.

In an open letter to Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, more than 150 Vanderbilt professors criticized the university’s crackdown as “excessive and punitive.”

Freshman Jack Petocz, 19, one of those expelled, is being allowed to attend classes while he appeals. He has been evicted from his dorm and is living off campus.

Petocz said protesting in high school was what helped get him into Vanderbilt and secure a merit scholarship for activists and organizers. His college essay was about organizing walkouts in rural Florida to oppose Gov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies.

“Vanderbilt seemed to love that,” Petocz said. “Unfortunately, the buck stops when you start advocating for Palestinian liberation.”

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The Gaza Protests Engulfing Columbia and Other Campuses

More from our inbox:, praise for liz cheney’s plea to the justices on trump’s immunity claim.

To the Editor:

Re “ After Arrests at Columbia, Students Face More Fallout ” (news article, April 21):

As parents of students suspended by Columbia University and Barnard College, we write to express our outrage.

After deploying the New York Police Department on Columbia’s campus to shut down what Chief of Patrol John Chell characterized as a “peaceful” protest (as reported in The Columbia Daily Spectator ), Columbia and Barnard have suspended over 100 students, a great many of whom have been summarily evicted from their dorms and barred from dining halls without a formal investigation or hearing.

Among the evicted are lower-income students, students of color, students with disabilities and first-generation students. The security of students has been further compromised by vicious doxxing. We question the legality of much of what Columbia and Barnard have done in the last few days and fear for our children’s safety.

While we parents come from a variety of religious faiths and social backgrounds, we are all invested in our children’s well-being and education. We therefore find the actions taken by the administration deeply troubling and contrary to the principles of liberty, justice and academic freedom that are fundamental to the mission of higher education.

We demand that Columbia and Barnard repeal the suspensions of all suspended students. If Columbia and Barnard do not reverse course and restore some balance in the treatment of their students, they risk tarnishing their reputations as educational institutions that value free intellectual exchange and the pursuit of justice.

D. Borus J. Cuming Ms. Cuming is a Barnard graduate. The letter was signed by 56 other parents of suspended students.

Re “ Columbia University to Hold Classes Remotely After Weekend Protests ” (news article, nytimes.com, April 22):

As a Jewish college student, I have found the ignorance and extremism I have seen on campus since Oct. 7 deeply upsetting. Both my own experiences and those of my peers have shown me that knowledge and an ability to have difficult, but civil, conversations are the keys to overcoming the extremist forces overtaking so many of America’s college campuses.

Although I understand concerns about student safety, I was deeply disappointed with Columbia University’s decision to hold remote classes, thus interfering with the daily operations of the university and the education of its students. In going remote, Columbia capitulated to the forces of disinformation, incivility and antisemitism driving these protests.

In the coming days, I hope that Columbia and other institutions that are currently engulfed in protests work to fulfill their missions of educating young people — our future leaders — while creating spaces for difficult conversations and taking concrete steps to stop horrific acts of antisemitism. The future health of our democracy depends on it.

Zane Nagel Washington The writer attends the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

I am 78 years old — a product of the ’60s and a graduate of Columbia University. I protested and marched in Washington, D.C., and New York City and on the campus of Columbia in 1968. We were angry, but we had hope that we could bring about change. And until today I have kept those values.

But I now feel a type of despair that is new to me. I have no issue with criticizing Israel, with peaceful protest, but the operative word is peaceful. The harassment and hatred being expressed at Columbia against Jews are truly frightening. And my deepest question is: Where is the left? Where is its condemnation of the hatred? That silence is deafening.

Doris Dlugacz Woodmere, N.Y.

Re “ Universities Try to Quell Pro-Palestinian Protests ” (front page, April 23):

In seeing the unrest at Columbia and other campuses around the nation, it seems obvious that the divisiveness is escalated by the political theater of hauling university leaders in front of members of Congress. I’m truly curious as to what purpose these “hearings” play in furthering our nation beyond giving politicians with deep agendas the free airtime to play to their bases.

Why do we continue to allow members of Congress to drive us further apart for their own benefit?

Matt Glass South Orange, N.J.

Among the issues that are at the center of the acrimony regarding the pro-Palestinian protests on campuses, the demands of the protesters at Yale that the university divest from arms manufacturers are perfectly reasonable.

A university, Yale or any other, discredits itself as an institution of higher learning by using its financial resources to finance means of mass destruction.

John A. Viteritti Laurel, N.Y.

A black-and-white photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building, with trees in the foreground.

Re “ The Justices Should Rule Promptly on Trump ,” by Liz Cheney (Opinion guest essay, April 22):

Thank you, Ms. Cheney, for presenting a crystal clear rationale for the Supreme Court to wrap up the issue of presidential immunity in a timely manner and let the trial about efforts to overturn the 2020 election proceed and hopefully conclude before the November 2024 election.

Voters certainly have the right to hear what exactly Donald Trump did on Jan. 6. Many of us were disappointed that the Supreme Court decided to hear Mr. Trump’s preposterous arguments that he is immune from prosecution because he was president, but it was not a surprise.

Three of the current justices (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett) were nominated by Mr. Trump, while Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Ginni, is an active Republican operative and an election denier. And we all know that Samuel Alito is a right-wing extremist.

I am extremely concerned that these five biased jurists will do anything in their power to help Mr. Trump. I do not believe that, in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, the justices simply “call balls and strikes.” Perhaps previous justices did that, but not the current Roberts court packed with right-wing partisans, promoted by the Federalist Society, whose main goal is social re-engineering.

Michael Hadjiargyrou Centerport, N.Y.

I could be called a lifelong liberal who mostly disagreed with anyone who espoused Republican Party views. My softening toward a few Republicans is a direct result of the mayhem that former President Donald Trump has brought to our country.

His over-the-top, dangerous behaviors are a source of disgust and anxiety as I consider the possibility of this man getting re-elected. And his rise has only pushed me further away from any sense of faith in our political system.

But there are a few courageous and intelligent Republicans who are able to see through this man’s ego and obsessions with himself enough to speak out to any American willing to hear the truth. These include Liz Cheney.

I have such admiration for her. She continues to speak with clarity, honesty and deep courage to call out Mr. Trump to members of her party.

Thank you, Ms. Cheney, for teaching me to look beyond the party labels and to listen to the words.

Maureen Cleary Whitefish, Mont.


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  1. How to Write the Yale University Essays 2023-2024

    Students can apply to Yale University using the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or Questbridge. All applicants are required to respond to two short answer questions that involve exploring your areas of interest and outlining your reasons for applying to Yale. Additionally, all applicants must write one 400-word essay.

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    Essays (250 words, for all applicants) Prompt 1: Yale's extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you.

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    Step #1: Do your research. Spend 1 hr+ researching 10+ reasons why Yale might be a great fit for you (you'll only use a few of them, but try to find more than you'll need for the essay so you can choose the strongest). Step #2: Use this chart to map out your research. Step #3: Decide on your approach.

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    How to Write a Great Yale Essay. Regardless of which Yale short answer question you're responding to, you should keep in mind the following tips for how to write a great Yale essay. #1: Use Your Own Voice. The point of a college essay is for the admissions committee to have the chance to get to know you beyond your test scores, grades, and honors.

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    The Why Yale essay is a short answer essay that can be a maximum of 125 words long. The objective of the Why Yale essay is the same as it is for other Why School essays—to demonstrate that you have researched the school well and explain what makes it the right fit for you. The Why Yale essay for 2023-24 is worded as follows:

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    Avoid Superficial Reasons. As you write, try to avoid saying things that are superficial and don't show reflective qualities. For example, Yale has gorgeous buildings, and the library is beautiful and incredibly picturesque. But Yale also has academic resources, and that is where you should focus your essay. Instead of commenting on the ...

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  18. 4 Tips for a Standout "Why Yale" Essay

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  19. Yale University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    The successful applicant will choose precise words that can do double — even triple duty — telling your story (literally), bringing vivid details to life, and highlighting your overall intelligence. The Requirements: 1 list; 6 short answer questions; 1 additional short essay of 400 words. Supplemental Essay Type (s): Why , Short Answer ...

  20. Yale Supplemental Essay Examples

    Yale Supplemental Essay #1. For: Coalition Application or Common Application Prompt: Yale's extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead.Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it? Word Count: 250 words, or fewer

  21. Essay Topics

    Essay Topics. All first-year applicants will complete a few Yale-specific short answer questions. These required questions are slightly different based on the application platform an applicant chooses. The 2023-2024 Yale-specific questions for the Coalition Application, Common Application, and QuestBridge Application are detailed below.

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    In the past 10 days, hundreds of students have been arrested, suspended, put on probation and, in rare cases, expelled from colleges including Yale University, the University of Southern ...

  28. The Gaza Protests Engulfing Columbia and Other Campuses

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