If you’re a high school senior applying to Yale this year, in addition to the CommonApp you’ll need to complete Yale’s Freshman Supplement. Competition, of course, is stiff. Yale received 25,800 applications last year (about a 0.7% decrease from the year before), and of these, of which 761 were accepted for Early Decision. A total of 2,952 students were given the chance for reconsideration in the regular decision round in the spring.
On the administration side, there have been a number of changes at Yale that bode well for incoming students. Yale’s projected financial aid spending on undergraduates is expected to continue to swell, from $108 million in 2010-11 to an estimated $117 million in 2011-12. In fact, the financial aid budget is over four times greater than the $28 million that Yale expended as recently as 2001! Over the past decade, the percentage of Yale College students receiving Yale grant aid has increased from 37% to 57% and the average annual grant from Yale has increased from $15,000 to $35,400. For many, these changes make attending Yale a real possibility.
Please find the essay/short answer questions below, along with our analysis and quick tips!
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II Why Yale?
What in particular about Yale has influenced your decision to apply? Please limit your response to the space provided.
You don’t have a great deal of space to expound on the flexibility of Yale’s distribution requirements. The best answers here will be highly specific, zeroing in on features that are unique to Yale vs “world-renowned faculty, sprawling campus, ambitious student body and rolling hills.” (By the way, Yale’s campus isn’t known for its rolling hills.) Great answers also enhance the application/candidacy you’ve already built. Did your CommonApp essay discuss your passion for Almodovar? Consider exploring the advantages of a double major in film studies and Spanish, studying abroad and/or bringing a new initiative to the Film Society. Are you a musician? Do your research on Yale’s burgeoning undergraduate opera company. Concisely share stories that shaped your perception of Yale and its student groups during a campus visit.
Of the Ivy League colleges, Yale simply does some things better than any other. Harvard and Princeton will also have top professors and a strong humanities department–so what’s Yale’s unique appeal? Do your research, and find out if Yale really is the best fit for you afterall.
III • Short Takes
Please respond in 25 words or fewer to each of the questions below.
1. What would you do with a free afternoon tomorrow?
Don’t write what an admissions committee wants to hear. Be bold and creative. Be action-oriented. Be visionary. A nap in a hammock in the Hamptons is unlikely to resonate.
2. Recall a compliment you received that you especially value. What was it? From whom did it come?
This is a great question from Yale. The ability to receive a compliment (beyond the physical–’nice eyes’ is not an option!) is learned/acquired for most. Your choice of compliments will speak to your fundamental values and priorities, so keep that in mind above all else.
3. If you could witness one moment in history, what would it be and why?
We cringe at the pretentious answers this question may elicit. As with question 1, it’s important to think about what you’ve studied so far, and what has meaningfully piqued your interest. Witnessing the eruption of Pompeii (provided there’s a guaranteed survival clause!) or the signing of the Declaration of Independence would be grand–but what appeals to you intellectually that might not appeal to 99% of other applicants?
4. What do you wish you were better at being or doing?
This is a great aspirational question. Perfectionists and scathing self-critics be careful not to self-flagellate (2nd place in the Intel Science Talent Search isn’t half-bad). Also, carefully consider ‘being’ vs ‘doing.’ ‘Being’ will be overlooked by many applicants as a possibility. You can ‘be’ a better leader, you can ‘be’ more compassionate or you can ‘be’ early. It’s all in the interpretation!
5. If you were choosing students to form a Yale class, what question would you ask here that we have not?
Again, bold creativity is rewarded. Any range of approaches might work. Consider our analysis of the questions above: some prompts are values-driven, others probe for intellectual capacity and some are meant to gauge creativity. What do you think is left? This is a great question to really showcase your personality.
IV • Additional Essay(s)
1. You have already told us about yourself in the Common Application, with its list of activities, Short Answer, and Personal Essay. In this required
second essay, tell us something that you would like us to know about you that we might not get from the rest of your application – or something that
you would like a chance to say more about. Please limit your essay to fewer than 500 words. For advice on writing your essays, please go to
This is a tremendous chance to highlight a different dimension of your candidacy. As always, we push our clients to write with authenticity more than anything else. Take a holistic look at your application. If you chose an emotionally heavy topic for your CommonApp essay, you may want to adopt another tactic here. Yale fills its classes with a broad range of backgrounds and interests, but there are commonalities in all successful applications: incisive and reflective writing, leadership potential and personality/point of view. Check out this post for more on crafting the perfect admissions essay.
2. If you selected one of the engineering majors, please write a brief third essay telling us what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you.
The majority of engineering applicants will have academic and extracurricular experience from which to draw for this essay. Make no mistake, however: this essay should not sound like it was written by an automaton. Visit this past blogpost for more insight on how NOT to become a college applicant droid.
Applying to Yale or other top colleges this year? We encourage you to sign up for our essay editing or resume editing services, or submit for a free initial critique!
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