The Essay Guide Series: Yale University

Yale University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and has been known for its excellence. They are also world-famous for their drama and music programs, unlike other universities that go to show their value for holistic education. In this guide, we will be looking at how you can tackle the various prompts that they have.


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 plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided. Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)


This is a prompt where most students might struggle because of the need to pen down fields they’re interested in especially if you’re undecided. But please remember that they’re already aware of this fact and that is why you’ve been given the choice to pen down more than one. Instead, use it as an opportunity to show them what you’re interested in! It’s better to keep it between two so that you can expand more about them and show them why you’re so inclined towards them. For example, they’re not asking you to tell them you’re going to achieve world peace but rather your motivation behind it. They need to know what the underlying factor is that is driving your motivation in this case. First, try to speak about the field from your own personal perspective, and then, in the end, you can wrap it up with your future goals. The majority of the essay will focus on you in the past and present form because that’s the main goal of the question.


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


So, this essay is as straightforward as it can get. You need to show that you have done your research on the university and you are aware of the fact that it is a good fit for you. Talk about what aspects you are drawn to, of Yale. You can continue to how you will take advantage of these opportunities and how they impact your career and learning curve. The kind of picture that you depict in your essay, tells them a lot about how you think and how having a student with such a thought process could benefit them as well. It’s all about showing why you as a student, are the right fit for a prestigious university such as Yale.


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?


This requires a very concise description of your inspiration. You have to be very vivid in your description so that they can get a sense of what you’re saying. Is there something specific like a place, individual, etc. that inspires you? Pen it down and explain why!


Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask?


This is a question where you get to show them your personal interests. This would be better envisioned as a TED talk that we see these days. Who would be the one person you would invite to speak at a conference that you are hosting? Why do you think they’re the best choice amongst the various people you watched/ listened to? What captivates you the most about them? There’s no right or wrong answer, it's just an insight into who you are as a person and what kind of interests you have.


You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called?


This question requires you to think hard about what you would teach if you could ever be a teacher. Be mindful of the fact that it does not have to be related to what you’re studying right now or want to study but rather, what you want to teach. Think of a catchy course title and the curriculum or description. It’s only 200 characters so you can’t get too deep with your details.


Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six students. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?


Many students while applying to universities tend to miss out on a big part of the process and that is accommodation. Most of us get so looped into how to make a perfect application, we give less thought to what we expect in terms of the living arrangements and the university experience as a whole. The admissions committee would like to see what you would want to build with the people around you and how you can contribute to the Yale community. Talk about qualities, habits, or skills you would like to share and would expect from the other person as well. First talk about what you can give and then move on to what you expect to receive as well. Most of us tend to grow out of things that we once loved in high school; the university is a big part of that so showing that you’re open-minded would also be a big boon especially since they possess a diverse international community.


Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application: use the two short essays (250 words or fewer) below to reflect on topics and personal experiences that will help the Admissions Committee learn more about you.


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. Why are you drawn to it?


Yale as a university, values people who are curious and actively engaged with their surroundings. This is a broad prompt to discuss those engagements and elaborate on them further. Talk about a favorite book or a concept that you have read and why you think that is exciting for you! Even a random thought you have had or something that has had you thinking could be mentioned here. The idea is that you need to pen down something that you have been thinking about and show them how you have engaged with it.


This is about reiterating your intellectual curiosity and passion so that needs to be reflected in the essay. If it’s about engineering and robotics, think about how robotics could be in the future, show them your train of thought. You need to show that you have thought about this and pursued it in your own time, they don’t need to be great achievements such as papers or documented experience. It can even be as simple as reading books related to the topic to broaden your understanding. What piqued your interest? Tell them.


2. Respond to one of the following prompts:


2A. Reflect on your membership in a community. Why is your involvement important to you? How has it shaped you? You may define community however you like.


Here, it all depends on what the word community means to you. Is it something that you’re already part of such as clubs, family, ethnicity, etc. or something that you want to build in the future? It can be literal or even symbolic in nature as long as you can articulate it well. First, you need to focus on what community you are part of and then move on to explain what your role has been in the same. But it does have to be something that has had an impact on you and your perspectives. In the end, you can talk about what you have gained from this community to wrap it up.


2B. Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it.


We live in a world where there is practically a movement for every issue out there. What resonates with you the most? That’s the one you need to choose. A lot of students might write about world peace or climate change to seem aware but many of them don’t mention their personal connotations in this. What about this movement is so enticing that you can’t help but support it? After penning down what the movement is, you need to show that an education at Yale is going to help you improve the situation and further the movement in the future. It can be at any level from local to international. The sky’s the limit but you need to understand that the prompt is specific to you and your interests. Why do you feel like this movement needs further propagation? What can you do or intend on doing? How does Yale come into the picture in terms of resources? Explain it. Maybe you want to talk about gender bias or something else, but in order to do so, you need the leadership and management skills to get there, that’s where Yale comes into the picture. Be specific in what you pen down.


2C. Tell us about your relationship with a role model or mentor who has been influential in your life. How has their guidance been instrumental to your growth?


This prompt is to speak about those teachers or role models that have inspired you the most. It doesn’t have to be a teacher or adult figure in life but even your peers or a family member. What matters is why their guidance has been of utmost importance to your growth. For example, do you have friends that have constantly been by your side and have supported you to take up activities such as sports even though your family has not been supportive of it? This is a good place to start and write about them and explain how their support and courage has helped shape you into a person with similar qualities. This is to be written from the perspective of your own growth so it is important to mention what you have benefitted from them and been shaped throughout your life. Give examples that paint a picture of the relationship you had with them and it makes it easy to correlate the growth that you are discussing in the essay.


Engineering Essay


Please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you. (250-word limit)


This is the prompt where you discuss why this major is the one for you and of importance to you. It’s best to add your personal experiences to the essay that can help them understand why engineering is the right fit for you. Think about certain activities or clubs you were a part of to get the juices flowing. Next, move on to why doing this at Yale would be the best choice and this is where you discuss what they have to offer and how you can take advantage of it. Speak about how their engineering program will help you get to your future goals.


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