+61 (0)2 8052 9509
MAR 11, 2020 • 7 min read
Applying to Yale university? Your supplemental essays are the perfect way to stand out from a competitive pool of applicants. Yale has nine supplemental questions, making it a lengthy application, but also giving applicants more opportunities to make a good impression on admissions officers.
Yale also gives you the option to upload a video or audio file to further answer one of the supplemental prompts, personifying your application even more.
Yale’s acceptance rate this year dropped to 5.9%, putting it in line with other Ivy League universities. Increase your chances of gaining admission by nearly 3 times with Crimson Education.
Like the Common App personal statement, these questions are another opportunity for you to show someone what you value and why, your interests, your hobbies, your goals and where they come from-- all the things that make up you. Accomplishing this feat in 35, 100, or 250-word answers can be daunting, but the ability to demonstrate critical, personal information through strong and concise language is crucial to a strong application. Your final responses should reveal an exceptional or analytical self-awareness that comes from carefully reflecting on who you are, what you care about, and why.
A way to start can be to make a list of experiences, values, or personality traits you have that you definitely want the committee to know about you. From there, find stories or specific experiences that demonstrate these values. How does Yale fit into this picture? You can also try starting with the questions you think will be difficult for you to answer in a personal and robust way; jot down ideas as they come. If you have a strong sense of humor, you can include this aspect of your personality in some of your answers (questions 4-7 could be good for this).
In all your answers, try to tie the things you say about your career aspirations or expectations for a Yale education to instances from your lived experience. Questions 1-3 ask about academic motivations, your interest in Yale, and general inspiration; strong responses would describe the moment you became interested in an academic discipline or goal, as well as the experience of how you developed that motivation over time.
Questions 4-7 are asking how you would take full advantage of the Yale community. Strong responses, especially to questions 4 and 5, will be based around personal experiences. Is there a professor, academician, or public figure who inspires you and would make a good guest speaker? What is a class you have always wanted to take? What would it mean for you to teach it? Maybe you have niche knowledge of yoo-yoo competitions; could you turn that knowledge into a Yale class syllabus? Finally, for the last question, consider experiences in which you have either enabled the growth of your friends, or vice versa. Be sure to emphasize growth - how do you make each other better?
Questions 8 and 9 have higher word limits. When it comes to writing about your academic interests, do your best to base your response in a specific experience or anecdote. Try to write primarily about how you discovered a particular issue or topic, rather than just drawing analytical insights into its implications. The purpose of this essay, in any case, should be to demonstrate a genuine predisposition of academic and worldly curiosity or engagement. To this end, your writing style must be sincere and revealing without being overly dramatic.
When you sit down to write, be honest. Use your voice. One of Yale's short answer prompts from many years ago was, "What would you do with a free afternoon (50 words)?" The question was so popular that when I arrived on campus many months later as a freshman, people would ask it to each other as a conversation-starter. To all our surprise (even though we were the ones who wrote these answers), most of our responses were quite ordinary; things we would actually do on a free afternoon. Things like going on a run in the park, or finally finishing a book we were in the process of reading. Not things like reading the complete works of William Shakespeare (unless that's actually you--never say never). Use language and sentences structures that fit your voice and your story. No answer or topic is too common as long as you articulate your perspective or rationale clearly.
For question 9, keep in mind that this isn't merely an opportunity to brag about an additional accomplishment (although if this essay ultimately includes an accomplishment, that's ok!). It's really an opportunity to discuss an experience you've had outside of school that you feel gets buried by the rest of your application. Since it specifies an "community engagements," it likely wants you to write about something that appears on your Common App list of extracurriculars but does not appear elsewhere in your app.
Pro tip, it can be helpful to choose an activity that contrasts with your intended major. This shows your diverse interests and gives your application more texture overall.
Finally, proofread and stay within the word limit on all the short answers and essay questions. Concision is obviously crucial. Ask your teachers, friends, and family to read your responses. A fresh set of eyes makes a big difference.