NEW!  Build your college list in 5 minutes with our free college list generator!

How to Write the Yale University Supplemental Essays

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.

Admissions officers aren’t looking for any particular answer, but want to see that your choices reflect the interests you’ve demonstrated through your academics and extracurriculars. While the three choices are often related to each other, it’s also acceptable to list a wider variety of interests if they connect to the rest of your application.

Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)

Since you only have 125 words to explain why you chose the 1-3 areas you selected, it’s important to provide a specific and brief answer. Try to focus on what you’d like to learn and how you plan to use that knowledge after college. If you choose three topics that seem unrelated, write about what you hope to learn at their intersection.

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

The classic “why Yale” question only allows you 125 words to describe why you want to attend Yale and how you would be a good fit for the school. In order to answer this question, research is going to be vital. Include details about unique resources, eminent professors whose work you’re familiar with, extracurricular and academic programs you’re interested in pursuing, or something that draws you to Yale’s student life and community.

Respond to the following short answer questions in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words):

What inspires you?
The key to answering all of these 35-word questions is specificity. For this question, stay away from broad, vague or cliched answers such as “world peace” or “my grandmother.” Think of what motivates you every day – what motivated you to apply to Yale, for example – and write about it in specific detail.

You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?
To answer this question, choose a topic about which you are either intensely curious or already very knowledgeable. Stay away from courses that you would see in a standard course listing, such as “Economics 101.” This is a great chance to flex your creativity and come up with a course that you’re uniquely excited to teach!

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 and what would you ask them to discuss?

When answering this question, you can continue to write about your academic, extracurricular, or personal interests. The question you pose will offer admissions officers insight into your interests and what you are curious about. Focus on what you would like to learn, and then consider who your speaker might be. Avoid popular answers such as Gandhi, Einstein, or Steve Jobs. The more unique your guest is, the more memorable your answer will be!

Yale students embrace the concept of “and” rather than “or,” pursuing arts and sciences, tradition and innovation, defined goals and surprising detours. What is an example of an “and” that you embrace?

With only 200 characters, you’ll have to quickly identify your “and.” Your “and” shouldn’t take up more than one sentence, and should reflect your interests and values. While this may be a broad intersection, you’ll want to use the rest of your character count to describe how you want to bring those two disciplines together.

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? (250 words or fewer)

In this response, the admissions committee is looking for authentic passion and a love of learning. Think about topics you are inspired to investigate further on your own. Write about where this passion comes from, how you engage with it now, and how Yale can help you continue to explore it in the future. A great way to wrap this essay up is to describe how you plan to use your knowledge about this subject in the future.

Respond to one of the following prompts in 250 words or fewer.

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

The key word in this prompt is “community” and can be interpreted in a broad number of ways. These can be cultural, ethnic, religious, or geographic communities, however, feel free to come up with your own broader definition. Regardless of the community you choose, focus on your contribution to that community. Write about how the community has shaped you, the lessons you’ve learned from it, and how you would like to engage with the community going forward. If you took initiative in a leadership position or were able to make a positive change, make sure to mention that!

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

To start, think about what satisfaction means to you: is it pride in your work? Contentment when you’ve discovered something new? The warmth you experience around loved ones? This could be an opportunity to talk about a meaningful personal achievement or learning experience that you haven’t been able to mention elsewhere. Next, expand on how this satisfaction influences you, and how you plan to try to find similar satisfaction at Yale and beyond.