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College Spotlight Series: Everything You Need to Know About Yale

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Yale University stands as one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the United States, often mentioned in the same breath with luminaries like Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. The popular US News and World Report rankings place it in a tie for #3 in the National Universities category, and its alums are well-represented in positions of leadership and excellence in the United States and throughout the world.


Given this reputation, it’s unsurprising that Yale is a popular choice for motivated students applying to competitive colleges. However, Yale isn’t just a big name; it’s also a real place where real people live, work, and learn. The school has its own culture, traditions, and particular character that makes it an especially good fit for certain applicants.


Likewise, getting accepted to Yale isn’t just about proving your academic aptitude. It’s a competitive and challenging admission process that addresses not only your grades and scores, but the potential and perspective you bring to campus and how well you fit with Yale’s approach to college education.


Gathering knowledge is a necessity when you’re crafting a successful application for a college like Yale and deciding whether it’s the right fit for you. Read on for all the basics facts about Yale you’ll need to get started with your research.


Want to learn what Yale University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Yale University needs to know.


Yale: The Quick Facts

Type: Private University

Location: New Haven, CT

Founded: 1701

Current enrollment: 5,472 undergraduates, 12,458 students in total

Tuition: $51,400 (2017-2018)

Average financial aid award: $48,294 (2015-16)

Acceptance rate: 6.3%

Average SAT score: 1545 (roughly equivalent to 2265 on the old SAT)



An Introduction to Yale

Students and Culture

Yale is well-known for its culture of academic excellence and intellectual rigor. Its students are people who take their education seriously and intend to prepare themselves for leadership roles in the future, though this doesn’t prevent them from having other interests and goals.


Undergraduates make up slightly less than half of Yale’s medium-large student body of over 12,000 students, meaning that graduate and professional students do take up some of the resources on campus. However, you don’t need to worry that undergraduates won’t get their share of attention. Yale takes its commitment to high-quality undergraduate education very seriously, and is ranked in US News and World Report’s top 10 schools for undergraduate teaching.


Tuition and Financial Aid

As with most colleges on this tier, Yale is an expensive place to go to school. The most recent figure for tuition places that charge at $51,400 per year, and the total cost of attendance for most students is around $64,275 per year.


Yale awards only need-based financial aid, meaning it does not provide athletic, academic, or other merit scholarships. However, this need-based financial aid is very generous for students who qualify, and many students end up paying significantly less than their full cost of attendance. Yale’s aid awards are also entirely composed of grant-based aid, meaning that no student is required to take out student loans.



Yale’s main campus is located in the downtown area of New Haven, Connecticut. The university owns various properties, including athletic facilities, that are separate from this main campus, but if you attend Yale, the main campus is where you’ll most likely spend your time.


New Haven is not far from the urban center of New York City, making the larger city a popular destination for students on weekends and breaks as well as a resource for academic and career development. The campus itself, however, has plenty of charms. It’s well-known for its architectural and historical significance, and was even named the most beautiful college campus in the United States in 2011 by Town & Country Magazine.


Academics and Popular Majors

The most popular academic majors at Yale fall within the fields of economics, political science and government, history, psychology, and biology. In recent decades, Yale has produced a large number of alums who have become significant figures in government and politics, giving the school a reputation as a place where future political leaders are formed.


Of course, these aren’t the only areas of academic excellence you’ll find at Yale; the school’s resources and prestige draw well-known scholars and foster top-tier scholarship in many different areas. One area of special interest is Yale’s drama program, which has trained many of today’s leading actors and other media professionals.


Student Life and Activities

Yale students are committed to their studies, but they’re just as eager to pursue challenges and activities outside the classroom. The campus is home to over 380 student groups at present, and new groups and programs are always in the works. If you can’t find your preferred activity, you’ll always have the opportunity to create it for yourself.


Competitive and informal athletic teams at Yale include the infamous sport of “bladderball,” a Yale tradition that has been banned by administrators and revived several times. The well-known a capella group the Whiffenpoofs is only one of many performing arts groups on campus, and other activities include a wide range of cultural groups, political organizations, and the Yale Record, the oldest college humor magazine in the country.



Like Harvard, Princeton, and quite a few other top-tier schools, Yale’s student housing is arranged according to a residential college system. Most students live on campus within these smaller residential communities.


Residential colleges provide students with a place to live, eat, socialize, and find support within the larger Yale community. Each college has associated faculty members and advisors who mingle with students, provide resources, and help organize community events.

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Walking Through the Yale Admissions Process

Admissions Statistics

Yale receives over 30,000 applications every year for a matriculating class that usually ends up numbering around 1,300, so the admissions process is quite competitive. In the past few years, only about 6% of applicants have been accepted, and about 70% of those accepted have chosen to attend Yale.


Given the large number of applicants, many of whom have very strong qualifications, Yale should always be considered a reach school when you’re making your college list. There simply isn’t enough room for all qualified applicants, so some impressive high school students will inevitably be turned down.


Who Gets Admitted to Yale?

Broadly speaking, successful Yale applicants are students who have demonstrated intellectual promise and an ongoing commitment to academic excellence. Their very high GPAs and standardized test scores reflect this level of achievement.


However, especially given the strength of the applicant pool, top grades and scores aren’t enough to get you admitted to Yale. You’ll also have to show that you have the potential and the drive to take full advantage of the opportunities that your time at Yale will offer. Yale is looking for students who will not only excel in the classroom, but also use their talents to make a unique impact on the world.


Application Timeline

Yale offers applicants a choice between the Early Action timeline and the Regular Decision timeline. Early Action applicants submit applications by November 1st and receive their admissions decisions in mid-December. Regular Decision applicants submit applications by January 2nd and receive responses by late March. Both groups of applicants have until May 1st to decide whether to accept Yale’s offer.


If you’re considering the Early Action timeline, you should keep in mind that Yale’s Early Action program is what’s known as a single-choice or restrictive Early Action program. This means that you’re not contractually obligated to attend if you’re accepted, but you won’t be permitted to apply to any other colleges in the Early Action or Early Decision round. For more information, take a look at the CollegeVine blog post 6 Things to Consider Before Early Application Deadlines.


How to Apply

Applicants to Yale can choose to use either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Neither form is preferred, so you can choose whichever suits you best.


Along with the main Common or Coalition application form, you’ll need to submit Yale’s application supplement, which will ask you a number of additional questions. Your answers will range from a sentence or two to a full essay, and the number of questions you’ll answer depends upon which application form you choose and which academic subject you list as your prospective major.


Yale requires applicants to submit scores from the SAT with essay or the ACT with writing; SAT II subject tests and AP tests are recommended, but not required. You’ll also need to submit two teacher recommendations, your transcript, a counselor recommendation and report from your school, and an $80 application fee or fee waiver.


Applying to Yale—or to any similar top-tier school—can be a very challenging process. Expectations are high, competition is stiff, and there’s a lot to do before you submit your application. To give yourself the best chance of getting accepted, it’s necessary that you put in the time to get to know Yale and its expectations. We hope this information puts you on the right track toward making informed college choices!


Interested in learning more about applying to Yale and other Ivy League schools? Don’t forget to visit the Yale undergraduate admissions office website. When you’re done, check out these posts from the CollegeVine blog for our best advice.



Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Monikah Schuschu
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Monikah Schuschu is an alumna of Brown University and Harvard University. As a graduate student, she took a job at the Harvard College Office of Financial Aid and Admissions, and discovered the satisfaction of helping students and parents with the often-baffling college admissions process. She also enjoys fiber art, murder mysteries, and amateur entomology.