How to Write the Yeshiva University Essays 2019-2020

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Yeshiva University is a private research institution rooted in Jewish thought and tradition, with four campuses located in New York City. The university has three four-year undergraduate colleges, each with its own honors program: Yeshiva College, Sy Syms School of Business, and Stern College for Women. Students are also given the opportunity to spend a year studying the Torah in Israel through its S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program. 

 

Yeshiva University has a 63% acceptance rate, and requires that applicants have a minimum B average and an SAT score of at least 1180. The school also has a mandatory interview process for all applicants. 

 

Students must apply using Yeshiva University’s online application as the school does not accept the Common Application. Applicants to each of the honors programs need to submit additional essays. Want to know your chances at Yeshiva? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

For All Applicants

 

Applicants must respond to one of the following prompts in 500-750 words. Essays should be uploaded to the applicant’s personal application portal.

 

Option A: Who is one person, past or present, with whom you would like to switch places for one day? Explain. (500-750 words)

 

Yeshiva University takes a holistic approach to admissions, which means that admissions officers want to learn about you beyond your test scores. This prompt gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your personal values by explaining who you admire or find interesting.

 

While there is no right answer to this question, there are wrong answers. Yeshiva University is a religious school that heavily emphasizes Judaism in its curriculum. Your choice and explanation should align with the school’s values. Avoid selecting controversial or lewd figures. Remember that you want to show the university that you share its morals.

 

Choose a figure who genuinely inspires you. Although a prominent figure may seem more impressive, your essay will likely fall flat if you do not actually have a compelling reason for wanting to switch places with them.

 

You should have a clear, in-depth reason why you want to switch places with whomever you select. For example, saying that you want to switch places with your favorite musician because you like the sound of his voice would not be compelling. However, explaining that you want to switch places with your favorite musician because you want to have an insider’s perspective on how the music industry works is far more interesting. 

 

Option B: Describe a time in your life when you had to decide between taking a risk and playing it safe. What choice did you make? What was the outcome of your choice? Would you have made the same decision looking back on the experience or would you make a different decision? (500-750 words)

 

This prompt seeks to assess your self reflection capabilities. Topic choice is crucial to successfully answering this prompt. Your topic should be serious enough that you can reflect critically on the decision you made. For example, your choice should not be choosing between different places to eat dinner. 

 

For example, you could talk about deciding between interning at a new business, or accepting a summer job at a camp you used to go to. Or, you could discuss choosing between being on a sports team or trying out musical theater for the first time. 

 

This prompt also asks for the outcome of your choice and whether you would change your decision looking back. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and you did not need to make the wisest decision to answer this prompt. 

 

Admitting that you would change your decision demonstrates humility and personal growth. You can also look for a silver lining by explaining what you learned from making the wrong choice. For example, maybe you decided to take a post-secondary course, but you weren’t ready for its challenging material, and you now recognize the value of extra preparation and honest self-reflection. 

 

For Applicants to the Stern College and Yeshiva College Honors Program

Go back in time, change one event in history, and describe the ramifications on today’s world. (500-750 words)

 

Stern College is Yeshiva University’s all-female liberal arts college. The S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program gives students the opportunity to enroll in a variety of honors-only classes, participate in exclusive extracurricular events, and complete a senior project with a faculty mentor. 

 

This prompt seeks to assess your creativity and reasoning skills. Topic choice is crucial in effectively answering this question. Your historical event should be important enough to have a significant impact on other parts of history, and it should be something that interests you specifically. 

 

For example, you could write about what would happen if we never invented the television, if Martin Luther King Jr. had never been shot, or if Vietnam had never been a French colony. Your event can be from any time or area of history. 

 

Although you need to establish context to effectively answer this prompt, your response should not read like a history essay. The majority of your word count should be focused on addressing the ramifications on today’s world, not describing your historical event in detail.

 

Think beyond the obvious ramifications while explaining the impact on today’s world. What other areas of life would be different because of this change in history? 

 

For example, if you write about what would happen if JFK was never assassinated, think about how that could impact Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential legacy. Would we never have passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Would Kennedy have gotten re-elected to the presidency? 

 

Describe a favorite book or movie where the main character had to make a difficult decision. What do you think about their choice? How would you have handled the situation? (500-750 words)

 

This prompt seeks to assess your personal values. Once again, topic choice is important in effectively responding to this prompt. Your book or movie character’s main choice should be objectively important and not frivolous. 

 

For example, Bella Swan’s choice between Edward or Jacob in Twilight would not a compelling subject for this piece. In contrast, Jonas’s choice to leave his community in The Giver lends itself to a far more interesting and thought-provoking essay. 

 

The second portion of this prompt asks for your personal opinion about the choice your character made. Your opinion should go beyond simply stating whether or not you agree with their decision. Why do you agree or disagree with their decision? What important consideration do you believe the character overlooked? Do you think the character did not consider a better alternative? 

 

Your response to this prompt should then transition into describing how you would handle the character’s dilemma. Remember to consider the situation as if you were in the character’s shoes and weigh the factors that would be important to them in the situation. For example, if you were Jonas, how would you feel about leaving your entire life behind? Could you think of a better way to help Baby Gabriel?

 

Applicants to the Sy Syms Business Honors and Entrepreneurial Leadership Program

 

Go back in time, change one event in history, and describe the ramifications on today’s world. (500-750 words)

 

This prompt seeks to assess your creativity and reasoning skills. Topic choice is crucial in effectively answering this question. Your historical event should be important enough to have a significant impact on other parts of history, and it should be something that interests you specifically. 

 

For example, you could write about what would happen if we never invented the television, if Martin Luther King Jr. had never been shot, or if Vietnam had never been a French colony. Your event can be from any time or area of history. 

 

Although you need to establish context to effectively answer this prompt, your response should not read like a history essay. The majority of your word count should be focused on addressing the ramifications on today’s world, not describing your historical event in detail.

 

Think beyond the obvious ramifications while explaining the impact on today’s world. What other areas of life would be different because of this change in history? 

 

For example, if you write about what would happen if JFK was never assassinated, think about how that could impact Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential legacy. Would we never have passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Would Kennedy have gotten re-elected to the presidency? 

 

The following is a quote from the character Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street: “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.” Do you agree or disagree with Gordon Gekko’s statement and why? Please provide examples to support your argument. (500-750 words)

 

The Sy Syms School of Business is the only co-educational undergraduate college at Yeshiva University. In addition to learning core business curriculum, Sy Syms students complete general liberal arts requirements and enroll in Yeshiva University’s Torah studies program. The school seeks to successful business people who will make a positive impact on the world. 

 

The prompt’s quote is a movie classic, and embodies a stereotype many people have about Wall Street and the world of business in general. The Sy Syms School of Business emphasizes ethics and morals within the business realm, and your response should reflect that you share the same values.

 

Your response should extend far beyond simply saying whether or not you agree with the quote. Are there parts of the quote you agree with? Do you believe that the quote could be qualified by some other additional fact or information? How would you define greed and how does your definition seemingly differ from Gekko’s?

 

For example, you could qualify Gekko’s statement by saying that you believe greed is good in moderation. Greed can serve as a good source of motivation to achieve things that are objectively good, however greed becomes bad when it begins to harm others. 

 

This prompt also asks you to provide examples to support your argument. Because the prompt does not specify where to find examples, they can come from a wide variety of sources. Consider well-known companies, renowned figures, or your personal experiences to find examples for your argument. 

 

For example, you could talk about Uber’s rise and recent challenges. Uber founders’ greed revolutionized the way the public travels and the taxi business. However, Uber’s underpaying of its taxi drivers and questionable funding sources were morally unsound and ultimately are contributing to the company’s decline. 

 

Required for Applicants to All Honors Programs

 

What is one issue about which you are passionate? (150 characters)

 

This prompt begins the set of short answer responses required for the honors program. 150 characters takes up around a line and a half of text, so you want your responses to be as concise as possible. 

 

Your issue should have universal impact as you will not have sufficient space to fully elaborate on the deeper meaning of a small issue. What is an issue you care about? Are you passionate about education initiatives? Do you care about educating others on voting rights? Are you a zealous defender of the environment?

 

You do not need to elaborate on why you chose this issue, as you will not have the space. Instead, focus on succinctly but fully explaining your topic. 

Name one high school project or activity that made you feel accomplished. (150 characters)

 

This prompt asks for the high school project or activity that made you feel accomplished. Note that is not necessarily your most prestigious activity or your most involved activity. Your accomplishment also does not need to be grandiose. 

 

For example, you could write about the time you organized a food drive during Thanksgiving or winning a debate competition for the first time. You do not have the space to elaborate on your choice, so your accomplishment should be clear from the activity itself. 

 

What is one innovation or human achievement you would like to see in your lifetime. (150 characters)

 

This prompt seeks to assess your creativity and your values. Although you should clearly choose an innovation or achievement that hasn’t happened yet, your response should also be within the realm of possibility for your lifetime. For example, don’t write about creating a telecommunication conference system with aliens.

 

Your innovation or achievement should reflect something that is important to you. What do you believe would help our society? For example, would you like to see us solve world hunger through new agricultural innovations? Would you like to see plastic be totally replaced by biodegradable alternatives? 

 

If you were given one million dollars to donate to the charity of your choice, which would it be? (150 characters)

 

This prompt asks you to select your favorite charity. There isn’t a single right answer to this prompt, but you should avoid any controversial organizations. Your charity or its purpose should also be easily recognizable to the everyday person. You should explain what the charity does, and if you have space, elaborate on why you chose this charity. 

 

Please submit the title and a shortened URL of your favorite YouTube video. (150 characters)

 

This prompt does not allow you to explain your video choice, so the video’s theme should be obvious by its title and the first few minutes. Remember that admissions counselors are incredibly busy, so you should avoid selecting a long video.

 

One idea might be to choose a video of your favorite (shorter) Ted Talk that discusses overcoming rejection. Alternatively, you could post a video of a particularly impressive artistic performance. Or, maybe you’re outdoorsy and love to watch foraging videos. Anything goes, as long as it showcases your interests.

 

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