How to Write the Yeshiva University Essays 2020-2021

Yeshiva University is a small research institution with campuses dispersed throughout New York City. The university contains three undergraduate colleges: Yeshiva College, the Sy Syms School of Business, and the Stern College for Women. Yeshiva’s acceptance rate hovers at around 60%, and the university is ranked #97 in the nation by US News & World Report

 

Yeshiva is known for its unique curriculum, which combines a standard liberal arts education with Jewish scholarship and learning. Yeshiva also has a campus in Israel, where more than 600 of its students study abroad each year through the S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program. 

 

Yeshiva University requires all applicants to answer its supplemental essay, and the Honors College requires an additional essay, both of which play an important role for all applicants seeking admission. Want to know your chances at Yeshiva? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

Want to learn what Yeshiva 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 Yeshiva University needs to know.

 

Yeshiva University Supplemental Essay Prompts

All Applicants

 

Please respond to the following prompt in either 500-750 words, or if preferred, applicants can address the prompt in another medium such as art, music or poetry accompanied by a 300 word narrative.  

 

If you had the opportunity to do over a moment in your life and change how you acted, what moment would you choose? Explain why you have chosen this moment. In what ways have you changed since that original moment that would influence how you would respond or react today.

 

Honors College Applicants

 

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? (750-1000 words)

All Applicants

Please respond to the following prompt in either 500-750 words or if preferred, applicants can address the prompt in another medium such as art, music or poetry accompanied by a 300 word narrative.  

 

If you had the opportunity to do over a moment in your life and change how you acted, what moment would you choose? Explain why you have chosen this moment. In what ways have you changed since that original moment that would influence how you would respond or react today.

This essay may require some uncomfortable digging into your past. Is there a decision you’ve made that still haunts you from time to time? Have you made a mistake you’ve spent years paying for? Or maybe you can’t think of anything right away, and if so, maybe you could start with something you’d like to improve about yourself, such as your character, habits, or life choices. Could you then find a moment in which you were disappointed in yourself for not living up to your own expectations? The key is to open with a strong anecdote, one that would allow you to dive into your own character flaws and your room for growth. 

 

The next part of the prompt, “explain why you have chosen this moment,” makes it clear that this shouldn’t be a frivolous mistake you’ve made, but something that has impacted your life, or the lives of those around you, in a major way. 

 

The last part of the essay prompt gets at the heart of the question: how did you grow? Can you show the reader that you would make a different decision now? It matters much less about where you started, or how badly you messed up, than how you got up and changed yourself, or how you want to continue to grow as a person. The admissions committee isn’t expecting any of its applicants to be perfect, and there is emotional strength in being honest about your own shortcomings, as it allows you to be more authentic about your character. If your growth has involved Jewish religious practices or morals, you could also consider bringing that into your essay.

 

Here are a few sample scenarios for you to think about:

 

  • Maybe you’re not proud of the fact that you once engaged in cyberbullying, in which you and your friends posted tweets that disparaged one of your classmates. You didn’t feel particularly spiteful toward the classmate, but felt pressured to do so because your friends were egging you on. In retrospect, you feel like this one incident was a turning point in your social life, and you later realized that the friends you had surrounded yourself with were toxic. You wish you could go back and stand up for the classmate, and act with more integrity. 

 

  • Maybe you had an argument with your father a few years ago, that ended by you saying that you never wanted to come back to your family after graduating from high school. You chose this moment because it captures the climax of your lifelong conflict with your parents, who emotionally abused you while growing up. You don’t regret yelling at your father, and have continued to tell him when he has made bad decisions, but you do regret what you said about cutting yourself off, as you realized over the years that your father has indeed gotten better, and that you do value your family. 

 

If you have considerable experience in the arts, you could even think about taking Yeshiva’s offer to answer the prompt artistically. You want to begin the same way, by brainstorming specific moments, and filling out the 300-word narrative, and then you can begin to explore your artistic talents:

 

  • If your talent is in visual art, maybe you could draw or paint the scene of the critical moment you have chosen, which could range from anything from a basketball game to a family meeting to a car intersection. The key here is to paint a picture for the viewer, who will refer to the image as they read through the narrative you have written. You also want to keep the focus on yourself, and use the scene to reveal more of your character.

 

  • If your talent is in music, perhaps you could compose a song that captures the emotional affect of the choice you made, whether that affect is melancholy, regret, or hope. You want to make sure then that your accompanied narrative is relatively straightforward, and explains your own artistic creation.

 

  • If you are a poet, feel free to take liberties on how you interpret the crucial moment (given that your accompanied narrative clarifies the details), and you could even speculate on what your life would’ve looked like had you made the opposite decision from the one you did. 

Honors College Applicants

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? (750-1000 words)

Just as in the first prompt, you want to begin by brainstorming specific memories. It doesn’t matter as much whether you took the risk or played it safe, as what is really important is how you have reflected on the incident, and how you have grown since then. And just like in the previous prompt, you want to open with a vivid, memorable anecdote that paints a portrait for the admissions committee. You also want to keep in mind the topic you’ve chosen for your last essay, and make sure there is minimal overlap between the two. 

 

Yeshiva University operates an honors program at all three of its colleges. In Yeshiva College’s honors program, “Students who take honors courses commit themselves to hard work, a challenging search for understanding, and intellectual excellence.” You want to demonstrate these characteristics in your essay, and the key here is to be specific about the lessons that you’ve learned. Try to stay away from writing cliches, like “every cloud has silver lining” and “time heals all wound,” but feel free to take these cliche ideas and make it personal to your own life. 

 

Because the essay is on the longer side, you have plenty of room to build a narrative plotline: begin by illustrating the scenario you found yourself in, then describe your mental state as you made your decision. In the next section, you can go into the consequences of your decision, leading up to where you are now. Then, you could talk about how you would respond in your current state, and lastly, go into how you’d like to continue growing at Yeshiva. You have room to discuss the change you want to see in yourself in college, whether you want to experience living on your own, pursuing your faith, or taking harder classes. 

 

Here are a few examples for you to think about: 

 

  • Maybe you’re part of the baseball team, and there’s one student with autism (Randy) that is always made fun of and excluded. Everyone is afraid to stand up for him for fear of being ostracized themselves. You decide to invite Randy to a team dinner one day, and you pick him up and arrive together. While the other members are initially unwilling to engage with you both, the others become interested when Randy pulls out a deck of cards and starts doing magic tricks. The others even ask to be taught those tricks, and you’re glad to see everyone finally interact kindly with Randy. 

 

  • Maybe you decided to run for class president against the wildly popular “incumbent.” While the current president was well-liked as a person, you felt that he was too focused on organizing school social gatherings, and wasn’t paying enough attention to student issues like internet filters and the lack of Kosher food in the cafeteria. You decided to run against him, despite being more of a reserved person. You ultimately didn’t win the election, but were able to draw more attention to these issues, and you overcame your fear of public speaking. You’ll continue to fight for these issues by attending school board meetings.

 

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for

your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can

also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing

other students’ essays.

Want more college essay tips?

We'll send them straight to your inbox.


Short bio
Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.