My Path to Yale ― A Real Student’s Story
This article is a first-person account from Robert Crystal, a Yale student and CollegeVine livestreamer and contributor. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Where I Went to High School
I attended high school at the K-12 Collegiate School. This was a small independent school for boys, and I was in a graduating class of 50 students. Most of my classmates had been there since kindergarten, so I had a very unique educational experience.
My grade school experience was incredible, and I would not have gotten into Yale University if I hadn’t attended a school like mine. I was blessed with many amazing academic mentors, resources, and opportunities that I am incredibly grateful for.
The Types of Classes Available
The Collegiate School adhered to the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum, especially for all STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. My math and science classes in elementary and middle school were all taught with the anticipation of taking AP classes in high school. For example, my calculus classes were taught with the expectation that I would be taking the Calculus AB or Calculus BC exam at the end of the year. The same structure applied to all the biology classes that I took. My school was great about preparing the students to succeed on end-of-year exams.
Any classes that weren’t taught under the AP curriculum were classified as honors classes. Our English classes and electives were often classified as honors classes. Regardless, all the courses were extremely difficult. There were technically no limits on how many classes a student could take, but due to the difficulty of each class, students could naturally only handle so many.
The Classes I Took
By the time I graduated high school, I had taken five AP classes. One unique thing that I did was take three foreign languages; I was one of only two people who accomplished that. The three languages I studied were Mandarin, Latin, and ancient Greek, which was a unique mixture. Foreign languages were a passion of mine, and I made sure to focus the classes that I took on the subjects that I enjoyed.
Besides languages, I tried to challenge myself in other ways. I was in the Honors Mathematics program at my school, which ensured that I completed a course in BC Calculus by the end of my senior year. Math was a subject that I found more challenging, but I am happy that I pushed myself to that level.
My School’s Rigor
Looking back at my experience, it is clear that I went to a rigorous high school. My school had a reputation in the New York community for developing strong analytical skills. I owe all my writing and analytical skills to the classes that I took and the teachers from whom I learned. There is a joke that Collegiate students can write a five-page essay in their sleep. We were definitely acquiring quantitative and qualitative tools in all our courses. I now use these skills at Yale to succeed in my college classes, so I am very grateful for my high school education.
While I did well in my classes, my grades were not perfect. When you actively challenge yourself when picking your classes, you are bound to experience periods of difficulty. That is something that happened to me in high school. The classes that I took were challenging, and I often spread myself too thin between the difficult classes and extracurricular activities that I participated in. Balancing the AP classes was a learning curve. However, through this struggle, I learned valuable time management skills that improved with each semester.