Alexander Oddo 9 min read 12th Grade, College Application Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Yale

Yale University is one of the best-regarded universities in the world ─ one with a long history since 1701 of exceptional scholarship, illustrious faculty, and trailblazing alumni. Yale is located in New Haven, Connecticut, and had an acceptance rate of 6.4% for the class of 2024. Students at Yale can study at the College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and 12 professional schools. Yale is well known for its top-notch drama and music programs as well as its Skull and Bones Society.

 

Before you apply to Yale, you’ll need to have a solid grasp of Yale’s application expectations and procedures. Read on for an overview of the Yale application process and deadlines, how to fill out Yale’s application, and your chances of being accepted.

 

Average Stats of Accepted Yale Students

 

Among accepted applicants to the class of 2023, the middle 50% scores were 1470-1560 for the SAT and 33-35 for the ACT. Ninety-two percent of those accepted were in the top 10% of their high school class.

 

Since Yale is highly selective, perfect test scores alone do not guarantee your acceptance. The good news is that if you have scores in the above ranges or higher, admissions officers will be able to see that you are academically comparable to previously accepted students, meaning that they should at least read through your whole application.

 

However, if your test scores are below those listed above, your application may be automatically disqualified unless you are an underrepresented minority, a legacy student, or a recruited athlete. While this practice may seem harsh, it is important to note that Yale receives over 37,000 applications a year. To review so many applications in a timely manner during the admissions cycle, admissions officers use the Academic Index as an initial screening tool.

 

Yale, like many schools, has adopted a test-optional policy for the class of 2025 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Our guide on test-optional policies can help you make a decision on taking the SAT or ACT during this challenging time.

 

Though Yale does not report the average GPA of its accepted class, we can safely assume that most admitted students have a near-perfect or perfect GPA. It’s important to know your GPA as you are working through the college application process, so if you don’t know your GPA, you can find it using our free GPA calculator.

 

Yale University Application Process

 

Application Overview

 

Yale offers prospective students three ways to apply. These are the Common Application, the Coalition Application, and the QuestBridge National College Match application. 

 

The application deadlines on all of these platforms are the same. Students can choose to apply to Yale according to the regular decision deadline of January 2nd, or the Single-Choice Early Action deadline of November 1st. The acceptance rate of early applicants to the class of 2024 was 13.8%, significantly better than the 6.5% acceptance rate overall. To learn more about what early action means and which timeline is best for you, take a look at our post: ED vs. EA vs. REA: Which is Best for You?

 

Application Components

 

In addition to your Common App, Coalition App, or QuestBridge application and your Yale supplement for either of the first two, Yale will require you to submit the following:

 

  • Application fee of $80, or a fee waiver request, completed by you.
  • Two recommendations completed by your chosen teachers.
  • Counselor Recommendation completed by your counselor.
  • School Report, including transcript, completed by your counselor.
  • Mid-Year Report, completed by your counselor when grades for the first term of your senior year are made available.
  • Official test results for the SAT or ACT, requested by you and sent directly to Yale. The ACT Essay and SAT Writing sections are not required, and submitting test scores itself is optional for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.
  • Any additional test score reports (e.g. AP Exam scores), requested by you and sent directly to Yale. Note that Yale is not considering SAT Subject Tests for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.

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Yale Supplemental Essays

 

All three platforms begin with the following short-answer questions:

 

  • 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. (no word limit)
  • Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)
  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

 

These are the only questions required for the QuestBridge Questionnaire. After this point, applicants using Common App and Coalition App will have to respond to these additional short-answer questions (all with a limit of 200 characters or fewer):

 

  • What inspires you?
  • 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? What question would you ask?
  • You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called?
  • Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six students. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?

 

After these questions, applicants using both applications will be asked to write two slightly longer essay responses. The prompt for these essays is as follows:

 

Use the two short essays (250 words or fewer) below to reflect on topics and personal experiences that will help the Admissions Committee learn more about you.

 

1. 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?

 

2. Respond to one of the following prompts:

 

  • 2A. Reflect on your membership in a community. Why is your involvement important to you? How has it shaped you?  You may define community however you like.
  • 2B. Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it.
  • 2C. Tell us about your relationship with a role model or mentor who has been influential in your life. How has their guidance been instrumental to your growth?

 

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application who select one of Yale’s engineering majors will also respond to the prompt below in 250 words or fewer:

 

Please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you.

 

Lastly, applicants submitting the Coalition Application will answer one more prompt:

 

In addition to responding to the prompts above, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created. The upload should complement your response to one of the prompts. Above your response, include a one-sentence description of your upload. Please limit uploads to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Advanced editing is not necessary. Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. Review the Supplementary Material instructions for material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty.

 

We have a detailed guide on the Yale essays, if you’re looking for more guidance. 

 

Already have drafts of your essays? You can get free essay feedback from other students using our Peer Essay Review tool.

 

The Yale Interview Process

 

 Many Yale applicants are able to interview as part of their application experience. The interview presents an opportunity both for you to get to know Yale better, and for Yale to get to know you better. If you are able to have an interview, you’ll typically meet with a Yale alum in a public location (such as a coffee shop) upon which you mutually agree.

 

Your interviewer will fill out an evaluation of you that will become part of your admissions file and be considered alongside the rest of your application materials. The interview’s weight is quite small, so don’t stress too much about it; a good one can certainly give you a small boost, but a bad one won’t harm your chances that much, unless it’s extremely bad.

 

Yale conducts local and online interviews with applicants through its Alumni Schools Committee (ASC), which has branches in most parts of the United States and many other countries. If you’re not able to have an interview, that won’t be held against you when your application is evaluated by the admissions committee. To learn more about how to prepare for your interview and what to expect once you’re there, you can check out the various posts on the CollegeVine blog about the college interview process, how to prepare, what to do, and what not to do.

 

When Will You Hear Back?

 

If you apply to Yale through its Early Action program, your admissions decision will be available online by mid-December. You may either be accepted, rejected, or deferred to the Regular Decision application pool at this time.

 

Since Yale has an Early Action program, not a binding Early Decision program, applicants who receive acceptances in the Early Action round are not obligated to attend Yale. If you’re in this position, you’ll have until May 1st to decide whether you will actually matriculate at Yale.

 

If you receive an Early Action rejection in December, you may not reapply to Yale through the Regular Decision process, but you may be able to apply to Yale as a transfer student in the future. However, if you are deferred in December, your application will be reconsidered as part of the Regular Decision applicant pool.

 

Regular Decision applicants, as well as those Early Action applicants who were deferred, will receive their admissions decisions in late March. As a member of the Ivy League, Yale releases its Regular Decision admissions decisions on “Ivy Day” along with the other Ivies. On Ivy Day, applicants may be either accepted, rejected, or waitlisted by Yale.

 

If you’re accepted to Yale in the Regular Decision round, congratulations! You’ll have until May 1st to decide and inform Yale of whether you’ll be matriculating in the fall. You’re not required to put down a deposit at this time to secure your place in the class.

 

If you’re waitlisted by Yale, unfortunately, you have more waiting to do. If you’re one of the few students who are eventually accepted off the waitlist, you won’t find out until after May 1st, and perhaps much later in the summer.

 

Yale Financial Aid 

 

Costs and Financial Aid Generosity

 

The total estimated cost of in-person attendance at Yale for the 2020-2021 school year is $78,850. Tuition alone costs $57,700 for the year. Fifty-one percent of Yale students receive scholarships and/or other grant aid from Yale sources.

 

Admission to Yale is need-blind, meaning that the admission committee does not have access to financial-aid application information, and Yale’s financial aid is entirely need-based. The student’s financial need is calculated using the full yearly cost of attendance for that student, not just the cost of tuition. Using data from the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, Yale will create a financial aid award package that meets 100% of the student’s demonstrated financial need. Students are not required to take out any loans as part of their financial aid packages, and 83% of students in the class of 2015 graduated without any educational debt.

 

According to Yale’s financial aid policy, students with family incomes of less than $65,000 per year and assets typical for that income range will have an expected family contribution of zero. Over 10% of Yale students fall into this category.

 

Families with an income of between $65,000 and $200,000 per year are assessed an expected family contribution equal to between 1% and 20% of their yearly income, though the actual amount of individual awards varies based on the family’s situation. Some families with incomes above $200,000 do still receive need-based financial aid, especially if they have multiple children in college or other mitigating circumstances.

 

International students are subject to the same financial-aid policies as domestic students, in that they are admitted on a need-blind basis, are awarded aid to meet 100% of their demonstrated financial need, and are not required to take out any loans as part of their financial aid packages.

 

How to Apply for Financial Aid

 

Early Action applicants to Yale should submit the requested financial information along with their Early Action applications by the November 1st deadline. If these documents are received on time, accepted students will receive an estimated financial aid award letter along with their acceptance in December. Students and families must update their applications once their tax information for the year becomes available in the spring, and students generally receive finalized award letters by early April.

 

Technically, there is no strict deadline for Regular Decision applicants to apply for financial aid from Yale. However, the later you apply, the later you’ll receive your financial aid award letter. Yale recommends that applicants submit all their financial aid paperwork by March 1st; this will allow accepted students to receive their award letters before the May 1st deadline for committing to college.

 

For more information about financial aid at Yale, take a look at our post: What Does it Really Cost to Attend Yale?

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

If you would like to know more about how likely you are to be accepted to Yale given your personal academic and extracurricular profile, you can check out our chancing engine. The engine will tell you your personal odds of acceptance based on academics, extracurriculars, and demographics. It will also let you know how to improve your profile.

 

To learn more about Yale, including student body demographics, majors available, and how long your application should take, you can take a look at our Yale overview page. Best of luck with your application!

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Short bio
Georgetown University Class of '21. History major, minors in French and Russian. Passionate about writing and the human condition.