What is Yale University Known For?

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Yale University is one of the most prestigious institutions for higher education in the world. People may know of Yale because of its Ivy League status, or because of its top-notch music and drama programs. But beyond its lofty reputation, Yale is a real place where people live for four years. In this post, we’ll cover what makes Yale unique, through its academics, extracurriculars, traditions, dorms, financial aid, resources, and location.

 

Overview of Yale Admissions

 

Location: New Haven, CT

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,900

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Middle 50% SAT: 1470-1560

Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

 

Yale consistently ranks in the top 10 universities in the nation. Relative to Harvard, many Yale students demonstrate a more intense academic focus. While Harvard strongly values community engagement, leadership, and other metrics of success, Yale looks favorably upon students who deeply engage with an academic topic outside of traditional coursework. For example, a strong applicant may be involved with an LGBTQ+ club at school but has also published an op-ed for a newspaper about recent insights into the sociology of gender. 

 

Yale is often also seen as the college amongst HYPSM (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT) that is most responsive to students with significant achievements in the arts. If you’re exceptionally talented in art, music, dance, or film, you may want to consider submitting an arts supplement to showcase your accomplishments.

 

Unique Aspects of Yale

 

Academics

 

Yale’s faculty is comprised of world-renowned experts in a plethora of fields (including 2020 Literature Nobel Prize winner Louise Glück).

 

Yale’s most popular majors are Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; History; Engineering; and Mathematics and Statistics. Following liberal arts tradition, Yale does not have minors. 

 

However, for students whose academic interests don’t fit into classical departments, Yale does have several special departments and majors:

 

 

Yale also has its own summer study abroad program—the Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad—in which Yale faculty lead programs for Yale credit in a variety of subjects.

 

Extracurriculars

 

Yale boasts a vast offering of non-academic activities. Here are a few distinctive ones:

 

  • The Guild of Bookmakers is a club dedicated to teaching bookbinding and the book arts
  • The Yale Undergraduate Prison Project is a student social justice group centered around having dialogues about mass incarceration. The group provides tutoring/mentoring to prisoners and those recently released from prison
  • The Whiffenpoofs are the world’s oldest collegiate a cappella group

 

Although Yale is known more for its academics than athletics, the Yale Bulldogs, Yale’s varsity sports teams, have won a total of 29 NCAA team championships: 21 in men’s golf, 4 in men’s swimming, 2 in women’s fencing, 1 in men’s hockey, and 1 in men’s lacrosse.

 

Traditions

 

As one of the oldest higher-education institutions in the United States, Yale has a rich culture of traditions. Here are some of its most celebrated:

 

  • Class Day is a commencement tradition that started in the 1800s. On Class Day there’s a speech by a notable figure (chosen by the students), awarding of prizes, and speeches and films from the graduating class.
  • On the last day of classes during the fall semester, Yale holds a Holiday Dinner for all undergraduates. Upperclassmen dine in the residential colleges, while freshmen experience an even more lavish dinner—the Parade of Comestibles. This includes an extravagant feast delivered by parade, with a live serenade. 
  • Founders Day is a new tradition, started in 2014, of celebrating the founding of Yale University around the anniversary of the founding day in 1701
  • In 1889 a student from England brought his bulldog, Handsome Dan, to Yale. Handsome Dan went everywhere, including to sporting events, and soon students adopted him as Yale’s mascot. Since 1889, Yale has had a series of real bulldogs occupying the position of Handsome Dan.

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Dorms

 

Yale’s residential colleges are a defining feature of student life. All incoming undergraduates are randomly assigned to one of fourteen residential colleges, where they remain for their four years at Yale. Each college is a cohesive and tight-knit community—each with a library, gym, dining hall, and activity spaces—centered around a courtyard.

 

Financial Aid

 

In an effort to make Yale accessible to those who show promise, Yale has an extensive financial aid program. Yale is need-blind, and its aid meets 100% demonstrated financial need (regardless of citizenship status). The average need-based scholarship in 2019-2020 was $55,100. Families with a household income under $75,000 pay nothing.

 

Resources

 

Being a student at Yale comes with a few special amenities:

 

  • The Yale Forests are nearly 11,000 acres of forest in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont for educational use (most fittingly for the School of the Environment). 
  • The Yale University Art Gallery is the oldest university art museum in the western hemisphere
  • Yale’s Center for British Art houses the most extensive collection of British art outside of England.

 

Location

 

Yale is located in New Haven, Connecticut, 90 minutes from both NYC and Boston. New Haven itself is the perfect balance of city offerings with New England town charm—or, as Yale’s website puts it, “large enough to be interesting, yet small enough to be friendly.” New Haven proclaims itself pizza capital of the world.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Yale?

 

If Yale is your dream school, it might be disheartening to see that the acceptance rate is only 6%. But your personal chance of being accepted may be higher or lower depending on factors in your application. If your academic profile is within the average reported range for accepted students, admissions will likely read through your application (at a minimum).

 

To get a more realistic picture of your chances of acceptance at Yale, we recommend using our free admissions calculator. Just input your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, and we’ll give you an estimate of your chances of acceptance, as well as feedback on how to improve your application.

 

The admissions calculator is also a great way to make a strategy for the whole application process, beyond your application to Yale. You can search for schools based on size, location, majors, your chances of acceptance, and more.

 

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Short Bio
Alura Chung-Mehdi graduated from Amherst College with a degree in English. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking, rock climbing, and daydreaming.

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