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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How To Write the ‘Why Yale’ Essay

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Hale Jaeger in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 


What’s Covered:



In this article, we discuss strategies to write Yale University’s “Why Yale” supplemental essay. For this essay, applicants must respond to the following prompt in 125 or fewer words: “What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?”


Show Why You Are a Good Match


The “Why Yale” supplemental essay is a great opportunity to reveal more about who you are, what your goals are, and how Yale will help you achieve those goals. As you write, be sure to discuss why you feel you belong at Yale. It is important to note that this essay is not just about why Yale is a good school or why you’re a good student. This essay is most importantly about why Yale is a good match for you and why you’re a good match for Yale.


Be Authentic


As you discuss your reasons for choosing Yale, it is important to use authentic reasons rather than superficial ones. 


For example, maybe you use this essay to highlight a community that you feel that you’re a part of and how it is represented at Yale. Alternatively, maybe you have a personal connection to Yale, or you grew up in New Haven and have been participating in Yale-sponsored events your whole life. Maybe there are specific academic or extracurricular programs and opportunities that Yale does well that you are passionate about. 


This could also be an opportunity to specifically discuss how Yale is going to help you achieve your goals. Whether it be a goal for your college experience or goal for your future, it’s open-ended. Most importantly, you just need to highlight what makes you and Yale relate to each other. 


Prioritize Your Reasons


When you think about authentic reasons to apply to Yale, choose the ones that are true for you and resonate with you most. You don’t have a lot of space to write this essay, so make sure you outline your ideas, and if you find that you can only touch on one of these reasons, that’s fine. For example, when Hale wrote his essay, he only wrote about community and sense of place. 


Additionally, as you write, you want to be specific even though you only get 125 words. 


Topics to Avoid


As you write this essay, there are some important topics to avoid. These include subjects like clout, prestige, rankings, and post-graduate salary. 


Avoid Talking About Rankings


In particular, rankings mean very little. While Yale might have the number one program in the country for a specific discipline, the truth is those rankings change every year. Additionally, they take into account so many different factors that just stating you are interested in a program because of its ranking doesn’t show what about that program is interesting to you. 


Leave Out Location


It is also important to avoid generic reasons like location. There are many universities in Connecticut, in the New Haven area, which are halfway between New York and Boston, and situated on the coast. If you use these location factors to describe your interest in Yale, you’re describing any number of schools. Instead, try to make your reasons as specific as possible to Yale as a unique institution.


Avoid Superficial Reasons


As you write, try to avoid saying things that are superficial and don’t show reflective qualities. For example, Yale has gorgeous buildings, and the library is beautiful and incredibly picturesque. But Yale also has academic resources, and that is where you should focus your essay. Instead of commenting on the beauty of the library, emphasize how you plan to use the resources that are available to you through the library. While the beauty of a campus can certainly be compelling to applicants, it is not something that should be included in a “Why Us” essay.


Hale’s ‘Why Yale’ Essay


When Hale applied to Yale, he also had to write a “Why Yale” supplemental essay. When he first explored colleges, Hale didn’t know that he wanted to be anywhere in particular, especially not an Ivy League school. 


Hale toured Yale on a rainy November day and, because of his impression of Ivy League schools, assumed that Yale was going to be a competitive place where everyone was looking out for themselves and their own grades. As he walked around in the rain, Hale noticed many students stopping to say hello, to catch up, and to attempt to schedule meals with one another.


Through that tour, Hale realized that Yale was a place that emphasized community. He remarked that Yale has a collaborative atmosphere and that, as a student, he has seldom done homework alone. Hale always has somebody to work with and ask questions of – either professors or peers. At Yale, Hale feels safe to fail because he knows there will be people to help him back up. These are the reasons that Hale has enjoyed his time at Yale, so he emphasized them in his “Why Yale” essay.