How I Got Involved at 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.
Recently, I graduated with two degrees from Yale University as a member of the class of 2021. The first degree was in ethics, politics, and economics, which is an interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences program at Yale. My second degree was an intensive classics major, with a language track focusing on Latin literature and Roman history. For all the people who mocked my decision to be a classics major by calling it a completely useless and fruitless pursuit, the joke is on them because Yale is one of the few schools that still writes the text on your diploma in Latin.
The Performing Arts at Yale
Beyond the classroom at Yale, I was mainly involved in the performing arts, and I sang with two a capella groups: the Alley Cats and the Whiffenpoofs. I spent three years with the Alley Cats, whose repertoire is primarily rooted in jazz but has expanded to include R&B, pop, and other genres. Afterward, I sang with the Whiffenpoofs for one year. They are the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the United States and essentially one of the main founders of what we know as college a cappella music.
I took an entire year off from school between my junior and senior years to sing with the Whiffenpoofs. During this time, I had the opportunity to live the life of a professional musician and got to sing, perform, and travel full time. It was a major decision, but I took a leap of faith and really enjoyed it. Outside of those two groups, I also sang with the Yale Glee Club, which is the university’s undergraduate mixed chorus, and with the select choir known as the Glee Club Chamber Singers.
Working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions
I pursued a variety of other activities, including joining a dance troupe, working on Yale’s undergraduate Journal of Classics, participating in Greek life, and being affiliated with the Yale College Dean’s Office. Most importantly, starting as a junior, I worked for more than two years in Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. During the summer after my junior year, I worked as a senior interviewer on campus. Most schools have applicants interview with alums in their locality, and Yale does this, but Yale had another option at the time, where applicants could interview on campus with a current student.
As a senior interviewer, I had the unique opportunity to interview more than 200 applicants during the 2019-2020 college admissions cycle. This experience of being the interviewer rather than the applicant contextualized the entire college application process for me and brought to my attention much of the information and resources that I took for granted when I was in high school. I truly enjoyed my work in the admissions office because I was able to meet so many fascinating high schoolers from all over the country and around the world.
After working as a senior interviewer, I returned to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a lead recruitment coordinator, working with more than 30 other undergraduates on various initiatives. In the fall, we led a massive outreach campaign to prospective applicants across the country and all over the world, promoting Yale as a place to which people should consider applying.
Many people don’t apply to Yale because they don’t know that it’s an option for them, so our goal was to broadcast how accessible Yale can be and its robust financial aid policies. In the spring, after decisions were released, we shifted our focus to planning all the events that Yale holds to welcome admitted students to campus. The goal with the admitted students’ days was to give all prospective students every reason to say “yes” to Yale after Yale said “yes” to them.
If you are interested in applying to Yale University, you can learn more about how to write the Yale University essays for the 2022-2023 application cycle.