CollegeVine College Essay Team 7 min read Essay Breakdowns

3 Awesome Yale University Essay Examples

Yale is one of the top universities in the country, and a member of the prestigious Ivy League. Since many Yale applicants will have stellar grades and test scores, your essays are vital to standing out. Yale has a handful of short answer questions, two essays for all applicants, and one for engineering.

 

In this post, we’ll go over one of Yale’s supplemental essay prompts and what admissions officers are looking for. Then, we’ll share an essay from a real applicant, analyzing what they did well, and what they could’ve improved. You’ll also have the opportunity to download more Yale example essays.

 

Yale University Supplemental Essay Prompt

Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international importance. Discuss an issue that is significant to you and how your college experience could help you address it. (250 words)

Here, adcoms are looking for passion and willingness to improve one’s community, as well as the applicant’s “fit” for Yale. Colleges want students who will become strong campus contributors, so this is your chance to show your plans to give back!

 

When deciding on a topic, you may want to start by looking back on your high school experience. Which problems have you spotted in your community and the world at large, and how have you worked to solve them? If you have an interesting anecdote in mind, you may start off with a brief and engaging story from your life before transitioning into a discussion of how this has affected your goals in college, particularly Yale-specific ones.

 

If you don’t have lived experience in these arenas, that’s fine too! Most students find themselves drawn to specific issues and may have taken extra initiative to think or learn about them in their free time. 

 

Start off with a thorough brainstorming session, whether you’re freely talking into a recording device, or jotting down your thoughts in a notepad or Google Doc. Going on a brisk walk before or during your brainstorming process will let blood flow to your brain, allowing for deep, clear, and creative thinking

 

Consider which problems have arisen in your life the most. You may have researched these issues on your own, talked about them with your friends, or even experienced them yourself. For example, a student who has been personally affected by the California wildfires may write about how the rushed experience of evacuating has propelled them to think more deeply about the issue, prompting their desire to pursue Environmental Studies at Yale and write for the Yale Environment Review.

 

While Yale already has a “Why This College” prompt, this essay offers an additional opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of both yourself and Yale’s abundant opportunities 

 

Yale Essay Example from a Real Applicant

 

Let’s look at a successful response from a Yale applicant:

A chaotic sense of sickness and filth unfolds in an overcrowded border station in McAllen, Texas. Through soundproof windows, migrants motion that they have not showered in weeks and children wear clothes caked in mucus and tears. The humanitarian crisis at the southern border exists not only in photographs published by mainstream media, but miles from my home in South Texas.

 

As a daughter of immigrants, I have heard countless stories of migrants being turned away by a country they desperately seek to love. After seeing the abhorrent conditions migrants face upon arriving in the U.S., I began volunteering with Loaves and Fishes, an organization that shelters and provides necessities to undocumented immigrants. This year, my experiences collecting donations and working at pop-up soup kitchens have made me realize that the communities in South Texas promote true American values of freedom and opportunity. The U.S. government, however, must do better.

 

During my university career, I aspire to learn how our immigration system can be positively reformed by considering the politics and economics that shape policy-making. Particularly, classes such as Institutional Design and Institutional Change will prepare me to effect change in existing institutions by analyzing various methods to bolster the economy. 

 

Additionally, I hope to join the Yale Refugee Project that volunteers at the southern border and prepares asylum cases for court. With the numerous opportunities offered by YRP, I will be part of a generation of activists and lawmakers that builds a more empathetic immigration system.

Breaking Down the Yale Essay Example

 

This essay draws its strength from its roots in the applicant’s personal experience and its connections to Yale-specific opportunities. Here, we learn a bit about the applicant’s story, values, and fit for Yale, all well-encapsulated within the 250-count word limit. 

 

A chaotic sense of sickness and filth unfolds in an overcrowded border station in McAllen, Texas. Through soundproof windows, migrants motion that they have not showered in weeks and children wear clothes caked in mucus and tears. The humanitarian crisis at the southern border exists not only in photographs published by mainstream media, but miles from my home in South Texas.

 

This imagery-rich anecdote offers a fantastic introduction to this essay. For those oriented towards narrative writing, this may prove a strong way to draw your reader in. The author quickly establishes not only the problem’s dire extent but also a personal connection; this issue resides in her own backyard. Here, the applicant establishes that immigrant mistreatment is more than a faraway crisis to her, offering crucial background behind her passion for it.

 

In your essay, we recommend you do the same. Discuss not only what the problem is, but why it matters to you. Why do you find yourself drawn to your particular issue instead of another one?

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As a daughter of immigrants, I have heard countless stories of migrants being turned away by a country they desperately seek to love. After seeing the abhorrent conditions migrants face upon arriving in the U.S., I began volunteering with Loaves and Fishes, an organization that shelters and provides necessities to undocumented immigrants. This year, my experiences collecting donations and working at pop-up soup kitchens have made me realize that the communities in South Texas promote true American values of freedom and opportunity. The U.S. government, however, must do better.

 

Here, the applicant further deepens her connection to the issue through her familial history. This strengthens her authenticity, showing that this is an issue she genuinely cares about and is thus naturally motivated to change. 

 

Secondly, the applicant succinctly describes the steps she has taken to resolve this issue, staying true to her main message and avoiding excessive wordiness to stay concise. This maintains the reader’s interest as they grow to trust that each sentence will carry interesting content that differs from that within the sentence before it.

 

She ends this paragraph with a call for the U.S. government to “do better,” and due to the work she has already described, her command comes across as especially justified. Meanwhile, her genuine passion for the issue and willingness to work to fix it are early signs to admissions officers that this is a student with the initiative to participate and contribute to campus. 

 

Despite her chosen topic being controversial and emotion-inducing, there are no excessive appeals to emotion within this essay. By discussing her knowledge and experience, the urgency of the immigrant condition speaks for itself, as does her determination to improve it.

 

During my university career, I aspire to learn how our immigration system can be positively reformed by considering the politics and economics that shape policy-making. Particularly, classes such as Institutional Design and Institutional Change will prepare me to effect change in existing institutions by analyzing various methods to bolster the economy. 

 

After creating a strong basis to showcase her determination to improve immigrant’s welfare, the applicant successfully shifts into discussing the future that her past has informed. Notice how as this essay progresses, the writer gradually transitions from writing about her general college goals to specific Yale offerings. 

 

In fact, this whole essay is filled with natural transitions and a clear train of thought linking each idea to the next. Be sure to bring this same quality in your own writing; the last thing you want to do is confuse your admissions officer with an abrupt topic switch!

 

Additionally, I hope to join the Yale Refugee Project that volunteers at the southern border and prepares asylum cases for court. With the numerous opportunities offered by YRP, I will be part of a generation of activists and lawmakers that builds a more empathetic immigration system.

 

By mentioning the Yale Refugee Project, the applicant gets even more specific in mentioning qualities that only Yale possesses, further demonstrating her fantastic fit for the school. Notice how YRP’s mission mirrors that of Loaves and Fishes in their shared goal to better southern immigrant communities. YRM’s opportunities for helping immigrants through the world of law offer an almost “grown-up” version of the work she has already completed; here, the applicant shows a willingness to build upon her experience and to push herself even further.

 

Furthermore, her aspirations tie back to the writer’s earlier claim that the United States’ government  “must do better” by showing that she intends to be part of this wave of positive change herself. This level of intent signifies that this applicant stays true to her word, acting upon her values instead of just talking about them.

 

This essay checks all of the right boxes. It’s a clear read without being simplistic. It’s sufficiently personal in a way that suits her purpose, and her motivation to tackle her issue is both explained and acted upon. Finally, her concurrent streaks of activism and intellectualism successfully paint this applicant as a proper Yalie, making it clear to adcoms that she belongs on campus. 

 

If you’re still stuck on how to answer this essay prompt, or if you’d like to learn how to to approach the rest, check out this breakdown of how to write them all! 

 

More Yale Essay Examples

 

If you’re looking for more Yale essay examples from real students, you can view the other two essays by entering your email and graduation year below. Then, links to the PDFs will appear on the right side of the box.

 

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