Yale University

134 Yale Essays That Got In

Updated for the 2024-2025 admissions cycle.

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Nestled in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University is an Ivy League institution that provides students with an exceptional educational experience. Students at Yale may benefit from the University's highly regarded academics and research opportunities, diversified campus culture, world-renowned professors, and extensive choice of extracurricular activities. Yale's dedication to quality extends far beyond the confines of a typical institution, with renowned undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, as well as world-class museums and libraries. The school’s interdisciplinary philosophy is best captured by their motto “Yale is and.” Indeed, at Yale, students are encouraged to study multiple disciplines and see how they interact; for Yalies, it’s about studying fields like biology and sociology — not one or the other. As such, Yale University—with its lively student body and devoted staff—provides an exciting, challenging, and creative learning environment for students from all walks of life.

Unique traditions at Yale

1.Bulldog Days: This tradition is held annually in the spring and is a multi-day event that provides prospective students an opportunity to experience and explore life at Yale. 2.Freshman Shirts: A tradition where incoming freshman each choose a unique shirt and wear it on the Wednesday of Bulldog Days. 3.Heave Ho: At the end of each spring semester, Yale students gathered outside Dwight Hall and wait for a shared count of three. Then, with 3 cheers of “Hip Hip Heave Ho!” the entire Yale community school throws their hats in the air. 4.The Gold Rush: In this tradition, competing teams of Yale undergraduate students race around the Yale campus while pushing a shopping cart with two passengers on board. 5.The Stephen S. Roberts Memorial Run: A 13-mile march offered to all incoming freshmen that follows historical events and locations related to the Yale community.

Programs at Yale

1) Yale Women in Business: A student-led organization with a mission to foster an inclusive and supportive network of women at Yale who are passionate about business. 2) Morse College Writing: A yearlong program of small-group seminars focused on the study of the craft of writing. 3) Chapter 16: A club devoted to the study and directed discussion of Yale's Literary Magazine, Chapter 16. 4) The Chinese Language and Culture Program: An intensive language program focused on introducing beginners to conversational Chinese through conversation and culture courses. 5) Yale Debate Association: A student-run organization that provides students of all levels with the opportunity to improve their debating skills through a variety of competitive and educational activities.

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Real Essays from Yale Admits

Prompt: what inspires you.

Unfinished stories. They’re a reminder that life isn’t neatly defined by chapters, and that I have the power to choose the meaning and impact of events and find ways to improve upon them.

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Essay by Rosie

Statistics & Data Science + Ethics, Politics & Economics (and Musician?) @ Yale :D

Prompt: What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

The freedom of a Hibachi buffet is amazingly powerful. Ice cream, beef and broccoli, a dozen dishes of fish—it’s a veritable choose-your-own adventure novel. For me, Yale holds even more appeal. I want to gorge myself on Yale's "Writing About Oneself" course—it focuses on self-exploration through literature and theme introspection, something I wish to do with my own writing. My palate is not bound to English foodstuffs—I also want to devour Yale's "Democracy and Sustainability" course. Through my urban community farm, I have seen firsthand the importance of sustainability but have seldom been able to study it at my own school. Yale's undergraduate curriculum combined with its two-week shopping period will allow me to freely explore my many interests—letting me discover myself in the process.

Essay by Python Chen

I'm an aspiring author from Nashville. I love reading & writing, playing video games, watching anime, cooking, and letting my undiagnosed ADHD lead me on a wild ride everyday!

Prompt: What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?

Visiting campus, I learned Yale students were exceptionally passionate. Yalies raved not only about the world-renowned academics, but also their adventures in the arts, volunteering, and athletics. Additionally, I saw that residential communities’ fascinating guest speakers and social events transform dorms into lively homes. As an institution, Yale fosters student enthusiasm. Through class shopping, students explore their many interests before committing to a course. Also, many classes are seminars, proving that Yale has plenty of opportunities like any large university, but maintains the intimacy of a small college. Finally, I love that the Yale spirit is intelligent and collaborative. Students are both brilliant and appreciate others’ strengths. Yale is the perfect place for me to pursue my passions, surrounded by other Yalies doing the same.

Essay by Michelle

Yale grad who loves renewable energy, travel, and the arts!

Prompt: 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 would you ask them to discuss?

To rapper and Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar: How do you balance telling your own personal stories and addressing social issues in your music?

Essay by Nikhe

History student, poet, and Succession-fanatic @ Yale

Prompt: You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?

Computer science: an alluring juxtaposition of problem-solving and art. It transforms me. When I’m meticulously debugging code, I’m 8-year-old me, manipulating the faces of my Rubik’s cube to return it to its original configuration. When I’m fervently typing away lines of code, I am a craftsman, painting on the canvas I call the IDE-software-application. When I’m compiling code, I am a scientist, testing for sources of error.

Essay by Rose

Programmer and performer @ Yale!

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examples of yale essays

Successful Yale Essays

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examples of yale essays

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Yale Essay Prompts

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Yale University Short Essay Prompts

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 3 tips for writing stellar yale supplement essays.

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College Essays


Yale admits just over 4% of their total applicant pool every year. If you want to be one of those admitted students, you'll need to write amazing Yale essays as part of your Yale University application.

In this article, we'll outline the different types of essays you need to write for your Yale University application and teach you how to write a Yale supplement essay that will help you stand out from the thousands of other applicants.

What Are the Yale Essay Prompts?

Yale University requires you to submit multiple short answer questions and one essay, depending on whether you are submitting the Common Application , QuestBridge Application, or Coalition Application .

You will choose from a selection of topics for the longer Yale supplement essay questions. The prompts are the same for both the Common and the Coalition application, but the number of prompts you'll choose to answer is different depending on which application you use to apply.

You'll also complete short answer questions regardless of which application you're using. It’s important to note that Common, Coalition, and QuestBridge applications all require short answer questions, but only Common and Coalition applications require a second set of short answer questions and a supplemental essay.

The short answer questions for the Yale essays range in word limit from 35 words to 250 words. These essays are specific to the Yale application—you won't find them on any other college or university's application.

Although they are short, the Yale supplement essays are just as important as the longer essays.

The Yale supplemental essay questions offer you plenty of opportunity to show off your qualifications as an applicant and wow the admissions committee.


2023-2024 Yale Essay Questions

Applicants who fill out the Common Application or the Coalition Application will answer one of the following three prompts:

Essay Prompt #1: Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful? (400 words or fewer) Essay Prompt #2: Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you’d like. (400 words or fewer) Essay Prompt #3: Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you? (400 words or fewer)

Yale Supplement Essay Prompts Analyzed

Now that you've read through the Yale supplemental essay prompts, let's take a closer look at how to answer them. 

Essay Prompt #1

Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful? (400 words or fewer)

This essay asks you to reflect on your ability to engage with opposing ideas and to modify your own —or to hold firm, if need be! It's a tall order, but a very, very important subject. Whether you changed your mind a little, a lot, or not at all, this prompt asks you to explain why the discussion, itself, was meaningful to you. 

Yale admissions officers want to know that you can participate in a healthy exchange of ideas with others without compromising yourself or shutting down the conversation. This is very important , as it's a huge part of collegiate life!

For this essay, you'll need to think of a pretty specific scenario. Maybe you had a class conversation about a controversial subject, or maybe you talked to a parent, relative, or friend about a subject you disagreed on. Did you know going into the conversation that you disagreed? How did that affect the way you spoke? What was the tone of your conversation? How did it resolve (or did it)? Most importantly , what did you take away from the experience and how did it impact you?  How has it shaped your belifs and the way you interact with others who do not share them? 

Essay Prompt #2

Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you’d like. (400 words or fewer)

This essay provides a great place to let the committee see a side of you that has nothing to do with academics. There are so many possible answers here: family, sports teams, religious school, AV club, and even virtual communities are viable options to write about. Whatever community you choose, be sure to pick one that has made an impression on you and to which you feel connected.

Have fun with this Yale essay. Don't feel pressure to talk about how much charity work you do—chances are a lot of applicants will go that route and it will seem inauthentic. (Unless charity work is actually your jam. If that's the case, go for it!)

You also have the opportunity to define “community” on your terms here. If you have a unique experience with a group of people that may not look like a traditional community to outsiders, writing about that experience can help you stand out in the admissions process. For instance, if your football team came together with a rival team to provide hurricane relief and bonded in the process, that would be an out-of-the-box take on community connection to highlight in your essay. 

However you decide to define “community,” make sure to explain why the community you choose is meaningful to you . Before putting pen to paper, consider making a list and reflecting on why this particular community holds meaning for you. What values, traditions, or shared experiences within the community are special to you? How has this community impacted your personal growth? Your beliefs? Your worldview? Answering these questions about your community is a great place to start!

Let your voice shine through in this one and don't be afraid to be creative. Since you have a larger word allotment you can show off some of your prosaic chops. Don't try too hard though! Be yourself—the committee will appreciate you for it.

Essay Prompt #3

Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you? (400 words or fewer)

This essay gives you an opportunity to consider your past, explore what you learned and how you grew, and explain how it will help you bring value to Yale . Just like with the last prompt, you have the freedom to pick from a wide range of experiences. This could be an event, a relationship, a passion, or even a challenge you faced.

Once you’ve picked the “element” you want to focus your essay on, take some time to think about how the experience impacted you. Did you learn a lesson from it? Were you able to build any valuable skills? Did it change or help you develop important personal values? You don’t want to choose just anything to write about, here—you want to choose something that had a profound effect on you and who you consider yourself to be.

Last but definitely not least: you’ll need to explain how Yale and its community will benefit from having you on campus . Draw connections between what you learned from your experience and how you’ll encounter classes, peers, teachers, and others on campus. Whether it’s contributing to academic discussions, participating in extracurricular activities, or fostering a positive campus culture, show how your experience will impact your time at Yale in a positive way.

Want to build the best possible college application?   We can help.   PrepScholar Admissions combines world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've guided thousands of students to get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit and are driven to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in:

2023-2024 Yale Short Answer Questions

There are three required Yale short answer questions.  Every student applying to Yale must answer these three prompts:

  • Students at Yale have 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.  

Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)


Yale Short Answer Questions Analyzed

The longer short answer prompts listed above are required of all applicants. The prompts are the same for both applications. Remember, all three prompts are required.  

We’ll break down how to respond to each Yale short answer prompt next.

Yale Short Answer Question 1

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.

First off—follow the directions here exactly. ONLY use areas of study from the list provided in the above link and be sure to mention no more than three.

Here, Yale is giving you the opportunity to show some range in your interests, but keeping your writing brief and honest is key.

Less is more here—don't be afraid to only list one interest. Although it may be unrealistic to choose a major before you enter college, there is no harm in expressing what excites you right now. You will not have to stick to this major throughout your Yale career, unless of course you want to. Since you're just listing one to three subjects from the list provided and nothing more, this "short answer" question is just that: short! 

Yale Short Answer Question 2

This prompt asks you to show that you have independent intellectual interests and take the initiative to connect them to your academic goals. Your answer to this question should showcase the curiosity, passion, and drive that you’ll contribute to the Yale community!

A good answer to this question will include the following elements: 1) a topic or idea that you're curious about, 2) how you engage with that topic or idea, and 3) which major(s) you think will best help you pursue your topic or idea.

So, start out by describing your topic of interest or idea. For example, say you're interested in how tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons promote key education skills like literacy and mental math. Think about what excites you most about your topic or idea and explain those things in your response.

You'll want to briefly explain how you engage with your topic or idea as well. For instance, maybe you play Dungeons and Dragons at a local gaming store every weekend, and you notice lots of middle-schoolers are dropped off by their parents to play games. These observations could have sparked your questions about literacy learning and tabletop gaming! Including some of the context will help ground your response in a story that admissions counselors can connect with.

You also need to explain why you're drawn to your idea or topic. If it's the tabletop gaming we discussed above, maybe you'll talk about how you struggled with reading as a young student and playing tabletop games helped you develop your skills. Including an explanation of why you're drawn to your topic or idea is an important component of your response.

Finally, make sure you connect everything back to Yale. How will Yale help foster your commitment to studying tabletop gaming and literacy? Which major(s) or minor(s) would best support your intellectual endeavor? How will your curiosity help you make a significant impact as a Yale student? And why is Yale the only school that can foster your creativity and turn it into success? At the end of the day, admissions counselors want to better understand why Yale is the best place for you to explore your interests!

Yale Short Answer Question 3

This short answer question seems simple at first glance—and if you know how to hack it, it can be! Known as the “Why Yale?” essay, the question above is asking you to show Yale admissions why you’re a perfect fit for their school . Essentially, this is Yale's version of a "Why This College?" essay!

So how do you convince Yale that you absolutely belong there in 125 words or fewer? You do your research, take inventory of your future goals, and use your best writing skills to convey that your values are aligned with Yale’s values. 

To write an effective response to the “Why Yale?” question, start out by learning everything you can about Yale . You’ll want to focus your research on discovering things about Yale that really spark your excitement and feel truly meaningful to you. Doing your research on Yale’s identity and traditions will help you explain why you belong there!

Once you’ve done your research, think about the places where your values align with Yale’s values . Your answer needs to show that you and Yale make a perfect match—that you’ll play off of each other’s strengths, and that you’ll bring that missing piece that Yale needs to be complete. 

While you want to be honest and genuine here, the purpose of this essay is for you to convince Yale admissions that you’re prepared to support Yale’s mission and that Yale is the perfect place for you to grow and flourish. So pick a couple of specific, unique-to-you reasons why you want to go to Yale, and explain them in your best, error-free prose in this short answer response. This is your big opportunity to show why Yale is the only school for you!   


Are you using the Common App or Coalition App? There are additional short answer questions for you!

2023-2024 Yale Short Answer Questions (Common and Coalition Applications

Every applicant must respond to four Yale-specific short answers if you're using the Coalition or Common App.

The Yale short answer questions are just that: very short. Some only require 35 word answers. We will talk about how to answer these questions later. For now, let's take a look at the prompts themselves:

What inspires you? (35 words or fewer)

If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be? (35 words or fewer)

Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? (35 words or fewer)

What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application? (35 words or fewer)

All of these short takes must be 35 words or fewer and 200 characters (letters, spaces, and symbols/numbers) or fewer. That means you'll have to think hard—and edit harder!—to make word count.

2023-2024 Yale Short Answer Questions Analyzed (Common and Coalition) 

In this section, we'll be looking at the short answer Yale supplement essays in depth.

Remember, every applicant using the Coalition or Common Application must answer all essay prompts, so you don't get to choose which essay you would like to write. It is important that you answer each of the Yale essay prompts strongly as they are all of equal importance.

Let's take a look at each Yale short essay question and see how to write something meaningful for each.

Caution! Due to its small word requirement here, you may be tempted to be witty or sardonic in your answer. Resist the urge! Again, go with authenticity rather than cleverness. If something charming or funny arises from your answer naturally, check with your guidance counselor, English teacher, or another trusted editor before turning it in. Humor can read as flippant and the application committee could think that you are not taking your application seriously.

Good answers to this question range from inspirational people, to remarkable landscapes, to fine dining. There is no correct answer, so have fun answering!

Think about what this prompt is asking: what inspires you? What gets you excited and motivated? Avoid trite answers at all costs. Don't say how inspired you are by "the world in all its vastness." Instead look inward, and think about when you have felt the best about yourself, and most energized to do the things you love. What made you feel that way? Who? And how did you act on that inspiration?

Another fun one! Once again: no cliches, no obvious answers, and no comedy.

Here’s a chance to show off something you feel you have mastery over. Instead of projecting into the future when you are a famous playwright and have the chops to teach a class or write a book about fantastical realism in modern theater, pick something that you know about right now.

Maybe you speak a second language. Maybe you collect insects or press flowers. Maybe you are an expert at self-care for busy students. This question is not designed to get a better sense of your ambitions or goals. Here the committee wants to learn about the abilities and passions in which you already feel confident. 

This short answer is a snapshot into your character and the meaningful connections that have shaped your journey. There are two key limitations here: your response has to be 35 words or fewer, and you have to focus on someone you’re not related to. Think hard about influential people outside of your family: mentors, teachers, friends, or even people from your larger community.

For the best response, pick someone who has had an important impact on your life and who you’ve become. Focus on a quality this person has, a lesson they taught you, or an experience you had together that you can use to talk about how they’ve influenced you in an important way. Nothing is off the table here—this could be a piece of advice your academic advisor gave you, a hard-working coworker you modeled your work ethic off of, or a shared experience with your best friend that formed an unbreakable connection.

Whoever you choose to write about, remember to keep it short, authentic, and insightful!

Yale Short Answer Question 4

This question gives you the opportunity to (briefly!) share a part of yourself that you wish had made it onto your application. Maybe it's an event you coordinated that didn't quite fit into any category on the app, or maybe it's something you're deeply passionate about. Resist the urge to say something goofy or lighten the mood, and, instead, dig deep to think of an example that makes you quintessentially you.


How to Write a Great Yale Essay

Regardless of which Yale short answer question you're responding to, you should keep in mind the following tips for how to write a great Yale essay.

#1: Use Your Own Voice

The point of a college essay is for the admissions committee to have the chance to get to know you beyond your test scores, grades, and honors. Your admissions essays are your opportunity to make yourself come alive for the essay readers and to present yourself as a fully fleshed out person.

You should, then, make sure that the person you're presenting in your college essays is yourself. Don't try to emulate what you think the committee wants to hear or try to act like someone you're not.

If you lie or exaggerate, your essay will come across as insincere, which will diminish its effectiveness. Stick to telling real stories about the person you really are, not who you think Yale wants you to be.

#2: Avoid Cliches and Overused Phrases

When writing your Yale essays, try to avoid using cliches or overused quotes or phrases.

These include quotations that have been quoted to death and phrases or idioms that are overused in daily life. The college admissions committee has probably seen numerous essays that state, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Strive for originality.

Similarly, avoid using cliches, which take away from the strength and sincerity of your work.

#3: Check Your Work

It should almost go without saying, but you want to make sure your Yale essays are the strongest example of your work possible. Before you turn in your Yale application, make sure to edit and proofread your essays.

Your work should be free of spelling and grammar errors. Make sure to run your essays through a spelling and grammar check before you submit.

It's a good idea to have someone else read your Yale essays, too. You can seek a second opinion on your work from a parent, teacher, or friend. Ask them whether your work represents you as a student and person. Have them check and make sure you haven't missed any small writing errors. Having a second opinion will help your work be the best it possibly can be.

Recap: The Key to Yale Essays That Work

The Yale essays cover a wide range of topics. Regardless of the question you're answering, remember to follow these basic dos and don'ts as you're writing:

  • Be authentic and honest
  • Be specific when citing people, places and things
  • Strive for brevity and simplicity; less is more!
  • Be yourself, and do your research—both will shine through in your essays!
  • Base your essays on what you think the Yale application committee wants to hear
  • Use cliches or broad sweeping statements
  • Try too hard to be funny and original—be genuine and your positive attributes will be visible to the committee.


What's Next?

Trying to figure out what to study in college? Have no fear— our guide will help you choose the best major for you, one step at a time .

Really want to get into Yale? Using an acceptance calculator will help you figure out your chances of getting into the schools at the top of your list so you know how to up your odds.

It's a great time to start researching scholarships . It's never too early to start thinking about how you're going to pay for college!

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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Yale Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Prompts & Advice

August 17, 2023

yale supplemental essay

Yale’s acceptance rate of 4.35% for the Class of 2027 is not the type of number you want to simply glide past as you proceed through the application with blind optimism. It is not our intention to inject unnecessary anxiety and fear into the highly selective admissions process (you likely already have plenty of sources for that). Rather, we feel it is in your best interest to process the implications of the fact that there were 52,250 applicants to Yale in the 2022-23 cycle—many of whom were valedictorian or salutatorian of their respective high school class and brought 99th percentile SAT/ACT scores to the table, along with a dizzying list of extracurricular achievements. However, in the end, only 2,275 individuals were admitted. One thing all of those individuals had in common is that they composed stellar Yale supplemental essays.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Yale University? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into Yale: Admissions Data and Strategies  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

It will take perfect(ish) academic credentials to make it past the hyper-competitive “first cut” in the Yale application process. From there, you need to find a way to stand out from your place in a crowd of impeccably credentialed high schoolers. The numerous essays and short answer prompts required by Yale present one of the best opportunities you will have to stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee.

Yale Supplemental Essays for the 2023-24 Admissions Cycle

Yale supplemental essays: academic interests, 1)  students at yale have 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..

In this space, you are simply being asked to pick the three areas that you are most excited about and align with your background. There is likely some degree of overlap in your three areas of interest or, at least, some interdisciplinary connection that you envision. If so, you’ll have a chance to explain those connections in the next short answer…

2) Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)

This is the place to succinctly and effectively explain why your area(s) of academic interest have sparked your interest. Your answer should contain a narrative that shows the depth of your interest, when it began, how you have cultivated it, and where you see it going in the future. Common mistakes here include citing that you want to go into a particular area because it is prestigious, well-compensated, or will satisfy your parents.

Instead, focus on things like: How did you become interested in your chosen topic or idea? What books have you read on the subject? Which podcasts have you listened to? What museums have you visited? What interests and excites you most about it? Perhaps the words of former Yale President, Kingman Brewster (who has the most  Yale  name ever) best capture what this prompt aims to uncover: “I am inclined to believe that the person who gives every ounce to do something superbly has an advantage over the person whose capacities may be great but who seems to have no desire to stretch them to their limit.”

Yale Supplemental Essays: Short Takes and Essays

1) what is it about yale that has led you to apply (125 words or fewer).

When penning a “Why Us?” essay, you want to avoid areas that will be touched upon by tens of thousands of your peers. These include the following: how “prestigious” Yale is, how highly it is ranked by  U.S.   News , or how beautiful the campus is. Rather, you want to be incredibly specific in citing reasons why Yale is the perfect academic and social home for you. This will likely include discussing particular:

  • Academic programs
  • Residential College experiences
  • Study abroad opportunities
  • Undergraduate research programs
  • Yale’s mission and values.

All applicants must respond to the following four short answer questions. Responses should be no more than 200 characters (roughly 35 words).

1) What inspires you?

This can be relevant to the area of academic interest cited in the first Yale essay, but you want to avoid being redundant. This may be a bigger-picture idea, mission, or goal that undergirds much of what you want to do with your academic, career, and personal future. On the contrary, this entry can be completely outside of your academic/professional interests. It could be about a historical occurrence, the natural environment, or a philosophical/religious idea that you find inspirational. It could be focused on a musical artist that moves you, your pet cat, or a work of fiction. There are limitless possibilities to this one—if you follow your heart/gut, include the all-important “why,” and write with passion, you’ll nail this one.

Yale Supplemental Essays (Continued)

2) other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you what has been the impact of their influence .

When you think about who has shaped your life—beyond your family members—who comes to find? Is it a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a coach, or a coworker? How has this person influenced, challenged, encouraged, or inspired you, and how has that impacted you as a person?

3) If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?

Yale has expanded its horizons this year to include books and art alongside college courses. If you opt to stick with the college course direction, know this is a chance for you to showcase the unique and distinct area where you are a genuine expert (or hope to become one). Make sure that the topic of your course is not overly broad (or currently offered). For inspiration, research some of the more interesting elective courses actually offered at Yale such as: The Criminal Mind, Is That Racist?, The Search for Extraterrestrial Life, and Cocktail Culture: The History, Ethics, and Aesthetics of Drink.

If you opt to discuss a prospective book or original piece of art, think about what type of book or artwork you would create. Chapbook? Biography of a particular historical figure? Novel that centers on a mother/daughter relationship? Sculpture involving found objects? Pen-and-ink drawing of your childhood home? Whatever you choose, your answer should reveal something about your interests, passions, or background.

4) What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

This is an opportunity to share something genuinely unique about yourself that may not shine through anywhere else on the application. The key to answering this one is to pick a key aspect of your personality/background that truly reveals something deep and meaningful about you. To accomplish that, first inventory what already appears on your application before deciding what’s not present. Is it your love of running? Thrifting? That you cook dinner with your sister every Friday? That you grow your own vegetables in the summer?

Furthermore, as you brainstorm, consider the following avenues:

  • Your role in your family.
  • Your role in your social group.
  • A formative experience.
  • A favorite food, place, object, item of clothing, etc.
  • Cultural, religious, community influence.

Yale Supplemental Essays: Choose 1 of 3

Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to choose one of the following three prompt choices, which require a response of 400 words or fewer:

Option #1: Reflect on a time when you exchanged ideas about an important issue with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?

It’s no secret that we live in a polarized culture, where there seems little room for constructive dialogue between individuals with competing viewpoints. This is a chance to show that you are an open-minded, intellectually curious, truth-seeking young person who is willing to engage in conversations/debates with people who hold opposing positions on important topics. One key thing to remember when addressing this prompt is that you don’t have to be the hero of the anecdote—in fact,  you  may be one who learned to expand their thinking. Most importantly, though, you’ll want to reflect on why this particular conversation was so important to you.

Option #2: Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

First, remember that you are the boss of this prompt—you get to decide what “community” means to you, whether that’s a religious or ethnic community, your neighborhood, a sports team, club, or class, an online forum, your beach clean-up crew, or your four crazy, lovable aunts who constantly seem to be over dispensing advice and making lasagna. Pretty much everyone applying to Yale is deeply involved in a number of activities, both formal and informal, so your mission will be to bring your involvement to life. After you’ve described your chosen community, you’ll then, of course, need to tackle the ever-important “why?” Why do you appreciate this particular community? How has it impacted you?

Option #3: Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?

This is an opportunity to share something about your background that you feel will positively impact Yale’s residential community. To do so, consider discussing how your role in your family, important aspects of your upbringing, or a particular cultural, religious, or community influence either impacted your core values and beliefs or helped develop a particularly important attribute.

How important are the Yale Supplemental Essays?

The Yale supplemental essays are “very important” to the evaluation process. Seven other factors are “very important.” These factors are: rigor of coursework, class rank, GPA, recommendations, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, and extracurricular activities. Clearly, Yale places enormous value on the quality of your supplemental essay.

Want personalized essay assistance with your Yale supplemental essays?

Lastly, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Yale supplemental essays, we encourage you to  get a quote  today.

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examples of yale essays

September 15, 2023

Tips for Answering the Yale University Supplemental Essays and Short Answer Questions [2023-2024]

examples of yale essays

Not surprisingly, Yale University is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world. It accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and QuestBridge Application. All three applications require a personal statement essay, and to apply to Yale using any of them, candidates must also submit additional Yale-specific short answers and a writing supplement. This prestigious Ivy League school prides itself on providing undergraduates with an exceptional foundation in liberal arts education that focuses on cultivating knowledge and leadership skills. The supplemental writing responses are a chance for you to convey how the Yale experience might augment your passions and perspectives in terms of learning, living, and preparing for the future. 

If Yale is your first choice, it offers a Single-Choice Early Action program (also known as Restrictive Early Action) for freshman applicants that has a November 1 deadline. Check the Yale admissions website for details. Under this program, Yale will notify you of its admissions decision in mid-December. The deadline for submission of applications for regular action is January 2. 

Before you begin writing your essay(s), thoroughly research all Yale has to offer and consider how those opportunities bolster your objectives. This is the time to get excited about the prospect of attending Yale! Visit the website and/or campus, speak with students and alumni, and envision yourself as a part of the school’s exceptional learning community. The curriculum at Yale is designed to provide both breadth and depth of study as the foundation for students to pursue inspired lives and careers. The university strives to foster independent critical thinking. Yale is one of the only universities that allow you to try your classes before you finalize your schedule. The first ten days of each semester are an opportunity to visit a number of classes to determine which are most interesting to you! Also, keep in mind that applicants are not admitted to a specific major, and students do not declare a major until the end of their sophomore year. 

Located in the small town of New Haven, Connecticut, in an urban setting that is primarily a residential campus, Yale offers a supportive community feel through its system of 14 residential colleges. This configuration, complete with its own residential deans and masters, creates a sense of intimacy within the larger university. Residential deans serve as primary personal and academic advisors. Masters work with students to shape the residential community. This is a powerfully dynamic way of bringing together students and faculty. Think about how this structure can support your intellectual growth. 

Short Answer Questions– Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application will respond to respond to the following short answer questions:

Students at Yale have 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.

This is not a trick question. With approximately 80 majors to choose from, Yale is trying to gauge your unique interests. Indicate a maximum of three of your top academic areas of study.

Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)

This prompt allows you to explain how your academic interests relate to the fields of study available at Yale. The challenge in this response is to discuss your rationale for your selected areas in less than 200 words. Consider your experience thus far in these areas. What sparked your interest? What burning question or issue motivates you? How might these concentrations support your long-term goals? Provide some context to support your interests and convey your enthusiasm.

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer) 

Here again, you are under significant word limitations. Don’t underestimate this prompt. It is extremely important to demonstrate good fit in your discussion – what unique aspects of an education at Yale attract you? This is an opportunity to convey your enthusiasm for a potential Yale experience.  Sometimes making a list can help you get started. Then review your list and make sure each reason relates specifically to Yale. Consider both what Yale has to offer you and what you might be able to offer the Yale community. 

The Yale site notes that QuestBridge applicants will complete these short answer questions via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, which candidates can access through the Admissions Status Portal after their application has been received.

Additional Short Answer Questions– Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will also respond to respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words): 

What inspires you?

This response touches on what motivates you as well as what you find valuable. Discuss something that makes a difference in your way of thinking and subsequently influences your actions and/or behavior. Think about what your response might convey about your character. 

If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?

Use your imagination! Consider a creative title to set the tone for your course, book, or art piece. This is a chance to infuse some fun and creativity into your response. Do you have a unique set of skills or interests that might contribute to some expertise on a particular topic? What is your specialty? Be careful to avoid any controversial statements. You never know how your suggestion might be interpreted, so try to steer clear of potentially offensive topics.

Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? 

You can select just about anyone, other than a family member! This could be someone famous (dead or alive) or your next-door neighbor. The essential component is explaining how they influenced you and the extent of their impact. Is there something you admire about them? Did/do they motivate or inspire you in some way? Have they changed or encouraged you in some way? Keep the focus on you and the result(s) of their impact. Remember to consider what your response might reflect about your values and character.

What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

Before you respond, take some time to review your overall application materials for Yale. You should share something meaningful about yourself that you didn’t mention elsewhere. Your response provides a glimpse into the sort of person you might be within the Yale community, so consider what you might contribute and what you hope to gain. You might mention something you always wanted to explore or learn how to do – perhaps something you are not very good at but love to do. Whatever you select will reflect something about your character. How might what you shared relate to attending Yale? 


Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or fewer.

  • Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?

This prompt asks you to reflect on a time when you dealt with conflicting views. This discussion might have made you feel vulnerable expressing your viewpoint. How do you engage in a civil exchange about controversial or emotional issues? What was the issue, and why was it important to you? Explain both your position and that of the other person involved. What was at stake? How did you work through the conflict and come to an understanding of the other person’s perspective? Were you able to convey your perspective? What was the outcome? Did you change your stance or clarify and strengthen your position? Most importantly, why was the experience you shared important to you? What did you learn from this process? Your response to this prompt helps to shed light on how you learn, the topics you are drawn to, how you interact with others with diverse perspectives, and how you process the world around you. 

  • Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

This prompt asks you to place yourself within the context of a particular community. What is this community? Consider how being a part of this community shapes or supports you. The focus is on why you feel connected to this community. This is an opportunity to discuss your role in just about ANY community and the impact you had on it and vice versa. It also allows you to demonstrate your ability to reflect on your community from different perspectives. Topics can vary from a school club to a larger cultural or religious community to the global community, but community is however you define it. Your goal is to EXPLAIN your relationship to the community and convey WHY that community is valuable to you. What did you learn about yourself through your connection to this community? How might this community inspire, support, or ground you and vice versa? What might this reflect about your character or place in the world? How might these experiences prepare you for this next stage of your life?

  • Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?

If you haven’t already done so, take a detailed look at Yale’s residential college system. The 14 residential colleges strive to create a more intimate living and learning atmosphere that fosters a stronger sense of community connection. Incoming students are assigned to a college and remain affiliated with that college for the duration of their time at Yale.  As stated on the school’s website, “each college is a microcosm of the larger student population.” Identify something about your personal experience that might provide a different or unique perspective to enhance your college community. Then discuss how what you shared shaped you, motivated you, influenced your sense of identity, or reflects something essential about you.

The tone of your essays should convey your drive and enthusiasm for learning in general and at Yale in particular. Share your perspectives in your own voice. Be thoughtful and reflective. 

Applicants to Yale have an exceedingly competitive profile. Yale received 52,250 undergraduate applications for the Class of 2027. Overall, only 2,275 or 4.35% of applicants were admitted, and 95% of them ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. Although Yale continued to offer test optional admissions for the Class of 2027, you can consider the test scores from the Class of 2024 – average SAT scores over 1500 and average ACT scores of approximately 33 – to get a sense of your likely cohort. 

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers. At this point, it is heartening to bear in mind that Yale is dedicated to a holistic application evaluation process for admission. Your short answer responses and supplemental essay(s) facilitate a more comprehensive review of you as a prospective student at Yale. The admissions committee takes the time to read your responses carefully. Make sure you allow yourself appropriate time for thoughtful reflection and effective writing. Use your writing supplement to set you apart from your peers. The best approach is to be true to yourself and communicate your thoughts, experiences, hopes, and dreams in a way that highlights your genuine enthusiasm for the extraordinary educational journey at Yale!

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Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for more than 20 years. Marie has counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated more than 5,000 applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch .

Related Resources:

  • Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your College Application Essays , a free guide
  • Common App and Supplemental Essay Tips
  • Make the Most of Your Common App Activities Summary

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Yale Supplemental Essay Examples

Yale Supplemental Essay Examples

A most important puzzle piece to your application are the supplemental essays, and the use of Yale supplemental essay examples is one of the best ways to prepare for writing your own perfect piece.

Don’t let the term “supplemental” fool you into thinking that these are throwaway or optional – supplemental college application essays contribute to your chances of being accepted into a program at one of the top schools in the world, so treat them as absolutely required.

Learning how to write a college essay can be done with tips and instructions, but there are excellent insights to be gained from reading sample college essays as well.

This article will give you sample essays for all of Yale’s supplemental essay prompts, as well as a small overview of additional writing and essay requirements in the supplemental section of Yale’s application – short answer questions and additional requirements for the coalition application.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 11 min read

Yale supplemental essay #1.

For: Coalition Application or Common Application

Prompt: 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?

Word Count: 250 words, or fewer

Sample Essay #1:

Programming is a language I longed to learn and understand, so I bought the C++ programming language when I was fourteen to program my own video games. My lofty aspirations were stymied quickly: I couldn’t program a window with a button that closed the window.

Computer science classes in high school helped me progress. As I continued to learn coding, I began to become interested in AI. Artificial intelligence has kindled human imagination since before we even had the word “robot”, the Golem, for instance, or Frankenstein’s monster.

Computers think very differently than we do. An AI will go about accomplishing tasks very differently from a human. Machines are, unsurprisingly, more linear thinkers than we are. So, it is unsurprising that speaking with them is still impossible, if you’re looking for a real conversation.

But we have Siri and Alexa. Talking to machines has become an obsession of mine. I spent four hours in one session alone speaking with chatbots online. I believe that, within our lifetimes, we will take computers further, perhaps even to the point where we can “hang out” with them, and just chat. At that point, programming language will become “language”, and then the future will be now. As for me, C++ is only the beginning. Soon, we will be able to genuinely talk with artificial intelligences.

Want to learn more about Yale?

Sample Essay #2:

Triple threat performer is a term for a theatre artist who can sing, dance, and act. With all three skills on their resume, they can easily perform in any show and be an asset to any theatrical production. Right?

That’s only if we accept theatre as a static discipline with a confined set of rules and skills needed to perform it. I don’t think that it is static, or confined, and I don’t think it has rules, either. Any skill can be used.

We live in a world of ever-expanding technology, and we are also painfully aware of how the “rules” of social interaction can change – both in the positive sense, such as through communications media, and the negative sense, such as isolation.

In these strange times, I am exploring what I call integrated performance techniques: not just triple-threat, but how to integrate any skill into a performer’s art. Integrated performance combines live art with video technology and other disciplines, including fine art, technology, cooking, and anything else.

I have been trying, and mostly failing, to experiment with theatre performances that don’t look like normal theatre performances. Every attempt is basically a weird, messy showcase of a variety of skills and approaches that don’t work together. But I’m having fun and learning a lot while failing. And I think, if I fail enough, I’ll start to succeed, and maybe open up a whole new way of looking at what performance is.

I read an article, published in Nautilus by an astrophysicist, that scares, thrills, and excites me. It posited that the universe’s very laws of nature might be extremely advanced alien intelligence.

He cited Arthur C. Clarke, talked about dark matter, and opened up the idea that the cliché of the fabric of reality might be the real truth at the center of everything, or at least the next phase in discovering that truth.

We think of physics as “how” the world works and philosophy as “why” the world works. If the very laws of nature might be life forms, as per the article, it’s possible that the how and the why are the same.

Very few people are talking about this idea, but I formed a group at my school to talk about the limits of science – if there are any – and it has grown into a large collective. The most exciting day was when a couple of teachers at my school showed up to a meeting, having heard of the heady concepts we were tackling, and wanting to participate. We have started thinking of ourselves as a think-tank.

I believe that studying natural law can give us insight into moral law, and that we don’t have to think of intellectual achievement and moral advancement as separate. I think a lot of our troubles as a species have arisen from this separation.

Questions are all I have at this point, but they are exciting questions that could change the world.

For: Coalition Application or Common Application – respond to either 2a or 2b.

Prompt: Reflect on a community to which you feel connected. Why is it meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

Word Count: 250 words or fewer

I play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D. Thanks to popular shows like Stranger Things, it’s a more accepted hobby than it used to be, but it’s still seen as pretty niche, and I’ve been called some pretty unflattering words as a result.

Every year, I go to as many conventions as I can. These fan conventions, or cons, are places where people who play D&D, watch anime, read Lord of the Rings, and debate the philosophical implications of video games go to, meet their sci-fi-fantasy heroes, and “geek out” as much as possible.

This community is so welcoming, and I can’t describe it any better than seeing a person dressed in a demon monster costume talking with a middle-aged man dressed as Sailor Moon like it was the most natural thing in the world.

It’s a place for the outliers to go and realize that we aren’t so strange after all. Through connections I’ve made at cons, I have built an online community that I can go to for help, for answers, for support, and for friendship. We’re all very into online connectivity, so staying in touch is a breeze, and always fun.

Through this community’s support, I have increased my self-confidence, made some contacts in industries that I’m interested in, such as gaming and comics, and learned how to be more accepting of myself and others.

The smells of cinnamon and nutmeg come along every holiday season for a lot of people. They are associated with autumn’s apple pies and Christmastime’s hot chocolate. I associate it with Three King’s Day in January, because my family are Latvian Orthodox. But I also associate it with chilis and molasses, because my family are also Jamaican and we eat jerk chicken on Three King’s Day. My family are weird, and I love them.

As my mother told me, she was on Spring break down in Jamaica, and came back raving about her new boyfriend – the man she would marry, bring to the US, and start a family with. She said the two families came from radically different places, but none of that mattered; they were brought together through my parents’ love.

.... . .-.. .-.. ---

I’m saying “Hello”.

My father owns a HAM radio set and frequently communicates with other amateur radio enthusiasts. I wanted to know what all the beeping was about, and dad started to teach me. I knew how to send messages in Morse code by the time I was a teenager.

There is a whole group of people who communicate with each other only by Morse code over HAM radio, who have never seen each other’s faces or heard each other’s voices, only a constant series of long-and-short bursts of beeps.

I’ve started talking to them and gotten to know some of the other HAM operators on my dad’s network, and it’s such a warm, friendly group of aural tones.

To me, this is such a brilliant, shining microcosm of humanity and our achievements. We are the animals with tools, who have abstract reasoning, and can find a friend in a series of beep-beep-beep-beeps. Very few people choose to communicate this way these days, and there is a specialness in sharing something so unusual with people. It’s like a secret club.

To be able to reach out with a signal and interpret that signal as a strange friendship is what is so special about our technological place. We live in the communication era. These days we’re all firing signals into the dark, whether as a series of tweets, or Morse code beeps, or texts.

--. --- --- -.. -... -.-- .

Yale Supplemental Essay #2b

Prompt: Reflect on something that has given you great satisfaction. Why has it been important to you?

I’ve never considered myself to be a very physical guy – I'm the classic tech-dweeb type – and I mostly spend my time studying mathematics and statistics. I stay indoors, I’m sedentary, and I have no sports or athletics in my hobbies.

Or, at least, I didn’t use to. My buddy Rod got sick about three years ago, and a lot of it had to do with malnutrition. I didn’t realize that you could get that sick with poor diet and exercise. I knew it was bad for you, but I never pictured it.

That’s when I read up on how to be healthier and started jogging. Of course, I continued to do calculations. “If I jog at 6 m/ph for 30 minutes, I’ll have covered 3 miles, and over the course of four weeks…” and on and on like that.

I found my love of statistics could fuel my jogging, letting me keep track of achievements and set goals.

Last summer I ran my first marathon. Well, by “ran” I mean I mostly walked it or jogged, but I completed it. I’m not going to the Olympics, but I finished a marathon. It’s important to me because it represents perseverance and attaining goals, and because I broke out of a set path to become somebody new. I don’t have to stop being a tech-dweeb to love athletics, or vice-versa, and opening up my world means a bigger horizon – one I’m jogging towards right now.

I was lying in my coffin, waiting for the beginning, and I had to keep quiet or those in attendance would hear me. The problem was that I was so excited to have made it there.

We were performing my first self-made show at an outdoor theatre festival. How did I end up here with so little experience?

In theatre class at school, a guest speaker once advised, “Book a space,” meaning that if you spend money and book a space for your show, you commit; there’s no backing down. I signed up for a theatre festival the next day.

Time seemed to warp over the next months as I tried to fit in the challenge of self-producing, writing, casting, and rehearsing the show, and building a prop coffin that I was going to be mock-buried in.

Nothing went smoothly. A cast member dropped out and had to be replaced, we couldn’t afford rehearsal space, so backyards and garages were used instead. Every challenge seemed too much, but we had to keep going. Learning to produce a show has taught me about administration, scheduling, creativity, and management, and grew my confidence and artistic ability.

Getting to hear and see the crowd reaction once I was out of the coffin made all the problems go away. I got to tell a story and learn about all aspects of theatrical production, and my love of this art form was taken further than ever before. I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere else.

Need more tips for navigating your college apps?

Sample Essay #3:

My father is a professor of English literature. I am somebody who doesn’t consider herself to be particularly “bookish”. I read non-fiction, and I’ve always felt like there’s a chasm between my father and myself – we have had a hard time bonding.

Last year, I set a goal to read James Joyce’s Ulysses – one of my father’s favorite books, and one of the most infamously-difficult books in the English language.

At 730 pages, I figured I could read Joyce’s monolith in a little over a week – 100 pages a day, two weeks if it was hard going.

I read 100 pages quickly before realizing that just reciting the words in my head would mean nothing; I had to understand it. So, I started again, slowed way down, and tried to crack the tome.

Two months in and I wasn’t half-way through – frustrated, almost to the point of tears. I chewed onwards, studying it for almost five months. That in itself was an accomplishment, but that’s not why I’m proud of this. Punishing myself with reading isn’t the treasure.

The next week, dad was talking about a student struggling with Ulysses in his class, and I said, “Cut him some slack, it’s a hard book.”

“You’ve read it?” he asked me.

When I nodded and started talking to him about the plot points and themes – the stuff of the book that I had struggled with – we had a great conversation.

I didn’t read a book – I built a bridge across a chasm.

Supplemental essays are a great way to stand out in the application committee’s minds, so put extra effort into them; you’ll never regret doing your best.

Note that, in addition to these prompts, those submitting under the Coalition Application are required to upload an audio file (mp3), video (mov), image (jpeg), or document file (word or pdf) of their own creation. Whichever method chosen, this file should complement one of the prompt response essays. Only the indicated file types are accepted. Yale’s application says that “advanced editing is not necessary”.

Furthermore, all applicants, whether applying through the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application, will respond to short answer questions – three in total. These questions are:

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer) "}]">

These are the three ways to apply to Yale as a first-year applicant. No preference is given between the three, so the choice of which application type to undertake is left with the prospective student to decide for themselves.

The Coalition Application is an application platform, allowing prospective students to create an application that is used by 100 colleges and universities in the US. The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is geared to give needs-based financial aid, and grants access to other resources: an online “locker”, a collaboration space, and a MyCoalition Counselor. Coalition applicants through Yale are required to send in an additional supplemental file (document, audio file, video, or image file) which is meant to directly relate to one of their essay prompt responses.

The Common Application, or Common App, is an application platform, used by 600 colleges and universities worldwide. This allows you to upload applications to up to 20 of those institutions. It is a central platform, but Yale still requires the Yale-specific supplemental questions and essays answered.

The QuestBridge Application is for low-income applicants and is designed to help those applicants through the process of application as well as with navigating the procurement of financial aid at Yale. It is used by 42 partner institutions (including Yale).

They are required at Yale.

Applicants have the option of choosing between writing essay 2a or 2b, but they must write one of them.

We also encourage applicants to consider no essay to be truly optional. If the form says you have a choice, the only real choice is to give yourself every point in your favor possible: write the essay.

The only exception is if essays are optional with specific conditions. For example, if a school requires an essay from international students and you are not international, you won’t write that essay.

Anything that applies to you, whether it is officially optional or not, you should do.

With such low word-counts, brevity is required, so get immediately to the point.

The first question is about what you want to study. Yale asks you to select up to three from the list provided.

The second question asks why the areas of study, those you picked in the first question, appeal to you. Focus on why you’re passionate about that subject. Connect it to you on a personal level, show why it’s imperative that you study it, and maybe site some aspirations of what you’re going to achieve by entering that particular field.

The third question is about why you want to study at Yale. What you want to do is look up faculty of note in your field(s) of choice, any interesting research being done, specific courses offered that are unique to Yale, and information on syllabi that you can site to show that Yale, above all others, is the place for you. If you have clearly researched course offerings and Yale’s research, the committee will understand that you know about the school and value its uniqueness.

You can also highlight values that the school holds – their core, foundational principles.

Don’t site its prestigious status. Don’t site its location or how beautiful the campus is.

While this is only a short answer question, reading up on why this college essay will give you some good insights into how to create your own answer.

The main subject is yourself, and what makes you unique.

You should choose to accentuate your best traits, but also how those traits will relate to Yale and the courses you would like to take.

Good qualities include perseverance, growth, skillsets, and unusual experiences that helped you grow (positive or negative).

If you can mention an area of research or a particular, singular aspect of Yale while you do so – so much the better.

It depends on how much shorter. You don’t have to hit the word limit exactly, but if you’ve only written fifty words out of two-hundred and fifty, you’re likely not going in-depth enough on your topics.

Concise writing is good, but you also need to make sure you’re accomplishing your goals of showing your abilities and standing out for the admissions committee.

If you have any doubt, it’s good to use college essay advisors to check your work. In fact, to ensure optimal results, essay advisors are a good idea anyway.

They are very important.

Every aspect of your application should be treated as though it is of utmost importance. You want only your best work to be submitted, because that’s your best chance for admission.

Essays let you show yourself off in ways that pure numbers won’t, so take extra advantage of the opportunity.

Yale’s international applicants follow the same procedures and forms as a US student, for the most part.

You do need to make sure that any transcripts or documents that are not in English are translated, and if you are a non-native English speaker, you will be required to take an English language test.

Getting college admissions counselling for international students is a great way to make sure you haven’t missed anything and you application is the best it can be.

Up to three times, yes, but three is the limit. This includes first-year applicants, transfer students, non-degree applicants, and students who are applying through the Eli Whitney students’ program.

Studying up on Yale university can prevent you from needing to reapply at all, of course.

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examples of yale essays

Yale Supplemental Essays 2023-24

Yale supplemental essays.

Want to know how to get into Yale? Well, every strong application starts with well-crafted Yale supplemental essays. 

As one of the nation’s top schools, the Yale application process is highly competitive. Therefore, by crafting unique and interesting Yale supplemental essays, you can ensure you impress the admissions team. 

In this article, we’ll go over each of the Yale supplemental essays in detail. Additionally, we’ll review tips for responding to the Why Yale essay, as well as the other Yale short answer essays. 

Yale Essay Prompts: Quick Facts

  • Yale University Acceptance Rate:  5%–  U.S. News  ranks Yale University as one of the  most selective  schools in the nation
  • 2 short answer essays (125-200 words each)
  • 4 “short take” questions (35 words each)
  • 1 longer response essay (400 words)
  • Yale University Application:  Students must submit their Yale University application through either the  Common Application , Coalition Application , or Questbridge Application . Make sure to have all of your Yale University supplemental essays and other  required application materials  ready when applying. 

Single Choice Early Action: November 1 st  

Regular decision: january 2 nd.

  • Yale University Essay Tip:  Though there are several Yale supplemental essays, make sure to answer each one in detail, demonstrating why Yale is a great fit for you.

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website. 

Does Yale have supplemental essays?

Yes, there are Yale supplemental essays.

Students should think critically about the Yale essay requirements. There are a total of seven Yale supplemental essays. These vary in length and format. 

You’ll submit the Yale supplemental essays in addition to your main personal statement, sometimes called the Common App essay . As such, you will need to submit eight essays as part of your application. 

Writing all of these Yale supplemental essays by the Yale application deadline might seem daunting. However, if you plan ahead, you can ensure all of your Yale supplemental essays highlight your strengths. 

Overall, make sure you have a strategy when working on your Yale supplemental essays. To help you get started, let’s review the Yale essay prompts in detail. 

Does Yale have a Why Yale essay?

Yes—one of the Yale supplemental essays is a Why Yale essay. The Why Yale essay is a short answer essay that can be a maximum of 125 words long. The objective of the Why Yale essay is the same as it is for other Why School essays—to demonstrate that you have researched the school well and explain what makes it the right fit for you. 

The Why Yale essay for 2023-24 is worded as follows:

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? 

The keywords in this essay question are “Yale” and “you.” In short, in your Why Yale essay, you must demonstrate that you have done research on Yale. You can do so by emphasizing aspects of the school’s academics, culture, clubs, research opportunities, or anything else that stands out to you. By the end of your Why Yale essay, a Yale admissions officer should have a clear sense of why you belong at Yale. 

Secondly, every one of the Yale supplemental essays is a chance to showcase more about yourself. As such, use the Why Yale essay as a chance to talk more about passions, values, and interests that make you unique. Since you only have 125 words to write for the Why Yale essay, it’s important to be concise.

Yale Questbridge Essay Requirements

Yale University is a Questbridge partner . Students wondering how to get into Yale should explore Questbridge further, as it is one of the three ways to apply to Yale.

But, what is Questbridge? Questbridge is a scholarship program for students from low-income backgrounds who wish to attend elite colleges. Some of these, like Yale, are Ivy League colleges . As part of their application, students rank schools that they would like to attend. If a school they ranked admits them, then they are considered a “match” and receive a full scholarship to attend the school. 

Check out this virtual information session for 2022 Yale Questbridge Finalists to learn more about Questbridge at Yale and how to apply.

Understanding the Yale requirements for Questbridge

Students who apply via the Yale Questbridge application complete slightly different Yale supplemental essays than students who apply regularly through the Common App or Coalition App. Indeed, the Questbridge application only requires two short answer essays.

Specifically, the Questbridge Yale essay prompts only include the academic interest and why Yale essay. They do not include the “short take” or longer response questions. Instead, the Yale Questbridge application gives more space for students to discuss their backgrounds and unique circumstances. 

In the next section, we’ll go into further detail on the Yale short answer essays, which are required of all students regardless of whether they are applying to Yale through the Common App, Coalition App, or the Questbridge Scholarship application.

Yale Short Answer Essays

The first set of Yale supplemental essays are the three short answer essays. These Yale supplemental essays are required for all applicants, regardless of which application they use to apply.

The Yale short answer essays are as follows:

Short Answer Question 1: 

Students at yale have 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., short answer question 2: , tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. why are you drawn to it (200 words or fewer), short answer question 3:, what is it about yale that has led you to apply (125 words or fewer).

Since we already discussed the Why Yale question above, we’ll focus on breaking down the first two short answer questions.

Question 1: Your Academic Interests

The first of the Yale supplemental essays asks you to identify three academic areas of interest. Yale is a liberal arts school that allows students to choose a major but also requires them to take courses outside of their major via their distribution requirements. As such, it is important to demonstrate your flexibility in learning many different subjects. However, these subjects do not have to be related. In fact, in some cases, it may be more intriguing if they are not. For example, a student who states an interest in Asian American history and evolutionary biology definitely makes an intriguing candidate.

However, you should respond to this question as you do all of your Yale supplemental essays—genuinely. Indeed, Yale wants to know what you are truly interested in. Therefore, listing majors simply to impress or seem intriguing won’t serve you well.

Question 2: A Topic that Excites You

The next short answer essay asks you to discuss a topic that excites you. This should be directly related to one of the academic interests you described in the first question. 

In this question, focus on the “why.” What makes this topic interesting or meaningful to you? How does it relate to your background, experiences, or future goals? The more specific you can be, the better. 

Wondering how to select a topic or idea to highlight in your Yale essays? Here are a few tips:

Tips for Selecting a Yale Essay Topic

1. brainstorm 3-5 ideas..

Take a few minutes to jot down specific memories you have associated with this topic. For example, if you are interested in evolutionary biology, maybe you remember learning about how birds evolved from dinosaurs. Use descriptive language to show us what you learned and bring the topic to life. 

2. Choose a meaningful topic.

After you have brainstormed, note which topic makes you feel excited. Don’t choose the topic that you think sounds more impressive to others. Choose the one that impresses you.

3. Write a lot and then edit it down.

Don’t limit yourself by focusing on the word count. Instead, begin by writing freely. From there, edit out words or sentences that don’t seem essential. Additionally, you can ask mentors or friends to help you revise.

A successful response to these Yale essay prompts will have the following characteristics:

How to Respond to Yale Essay Prompts

1. relate to yale’s academics..

As supplements must be specific to each school, it’s important that you highlight topics and majors that you know can study at Yale. First, think about Yale’s academic strengths, and then use these as a basis for your essays. 

2. Demonstrate a passion for learning.

Yale values students’ intellectual curiosity. As such, the topic you discuss must demonstrate your passion for learning. 

3. Tell us why you are drawn to the topic.

As the question denotes, Yale doesn’t just want to know what you are interested in, but why. Does the topic have some kind of personal relevance? Does it excite you because it’s baffled scientists for centuries? Make your reasoning clear.

Now that we’ve looked in detail at these Yale requirements, we’ll explore the Yale short answer essays that are even shorter. Indeed, these Yale supplemental essays are sometimes known as the “short takes.”

Additional Yale Supplemental Essays

In addition to responding to the Yale short answer essays above, you’ll need to respond to four “short takes” and one longer response which offers you three Yale essay prompts to choose from. First, we’ll discuss the “short takes.”

Inside the Yale “Short Takes”

There are four Yale “short takes.”  These Yale supplemental essays ask students to respond in 200 characters or less, which roughly equates to 35 words. As such, you must be extremely concise in your response while still answering the question. Still, use these essays to showcase your unique brand or personality, helping the admissions team understand who you are.

Below are the Yale essay prompts for the “short takes,” followed by tips for responding well: 

1. What inspires you?

For this prompt, take some time to simply free-write and brainstorm a list of things that inspire you. Don’t limit yourself by thinking your response must relate to academics. There is no right response to this question. The key is to express what inspires you in a way that enriches your profile. 

2. If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?

As we shared above, Yale is a liberal arts college very interested in intellectual curiosity. This question allows you to showcase your creativity and passions. Rather than trying to think of an idea that will impress admissions officers, focus on choosing one that speaks to you. 

3. Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? 

This question alludes to Yale’s focus on “improving the world.” By asking you to highlight a person who has influenced you, they get to see what you value in others and whether you can recognize the interdependence of the world. Note that the question asks you to highlight someone “other than a family member.” So, logically, avoid writing about family members in this Yale essay. Lastly, even though you are writing about someone else, the core of your response should demonstrate more about who you are. Therefore, briefly name the person and their relationship to you. And then, mainly focus on how they impacted you. 

4. What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

The final of the Yale supplemental essays “short takes” could potentially be the most challenging one to answer. This question is open-ended on purpose. Unsurprisingly, Yale values diversity as much as most elite schools. As such, they provide space for you to share something that they may not have asked you about yet. To brainstorm, perhaps ask friends and family to read your application and then tell you a few aspects of your personality or experience that aren’t represented. Then, express that uniqueness in 35 words or less. Additionally, this could be a space to express more about any challenges or unique circumstances you have faced that impacted your life or academics significantly. However, those details may also be better suited for the “Additional Information” section. So, think about what information is best suited where.

Breaking Down the Yale Longer Response Essay

The Yale longer response essay is the final of the Yale supplemental essays. While it is indeed the longest of the short answer essays, it is still only 400 words maximum in length. You can choose from three Yale essay prompts for this question. 

Here are the three Yale essay prompts, along with guidance on how to respond:

1. Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?

With this question, Yale hopes to gauge whether you can engage in the “free exchange of ideas” they mention in their mission statement. To respond well, choose an example of a conversation that truly did impact you. Describe the conversation with enough detail to make it clear what the opposing views were. In the end, the most critical piece of this essay is showing how the experience impacted you. Since Yale values learning, Yale hopes to see whether you can find opportunities to learn in your day-to-day life just as much as you do in the classroom.

2. Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

This Yale supplemental prompt seeks to learn more about the communities you are a part of and how you interact with them. Consider your neighborhood, school, family, religious group, or any other group of people to which you feel closely connected. Remember that the focus of this essay is still you, so avoid spending too long describing the community. Instead, jump right into why it is meaningful to you.

3. Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?

As we noted above, Yale values diversity in the broadest sense of the word. As a result, they look for students who can bring new experiences to campus. However, those experiences don’t have to be grand, like living in five different countries as a child. In fact, perhaps you lived in the same house for all your childhood and this taught you to value history, tradition, and legacy. As with all the other Yale essays, the right answer is the one that resonates most with you.

At this point, you may be wondering which of the Yale essay prompts to choose. While there isn’t one essay prompt that Yale admissions officers value more than another, there might be one that feels more authentic to you. Another way to decide is to choose a prompt that allows you to talk about an aspect of yourself that you haven’t yet divulged. In this way, you can fit more about yourself on the page and avoid repeating previous information.

What does Yale admissions look for in essays?

If you’re wondering how to get into Yale, you’re probably also wondering what Yale looks for in Yale supplemental essays. Here are a few tips to make your Yale essays stand out:

Each year, Yale aims to build an incoming class that reflects a diverse array of identities, experiences, and interests. Beyond that, admissions officers are skilled at reading for authenticity. This means that trying to impress them will likely come across on the page and discourage them from accepting you.

2. Passion for Yale.

Each of the Yale supplemental essays gives you space to highlight aspects of your experience that overlap with Yale in some way. As such, they must be Yale-specific in some sense, even if only by highlighting how your values align with Yale’s mission. 

3. Stick to your own voice.

While your essay must be written formally, only use vocabulary words that you would use. Avoid looking for the fanciest possible vocabulary word (unless it’s one you actually use), since this will only come off as ingenuine.

4. Proofread.

As Yale is a prestigious academic institution, they are looking for writing that reflects conventionally proper grammar and spelling. Make sure you have multiple people read your essays. In fact, reading your Yale supplemental essays out loud can help you catch errors or missing words.

What is the application deadline for Yale?

In addition to understanding the Yale requirements, students must choose one of two Yale application deadlines.

You have two main options for your Yale application deadline. They are as follows:

Early Action is a Yale application deadline that allows students to apply early. SCEA means that you are only allowed to apply to one school’s Early Action deadline. 

If you apply to Yale through Early Action, you cannot apply to any other school’s Early Action or Early Decision program. There are a few exceptions to this restriction. For instance, students may apply to public institutions as long as they are non-binding. At Yale, applying SCEA tends not to dramatically increase students’ admissions odds. However, for some schools, applying early can make a huge difference in terms of demonstrated interest. 

This is the date by which most students apply. There are no restrictions on how many schools you can apply to through Regular Decision.

A note on Questbridge students’ application deadlines :

Students applying via Questbridge must complete their application by September 26 . Then, they will be notified of whether they matched with Yale on November 1. 

Starting early on your Yale supplemental essays is key to a successful application. By starting early, you have time to brainstorm ideas, get multiple people’s opinions, and incorporate feedback. Plus, starting early helps you avoid feeling stressed by the Yale requirements.

More Yale Essay Resources from CollegeAdvisor

As always, CollegeAdvisor is committed to helping you find your way in the college admissions process. As such, we have several tailored resources to learn more about how to get into Yale. 

To learn more about the Yale supplemental essays, check out this webinar for more tips on responding to the Yale essay prompts. In addition, our college admissions experts will share guidance on writing efficiently so you can complete your other applications as well. 

Want to hear from a Yale alum about their admissions pathway to Yale? Listen to one of our experts talk about how they aced the admissions process. This webinar includes an excerpt from their Yale supplemental essays. It also discusses how this student put together their application so their profile stood out.

Lastly, check out this article full of sample Why Yale essays. Inside, you’ll get a clear perspective on how students responded fully to this question using their own unique flair.

Yale Supplemental Essays – Takeaways

In this article, we broke down the Yale requirements, ranging from Yale supplemental essays to Yale application deadlines. We talked about how to write compelling essays that showcase your unique personal brand, even in your Why Yale essay. We also provided resources for you to continue with your research on Yale requirements.

As you continue researching, read the Yale website regularly for updates . Consider reading sample essays for other Ivy League schools’ applications and make sure you research other schools’ supplemental essay requirements to find overlap in essay topics.

Most importantly, reach out to CollegeAdvisor for additional customized support. We’re here to make your college journey as successful and stress-free as possible.

This essay guide was written by senior advisor, Courtney Ng . Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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650 words on college essays.

examples of yale essays

The life of an admissions officer can be a fascinating one. I spend a lot of time traveling to faraway places to meet students from around the world, voting in committee to help determine each next college class, but I am perhaps most privileged to have a unique glimpse into the personal lives of hundreds of 17 year olds each year via my absolute favorite art form: the college essay. After 5 years I have read thousands of these 650-word windows into the minds of high school students, and can assure you that the college essay comes in many flavors: good, bad, eloquent, conversational, sarcastic, insightful, deep, shallow, hilarious, painful, delightful, disturbing, and so on.

For any high school senior working on their college applications, the essay can seem like a daunting task. For Yale, you’ll even have to write more than one. I hope you see this not as a burden or a hoop you must jump through, but an opportunity: to reflect on your past few years and look ahead to college. The skills of reflection, self-expression, and cogent writing are all ones that will serve you well in college (in fact, they will be critical), so consider this practice. You do not have to be the world’s most eloquent wordsmith to write a successful college essay; the best essays we read are those where the genuine voice of a high school student (that’s you!) comes through loud and clear and we really get a sense of who you are.

When I talk to prospective Yalies about the application process, I am often asked what my favorite essay topic is. I assure you there is no such thing. The quality of a college essay has little to do with topic, and everything to do with reflection and voice. I truly believe I could read 100 essays about the same topic, each of them completely unique and in their own ways excellent and entrancing (or not). There are certainly amusing trends that emerge over time: in the past few years, I’ve seen an uptick in essays reflecting on life lessons learned from Uber drivers. I’m told that 10 years ago, essays explaining what Hogwarts House one belongs in were abundant. I wouldn’t dare say that there are any essay topics you should shy away from, because I’m certain that a great college essay could be written about nearly anything. And it doesn’t matter if we’ve read about it before – only you can write about you.

I do have favorite essays that I can remember, but they have no particular topic in common. Instead, they are the ones where at the end I have a grasp on what it might be like to have a conversation with the writer, to be in the same room as them. This is what we mean when we talk about voice. Revise and edit, but be sure not to lose the sense of individuality that only you can put into words. Have someone proofread, but don’t get too much help. My colleagues and I can tell when an essay is written more by a parent or, dare I even say it, a college consultant than by a student – and I can promise you that those pieces are not very good.

While your grades and test scores will speak for themselves and your teachers and counselor will write on your behalf, the essays are your opportunity to really take control of your application. Every required bit of writing should be considered precious real estate on your applications; think about what you want us to know about you, and do your best to work that information into the space allotted. It is through these essays that your admissions officer revels in your successes, shares in your disappointments, gets to know – forgive the cliché – the real you. So get writing. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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The senior essay.

The Senior Essay Handbook

Requirements and Guidelines for the Senior Essay

In the English Department, as in other departments, the Senior Essay consists of an extended research and writing project (critical, not creative) undertaken with the guidance of a faculty advisor. The Senior Essay is not a requirement for completing the English major, nor is it required for receiving distinction in the major. It does, however, offer a satisfying way to fulfill one semester of the senior requirement. Writing an essay provides an opportunity for those who are eager to pursue a special interest, who like to write long papers, and who work well independently. Be warned that it entails inexorable deadlines and exacting effort; it can be thrilling to write a senior essay, but only if you are committed to the project. Procrastination has repeatedly proved a grave mistake. Given an essay of this magnitude, you cannot leave reading, writing, and ruminating until the last minute. If you have any doubts, take a Senior Seminar.

In addition to the prospectus and final draft, you will be asked to hand in, at the end of four weeks, five to ten pages of writing or, if appropriate, an annotated bibliography so that you, your advisor, and the department will know how your work is proceeding relatively early in the term.  By the end of the seventh week, an extended piece of writing should be submitted.  And by the end of the tenth week, a rough draft is due (to ensure the essay will be carefully thought through and receives feedback from your advisor before you revise).

You will be expected to consult frequently with your advisor throughout the semester, both about your research and about the substance of your developing argument; we recommend at least four meetings, with bi-weekly meetings as the norm. Typically, finished senior essays range from 30-40 pages. Some drafts are considerably longer (40-50 pages) and require cutting as well as revising; other drafts are shorter (25-30 pages) and require expansion as well as revision of the argument.

Specific requirements are as follows:

1. In the term before you intend to write your essay (see I mportant Dates ), you must hand in to the DUS office a completed proposal form for ENGL 490 or 491 and a prospectus, which includes the following information:

(a) a description of your topic (approximately 2 pages)

(b) a bibliography of the reading and research, both primary and secondary, you intend to undertake (If part of your project will consist in looking for sources, you must still indicate subjects that you will pursue in your research.)

(c) a list of the introductory and advanced courses you have taken that have prepared you to do independent work on your topic

(d) a schedule of meetings with your advisor

(e) your advisor’s signature

If you intend to pursue a two-semester essay (not commonly done, but a possibility for substantial research projects), please conceptualize your project in two parts so that you can submit an essay for evaluation at the end of the fall semester.

Within two weeks after you submit your prospectus, you will receive an email from the senior essay committee, via the Registrar in the DUS’s office, granting approval or asking for clarification. Approval is not automatic, and the Senior Essay committee may stipulate revisions to the project as a condition of approval.

2. By the end of Week 4 of classes, you must hand in five to ten pages of writing, along with an annotated list of at least two secondary sources relevant to your essay;  or , if the project requires a substantial amount of research, an annotated bibliography of the works you have consulted together with an outline of the reading you have still to do. You may decide, in consultation with your advisor, which of these options is the more appropriate for you. This work should be turned in to your advisor.

3. By the end of Week 7 of classes, you must hand in ten to twelve pages of writing (possibly inclusive of your earlier five pages) and, as part of that writing or separately, a brief discussion of your project’s engagement with one or more secondary sources.  This work should be turned in to your advisor.

4. By the end of Week 10, you must hand in a full or almost full draft to your advisor: consult your advisor for details.

Failure to submit the draft on time or the preliminary work described above may affect the final grade received for the essay.

5. The final essay is due by noon on the last day of classes in the fall term and on the Friday before the last day of classes in the spring term (see  I mportant Dates ); it should include a bibliography of works consulted. Submit the essay to the DUS office electronically (pdf preferred) by emailing it to the departmental registrar.

Your essay will be read, graded, and commented upon both by your advisor and by a second reader chosen by the Senior Essay Committee. The two readers’ reports, will be available from the DUS office two to three weeks after you hand in the final draft. The department will keep a copy on file so that students in the future can see what kinds of projects have been undertaken.

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  • Library Prizes

12 graduates awarded library prizes for best senior essays

examples of yale essays

Each year, the library invites Yale College seniors to submit their senior essays for consideration to win one of three prizes for excellence: the Harvey M. Applebaum ’59 Award, the Diane Kaplan Memorial Prize, and the Yale Library Map Prize. The winners are selected by librarians or faculty members, and the prizes are funded by Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

The prizewinners are each awarded a cash prize in the amount of $500 (honorable mention recipients receive $250), and all winners’ essays are published on EliScholar, Yale Library’s digital platform for scholarly publishing. As is the tradition, students receive their awards at their residential commencement ceremonies.

The Harvey M. Applebaum ’59 Award

The Harvey M. Applebaum ’59 Award recognizes a student whose senior essay or capstone project substantially draws on national government information or intergovernmental organization (IGO) information, including documents or data. Yale Library has been a designated federal depository library since 1859.

The Applebaum award was presented to Henry H. Carroll , Davenport College, for the essay “Ship Shaping: How Congress and Industry Influenced U.S. Naval Acquisitions from 1933—1938.” Read Henry Carroll’s essay .

Honorable mention was awarded to Nina Grigg , Benjamin Franklin College, for the essay “Surveyor: Scratching for a Wild Moon.” Read Nina Grigg’s essay .

The Diane Kaplan Memorial Prize

The Diane Kaplan Memorial Prize recognizes prizewinning students’ excellent use of research materials from the library’s diverse collections and also the high quality of their writing.

Three students received the Diane Kaplan prize this year:

Leo Egger , Trumbull College, for the essay “‘Living Its Strange Life’: A Literary Biography of Margery Latimer from the Archives in 18 Scenes.” Read Leo Egger’s essay .

AJ Laird , Benjamin Franklin College, for the essay “Whaling Logbooks: Colonial Knowledge Acquisition in the Pacific World.” Read AJ Laird’s essay and visit the related exhibit in Sterling Memorial Library exhibition corridor.

Shira Minsk , Pauli Murray College, for the essay “Steady through Time: Ella Barksdale Brown and the Perception-Based Politics of Black Women’s Racial Uplift in 20th-Century America.” Read Shira Minsk’s essay .

The Library Map Prize

The Library Map Prize recognizes students whose senior essays or projects make use of one or more maps or charts in substantive ways. Students may either create the maps or refer to maps found online or in the library’s special collections.

This year the Map Prize was awarded to two seniors:

Lisa Dong , Pierson College, for the interactive StoryMap essay “So, Where Are Your Really From?: A Digital Humanities Repository Mapping ‘Home, Identity, and Belonging’ within the Intimacies of the Fuzhounese Experience.” View Lisa Dong’s web-based essay .

Nick McGowan , Pauli Murray College, for the essay “Rebirth: Investigating Industrial Gentrification and the Land Use Policy in Chicago’s West Loop.” Read Nick McGowan’s essay .

The Department of History Prizes

The library also stewards the funds for three American History prizes, selected by faculty members in the Department of History. This year, five prizes were awarded for best senior essays.

Julia Aerin Hornstein , Ezra Stiles College, won the Howard R. Lamar Prize for the essay “Charles ‘Minnie’ Dole: The Peak of Masculinity and the Frontier of Western Snow”; AJ Laird , Benjamin Franklin College, won a David M. Potter Prize for “Whaling Logbooks: Colonial Knowledge Acquisition in the Pacific World”; Sydney Zoehrer , Silliman College, won a David Morris Potter Prize for the essay “Adobe: Material Histories at a Crossroads in Marfa, Texas; Hilary B. Griggs , Branford College, won a Walter McClintock Prize for the essay “Does a Man’s Word or a Nation’s Word Ever Become Obsolete?’: Fighting the Floodwaters on the Fort Berthold Reservation”; Teanna Hart (Sicangu Lakota), Silliman College, won a Walter McClintock Prize for the essay “Reconciliation Is Not Enough: Looking and/as Speaking Back at Portrayals of the American Indian”; and Taylor Rose won the Frederick W. Beinecke Dissertation Prize for the essay “Battle Born: Mining, Militarization, and Native Lands in the Nevada Desert, 1860–1990.”

Read more about the three Library Prizes and other Undergraduate Student Prizes. Read more about the History prizes.

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These case studies represent cases across firm styles (McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte, & more), including interviewer-led and interviewee-led (candidate-led) cases. The video examples demonstrate the nuances of the virtual case interview and include feedback from an MBB coach. The sessions feature consultants or consulting candidates.

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Check your sources —

Google’s “ai overview” can give false, misleading, and dangerous answers, from glue-on-pizza recipes to recommending "blinker fluid," google's ai sourcing needs work..

Kyle Orland - May 24, 2024 11:00 am UTC

This is fine.

Further Reading

Factual errors can pop up in existing LLM chatbots as well, of course. But the potential damage that can be caused by AI inaccuracy gets multiplied when those errors appear atop the ultra-valuable web real estate of the Google search results page.

"The examples we've seen are generally very uncommon queries and aren’t representative of most people’s experiences," a Google spokesperson told Ars. "The vast majority of AI Overviews provide high quality information, with links to dig deeper on the web."

After looking through dozens of examples of Google AI Overview mistakes (and replicating many ourselves for the galleries below), we've noticed a few broad categories of errors that seemed to show up again and again. Consider this a crash course in some of the current weak points of Google's AI Overviews and a look at areas of concern for the company to improve as the system continues to roll out.

Treating jokes as facts

  • The bit about using glue on pizza can be traced back to an 11-year-old troll post on Reddit. ( via ) Kyle Orland / Google
  • This wasn't funny when the guys at Pep Boys said it, either. ( via ) Kyle Orland / Google
  • Weird Al recommends "running with scissors" as well! ( via ) Kyle Orland / Google

Some of the funniest example of Google's AI Overview failing come, ironically enough, when the system doesn't realize a source online was trying to be funny. An AI answer that suggested using "1/8 cup of non-toxic glue" to stop cheese from sliding off pizza can be traced back to someone who was obviously trying to troll an ongoing thread . A response recommending "blinker fluid" for a turn signal that doesn't make noise can similarly be traced back to a troll on the Good Sam advice forums , which Google's AI Overview apparently trusts as a reliable source.

In regular Google searches, these jokey posts from random Internet users probably wouldn't be among the first answers someone saw when clicking through a list of web links. But with AI Overviews, those trolls were integrated into the authoritative-sounding data summary presented right at the top of the results page.

What's more, there's nothing in the tiny "source link" boxes below Google's AI summary to suggest either of these forum trolls are anything other than good sources of information. Sometimes, though, glancing at the source can save you some grief, such as when you see a response calling running with scissors "cardio exercise that some say is effective" ( that came from a 2022 post from Little Old Lady Comedy ).

Bad sourcing

  • Washington University in St. Louis says this ratio is accurate, but others disagree. ( via ) Kyle Orland / Google
  • Man, we wish this fantasy remake was real. ( via ) Kyle Orland / Google

Sometimes Google's AI Overview offers an accurate summary of a non-joke source that happens to be wrong. When asking about how many Declaration of Independence signers owned slaves, for instance, Google's AI Overview accurately summarizes a Washington University of St. Louis library page saying that one-third "were personally enslavers." But the response ignores contradictory sources like a Chicago Sun-Times article saying the real answer is closer to three-quarters. I'm not enough of a history expert to judge which authoritative-seeming source is right, but at least one historian online took issue with the Google AI's answer sourcing .

Other times, a source that Google trusts as authoritative is really just fan fiction. That's the case for a response that imagined a 2022 remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey , directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas. A savvy web user would probably do a double-take before citing citing Fandom's "Idea Wiki" as a reliable source, but a careless AI Overview user might not notice where the AI got its information.

reader comments

Promoted comments.

examples of yale essays

View attachment 81471
  • garbage in, garbage out. Even the LLM says it's from a Reddit post.
  • people having unrealistic expectations about LLMs. Perhaps this will convince everyone that they're parroting what they're fed and have no understanding or self consciousness.
  • google shooting themselves in the foot. It's one thing to give a result like the Reddit suggesion as a link to the original post on Reddit. It's another one entirely to get it in this overview where it sounds like it's endorsed by Google.

examples of yale essays

Channel Ars Technica

AI on Trial: Legal Models Hallucinate in 1 out of 6 (or More) Benchmarking Queries

A new study reveals the need for benchmarking and public evaluations of AI tools in law.

Scales of justice illustrated in code

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are rapidly transforming the practice of law. Nearly  three quarters of lawyers plan on using generative AI for their work, from sifting through mountains of case law to drafting contracts to reviewing documents to writing legal memoranda. But are these tools reliable enough for real-world use?

Large language models have a documented tendency to “hallucinate,” or make up false information. In one highly-publicized case, a New York lawyer  faced sanctions for citing ChatGPT-invented fictional cases in a legal brief;  many similar cases have since been reported. And our  previous study of general-purpose chatbots found that they hallucinated between 58% and 82% of the time on legal queries, highlighting the risks of incorporating AI into legal practice. In his  2023 annual report on the judiciary , Chief Justice Roberts took note and warned lawyers of hallucinations. 

Across all areas of industry, retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) is seen and promoted as the solution for reducing hallucinations in domain-specific contexts. Relying on RAG, leading legal research services have released AI-powered legal research products that they claim  “avoid” hallucinations and guarantee  “hallucination-free” legal citations. RAG systems promise to deliver more accurate and trustworthy legal information by integrating a language model with a database of legal documents. Yet providers have not provided hard evidence for such claims or even precisely defined “hallucination,” making it difficult to assess their real-world reliability.

AI-Driven Legal Research Tools Still Hallucinate

In a new  preprint study by  Stanford RegLab and  HAI researchers, we put the claims of two providers, LexisNexis (creator of Lexis+ AI) and Thomson Reuters (creator of Westlaw AI-Assisted Research and Ask Practical Law AI)), to the test. We show that their tools do reduce errors compared to general-purpose AI models like GPT-4. That is a substantial improvement and we document instances where these tools provide sound and detailed legal research. But even these bespoke legal AI tools still hallucinate an alarming amount of the time: the Lexis+ AI and Ask Practical Law AI systems produced incorrect information more than 17% of the time, while Westlaw’s AI-Assisted Research hallucinated more than 34% of the time.

Read the full study, Hallucination-Free? Assessing the Reliability of Leading AI Legal Research Tools

To conduct our study, we manually constructed a pre-registered dataset of over 200 open-ended legal queries, which we designed to probe various aspects of these systems’ performance.

Broadly, we investigated (1) general research questions (questions about doctrine, case holdings, or the bar exam); (2) jurisdiction or time-specific questions (questions about circuit splits and recent changes in the law); (3) false premise questions (questions that mimic a user having a mistaken understanding of the law); and (4) factual recall questions (questions about simple, objective facts that require no legal interpretation). These questions are designed to reflect a wide range of query types and to constitute a challenging real-world dataset of exactly the kinds of queries where legal research may be needed the most.

comparison of hallucinated and incomplete responses

Figure 1: Comparison of hallucinated (red) and incomplete (yellow) answers across generative legal research tools.

These systems can hallucinate in one of two ways. First, a response from an AI tool might just be  incorrect —it describes the law incorrectly or makes a factual error. Second, a response might be  misgrounded —the AI tool describes the law correctly, but cites a source which does not in fact support its claims.

Given the critical importance of authoritative sources in legal research and writing, the second type of hallucination may be even more pernicious than the outright invention of legal cases. A citation might be “hallucination-free” in the narrowest sense that the citation  exists , but that is not the only thing that matters. The core promise of legal AI is that it can streamline the time-consuming process of identifying relevant legal sources. If a tool provides sources that  seem authoritative but are in reality irrelevant or contradictory, users could be misled. They may place undue trust in the tool's output, potentially leading to erroneous legal judgments and conclusions.

examples of hallucinations from models

Figure 2:  Top left: Example of a hallucinated response by Westlaw's AI-Assisted Research product. The system makes up a statement in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure that does not exist (and Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U.S. 443 (2004) held that a closely related bankruptcy deadline provision was not jurisdictional). Top right: Example of a hallucinated response by LexisNexis's Lexis+ AI. Casey and its undue burden standard were overruled by the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 597 U.S. 215 (2022); the correct answer is rational basis review. Bottom left: Example of a hallucinated response by Thomson Reuters's Ask Practical Law AI. The system fails to correct the user’s mistaken premise—in reality, Justice Ginsburg joined the Court's landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage—and instead provides additional false information about the case. Bottom right: Example of a hallucinated response from GPT-4, which generates a statutory provision that has not been codified.

RAG Is Not a Panacea

a chart showing an overview of the retrieval-augmentation generation (RAG) process.

Figure 3: An overview of the retrieval-augmentation generation (RAG) process. Given a user query (left), the typical process consists of two steps: (1) retrieval (middle), where the query is embedded with natural language processing and a retrieval system takes embeddings and retrieves the relevant documents (e.g., Supreme Court cases); and (2) generation (right), where the retrieved texts are fed to the language model to generate the response to the user query. Any of the subsidiary steps may introduce error and hallucinations into the generated response. (Icons are courtesy of FlatIcon.)

Under the hood, these new legal AI tools use retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) to produce their results, a method that many tout as a potential solution to the hallucination problem. In theory, RAG allows a system to first  retrieve the relevant source material and then use it to  generate the correct response. In practice, however, we show that even RAG systems are not hallucination-free. 

We identify several challenges that are particularly unique to RAG-based legal AI systems, causing hallucinations. 

First, legal retrieval is hard. As any lawyer knows, finding the appropriate (or best) authority can be no easy task. Unlike other domains, the law is not entirely composed of verifiable  facts —instead, law is built up over time by judges writing  opinions . This makes identifying the set of documents that definitively answer a query difficult, and sometimes hallucinations occur for the simple reason that the system’s retrieval mechanism fails.

Second, even when retrieval occurs, the document that is retrieved can be an inapplicable authority. In the American legal system, rules and precedents differ across jurisdictions and time periods; documents that might be relevant on their face due to semantic similarity to a query may actually be inapposite for idiosyncratic reasons that are unique to the law. Thus, we also observe hallucinations occurring when these RAG systems fail to identify the truly binding authority. This is particularly problematic as areas where the law is in flux is precisely where legal research matters the most. One system, for instance, incorrectly recited the “undue burden” standard for abortion restrictions as good law, which was overturned in  Dobbs (see Figure 2). 

Third, sycophancy—the tendency of AI to agree with the user's incorrect assumptions—also poses unique risks in legal settings. One system, for instance, naively agreed with the question’s premise that Justice Ginsburg dissented in  Obergefell , the case establishing a right to same-sex marriage, and answered that she did so based on her views on international copyright. (Justice Ginsburg did not dissent in  Obergefell and, no, the case had nothing to do with copyright.) Notwithstanding that answer, here there are optimistic results. Our tests showed that both systems generally navigated queries based on false premises effectively. But when these systems do agree with erroneous user assertions, the implications can be severe—particularly for those hoping to use these tools to increase access to justice among  pro se and under-resourced litigants.

Responsible Integration of AI Into Law Requires Transparency

Ultimately, our results highlight the need for rigorous and transparent benchmarking of legal AI tools. Unlike other domains, the use of AI in law remains alarmingly opaque: the tools we study provide no systematic access, publish few details about their models, and report no evaluation results at all.

This opacity makes it exceedingly challenging for lawyers to procure and acquire AI products. The large law firm  Paul Weiss spent nearly a year and a half testing a product, and did not develop “hard metrics” because checking the AI system was so involved that it “makes any efficiency gains difficult to measure.” The absence of rigorous evaluation metrics makes responsible adoption difficult, especially for practitioners that are less resourced than Paul Weiss. 

The lack of transparency also threatens lawyers’ ability to comply with ethical and professional responsibility requirements. The bar associations of  California ,  New York , and  Florida have all recently released guidance on lawyers’ duty of supervision over work products created with AI tools. And as of May 2024,  more than 25 federal judges have issued standing orders instructing attorneys to disclose or monitor the use of AI in their courtrooms.

Without access to evaluations of the specific tools and transparency around their design, lawyers may find it impossible to comply with these responsibilities. Alternatively, given the high rate of hallucinations, lawyers may find themselves having to verify each and every proposition and citation provided by these tools, undercutting the stated efficiency gains that legal AI tools are supposed to provide.

Our study is meant in no way to single out LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters. Their products are far from the only legal AI tools that stand in need of transparency—a slew of startups offer similar products and have  made   similar   claims , but they are available on even more restricted bases, making it even more difficult to assess how they function. 

Based on what we know, legal hallucinations have not been solved.The legal profession should turn to public benchmarking and rigorous evaluations of AI tools. 

This story was updated on Thursday, May 30, 2024, to include analysis of a third AI tool, Westlaw’s AI-Assisted Research.

Paper authors: Varun Magesh is a research fellow at Stanford RegLab. Faiz Surani is a research fellow at Stanford RegLab. Matthew Dahl is a joint JD/PhD student in political science at Yale University and graduate student affiliate of Stanford RegLab. Mirac Suzgun is a joint JD/PhD student in computer science at Stanford University and a graduate student fellow at Stanford RegLab. Christopher D. Manning is Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Machine Learning, Professor of Linguistics and Computer Science, and Senior Fellow at HAI. Daniel E. Ho is the William Benjamin Scott and Luna M. Scott Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, Professor of Computer Science (by courtesy), Senior Fellow at HAI, Senior Fellow at SIEPR, and Director of the RegLab at Stanford University. 

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LSAC - Law School Admission Council

A New Approach to LSAT Writing Will Debut on July 30, 2024

By Susan Krinsky

As legal education curricula and the practice of law continue to change with the times, LSAC is innovating to provide a new writing assessment that responds to the evolving needs of the profession.

On July 30, a redesigned approach to the LSAT Writing section of the LSAT will make its debut as we open the 2024-2025 testing cycle, which begins with the August administration of the LSAT.

This new approach to the writing assessment will help law schools continue to make holistic admission decisions and help prospective law students better prepare for the writing they will do in law school and beyond – still without the need for any specialized skills, knowledge, or experience with legal concepts.

Since 1982, LSAT Writing prompts have been designed to assess logical reasoning in the context of argumentative writing. But legal education curricula, the legal profession, and the demands of legal practice continue to evolve. In our ongoing conversations with law schools and the legal profession, we hear consistently about the importance of strong analytical and argumentative writing skills and the need to better assess a student’s potential earlier in their academic journey.

Based on input from our member schools and other stakeholders in the legal profession, the new LSAT Writing section of the LSAT will be an even more effective tool for assessing the writing skills of individuals prior to law school. These changes will help schools better understand the writing capabilities of applicants for the purposes of their admission decisions. It will also enable law schools to better provide writing support for their students who need to strengthen their writing skills so they are better prepared for bar passage, finding employment, and practice.

This new approach aims to assess a test taker’s ability to construct a cogent argument based on a variety of evidentiary sources. Test takers will be presented with a debatable issue along with different perspectives that provide additional context. These perspectives, each of which is conveyed in a few sentences, are representative of a system of beliefs or values. Together, the perspectives illustrate competing ideologies and arguments around a particular issue. The test taker will then draft an argumentative essay in which they take a position, while addressing some of the arguments and ideas presented by the other perspectives.

The new argumentative writing task is designed to give test takers a clearer, more authentic writing purpose than the former “decision based” LSAT Writing prompt, which was more narrowly focused on pure logical reasoning. When test takers have an opportunity to construct an original thesis and defend it based on their own judgment and analytical evaluation, rather than following pre-ordained lines of reasoning, we can better assess a broader and more complex range of decision-making skills that writers engage in.

By adopting this design, we’re not only enabling individuals to have a more authentic voice in their argument, but we are also better positioned to evaluate the writer’s ability to employ various rhetorical techniques, evidentiary strategies, and other important aspects of argumentative writing.  

Given the additional reading required, we will be adding a short preparatory period to the LSAT Writing test, which test takers can use to organize their thoughts using guided prewriting analysis questions and to take notes using the digital notetaking tool provided in the testing environment. The questions are designed to help test takers analyze the various perspectives and generate productive ideas for their essay. Most test takers will have a total of 50 minutes – 15 minutes for prewriting analysis and 35 minutes for essay writing. Test takers with approved accommodations for additional time will have their time allocations adjusted accordingly.

To give test takers the opportunity to prepare, we have published a sample prompt as part of the free Official LSAT PrepTest library available in LawHub . Test takers can begin to familiarize themselves with the new approach and take practice LSAT Writing sessions in the official LSAT Writing environment.

We are also providing a sample of the new LSAT Writing prompt on LSAC.org . It should be noted that this LSAC.org sample is a “text only” version and that test functionality, including the timing function, is included in the practice environment in LawHub .

LSAT Writing has always been a part of the LSAT. Over the years, law schools have expressed the desire to make greater use of the writing portion in their holistic evaluations, so we moved to a digital assessment (instead of handwritten) so that schools could receive, read, and evaluate the students’ work. The changes we are announcing today will make the writing sample even more useful to schools in their evaluation and admission processes.

For the 2024-2025 testing cycle, LSAT Writing will remain an unscored part of the LSAT. Over the course of the 2024-2025 testing cycle, we will be analyzing data of the new LSAT Writing prompt to assess its validity and reliability with a long-term goal of providing a scored LSAT Writing assessment that schools may use in their holistic admission process.

We are excited to offer this new approach to LSAT Writing, starting August 1. We believe this new approach will allow test takers to demonstrate their writing skills even more effectively and will provide schools with even more insight into the strengths and potential of applicants.

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Susan L. Krinsky

Susan L. Krinsky

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Fighting with your content use the flow-fixer method for fast clarity.

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The flow-fixer technique can help you turn a jumbled piece of content into a well-organized piece ... [+] that flows.

How often have you sat staring at your computer screen, frustrated because your brilliant ideas are trapped within a pile of words? You know what you want to say—or you thought you did. But the flow isn't there. The piece just isn’t working. You feel completely lost in the mess you created.

Don't worry, you're not alone. Even writers with decades of experience sometimes need help with their content.

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The power of subheadings: Your content's roadmap

You're not alone in dealing with organizational struggles while creating content. Even someone with ... [+] 20+ years of experience—like me—can struggle!

The secret to clearing confusion and creating clarity lies in the subheadings, or the HTML header tags—from H1 to H6—that structure page content.

HTML header tags are important for search engine optimization, as they help search engines understand and rank your content. Readers can’t see header tags, but they can see the headings and subheadings attached to each tag. Those heads, in turn, make your content skimmable so readers can quickly get the gist of a piece and easily find what they’re looking for.

Header tags also help you, the content creator, by giving you a map of your content—before you start and as you write and edit. If you follow the map, your ideas should flow seamlessly from one to the next. If you don’t follow the map, header tags can help you see where you got lost.

NSA Warns iPhone And Android Users To Turn It Off And On Again

‘godzilla minus one’ is coming to netflix this weekend, but there’s a catch, what to watch this weekend new streaming shows and movies on netflix hulu prime video and more, a quick recap of h1–h6 header tags.

If you’re unfamiliar with HTML header tags, they range from H1 for the title of a piece to H6 for a far-down-the-line concept. Here's how the heading scheme works, with an example of headings from one of my most popular articles: 20 Types of Content to Help You Attract Prospects and Win Customers .

HTML heading tags serve the search engines, you, and your readers.

Search engines read these heading tags behind the scenes to understand the hierarchy and organization of your content, improving your chances of ranking higher in search results.

If you’re not watching out—and even if you are—you can still get stuck in a content muddle. That’s when headings come to the rescue.

A real-life example: Getting unstuck in a tangled article

To illustrate, let’s look at a recent article I wrote about the power of ebooks for marketing in 2024 . While working through the draft, I noticed repetition and something else amiss with the flow. I still couldn’t tell what was off despite reading it multiple times.

I could have given up. Shut the document. Taken time away from the piece. And I sometimes do that.

This time, though, I had a sudden ah-ha —a memory from my days as a development editor for a technical publishing house. I remembered a simple yet powerful technique that involved pulling out and separately analyzing the heading tags by way of the table of contents (TOC).

To illustrate, let me show you a piece of the TOC for my ebook article before I figured out the organizational problem.

Initially, when I pulled out the table of contents, it looked like this; I highlighted the problem for you:

Analyzing the H2 and H3 headings to figure out what's wrong with a piece of content. Can you spot ... [+] the issue?

First, can you see how much easier it is to analyze the structure of an article when you’re not also looking at all of the muddled content in between? That visibility is what makes this technique so powerful.

Second, in the example, notice how the first H3, Ebooks for TOFU , covered types of TOFU content —the very same information as the following H2, Choosing the right content types .

Ah ha! This redundancy made the article feel disjointed.

Applying the flow-fixer technique showed me a simple solution, too: Merge the two H2 sections. The revised TOC put me right back on track.

Collapsing the two H2 sections into a single section covering both topics and examples worked.

Each H3 covered topics and examples in the revised structure, creating a more cohesive and informative flow.

Problem solved! Article published.

The flow-fixer method: A step-by-step guide

Document flow is crucial. If yours isn't flowing well, try the flow-fixer technique.

Here's how to apply the flow-fixer method to transform your tangled content into a clear, compelling piece that flows.

  • Outline your content: Before writing, start with a solid outline containing your H2 and H3 headings to get a bird's-eye view of the content’s structure.
  • Draft your content: Don't worry about perfection at this stage. Get all your ideas down on paper (or screen), following your outline as a general guide. Remember, even the best writing might start with a messy first draft.
  • Extract your TOC: When you have a first draft, pull out the TOC by listing all your H2 and H3 headings.
  • Analyze the structure: Scrutinize the TOC. Do you see any redundancies? Overlaps? Sections that feel disjointed? Seeing the big picture is when the magic happens.
  • Merge and reorganize: Combine or reorganize sections to create a more cohesive flow. Each H2 should represent a distinct main idea, and each H3 should support and expand on that idea.
  • Revise your content: Update your content to reflect the new, improved structure. You'll be amazed at how much clearer your writing becomes.

Re-engineer your TOC for ultimate clarity

The table of contents is your guide to clear content that flows well.

The flow-fixer technique of pulling out and examining the TOC has saved me countless times when struggling with my own articles. It’s also my first action when editing a piece of content that’s new to me, for example, an article a client gave me to edit or an ebook that needs rewriting. Looking at the TOC helps me quickly learn what the content is supposed to be about and if there are any blatant organizational issues.

The flow-fixer method is also for more than fixing existing content. You can use it proactively during the outlining and drafting stages to ensure your writing flows smoothly from the start. Remember, a well-organized TOC is the foundation of clear, compelling content.

Try the flow-fixer technique for yourself. I guarantee you'll see your own work with fresh eyes and unlock a new level of expertise when tackling any piece of content you handle from then, on. A clear TOC is one mark of a master communicator—and now that mastery is yours.

Renae Gregoire

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examples of yale essays

How to Write the ‘Why Major’ 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:

  • “Why This Major” and “Why Yale”

Applying With Multiple Majors

Applying undecided, be authentic, reasons to avoid.

In this article, we discuss strategies to write Yale University ’s “Why This Major” supplemental essay. For this essay, applicants must respond to the following prompt: 

“Students at Yale have 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.

Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words)”

‘Why This Major’ and ‘Why Yale’

When responding to Yale’s “Why This Major” essay prompt, keep in mind that the real hidden question is “Why do you want to pursue these fields of study specifically at Yale?” While it is important that you draw connections between your academic interests and Yale, you also will be writing a “Why Yale” essay, so you don’t have to cover every reason that you are interested in the school in this essay. 

That said, try to write about any specific programs or opportunities that you want to take advantage of within the department you are interested in at Yale. This essay is a great place to mention those academic opportunities unique to your major at Yale.

When you apply to Yale, you are asked to choose at least one and up to three majors. A wide range of disciplines are offered, with the three most popular majors at Yale being economics, computer science, and molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. 

It is common for Yale applicants to select two or three potential majors when they apply. If you do this and can connect them, even if they’re seemingly not connected at all, that is a great aspect to demonstrate within your essay. 

For example, when Hale applied to Yale, he applied as a chemistry and English double major, which on the surface seemed to be different fields. Hale was able to connect these fields by discussing his interest in scientific writing and scientific communication. In his essay, he discussed wanting to be able to both discover things and write about them in ways that were accessible to the average person and not just the scientific community.

If you are considering multiple majors that are not connected, try to think about the reason why you are interested in them. Is there something that they share even if they seem to be very different? 

Applying Undecided and Changing Majors

Many students are not yet sure as to what exactly they want to study in college, and it is fine to be undecided. When applying to Yale in particular, students have the option to select “undecided” as their major. 

Many students change their major at some point in college. For example, Hale is no longer a chemistry and English double major. He changed his major to biology before he even got to Yale, and then changed once again to his current major, neuroscience.

Writing About Undecided Majors

As you approach this essay, keep in mind that by writing about your academic interests, you are not setting in stone your future academic goals, and you will not be held to the major that you include in this essay. If you are undecided, try choosing one, two, or even three majors that you are considering studying, and talk about why those things interest you. Even if you haven’t made a real decision yet, it’s good to show why you’re interested in potentially pursuing certain fields because it gives the admissions team a window into what you’re passionate about.

Additionally, Yale has some interesting joint programs and interdisciplinary opportunities, such as computing in the arts, which is a combination of computer science and music. If you have multiple interests, you can use Yale’s course and department website to find unique programs that might be a good fit for you.

As you write your essay, it is important to highlight the authentic reasons that you’re interested in your field of study, rather than superficial ones. Authentic reasons are those that mean something and tell the admissions committee something important about who you are.

Some sample guiding questions to help you add authenticity to your essay are: 

Do you have past experiences that have made you interested in this major? Do you have goals for your future that this major will facilitate? What are the specific things about the major that are appealing to you? Is there a particular methodology associated with this field that aligns with your style of learning? Do you like to work with your hands and that’s why you want to go into your specific field? Do you like to ask questions and then go through a process to find the answers? What are the real reasons that you’re getting this degree? 

There are also some reasons for pursuing a major that don’t translate well in this essay. Reasons to avoid include post-graduation salary, clout and prestige, and family pressure.

It is important to show that you are not pursuing your major just because it’s something that will make you look good or give you a particular lifestyle. Instead, aim to demonstrate that you chose your major because it is actually what you want to do. There are plenty of careers that pay well, are prestigious, and seem cool, but there are only so many things that you’re passionate about, and that’s what a reader looks to see. 

Avoid talking about pursuing your major to make your parents proud or because they want you to study it. Your parents aren’t applying to college; it will be you attending this school, getting your bachelor’s, and starting your career. Yale wants to know what you want, not what your parents want.

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  1. 6 Awesome Yale University Essay Examples

    Yale Essay Examples. Essay 1: Immigration Reform. Essay 2: Artificial Intelligence. Essay 3: Shaping Education Systems. Essay 4: Biomechanics. Essay 5: Why This Major. Essay 6: Why Yale. Where to Get Your Yale Essays Edited. Yale is one of the top universities in the country, and a member of the prestigious Ivy League.

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  3. How to Get Into Yale: Essays and Strategies That Worked

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  6. Why Yale Essay Examples & Yale Essays That Worked- Best Guide

    Why Yale Essay Examples #3: It's the Little Things. Following my time volunteering for a mental health charity, the Cognition and Development Lab, amusingly nicknamed the Panda Lab, piques my interest with research like that of one Yale professor concerning mental disorders and depression among children. I am fascinated with the connection of ...

  7. How to Write the Yale Supplemental Essays

    Given Yale's competitive admissions process, the bar for each supplemental essay is exceptionally high. If you want to learn more about how to get into Yale, keep reading for tips on how to tackle each of their short answer and supplemental essay prompts. Prompt #1: Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more ...

  8. 4 Tips for a Standout "Why Yale" Essay

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  9. Top 9 Successful Yale Essays

    These are successful college essays of students that were accepted to Yale University. Use them to see what it takes to get into Yale and other top schools and get inspiration for your own Common App essay, supplements, and short answers. These successful Yale essays include Common App essays , Yale supplements, and other Yale admissions essays.

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    It should almost go without saying, but you want to make sure your Yale essays are the strongest example of your work possible. Before you turn in your Yale application, make sure to edit and proofread your essays. Your work should be free of spelling and grammar errors. Make sure to run your essays through a spelling and grammar check before ...

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  12. How to Write the Yale Supplemental Essay

    How to write each supplemental essay prompt for Yale University. Prompt #1: "Why major" essay. Prompt #2: "Why us" essay. Prompt #3: Short answers. Prompt #4: Multiple options essay. While Yale was founded in 1702, it didn't become part of the Ivy League until the 1950s … because the Ivy League didn't exist until the '50s, when it was ...

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    The tone of your essays should convey your drive and enthusiasm for learning in general and at Yale in particular. Share your perspectives in your own voice. Be thoughtful and reflective. Applicants to Yale have an exceedingly competitive profile. Yale received 52,250 undergraduate applications for the Class of 2027.

  14. Yale Supplemental Essay Examples

    This article will give you sample essays for all of Yale's supplemental essay prompts, as well as a small overview of additional writing and essay requirements in the supplemental section of Yale's application - short answer questions and additional requirements for the coalition application.

  15. Yale Supplemental Essays

    The Why Yale essay is a short answer essay that can be a maximum of 125 words long. The objective of the Why Yale essay is the same as it is for other Why School essays—to demonstrate that you have researched the school well and explain what makes it the right fit for you. The Why Yale essay for 2023-24 is worded as follows:

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  18. How To Write the 'Why Yale' Essay

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  20. 12 graduates awarded library prizes for best senior essays

    May 28, 2024. Each year, the library invites Yale College seniors to submit their senior essays for consideration to win one of three prizes for excellence: the Harvey M. Applebaum '59 Award, the Diane Kaplan Memorial Prize, and the Yale Library Map Prize. The winners are selected by librarians or faculty members, and the prizes are funded by ...

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  24. A New Approach to LSAT Writing Will Debut on July 30, 2024

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  25. Tired Of Tangled Content? Use The Flow-Fixer Method For ...

    Here's how to apply the flow-fixer method to transform your tangled content into a clear, compelling piece that flows. Outline your content: Before writing, start with a solid outline containing ...

  26. How to Write the 'Why Major' Yale Essay

    In this article, we discuss strategies to write Yale University 's "Why This Major" supplemental essay. For this essay, applicants must respond to the following prompt: "Students at Yale have time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original ...

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