How to Write an Outstanding "Why Yale?" Essay and the Other Supplemental Prompts

Our best advice for impressing Yale admissions officers with your supplemental essays.

Yale requires at least four more mini-essays on top of the personal statement. Good news: we’ve got a few insights to help you through this — all based on our long experience helping people succeed on college essays at Prompt.

In fact, if you’d like a guide to nailing Yale’s supplements, check it out here.

The full prompts (and our helpful hints) are below. First, here’s a summary of the questions to give you the gist:

All applicants: Two required short answers of 125 words or fewer:

  1. Your likely major.
  2. Why Yale?

Coalition/Common App applicants:

Four super-short answers (200 characters or less; about 35 words):

  1. What inspires you?
  2. What person, past or present, do you want to talk to?
  3. Course you’d teach at Yale?
  4. Will you be a cool roommate?

Two short essays (250 words or less)

  1. Explore one of your intellectual interests.
  2. Choose one:
    1. Your membership in a community.
    2. Changing the world.
    3. Your relationship with a mentor.
  3. Coalition applicants: Upload anaudio file, video, image, or documentthat you created, and that adds to one of your responses above.

Engineering majors (250 words or less): what led you to engineering & why engineering at Yale?

Prompt’s three secrets to Yale essay supplement success:

  1. Tackle these questions as a whole: Overall, your application needs to show you’llsucceed spectacularly in Yale and beyond.(You’re going to contribute something exciting to the world, and be a good person.) These questions are your chance to bolster that case where you can, and patch up any weaknesses. Keep that overall filter in mind, and you’ll find it easier to know what to say.
  2. Have one big theme: The mistake to avoid here is to present a bunch of disparate intellectual interests -- something wholly new in each essay. Instead, dig deep before you get started. Figure out what all your intellectual pursuits have in common. Then make sure admissions officers can see that theme, so they’re struck by the force of your intellectual drive.
  3. Get feedback. The greatest resource you have are the people who love you and know you well. They want to be helpful to you — ask them for help! Get them to give feedback on what you’ve written. And if you like the idea of personalized guidance from people who’ve done this thousands of times, get started here.

Yale short answer questions for 2020-2021

All applicants: Two required short answers of125 words or fewer:

  • [Your likely major]: 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 thelistprovided. Why do these areas appeal to you?
  • [Why Yale?]: What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?

Coalition/Common App applicants:

Four super-short answers (200 characters or less; about 35 words):

  1. What inspires you?
  2. 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 question would you ask?
  3. You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called?
  4. Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six students. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?

Two short essays (250 words or less)

  1. [Intellectual interest]: 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?
  2. Respond to one of the following prompts:
    1. [Community]: Reflect on your membership in a community. Why is your involvement important to you? How has it shaped you? You may define community however you like.
    2. [Change the world]: Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it.
    3. [Mentor]: Tell us about your relationship with a role model or mentor who has been influential in your life. How has their guidance been instrumental to your growth?
  3. For Coalition Applicants — In addition to responding to the prompts above, upload anaudio file, video, image, or documentyou have created. The upload should complement your response to one of the prompts. Above your response, include a one-sentence description of your upload. Please limit uploads to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Advanced editing is not necessary. Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. Review the Supplementary Material instructions for material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty.

Engineering Essay (250 words or fewer) — Coalition/Common App applicants who select one of Yale’s engineering majors will also respond to the prompt below:

  • Please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you.
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