If you yearn for New Haven, you’ll want to start working on the Yale supplemental essay prompts yesterday. And today. And tomorrow. Not surprisingly, you’ll need all your brain power and creativity to tackle these. And to do them in a way that stands out as Yale reviews about 50,000 applications. That’s the number of students who applied last year.
As in previous years, in addition to the Common App essay, there’s a combination of Short Answer Questions, Very Short Answer Questions (35 words), and — a change from last year — a 400-word essay on one of two topics. If you’re applying through the Coalition, you are required to upload a video or document in addition to the longer essay (deets below).
What are the odds of getting in? Low, very low and getting lower all the time.
This past year, class of 2026, with 50,0515 applicants, they accepted 2,234 students. The acceptance rate was 4.46%, lower than any of the three prior years. Three years ago, acceptance was a little over 6 percent. This past year, of the accepted students, 800 were early action and 81 matched through QuestBridge in December.
What do these numbers mean? Come regular decision, when about 40,000 student apply, there will be some 1300 places left to fill. Yale — and most other colleges — wants students from 50 states and many countries.
If Yale takes the same number of students from every state, and no other countries, that comes to 27 students per state. There probably won’t be 27 students from Montana or North Dakota, but you get the idea. They want the brightest, highest-performing, most intellectually curious and creative students around. If that’s you, go for it. If that’s not what you’d say about yourself, and not what others say about you, there are dozens of other truly fine and wonderful colleges and universities.
Since you asked for my opinion on the Yale supplemental essays, I’ll offer two of them:
1. Supplemental essay prompts are a dialogue between the university and the student. If the prompts leave you puzzled and faschmuzzled (Yiddish 101), it could be a message from the universe that this is not the right college for you — and that’s OK!
2. These many prompts are demanding because … Yale wants students who can rise to these occasions and do it with brains, creativity, grit and a certain je ne sais quoi (French 101). If this isn’t you, you are still wonderful. Find a college whose prompts thrill and delight you. Or at least ones that you can undertake with confidence. They are out there, and you are worthy!
Below is the info from the Yale website:
Yale Supplemental Essay Prompts
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application will 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.
- 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)
Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete the questions above via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received.
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will also respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words):
- What inspires you?
- 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?
- You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?
- What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or fewer.
1. Yale carries out its mission “through the free exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent, and diverse community.” Reflect on a time when you exchanged ideas about an important issue with someone holding an opposing view. How did the experience lead you either to change your opinion or to sharpen your reasons for holding onto it?
2. Reflect on a time when you have worked to enhance a community to which you feel connected. Why have these efforts been meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application: In addition to responding to one of the prompts above, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created. The upload should complement your response to the prompt. 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.
Whether the Yale essay prompts are your cup of tea, I’ve got plenty of resources about essays and admissions throughout my website. Please take a stroll around.
To learn about all that has changed in college admissions since COVID and test-optional policies, please read this!
To find out more about what I can do for you and your application, Please click here. For information about my values as an essay coach, please click here. And if writing the Common App Essay is still a mystery to you, try my recent posts here and here
If the Yale supplemental essays are on your horizon, shoot me an email or pick up the phone. But whether it’s Yale or any other college, I’m on the East Coast and open for business.