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How to write the 2020-2021 Yale Supplemental Essays

by Rebecca Acree, on Aug 20, 2020 2:01:31 PM

Supplemental essays are a great opportunity to give admissions officers more insight into why your unique character and life experiences make you a great fit for their school. 

Like many other schools, Yale University’s application requires a few supplemental essays. This is your chance to really make your case! Before you begin, take some time to think about why you actually want to go to Yale. Hint: Dig deeper than “Because it’s a prestigious school!” Focus on helping readers get to know you by revealing distinctive parts of your character that aren’t addressed elsewhere in your application. 

Jump ahead to:

Read on for our take on answering the supplemental prompts for the Yale 2020-2021 application! 

Yale Prompt 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.

This prompt offers a chance to dig into your academic interests and how they match up with the programs available at Yale. As they indicated in the prompt, the admissions committee doesn’t expect you to know exactly what you want to study in college. So instead of worrying about what you might actually study in the future (or what admissions officers “want” you to choose!), just focus on: a) what your real interests are, and b) how those interests fit into the story you’re telling in the rest of your application. 

You can then identify real moments from your life that reflect your academic interests, both past and future. Since the next prompt will cover why you chose these areas, simply stick to what the areas are for this prompt.

Your next steps for Yale University Prompt 1: 

  • Choose 1-3 areas of interest
  • Identify real moments that reflect these interests
  • Use the free Story2 writing platform to build this into a powerful story

Yale Prompt 2:

Why do these areas appeal to you? (100 words or fewer)

Now you can dig into the “why.” The best way to approach your “why” is to show readers through action, instead of just telling them. That’s where storytelling comes in! What real moments from your life shaped your interests in your chosen subjects? 

You only have 100 words here, so it’s better to choose a single moment and build it out with more detail, instead of trying to cram in multiple moments without much detail. Be as direct and specific as possible! 

Your next steps for Yale University Prompt 2: 

  • Consider why your areas of interest appeal to you
  • Identify a real moment that shows why the areas appeal to you
  • Use the free Story2 writing platform to build this into a powerful story

Yale Prompt 3:

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

This is a classic “why this college?” prompt, which means that it’s a very straightforward chance to demonstrate your fit at Yale! The key takeaways for a strong “why this college?” essay are: be personal, be unique, and be specific. 

Instead of speaking in general cliches —  “I want to go to an Ivy League” is not personal, unique, or specific! — that don’t reveal much about you, or trying to cover every single great thing about Yale, hone in on a few specific, unique things that will help deepen readers’ understanding of who you are as a person and as a prospective college student.

Your next steps for Yale University Prompt 3: 

  • Choose 1-2 things that led you to apply to Yale
  • Identify real moments that reveal why those things are important to you 
  • Use the free Story2 writing platform to build this into a powerful story

Ready to perfect your personal statement next? For tips on crafting a great personal statement and examples of what that looks like, check out our guide to personal statements that includes  

Topics:college admissions

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