why yale essay examples
CT – New Haven: Yale University – Trumbull College” by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Why Yale Essay Examples – Introduction

Are you wondering how to get into Yale? If you’re planning on filling out a Yale application, then you are probably searching for some Why Yale essay examples to help you begin drafting your Yale essay prompts.

Any college applicant will be familiar with supplemental essays and personal statements. But what about the “Why Yale” essay? By reading some Why Yale essay examples, you can get a sense of what’s worked for past applicants.

Before we dig into our Why Yale essay examples, let’s take a quick look at the facts. Yale University is an elite institution located in New Haven, Connecticut. It consistently ranks among the top U.S. universities alongside schools like Harvard and Princeton. Correspondingly, the Yale acceptance rate sits at just 5% as of 2022.

With the Yale acceptance rate so low, you’ll want to maximize your chances of getting in. That’s where our Why Yale essay examples come in. When considering how to get into Yale, arguably the heart of the Yale application is the Yale supplemental essays. And among the Yale supplemental essays, the “Why Yale” essay is especially important. In this article, we’ll read some “Why Yale” essay examples and discuss parts of those Yale essays that worked.

Yale Supplemental Essay Requirements

There are several different Yale supplemental essays, ranging from 35 to 400 words. In fact, the Yale essay prompts may be better divided into short answers and actual essays. The Yale supplemental essays required will vary based on how you submit your Yale application: through the QuestBridge, Common, or Coalition Application. Those completing a Yale application through the Common and Coalition Applications have a few additional Yale supplemental essays.

Also, the Yale essay prompts can change from year to year. In recent application cycles, all applicants have had to write three Yale supplemental essays, including the Why Yale essay. Furthermore, Yale applications through the Common and Coalition Applications present four additional short answer questions and a 400-word essay.

Yale Supplemental Essay Prompts

Although we’re focusing on Why Yale essay examples in this guide, you should know the Yale essay prompts from the several application cycles. The following three Yale supplemental essays required of everyone are:

Yale Supplemental Essay Requirements- Short Essays

  • 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)

In addition, Common Application and Coalition Application users must answer the following in up to 200 characters (about 35 words):

Yale Supplemental Essay Requirements- Short Answers

  • What inspires you?
  • You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?
  • 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?
  • What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

Finally, Common Application and Coalition Application users must answer one of the following in fewer than 400 words:

Additional Yale essay requirements for Common App and Coalition App

  • 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?
  • 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.

If you find yourself nervously staring at these prompts and at the Yale acceptance rate, don’t worry! We’re here to help. For a more detailed guide on some Yale supplemental essays, check out our guide from last year (2021). Keep in mind that some prompts are different, however, the key points are the same.

Furthermore, while other Yale essay prompts may come and go, there’s always a “Why Yale” essay. As you tackle this prompt, looking at some Why Yale essay examples can be helpful.

The “Why Yale” essay examples we’ll see later are from past application cycles. As a result, the Yale essay prompts may be worded a bit differently. In any case, you can still use the Why Yale essay examples we present in this guide as a model as you begin crafting your Yale supplemental essays for this year.

Does Yale have a “Why Yale” Essay?

why yale essay examples

For those wondering how to get into Yale, you’ll obviously ask if there’s a “Why Yale” essay. The answer may or may not surprise you… yes, there is! There is a “Why Yale” essay, and it’s a crucial part of any Yale application. Ideally, you noticed it among the essay prompts above. What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? No more than 125 words. Easy, right?

If your heart is hammering in your chest, take a deep breath. A “Why School” essay is essentially saying, “I know about your school, and we’re a great fit.” The “Why Yale” essay is a chance to show the Yale admissions committee that you’re ready and willing. That you’ve done your research on Yale and know that you’re the kind of student Yale looks for. And, more importantly, that Yale is a match for you and your values.

Yale essays that worked added depth to the personal narrative, connecting the writer and their background with the school. After all, you’re more than your GPA: beyond just academics, why did this school make your list? In the course of evaluating universities, why did Yale stand out? Think beyond the Yale acceptance rate and ranking—why do you want to enroll at Yale? You can show some part of yourself that isn’t anywhere else on your Yale application.

Now, let’s look at how to get into Yale with a knockout “Why Yale” essay. First up, we have some “Why Yale” essay examples. Following each, we’ll look at parts of these “Why Yale” essays that worked.

Why Yale Essay Examples Version #1

Let’s start with the obvious “Why Yale” essay examples. That is to say, “Why Yale” essay examples that answer the classic “Why School” essay prompts. These Yale essay prompts directly ask for something like these “Why Yale” essay examples in several ways:

  • Why Yale and not any other school?
  • What about Yale appeals to you?
  • What is it about Yale that led you to apply?

As we’ll see, these “Why Yale” essay examples go beyond facts and figures from the Yale admissions website. Like all Yale essays that worked, they are both specific and personal in their points. Expressing personal stake in concrete details shows the Yale admissions team that you already see yourself in Yale.

Why Yale Essay Examples

Why Yale Essay Examples #1: No Need to Name-Drop

At Yale, I would be able to immerse myself in interests I harbored but never had the opportunity to explore. With incredible resources from some of the best professors in the country, I would be able to learn directly from the best and use this advantage to further myself in my future career plans and goals. The quality of my education, though attributed to the institution, would be the most highly enriched from the students. Although from diverse backgrounds, all the students share the same thirst for knowledge and drive to make a difference. Having such classmates will push me to reach my highest potential and as a result, increase my vitality in any field of work or practice.

Why This Essay Worked

The first of our “Why Yale” essay examples discusses several qualities of Yale’s academic and campus life. Not all Yale essays that worked necessarily name-drop clubs and courses! While yes, it’s usually recommended, you can see from this “Why Yale” essay that it’s not always required. Note that this “Why Yale” essay focuses on community and how Yale’s environment will support their future. Looking at the big picture is usually a good thing in Yale supplemental essays.

Effective “Why Yale” essay examples reference certain aspects of the university that interest the author. This writer clearly values education and community: not only professors, but also fellow students will enrich their learning. Despite the low Yale acceptance rate, the campus is incredibly diverse. Yale essays that worked demonstrated an understanding of Yale’s core value of diversity, not just rigorous academics.

Why Yale Essay Examples #2: Painting a Picture

No problem in this world can be solved by a single person: whole communities are what drive innovative solutions. Thus, what draws me to Yale is its research opportunities and collaborative community. Whether it’s the STARS II program, Women in Science at Yale, Yale Scientific Magazine, or peer mentoring, the prospect of extending my research experience while collaborating with my peers in Yale’s scientific community seems very fulfilling.

I find myself excited by the opportunities Yale has to join communities that can impact campus and beyond. I’m particularly intrigued by the Yale College Council, Yale Arab Students Association, Yale Refugee Project, and Women’s Leadership Initiative. I’m excited by the prospect of joining the academically-driven, collaborative, and passionate community of Bulldogs at Yale.

Why This Essay Worked

On the flip side, some Yale essays that worked go all in with naming particular offerings at Yale. This can also make for a great “Why School” essay; it shows you’ve dug deep in your research. With that said, you have to be strategic in reeling off clubs and courses.

Now, look more closely at this “Why Yale” essay. What can you infer about the author from the facets of Yale they chose to highlight? We know they are interested in science, identify as a woman, and want to mentor others. Furthermore, we can see they identify as Arab and are interested in working with refugees.

Although this writer doesn’t say exactly how they identify or want to study, the reader still gets it. That is to say, we understand how the author’s background influences how they’ll participate in campus life. If you’re struggling to include all these amazing things at Yale in your Why Yale essay, follow this example! By being very intentional with the interests you write about, you can still paint a full picture.

From a structural perspective, this “Why Yale” essay works well by connecting the introduction and conclusion. Yale essays that worked sometimes close the loop by addressing a similar point at the beginning and end. These “Why Yale” essay examples will be tied up in a neat package that leaves an impression on the reader. Like most things, this structure isn’t strictly required, but it can definitely strengthen “Why Yale” essay examples.

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 biology and behavior. Among students, academic competition seems deemphasized; undergrads instead emphasize their connections forged, for example, through acapella groups like Proof of Pudding (I Won’t Say I’m in Love a favorite of mine from Hercules). Finally, the Residential College system is reminiscent of my high school magnet program’s Harry Potter House sorting – but Yale’s includes College Teas! 

Why This Essay Worked

The third of our “Why Yale” essay examples is perhaps a bit more typical. There’s a bit of the writer’s resume in the opening line about volunteering. That experience flows into the writer’s academic interests and a professor’s research area—and the lab’s nickname. From there, this “Why Yale” essay seamlessly swivels to non-academic offerings, specifically a capella. In particular, the author indicates they’ve researched the group, too, by naming an arrangement they liked. The conclusion ties the author’s school with Yale’s residential system.

Like our other Why Yale essay examples, this essay highlights particular details about Yale’s programs. It’s clear from the little details of this “Why Yale” essay that the author has really done their research. They point out the Panda Lab’s cute nickname, a particular a capella performance, and College Teas. Above all, they’re not just thrown in there; these details connect logically with the writer’s interests and pursuits.

Our Why Yale essay examples also aren’t all the same. You can paint in broad strokes with campus culture or intense spots of color with groups meaningful to you. There are as many Yale essays that worked as there are admitted students. How you approach your “Why Yale” essay is up to you and your reading of the “Why Yale” essay prompts. But did you know another one of the Yale essay prompts is a second “Why Yale” essay in disguise?

Why Yale Essay Examples Version #2

Take another look at that list of Yale essay prompts. Aside from the obvious “Why Yale” essay prompt, another is subtly asking for a kind of “Why Yale” essay. Can you find it?  If you picked the second one, you’re correct!

Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected [in the first prompt]. Why are you drawn to it?

What? This? A “Why School” essay? Well, not exactly.

This and similar Yale essay prompts ask about an academic interest, so they aren’t typical “Why School” essays. But they are asking, secretly, how you’ll pursue that thing at Yale. Think about it as a “Why Major” essay with an opportunity to answer “Why School” as well. For this essay prompt, you select a subject you’re interested in on your Yale application. The very next question asks not simply why you’re interested, but how you might pursue it at Yale and beyond. In other words, why do you want to explore these areas at Yale?

With that said, let’s look at some more Yale essays that worked for different Yale essay prompts. Namely, “Why Yale” essay examples that talk about academic interests. Again, these past prompts were slightly different—their word limit was 100 words, not 200.

More Why Yale Essay Examples

Why Yale Essay Examples #4: Solving Big Problems

I’m fascinated by the chemical processes that drive life, which has led me to find opportunities to gain hands-on research experience. Biochemical sciences provide an explanation for disease-driven problems as well as the capacity to find creative solutions for these problems. For all four years of high school, I performed biochemical research at various labs. Ultimately, these experiences helped my find my passion for applying biochemistry and the scientific method to problems we face, whether it’s hunger or leukemia. Through biochemical sciences, I hope to continue to tackle the biggest problems facing humans today using a creative, scientific approach.

Why This Essay Worked

Yale essays that worked, regardless of prompt, are as particular as they can be. What do you like, and what do you want to do with it? This author details both their interest in biochemistry and their experience with it. With Yale’s reputation for research, it hardly needs saying that this student will continue their work at Yale.

But when reading Yale essays that worked, you’ll also find a lot of big-picture thinking. How can experiences at Yale help you explore your interests in impactful ways? The second of our “Why Yale” essay examples highlighted work with refugees. The third briefly mentioned mental disorders in children. And this author is clear about their intent to face big problems.

Yale supplemental essays don’t need a 12-Step Plan to End World Hunger. Don’t compare yourself to Why Yale essay examples that seem to solve everything. You can dream big and be vague about how exactly you’ll tackle these issues. What matters in Yale essays that worked was genuine passion for Yale and the doors it’ll open.

Why Yale Essay Examples #5: Personal Aspirations

With plans to attend medical school after my bachelor’s degree, I want to study something that not only interests me, but would come as a great asset in the medical field. Neuroscience and how the brain makes decisions has been a long standing interest for me growing up as a Ugandan moving from place to place. Witnessing the thought processes of people in various locations made me realize that the mind is a complex puzzle that I would like to solve. Combined with an ability to speak multiple languages, communication with patients will be much more efficient and diagnoses accurate.

Why This Essay Worked

Of our five “Why Yale” essay examples, this final one is perhaps most specific about future plans. This “Why Yale” essay opens with the writer’s post-grad plans for medical school, which connects with their interest in neuroscience. While not necessarily a make-or-break in “Why Yale” essay examples, post-graduation goals can show Yale admissions that you’re thinking ahead.

This writer also personalizes this “Why Yale” essay by linking their interest in the human mind with their background. Introspection reveals the root of their interest in the mind in their past. Although this kind of reflection isn’t in all Yale essays that worked, it can speak volumes when used appropriately. Remember that Yale essays that worked were personal and show some (or a lot!) of your interests or background. And the best “Why Yale” essay examples relate all of that to Yale and the world at large. 

While this writer doesn’t explicitly mention Yale, it’s clear that they’re interested in complex problems. With their lofty ambitions and dreams of medical school, it’s clear that they want the rigor of Yale. Although this essay is perhaps not a conventional “Why Yale” essay, it’s still effective. It conveys the author’s academic interests and makes clear that Yale’s rigorous academic environment is a good fit.

How do you answer “Why Yale”?

why yale essay examples

We hope those five “Why Yale” essay examples and our discussion of their strengths were helpful. As you embark on your college application journey and draft essays, it’s always good to refer to essay examples. But remember they’re just a guide—try to find your own voice and style as you respond to Yale essay prompts.

There are endless ways to write “Why Yale” essays, just like there are endless answers to how to get into Yale. Some great Yale essays that worked talk about post-grad goals, while others focus on Yale’s campus life and offerings. Other strong Yale supplemental essays may directly address the writer’s experiences or background. Then again, more implicit mentions of the author’s life might make up other Yale essays that worked.

Even so, there are a few constants in the Why Yale essay examples. Each of the essays had elements that were:


We’re all guilty of copy-pasting a few lines from one essay to another. However, a “Why School” essay is not one you’ll want to copy-paste. When looking at “Why Yale” essays that worked, you’ll usually see several Yale-specific features, courses, and organizations. Yale essays that worked showed Yale admissions that the author knows more than just the Yale acceptance rate. By being specific, you prove that your decision to apply to Yale is well-informed.


The Yale admissions committee wants more than just smart people: they want dynamic, critical thinkers. Good “Why Yale” essay examples show this side. In particular, they illustrate how they’ll contribute both to Yale and to the world. What goals do you have that Yale can help you achieve? How will those goals inform your time on campus and once you’ve graduated? While you don’t have to be super specific about post-grad plans, you should show you’re already thinking ahead.


We know, we know, everyone says this—but it’s true! Firstly, although Yale is indeed a prestigious institution, its programs or campus life may not be for everyone. If you’re only applying because the low Yale acceptance rate obviously means it’s the best school, maybe reconsider. If you’re dead set on studying economics or architecture or business, look for schools strong in that area. 

Secondly, assuming you’ve decided Yale is your dream school, be honest about what excites you. If you want to know how to get into Yale, the answer is to be true to yourself. Don’t try to write about what you think Yale admissions wants to see. They want to see you and your interests!

What other schools have Why School Essays?

Short answer: many!

Long answer: schools like Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and New York University, just to name a few. The “Why School” essay is one of the most common college essay prompts, and for good reason. “Why School” essays are where you can explain why the school is on your college list

Especially for reputable colleges, “Why School” essays can really elevate your application. Did you see the Yale acceptance rate and think you should apply just because it’s selective? Or maybe you read somewhere that Northwestern was pretty good and are applying based on that? Ideally, you did your due diligence reading the school’s website—maybe even visiting—before applying. Trust us, when you do your research, it really shows.

Tips for other “Why School” essays are the same for how to get into Yale: be specific, thoughtful, and genuine. Why do you personally want to spend the next several years at this school? What particular opportunities on campus resonate with you, your interests, and background? At the same time, many prompts have different wording that will inform your approach to the essay.

Let’s take a look at UChicago’s essay prompts for some more inspiration.

Writing to the Prompt: Why UChicago?

why yale essay examples

For instance, UChicago asks:

How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.

Here, they’re asking you to answer in regards to learning, community, and future. You’ll want to speak directly to UChicago’s curriculum and social life while also establishing future goals. When planning this “Why School” essay, look into UChicago’s student life, both in and out of the classroom. Are there any unique features of academic life at UChicago, like an emphasis on collaboration or experiential learning?

Of course, you can also rely on pointing to distinct offerings both extracurricular and curricular. But make sure you address the prompt by drawing clear links among these things and your long-term goals. Finally, pull them all together by directly stating how the institution will facilitate all of these experiences.

Writing to the Prompt: Why NYU?

why yale essay examples

Next, let’s look at NYU.

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? … We want to understand – Why NYU?

Remember how we said that an academic interest essay can be a “Why School” essay prompt in disguise? Some “Why School” essays are framed around your area of study, like this one. In these cases, many will focus more on the academic side of things. You don’t have to eliminate any mention of non-academic activities, of course. The prompt asks about campuses and schools, so feel free to mention campus traditions or social events.

If you’re zeroing in on a major, program, or college, you can absolutely bring up faculty, courses, and research. With that said, keep in mind that “Why School” essays should still be personal. Try to ensure your excitement for that subject area shows through. For example, you could use a personal anecdote or quality that threads through your academic history. Again, there are no limits to the ways you can approach a “Why School” essay.

How Important Are Essays For Yale?

When thinking about how to get into Yale, essays are front and center. Given that there are so many Yale essay prompts (however short), you can bet they’re important for your Yale application. As stated above, Yale is a highly esteemed and world-renowned institution. It follows that it gets a ton of applicants—why do you think the Yale acceptance rate is so low?

With so many applicants, the Yale admissions team needs to be able to distinguish the most qualified ones. By reading Yale supplemental essays, they learn about you not only as a student but also as a community member. Imagine if every admitted student had a 4.0 GPA but never joined any clubs or student organizations. Yale student life would probably be pretty boring! So these Yale supplemental essays help the Yale admissions committee choose students who’ll enrich Yale even beyond their undergraduate years.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yale—as well as many other schools—is test-optional for the 2022–2023 admissions cycle. While this policy is doubtless beneficial for many, it also means there’s some information missing. Especially while Yale admissions is test-optional, essays are considered very important on every Yale application.

Even once test-optional policies expire, essays will be incredibly important for college applications. It’s getting harder every year to stand out in college admissions, so make sure you start early and edit often. So don’t skimp on any of the Yale supplemental essays if you’re serious about overcoming the Yale acceptance rate. That means the 35-word ones, too!

More Yale Essay Resources from CollegeAdvisor

In this guide, we only looked at “Why Yale” essay examples, but there are several other Yale essay prompts. Luckily for you, CollegeAdvisor.com has several other Yale supplemental essay resources. We even have more general guides on how to get into Yale!

We have a webinar panel with Yale students. Watch this if you’re still wondering whether to apply to Yale. If you’re set on applying but looking for material for Yale supplemental essays, this is also a good resource.

Linked above was our Yale supplemental essays guides from 2021. We also have more advice in our 2020 guide. These guides cover each Yale essay prompt, what it’s asking, and how to approach it. If you’re more into webinars, take a look at this Yale supplemental essays workshop.

Lastly, we have our general How to Get Into Yale guide. This has advice on every part of the Yale admissions process, from Yale supplemental essays to recommendation letters. If you’re applying to Yale and want advice on the application as a whole, this guide is for you.

CollegeAdvisor.com also hosts webinars and releases new resources all the time. Keep an eye on our blog for more college essay guides and examples.

Why Yale Essay Examples – Final Thoughts 

why yale essay examples

It’s never easy to put into words exactly why you want what you want. “Why School” essays ask you to do just that. Your “Why Yale” essay needs to be finely tuned to maximize your odds against the low Yale acceptance rate. Successful “Why Yale” essay examples show the Yale admissions team why you and Yale are a good fit. They’re both specific to the school and personal for you, tying together you and the school.

Here are some reflection questions as you leave this guide and start drafting your “Why Yale” essay:

Why Yale Essay Examples Reflection Questions

  • Why are you and Yale a good fit for each other?
  • Are you knowledgeable about and committed to attending Yale?
  • How will experiences and opportunities at Yale help you achieve your goals?

Readers of your “Why Yale” essay should be able to answer all three of these questions. You can always read more Yale essays that worked to find areas for improvement in your own work. Additionally, you should use examples that show you’ve done your research, whether they’re classes or labs.

There’s a lot of pressure in trying to craft the strongest Yale application possible. It can feel like there’s too much Yale to fit into the word count. Nevertheless, if you’re strategic with your details and concise in your wording, and use the Why Yale essay examples above to help guide you, you can do it. And if you’re still unsure after reading our resources on Why Yale essay examples and other Yale essays that worked, you can always connect with our team for personalized admissions help.

why yale essay examples

This article on Why Yale Essay Examples was written by Gina Goosby. 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.