How to Get into Yale: My Admissions Journey
Want to learn more about applying to Yale? Join Admissions Mariko Rooks as she shares her application and admissions journey during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered including:
- What is required for the Yale application?
- What can I do to stand out as an applicant?
- What did you enjoy most about your time at Yale?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2023-01-09 – How to Get into Yale: My Admissions Journey
Moderator:[00:00:00] Hello everyone. Welcome to College Advisor’s Webinar, How to Get Into Yale: my Admission Journey, to orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar you can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.Now lets meet our panelists.
Mariko: Hi everyone. My name is Mariko. Thank you so much for coming out today and for listening to a little bit of my college application and admission journey. I graduated from Yale actually twice. Once with a BA, or a bachelor’s degree in the history of science, medicine and public health.
And I double majored in our ethnic studies program and a second time a year later with an MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Yale has a lot of really cool four plus one programs where you do a [00:01:00] graduate and an undergraduate degree in five years. And I’ll talk a little bit more, more about my experience with that program, but that was how I ended up graduating twice. So thank you all for coming and yes, as already said, please feel free to drop chat questions in the Q&A at any time, and hopefully you can learn a little bit more about my college admissions process through this webinar.
Moderator: Nice. So thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself. Very impressive. Um, graduate of Yale two times. So first we’re gonna begin just with a poll so we can get a sense of what grade you are in. So the poll has been launched and I can see that our participants started to put their grade level. So it looks like we have representation from all grade levels, um, with majority of our participants being in the 10th and 11th grade. Uh, so I’ll turn it back over to you to kick off your presentation.
Mariko: Wonderful. Okay. Well, [00:02:00] it’s exciting to hear that so many of you are in different grade levels, but especially in 10th and 11th grade. Because I think when we start to talk about college admissions and when we should really seriously start thinking about where we’re applying and what our application strategy is, 10th and 11th grade, and also ninth grade are really good places to be in terms of that overall timeline. So I really started to think about college admissions at the beginning of high school. I, you know, was privileged enough to come for a family where I knew I was hopefully going to college. Um, you know, that had never been a question of mine, I think growing up.
But as I started to get into high school, I started to think, well, what do I actually want from a college experience? Right? It’s one thing to want to go to a good school or to get into somewhere, but what exactly am I looking for out of these next four years? And granted, right, you don’t know because you haven’t been there yet, but at least having a general idea of that sort of thing.
And so to do that, I think the main thing that I started doing in ninth and 10th grade that I would highly [00:03:00] encourage everyone to do, regardless of what grade level you’re in, is touring schools. Whether you’re doing it virtually or in person, I think that gives you a really good idea of, oh, this is where I’m actually going to live and spend the majority of my time learning as a college student?
And you know, do I like the campus? Do I like the vibes? Do I like the way that things are structured? Um, you know, am I looking for a more rural school or am I looking for a school that’s in the middle of a city? That kind of thing. And so much of that you don’t know until you actually get there and experience it for yourself.
And I think that’s really helpful. And of course, during ninth and 10th grade, I also started advancing my academics and building my extracurricular portfolio. And by 11th grade, I was sort of really looking in my own life, stepping into bigger leadership roles. Um, you know, doing my standardized ACT, SAT testing, more AP classes and meetings with alumni too were really useful for me because once I toured or sort of had a general idea, the schools that I thought I might like, it’s really [00:04:00] always a good idea to get input from people who actually went there and see what their experiences were.
Both because it’ll inform your own sort of assessment of what the school can maybe offer you. And also because those are really useful characteristics to start to understand as you begin writing some of your supplemental essays. And we’ll talk more about that later and why that’s important in, uh, especially for schools like Yale.
So my college application process, the timeline was a little bit different than maybe some of you who are on this webinar and for maybe some of you, this will resonate a lot. I was a two-sport varsity athlete in high school, and so during especially, 10th and 11th grade was going through the college recruitment process to potentially letter.
Um, and that means like sort of play a varsity sport at either a D1 or a D3 school. And when it comes to college athletics recruitment, it happens a little bit earlier. Um, the sort of submission of your [00:05:00] application in your 12th grade year is the last step. Uh, meeting with coaches and determining which teams might be a good fit for you, having coaches come out and watch you play whatever sport that you’re playing.
That all happens a lot in ninth and 10th and 11th grade, sometimes even earlier if you’re sort of in a really elite, uh, travel program-based sport. And so I was talking to coaches and thinking about schools a little bit earlier because of that. And I would say I really had a good sense of what schools were interested in me and what schools that I was interested in on sort of that plane of, uh, of, of recruitment and application process probably by the end of my junior year, um, with the very selective schools like the Ivys they’ll make earlier, they can’t make binding offers the way that some D1 schools can, but you know, they do want to see what your grades are and what you’ve been doing with the rest of your life outside of your sport in 10th and 11th grade.
[00:06:00] So, um, it is a little bit more delayed than some D1 schools will be, but that’s sort of getting into the weeds of, of athletic recruitment. But anyway, all of this is to say that my college application process was clearly deeply influenced by, uh, by being recruited. Um, and when it came to the Ivys, I personally found that they were very hit or miss on my personal vibes.
Uh, this is nothing against the schools that I didn’t apply to. I simply, for most of the schools that were that selective, I took a tour, was on campus and either really liked the school or didn’t see myself there. And that made it very easy for me to decide, okay, I can cross this school off my list or I can cross that school off my list simply because I didn’t feel like I could be at home there for all four years.
Um, financial aid was also a huge factor. A lot of private schools that are especially selective private schools have incredibly good aid packages that will make going to that school if you get financial aid [00:07:00] comparable or even cheaper than going to a public school. And so I was pretty aware of that when I was factoring in my sort of decision making process in terms of where I was going to apply. And the last thing that I was really focused on was sort of, I think really good advice is going where you’re wanted, if a school reaches out to you and continues to show interest in you, that often can be a good indication that they think you might be a good fit for them, as opposed to chasing after a school just for the name, like sort of name brand that maybe is not as interested or has not engaged with you as much, or you don’t feel as much of a strong connection to.
And so that was really, I think those were the general philosophies that governed my college application process. And so I talked about this a little bit, but the factor that was the most important to me in the, in the college application process as a whole is, you know, sort of what did the school value.
I think if you’re going to, if you’re going to college, and especially if you’re going to a selective school like Yale, you know [00:08:00] that the academic rigor and the professional opportunities will be there at whatever school you go to. All of these schools are known as elite schools because they have the resources, the reputation, and both the professorial and the student body to ensure that if you’re interested in pursuing something at a high level, you’ll get that chance.
And so what it comes down to, both for admissions committees and also for people who are applying, is what are the values and the culture of that particular school that makes it a place that you can spend four years at. And so for me, I’ve found that the values of a school often really translate into their approach to education.
So how is the curriculum being structured? How does grading look? What are the class sizes? And also more broadly, are people excited about learning or are they there for a specific purpose that’s more goal [00:09:00] oriented about like what will sort of learning or class engagement get you as a professional? Um, or as someone who is sort of moving through the world and looking to potentially advance from a career perspective.
And in terms of the overall environment too. Right. I think there are a lot of places where students are ambitious, and one of the things that I particularly valued was folks who were ambitious without necessarily being competitive against each other in a way that I didn’t feel was super. helpful for my learning process.
If you’re someone who really likes a competitive environment, if you think that like sort of directly going head to head against your other classmates will make you a better student, will make you perform better, give you that extra motivation. I think there are schools where that’s more emphasized, but for me personally, I really wanted a place where people supported each other, where people were very kind and encouraging and generous in their academic endeavors and in encouraging other folks to explore the things that [00:10:00] interested them.
And that was really important to me. And as someone who identifies as both, like by BiPOC, so black indigenous people of color, and also as part of the LGBTQIA a plus community, having support for those specific communities was also very important to me. And so those were the things that I looked at personally.
Okay. And so why did Yale stand out to me after giving this whole speech about values? I think the first thing that I really experienced at Yale and was very evident when I toured the campus and talked to alumni is that there’s just a lot of joy and whimsy and curiosity, which are not necessarily, I think the first words that you might associate with, um, you know, this kind of space.
But those were things that I did really feel in terms of just how, um, unironically enthusiastic people were about interacting with and engaging with the world around them. I would have these, you know, five hour dinner conversations where we’d sit in the dining hall because someone had [00:11:00] one question about like, how a specific type of potato was made, or, um, you know, how a certain something or another, like why does it have the name that it has? And we’d go down this like wonderful intellectual rabbit hole sort of looking all these things up and discovering so much more about the world that we didn’t know before. And that was really important to me. I really valued that in an academic environment because I am a nerd.
And so that was really important for me. Right? Uh, also having education with a purpose. It felt that like, you know, people really wanted to go to Yale because they wanted to make the, I mean, and this is like not everyone, right, but a lot of people clearly wanted to go to Yale because they had a vision or a goal that they wanted, uh, to accomplish in the broader world outside of it.
So I’m learning these skills, or I’m developing these networks for a reason. And that reason is deeply important to me. And it could be because I want to help other community members. It could be because I want to discover knowledge that like no one else has discovered before. Whatever it is, it was very clear that [00:12:00] you weren’t just learning to memorize things like you were learning because you cared about something.
Um, you know, I think that this all sort of manifests itself in having these really fun and quirky and unique student body activities and bonding opportunities. So things like mask balls or having secret societies. Um, getting to do these, like, I think kind of very cool Hogwarts type things that really appealed to me in high school, for sure, was certainly part of it.
Um, campus architecture. I mean, I think Yale is really gorgeous. I think that, uh, you know, I really loved walking around campus, um, and felt like this is definitely a place that I could see myself enjoying my time in this space. Um, and not only me, but the people that were there seemed to really enjoy their time.
And the other people there on campus. And that was really important to me as well. And the last thing was that I knew that there was this five year MPH program. I knew that I was interested in public health and [00:13:00] racial equity, and so having to not apply to grad school separately, being able to finish two degrees in five years, that was really appealing to me.
It’s also much cheaper. And so those were things that I was considering when I applied to Yale and when I chose Yale. And so I was considering some other Ivy schools pretty seriously. Uh, Dartmouth and Yale were my final choices. And also Pomona College, which is not an Ivy, but I would say is about as selective.
Uh, the reason why I decided on Yale mostly was the built-in institutional support, which I think is a thing that I really valued and definitely was worth. Its sort of, it really paid its dividends when I actually enrolled. Yale has a lot of structured ways in which it makes your students transition and feel like they can build a sense of community.
And so as a first year, for example, you have. up to [00:14:00] three or four older students through various like peer mentoring and, uh, assigned sort of buddy programs that check in on you, you know, once or twice a week that are paid, that get paid to pay for your coffee, right? That kind of thing. And so you knew that there was always someone who was with you who could help you through that transition, who was specifically paired with you because, um, folks in charge thought that you might be a good match and that you would have that kind of support from older students that were there.
Um, in terms of friends and social structure, Yale is really big on the residential colleges or the living system that we have. Um, to call them dorms wouldn’t be entirely accurate simply because they have so much stuff, um, that allows you to socialize with other people in, um, a really generative way. So you have a gym, you have a library.
Um, my residential college had a pottery studio. You have lounges, you have your own dining hall, um, and you have suites as opposed to just sort of [00:15:00] individual dorm rooms in a line. Most folks live in suites where you have like a living room and you know, between four and eight other people that you’re sharing space with.
So you are creating all these ways for people to organically interact with each other, um, but providing the structure and the space for them to do that. And for by POC students specifically. Um, and for LGBTQIA students, we have the cultural centers, which are sort of three story buildings that have professional adult staff and student staff that put on different kinds of cultural and academic programming for students who identify with, um, specific marginalized identities.
And so that was huge for me to know that there was going to be, not just in terms of what people cared about, but there was literally the support structure like baked into the university for me as a student. And also I just really appreciate it, again, sort of Yale’s approach to learning. Um, I think it’s filled with a lot of wonder and inquiry, especially in, um, the sort of less intense classes [00:16:00] that are focused more on sort of intellectual exploration rather than like pre-med requirements or something.
So that was ultimately why I ended up choosing Yale was that I felt that the institutional support was really, really strong in a really structured way. Okay. So, what is required for Yale if you do decide to apply? Um, Yale takes three applications, QuestBridge, which is kind of its own thing. So I’m gonna not talk too much about QuestBridge, Common App or Coalition App.
And for either Common or Coalition app, you’re going to have your extracurricular section where you go over all of the things that you’ve done outside of class and your personal statement, which is your big essay, right? Um, on normally just like a large topic or theme within your life. And this is in addition to all of your grades and your school information, of course.
And then you’re gonna have your supplemental essays. So Yale has a couple of them. Uh, [00:17:00] there’s a Yale essay, right? That’s asking you know specifically why this school. There is a more academic essay that asks you to give your thoughts on a topic that excites you or really interests you, um, that falls within one of your top three major choices.
And then we have some short answer questions that are, you know, 35 words max. Like what class would you teach at Yale? If you could invite one person to dinner, um, you know, through Yale’s residential college dinner program, who would you invite? Those kinds of like quick ones. Um, there used to be more of them.
They’ve actually shrunk those down quite significantly in the last five years. And then there’s one last longer essay that’s I think 450 words maximum. And it’s either talking about a time that you exchanged opposing thoughts with someone or someone that did not agree with your opinion on a specific topic or talk about a community you’re a part of.
And I think. For my essays, I can go really fast. But Why Yale? I think I’ve [00:18:00] kind of covered that already. Uh, the topic that excites you. I talked about, um, some of the like pre-medical health equity stuff that I was doing in class. Uh, short answers I don’t think are that relevant. I think I asked about Sonia Sotomayor.
Um, and then for the community that I was a part of, I talked about being mixed race black and Japanese, and how um, members of both my biological and sort of non-biological family have come together to build a space for other folks of mixed race identity in Los Angeles, which is where I’m from. So that’s what’s required for the Yale application.
and how did I personally stand out on the application process? Well, the first thing was just sheer luck. And I really want to emphasize that there are tons and tons and tons of people who are absolutely qualified to get into Yale that don’t every year. And that is a combination of the fact that Yale is building a specific kind of class.
So they’re not just looking at you and [00:19:00] how, um, awesome and how cool you are, but they’re looking at, you know, okay, if I put this awesome and cool person together with these 500 other awesome and cool people, how do I think they’ll interact? Will they build a culture or will they do something that I think will really benefit us as an institution?
And so whether your admissions officer thinks that or not about your portfolio, Hugely based on like luck on which admissions officer you get on, you know, whether they had a bad day or not on whether the five applications they read before years were really good or really bad. Right. Um, and I will say for me, I know my admissions counselor who’s a very cool person and they actually had a very similar background to my own and that was one of the first things that we talked about.
And I think that, you know, not that admissions officers are selecting for people that are exactly like them. I think that would be kind of ridiculous. But it certainly did not hurt that I talked about a lot of things that my admissions officer also felt very passionate about when they were in high [00:20:00] school.
And I think that is not something I could have predicted and I could have gotten any other admissions officer. Um, a thing I really focused on in my application was breadth. So I had lots and lots of activities that I did in high school. I was kind of all over the place. I ran around a lot and I really cared about.
Most, if not all of those activities quite deeply. And I think that was really reflected in the kinds of projects and in the kinds of, um, you know, sort of outside of the bare minimum engagement that I was doing in different organizations. And I also really tried to show multiple sides of myself in my application.
So my main essays, um, were about, my comment out personal statement was about theater. Um, I talked about athletics, I also talked about my ethnic background. And so just really giving folks a clear picture of who I was and also the parts of myself that I thought were really important to me. Um, in that, I think honesty and sort of cultivating your own voice and narrative is important.
When I work with [00:21:00] students now a times what I end up asking on first drafts is like, are you writing this just because you think it sounds good? Or are you writing this because this is actually what you think and feel? And so my biggest advice, and it’s difficult to do because high school writing often does not ask this of folks, is to really trust that your own story and your viewpoint and your voice matter, even if you’re worried, oh, it’s not original.
Other people have had that thought or like, oh, I’m not interesting, or I’m not unique. That matters far less than how you’re able to talk about what you’re talking about. And if a school doesn’t like, you know, Your sort of honest opinions and beliefs and ideas about the world, then they’re probably not going to be a good fit for you anyway.
You probably don’t want to go to a school where those things about yourself aren’t valued. And so, and the last thing I think for me is I genuinely loved the schools that I, I applied to all of them, and I clearly understood what those schools [00:22:00] valued and what the culture was at each school that I applied to.
And I think that’s really important because you want to prove to them that you’ve done their, your research and that you, if you commit to them, you know why you’re committing to them again, sort of beyond the the brand name value. Okay, I’m gonna turn it over for another poll.
Moderator: Yes. Thank you so much. So we wanna know, um, you know, speaking about, yeah, we wanna just get a sense of where you are in your application process.
So believe it or not, the application process does not begin when you become a senior. Um, so let us know, perhaps you haven’t started, but after this evening you are ready to start to do your research or you’re in the research phase, or maybe you’re working on your essays or getting your application material together.
Um, or you maybe, um, you know, almost done with application. So let us know.
It looks like most of our participants are [00:23:00] in the research phase. Um, and then we have a few that actually are almost done. So congratulations to those who are almost done with their applications. So I will turn it back over to you to continue the presentation. Thank you.
Mariko: Thank you, and yes, to those who are almost done, congratulations to those who are researching.
Hopefully this is a helpful part of your research. Let me know in the chat. Okay, here we go. So what was my application strategy? I think the main thing for me was that I wanted to be well rounded in terms of the selectivity of the schools that I applied to. I had three to four reach schools, three to four match schools, three to four safety schools.
And that was it. Um, I think that post sort of covid and the way in which post the advent of covid were like still in a pandemic. Um, the way in which Covid has really sort of disrupted admission cycles, I would say probably nowadays maybe four to five for each is a little [00:24:00] bit sort of like safer if you just really wanna make sure that you’re getting in somewhere.
But I think the big thing for me was that I was really secure with wherever I was accepted, regardless of exclusivity. If I had only gotten into one of my safety schools and nowhere else, I would’ve been very happy with going to that school. Um, and then also I think for me, targeting schools with robust and flexible financial aid policies, a lot of times when you get your first aid award, you can appeal or leverage that financial aid award based on either what other schools have given you that are about the same selectivity and or if you have specific things within your.
Family and your personal financial profile that you feel colleges aren’t taking into account when they’re giving you their aid. And so for me that was really important to have schools where I knew that, you know, through Reddit or like big grapevine, that they were willing to renegotiate aid. Um, because I am from Los Angeles and so my [00:25:00] parents, um, where my parents live, their property is valued at a much like higher cost now because of the way that prices have inflated than like the money that we actually have as a family.
So that was, I, and I could talk about that more if anyone has specific questions, but that was really important to me with being able to negotiate my financial. Okay. The application things that I felt were successful, um, again, you know, it’s hard to know what people are gonna like and what they don’t like.
I think for my essays, I tried to demonstrate sort of like, not just leadership, but innovation or like, I’m not just sort of like, you know, stepping into a role that someone else has already had as the president or the this or the that. But I’m going to step into that role and do something new with it.
Going to like add something or bring something new into my community that I really care about because I care about making my community a better place. And I think I tried to just be very sort of, again, un-ironic. [00:26:00] Enthusiastic and joyful and curious about the things that I thought were cool. I don’t think there’s like any shame in thinking that things are cool when you think that they’re cool.
And so I tried to do that and I also tried to be very sort of what I would call constructively vulnerable, right? Um, so being pretty honest about the things that I was worried about or scared about or didn’t know yet in the world. Cause you’re not like a fully formed person at 18. You’re never a fully formed person.
Um, but of course also it is still college admissions. So you want to do that in a way that still shows that this kind of vulnerability or exploration is like an asset as a student, right? You don’t wanna just have an existential crisis and then leave it at that on your essays. Um, extracurricularly again, sort of leadership positions across areas that were important to me.
And I think for academics there are sort of like two things that I would say one can help consider sort of right when they’re applying to the Ivys. The first is like, are you making your qualifications [00:27:00] unquestionable? Right? Um, for every school there’s sort of a safe range of academic scores, and I think this is something to really emphasize.
The Ivys, I think like instead of taking the SAT like 10 times to try to boost your score by like 10 points or 15 points, like if you’re within a certain range and the rest of your profile looks good, you’ll be okay. The difference between like, you know, a 1500 and a 1510 or a 1520 is not huge. Um, and it’s not something that is gonna ever make or break an application for an admissions officer.
Um, so I think figuring out like, okay, where is this safe range for my schools? Where do I know that, okay, like these are the grades and these are the test scores that I need to for sure get in the door, right? Um, or, okay, if I don’t have those grades and test scores, what do I need to do with the rest of my application to push myself up so that I can prove that I’m still going to be in the range of people who can keep up at this school even if I don’t have those grades or [00:28:00] test scores, right?
And so there’s that like sort of balance that you, you play with there. And then there’s the level above that. And I think if you’re really serious about applying to competitive schools, like this is ideally where you want to be, is are those qualifications unquestionable? There should be no question that you are clearly qualified and ready to go to a school that has the academic rigor of a place like you.
That’s it. Like it’s just a check mark and then they move on, right? They’re like, good. This person did the best that they could in the highest level classes that they were able to enroll in in high school. Ideally, they’ve also done something extra like take a class at a community college, I don’t have to worry about that part of their application.
It’s clear, it’s done right. And so you have all these different sort of options for yourself academically, depending on where you’re at and how your year has shaped out. But that would be what I would say when you’re asking academics that are successful. I think that for me, I was [00:29:00] lucky and privileged enough that it was just a closed book, like the end.
Right. Um, I think And so then of course, like what happens right when you get to Yale? Like what is, what was my experience like? Um, I think the first thing is I loved the people. I think the people very much make the place and the people that I was able to meet at Yale, for my close friends that I’m still in, like everyday contact with to the folks that I had, you know, one, four hour late night conversation with, um, after an event or something like that.
I was really, really grateful for all the interactions that I have and all the relationships that I made when I was there. Um, I think academically they were both really specialized and also really interdisciplinary opportunities. Um, the professor that I worked for, Carolyn Roberts for example, um, did a lot of really cool work on medicine in the slave trade.
That was really awesome that I would not have gotten to do at pretty much any other school. And our ethnicity, race and migration department also did some really cool [00:30:00] stuff. Um, everything from like food mapping, um, you know, ethnic restaurants on the, in the northeast to predict trends to, uh, digging through archives and finding some really cool new information about stuff that happened in the past.
Uh, I would say that lots of student organizing is still pretty highly necessary. Um, Yale’s relationship to New Haven is complicated. Yale does not pay taxes. Uh, and bear in mind that like its endowment is like right in the, in the millions and billions. And so I think that there are a lot of ways that as a student at Yale, you can advocate to make the relationship between Yale and New Haven, which is predominantly low income, black and brown.
Um, to make that relationship more equitable. And there are a lot of things that I think the New Haven residents ask of us that I feel like is our responsibility as students. We’re coming into their home and staying there for like four years, um, to uphold and to amplify and to campaign as much as possible.
Um, the, the folks, the things that folks from New [00:31:00] Haven are asking us to do, um, I think also equity on campus right? Is still, it’s always a work in progress. And so there were a couple of specific things I was involved in for sure. But uh, that is certainly an ongoing thing that everyone is working towards.
And for me, uh, the residential college system was a really good fit. Eventually, my first year suite I didn’t have a lot in common with. Um, but after that I really, really loved everyone I lived with. I really liked the living configurations that I was in. Um, obviously sort of covid through, uh, Uh, wrench into some things my junior spring and senior year, but I think that I received so much support and love.
Um, and uh, for those who are wondering, I was in Trumbull, which is the best residential college at Yale. So I was really lucky, uh, that I had that level of support. Okay. And then why did I major in what I majored in, um, for the history of science medicine and public health or HSHM. [00:32:00] Uh, part of it was for this sort of five year opportunity there.
Um, were a lot of classes in undergrad that then applied to my grad school classes and such and such. Um, and it was a public. Yale does not have like an undergraduate, just straight public health major. Um, people are in different majors based on what they specialized in. So everything from neuroscience and um, international affairs to sociology.
Uh, but I really like the history angle to it because I very much believe in the concept of like, to know where you are, you must know where you come from. And so especially when it comes to health equity and making health a better place for people, um, I think. History is a really helpful discipline foundationally to, to start with.
Also the faculty was awesome, uh, in terms of ethnicity, race, and migration. Um, actually a big thing was that in 2015 and 2019, there were some large student uprising about getting better ethnic studies program in at Yale, and I [00:33:00] was involved in the 2019 ones and after that I was kind of like, well, I might as well major in this thing if I’ve just spent a lot of time protesting and campaigning for it.
And, uh, all my friends and a lot of community members were in the major and it had really flexible requirements. So I said, you know what? I might as well add it. Um, it’s a lot of things I care about anyway, and I had a really good time. Okay, so what did I enjoy most about my time at Yale? If I had to really sort of pick anything?
It’s sort of a high concentration of just absolutely mind-blowing and awesome people and resources. It’s really hard to get that level of just coolness in one place ever again. People are doing such awesome and specific things across every single feel. And these are people that you have breakfast with or that like, you know, you go on a trip with and you ask them about the work that they’re interested in pursuing academically, professionally, personally, and like [00:34:00] everyone I’ve come across is remarkable and has such interesting things across any kind of field and you learn so much from everyone around you that and.
that’s such a rare thing that’s hard to cultivate in an environment outside of college. Um, but I, yeah, have been so grateful for all the things that I’ve learned and all the people that I’ve met that have taught me such cool stuff. Um, and then I think there’s a great structure for getting to know students throughout the, all four years, and I’ve talked about this before, but right, like everything from your pre-orientation program, which happens before you even start your first year to, um, your first year counselor that helps you through your first year.
The cultural centers, which I’ve mentioned before and even senior activities. Um, I was part of also like a secret society my senior year. And, um, while you can definitely have a fulfilling senior year without society, for me that was really awesome because I got to meet new people even three years into my Yale experience.
And some of those people are like some of my closest friends now. And so I love that there were those opportunities [00:35:00] to keep meeting people and to keep engaging in new things. As you went through sort of your time at Yale, like there’s not a point where you would just stop making new friends. Okay. And last advice here.
I would say talk to alumni about their experiences. It’s really, really useful and have a good list of questions to ask everyone so you can pair it across experiences, because obviously not everyone’s gonna have the same takes. Um, but if you have good questions. And I would say also like tough questions too.
My favorite to ask people, um, when I was applying was what would you change about the school that you went to? Um, I think that’s really good. Uh, visit campus virtual or in person, but just have a sense for what the built environment looks like. Have a sense for where you’re actually going to be. And uh, if you’re from a warm place, seasons are real and they’re really cold.
So I think, like, I thought it was gonna be like mostly cute snow, but it didn’t really like hit me until I was actually there, that it is very cold and dark for a lot of months of a year. Um, so that [00:36:00] would be my last. advice. Okay, I think we turn it over to questions and answers now.
Moderator: Yes. Yes, we do. Great, great information.
Um, so we’re now gonna move into our question and answers. And so what we need from you all is to, uh, actually write your questions in the Q&A tab, and then I will read them out loud for our panelists to answer the questions. Um, so if it’s not working on your end, just try exiting out of the webinar and enter through the link that you were emailed.
Um, so definitely please ask any and all questions. Our first question that we have that’s coming so far is can you share a little bit about, um, what is a match school? So you mentioned different categories. Maybe share again, like what those different categories mean.
Mariko: So first of all, deepest apologies for not using terminology that’s as helpful and inclusive as possible.
Um, you’ll hear the term match or target school. In sort of a series of three, we have reach, [00:37:00] match, and safety and those three terms refer to sort of your overall metrics as a student in comparison to the college you’re applying to. So a match school would be that your metrics are about the same as or average for the college that you’re applying to.
So for test scores, if you are doing test scores, um, overall extracurricular portfolio, that kind of thing. Reach schools are, you know, oh this is my dream school. I really wanna go there, but it’s really hard to get in. I’m not sure if I’m gonna get in. Um, and target schools, or sorry, safety schools are schools where you’re in like the top 10 or 15% probably of their applicants. And you don’t have to worry as much.
Also, I’m just gonna cut in here really quickly. I have a private question I think that didn’t get sent through the Q&A and then we’ll go back to the Q&A ones, if that’s all right. it says, are you more likely to get in if you submit test scores? And so this is a sort of newer question [00:38:00] that, uh, you know, has come up since the Covid 19 test score exemption.
I would say that you should submit test scores. One, if your test scores are just generally really good, submit them like it never hurts if you have really good test scores. Two, if your test scores are higher or, um, sort of more robust than your grades, then they can be sort of a good evening out point of like, okay, I had a really tough year because, you know, like, um, junior fall, uh, like this really, really tough thing happened to me or was really struggling, but I can prove that I know this content and I can perform.
Um, but the main thing about test scores is it’s really deter like, just like any other part of your application is like, there is gonna, not gonna be like a hard and straight answer for yes or no unless your test scores are really, really good, simply because it depends on all of the other elements of your application.
So I hope that helps. Okay. Turning it back over the Q&A .
Moderator: Yes. Thank you. Okay, so our next [00:39:00] question is, um, did you have to do an interview for Yale?
Mariko: Actually, I did not. I was what’s called like lead into Yale, which means that my admissions officer read my application and immediately let me in. Um, I did not go to what normally happens, which is your admissions officer likes your application, a committee deliberates on it and then they decide whether or not to let you in.
And so, because I was likely into Yale, um, that happens faster. So I didn’t get an interview for Yale, but I did do interviews for most of my other top schools and I really liked that process actually. I stayed in touch with pretty much all of my interviews and I thought they were really cool and I think they’re really good experiences to have.
Moderator: Great, great. Um, our next question is, was it difficult to choose a major? Any advice to students who are struggling to decide?
Mariko: So I think a useful thing about Yale and a thing that you should consider if you’re struggling to decide, is that Yale doesn’t actually make you choose a major until the end of your second [00:40:00] year.
And so if you are struggling to decide, I would suggest looking at schools where you’ll get a nice and robust comprehensive mix of classes your first year or two years. And there isn’t a pressure to go in already knowing exactly what you want to do and exactly what you want to major in. And so some schools physically build that into their, into their sort of learning methodology.
And I think that was a reason why I actually really liked Yale was that, um, there was definitely guaranteed that I was gonna be required to take a couple of classes in every field. And so I could really get a feel for whether the major that I chose was gonna be the major that I liked or if I wanted to change.
So that would be my advice.
Moderator: So kind of continuing on the major topic, um, we have someone that’s also interested in public health and history. Um, and they were thinking about doing a dual major. How did you market yourself to these areas of study? Mm-hmm. . And then they also shared that I have taken almost all of my [00:41:00] schools offered, um, AP history classes and have done History Olympian for four years and have made it to internationals and nationals.
Does this show my interest enough?
Mariko: Well, first of all, awesome job. Uh, AP history classes are no joke and neither is history Olympia. And I love that you love history, and I think that’s really awesome and really cool. Um, I would say that you definitely have some clear, demonstrated interest. What I would work on doing in your application would be showing sort of your viewpoint or your take on that interest and making sure you have like a clear vested.
Almost like, sort of like qualitative portion to the application. So in, so in addition to being like, here are the sort of like stats, right? Here are the things that I’ve done to, to sort of, uh, demonstrate my interest in history. Here’s why I love it, here’s why. Personally, this is a subject that makes me wanna get out of bed in the morning.
And when it comes to history and public health [00:42:00] specifically, I would think a little bit about, um, sort of what aspects of contemporary public health are you interested in examining from a historical perspective. So why is history interesting to you within the context of today’s public health? Because public health is really, really broad as a field.
So it could be that like you’re interested in measuring how diseases spread or start, it could be that you’re interested in providing health to communities that don’t have it. So you need to know why they don’t have access to healthcare, whatever it is, sort of figuring out, you know, what’s, what’s the driving force there?
And being able to articulate that very clearly in the essay portions of your application. .
Moderator: Great. Okay. Our next question is, um, I’m a ninth grade varsity athlete and I was wondering if you can elaborate more about the acceptance and application system for a student athlete. Also, do coaches and admissions look for heavy focus on the sport and less on other things or a more [00:43:00] balanced timeshare?
Mariko: Okay. So first of all, it depends a little bit on the school that you are going to, um, in terms of all the sort of questions that you’re asking. I would say that. For the balance between sport and other stuff. If you are really, really, really, really good at your sport, it is okay that most of your time is taken up by that sport because colleges will likely want you because you’re gonna make their team better than it already is.
If you are someone who is passionate and dedicated about your sport, but isn’t going to be, you know, like the most sought out recruiter, like recruited kid in the country, it’s helpful to have other things on your resume too, to prove that you can bring something to the table in terms of your application, overall application process that they can pitch to both like sports and admissions, uh, as, as like sort of an applicant.
Um, in terms of requirements though, for a [00:44:00] resume or something, there’s no hard and fast rule. A lot of it depends on what you’re interested in studying and what you are particularly passionate about. Right? Um, if you’re a vet, if you’re interested in being a vet, probably most of the resume stuff is gonna be pre-vet plus sports if you’re interested in Right.
You know, Something else, probably the something else plus the sports, whatever it is. And then I would say the main thing too is also figuring out what coaches are looking for within your recruiting class. Um, because that will play a large role both from, um, a position standpoint and also from like a sort of grades and academic standpoint.
Um, because for most coach, for most programs, there’s some sort of structure where you’ll have a minimum sort of like high school GPA or a minimum test score or whatever, like requirement there. And so if you have really good academics, like that’ll allow them to bring in someone who’s maybe a stronger athlete but doesn’t have the same level of academics.
So you sort of just need to figure out what they’re looking for and what they’re interested in. And so my [00:45:00] best recommendation would be to email coaches and see if you can set up times to meet, especially on Zoom and get a better sense of that from there.
Moderator: Okay. Um, next question. Did you feel nervous, overwhelmed, or doubted yourself when you were applying to an Ivy League school?
And if so, how did you deal with that a million times?
Mariko: Definitely. uh, imposter syndrome is real. Um, you know, in general the college application process can be really nerve like, nerve wracking and overwhelming. I think the three things that I sort of try to do are, number one, telling myself like, done is better than perfect.
Right? It might be a terrible essay draft, but at least the essay draft is finished. At least there are things on paper because I can’t improve or I can’t edit what I’ve written if I don’t have anything written. And so I think it can get, be difficult to get started, but just like having anything done. is better than it being sort of like perfect, but like not [00:46:00] completed.
Right. And similarly, like, just put in a little bit of work every day if it feels overwhelming to do the entire application. Just be like, all I have to do today is finish this one thing. Right. And sort of break it into smaller blocks to make it more, um, more attainable, to make more attainable goals. And the last thing is I think, you know, it’s worth remembering too that like these really elite schools, I guess like the reason why they’re elite is because they sort of play on this like, particular, particular fear, right?
That like, um, you know, oh, you have to be like the best of the best of the best to get in. And I think a like really helpful thing for me, honestly, has been to be like, okay, so what, so, so they accidentally let you in and you weren’t qualified enough. Right. Or you’re gonna submit and you’re not qualified enough, then what?
Right. Because at the end of the day, it’s like you’re never probably gonna meet the people who are reading your application. So like it, the only embarrassing thing would be like, you know, maybe [00:47:00] for them. Right? Um, and so I think for me that’s kind of like where, where it’s at. It’s like, okay, so maybe I got this opportunity and did I deserve it?
I don’t know. But am I gonna make the most of it because I’m here now? Absolutely. And is this a bigger than me? Is this opportunity something that I can give to folks that I can use the benefits to, you know, benefit folks that are less privileged than myself then yes. So I’m gonna go for it.
Moderator: Thank you for sharing.
Um, we’re gonna take a short pause for me to share a little bit more about CollegeAdvisor. So for those who are in the room who aren’t already working with us, I mean, just kind of speaking about just the, the college admission process. It can, it can feel overwhelming, um, especially for competitive applicants like yourself.
So our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions. Take the [00:48:00] next step in your college admissions journey by signing up for a free consultation using the QR code on the screen. During the consultation, a member of our team will review your current extracurricular list, discuss how it lines up with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth and leadership.
After scanning the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member of our team. So we will leave the QR code on the screen as we get back to our questions and answers for the remaining portion of this evening’s webinar. So our next question is, um, is the five year BA to MA offered across all majors?
Can you talk a little bit more about how this works?
Mariko: Yes. So there are a couple of different master’s programs that Yale offers. There’s a master in history, there’s a master’s in biology, [00:49:00] and then there’s this master’s in public health program. Um, they are offered for the master’s in public health program.
It is offered across all majors, but it is a secondary application process. So if, so like the major that you have is important. Like you can’t choose one that’s completely irrelevant to public health. Right. Um, and for history and for biology, those are four people that are already in those majors. Um, yeah, all these programs you apply into your junior year and.
You can find more about them on Yale’s website, but they talk through the additional courses that you’ll take as an, um, as a master’s student that will allow you to complete both degrees.
Moderator: Okay. All right. So next question is, do you think having a variety of extracurriculars for colleges to see is beneficial or limiting?
Mariko: So I think the balance is always about breadth versus depth. I had a lot of extracurricular activities and I did just like a lot of stuff. Um, and I did a lot for those extracurricular activities and for me that was a benefit. [00:50:00] But I think if you’re just like a member of a lot of clubs and you’re not necessarily like, Instigating change or sort of building the community in a better place right.
To, to make it a better place. I think that, you know, it’s helpful to narrow down on some of the activities you really do care about and focus on your impact there. But there is no one hard and fast rule. There are some people that I know that only did one or two things in high school and got into Yale, but they did those things at a national, international level.
So it just depends.
Moderator: Okay. Next question is, how did you go about your essay? Um, like the outline, as you said, you talked about many, you talked about many things.
Mariko: Mm-hmm. . Um, so for my. So remember that there are multiple essays that you’re going to be writing for my personal statement essay. I tried to focus on an experience that I felt had really impacted my life and went from there.
And when I was choosing experiences, I tried to choose experience that also, um, showed how I had grown and developed as a [00:51:00] person and a leader in my community, uh, as well. And I was lucky that I also had some of this, like brainstorming happened in class. Um, so I think working with teachers or working with other people where you can get feedback on your essay is useful.
Um, and also if you want to work with an advisor or someone from like CollegeAdvisor, that’s also good. So, um, it’s helpful to have a second and third set of eyes on that to make sure that everything you’re doing is sort of coming across in a way that, uh, will make sense and that resonates with other people.
Moderator: Okay. Next question is, how did you handle the time or how do you handle the time spent in your sports and academics in college?
Mariko: Mm. You really gotta plan ahead. . Mm-hmm. . And I think you, regardless of whether you play a sport or not, you have to give yourself a lot of grace to your first year of, it’s just a lot of transitioning and a lot to figure out.
And so figuring out [00:52:00] what works best for you is gonna take a little bit of time. It’s not gonna be perfect. Um, but you have teammates and you have coaches, and you have professors that are all there to help you and not want to see you succeed. , okay. If I take more AP classes, will it make my college application better if I take and pass a lot of AP classes as well?
So taking AP classes yes, is very helpful for your college admissions portfolio, especially if you do well in them. Um, but you always want to balance the number of apps you’re taking with how much time and energy you’re really able to devote into making sure you achieve the best grades possible in those classes.
Moderator: Okay. Um, let’s see. Next question. Have you noticed any common traits or things people did in high school that attend Yale?
Mariko: They really cared about stuff. Um, even if they didn’t end up pursuing that stuff in college or professionally, they really cared about stuff. Um, I think you, you, you don’t have to know what you [00:53:00] wanna do with your life, but you do have to know how you’d like to go about doing it at least a little bit.
And I think, um, seeing people, yeah, just. really dive into the things that they’re interested in, is very helpful.
Moderator: Okay. Um, let’s see. Next question. Um, how much time did you study during high school with the available time that you had in your schedule?
Mariko: The short answer is a lot, but I think maybe about four hours, five hours a day, give or take.
I would normally get home from practice around like four or five, and then I’d go to bed around nine or 10, um, or 11 or 12. And all of that time in between was mostly homework.
Moderator: Awesome. Um, would I have more or less of a chance for admissions based on the major chosen?
Mariko: Depends on the school. hugely depends on the school and [00:54:00] hugely depends on the major.
So I would recommend, I cannot give any like hard and fast advice about that. I would say some schools care more about major or will like, require you to stick with the major you’ve chosen more than others. So definitely make sure to look into the school, the specific schools you’re applying to.
Moderator: How many times in hours did you volunteer Every week approximately?
Mm. I actually don’t do a lot of like volunteer work, quote unquote. I did a lot of community advocacy and community project based work, and that normally depended on the project that I was working on and the organizations that I was working with. Um, during the school year, a little bit less so, but I really use my summers to, you know, like the time that you would spend in school instead, during the summers, I would spend doing hopefully cool stuff in the community.
Moderator: Okay. Um, next question. Is it bad to take AP classes but did poorly? Um, meaning like you received a score of a three and you submit the [00:55:00] scores, will it damage your application?
Mariko: So again, depends on what school you’re applying to. For schools, for example, like the, the University of California schools, um, any AP exam you passed, you can get college credit for.
That can help you advance faster through, uh, through the requirements that you have in college. So it depends on the school. Um, but if you’ve passed, good job.
Moderator: Okay, so this question, oh, I think it disappeared hmm.
Mariko: If you want, I can also just sort of rapid fire some of these questions about GPA and test scores, if that would be okay.
Moderator: Let’s do it.
Mariko: All right. Speed round. Do college admissions normally look at at overall transcripts or do they mostly mostly look at GPA?
Both. Especially because most schools calculate GPA differently. They’re more curious about what level of difficulty classes have you taken within the context of your school. So what are the hardest classes [00:56:00] your school’s offering? Did you take them and how well did you do? Okay. Um, next question. Do you have to know what you want to study in order to get accepted
For Yale? Definitely not. Um, again, for some schools it matters more than others, but for the most part, no, you don’t. And a lot of people changed their minds.
Um, how was my workload compared to other colleges? Yale moves pretty fast. I will say there were a couple other people that I talked to and I’d be like, oh yeah, we finished this textbook in half a semester.
And they’d be like, wow, that’s a textbook we used for the entire year. And there were definitely classes where I was reading 450 pages, 500 a week by the time that I got to like higher level classes. So it is intense. There’s a reason why there’s such an intense vetting process. Um, is being involved in IB favorable?
Yes. IB and AP class is very good. How can you make your college essay look good and what are they looking for? It really depends on what you’re writing about and who you are and where you’re coming from. I would say that for the most part though, admissions officers are just [00:57:00] looking for some sort of clear sense of self, and that is probably the most helpful admission, like information that I can give you without knowing more about you personally.
Do PSAT and SAT scores matter to Ivy League schools? Yes, they do, but they don’t matter as much as everyone thinks that they do. Again, if they’re really good, they’re helpful, um, but the way that our admissions officers always put it is it’s like always like a tiny little column where they have all of them down.
Um, but it’s really about that sort of range of schools. Uh, how does Yale treat AP classes? Um, they’re normally a prerequisite to get in. You definitely wanna be taking AP or IB courses. Uh, but they do not help you. You do not actually get college credit for Yale AP courses. Um, they can’t advance you, so you don’t have to take an intro class, but you will not get college credit for them once you’re actually there.
Um, let’s see. Were I, was I involved in a lot of internships? Yes, internships are great. They were very beneficial to my application cause they allowed me to have [00:58:00] practical skills and to be able to actually talk about the things that I was interested in potentially doing with my life. Um, let’s see. You wanna stay active during college, but you don’t wanna play varsity sports.
Uh, there are club and intramural sports, both of which are normally pretty great at keeping you active. And the last one here is you mentioned leveraging or applying for financial aid as a Californian family. Family, homeowner in the middle class. I did. I don’t know if I can tell you more about that without that.
I did. That’s correct. So if you have more questions, you can reach out to me individually.
Moderator: Okay. One more follow up. You did great. You did really great. One more question, follow back up on that volunteer question. So, is there a requirement slash minimal number of hours for volunteer work? For Yale?
Mariko: No. And I would focus less on the number of hours and focus more on what are you actually doing, right? Are you going with an existing organization to pick up trash [00:59:00] on the beach every weekend? Or are you organizing your own beach cleanups in areas where no one is picking up trash and maybe you’re building some sort of filtration system to keep trash from going into the ocean in the first place.
Right. Those are two kinds of different things. Yale’s gonna like the second one.
Moderator: Okay, so that is now getting us to the end of our webinar. Thank you so much for sharing this really great information and thank you participants as well for asking really great questions. Lastly, I just wanna share that we do have a few more webinars that are happening for the month of January, so please check them out on our website, CollegeAdvisor.com.
And with that, everyone, have a great evening. Bye. Yes.