Yale Supplemental Essays Workshop

Ready to write and edit your supplemental essays for Yale? Get tips and tricks with CollegeAdvisor.com.

Senior Advisor Chi Chan will share his insider knowledge on how to write your supplemental essays during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.

In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered, including:

– What are the Yale supplemental essay prompts?

– When can I do to write a great supplemental essays?

– How long should I spend writing and editing my supplemental essays?

Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 11/07/2022
Duration 1:02:16

Webinar Transcription

2022-11-06 – Yale Supplemental Essays Workshop

Hello everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar, Yale University’s Supplemental Essay Workshop. We have a good, good topic for you all. So to orient everyone with a webinar timing, we’re gonna first start off with a presentation and then we’ll answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar.

You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab. Now let’s meet our panelists. So, hey everybody. Um, my name’s Chi, he, him pronouns, um, part of CollegeAdvisor for a year and a half now. And super excited to, you know, be the presenter for the Yale Essay Supplemental Workshop.

Um, As you can see on the screen, um, I got my undergrad degree from the University of Virginia, um, before pursuing my master’s in higher ed at Penn. So, you know, working full time within the education space, excited to be here. Um, and my ties also to Yale University include being an admissions reader, uh, for three cycles.

So, particularly for this topic means a lot to me and excited to connect with you all. Great, great. Thank you for sharing. So before we get started, we want to get a sense of what grades you are in. So please let us know, um, as we’re waiting for some responses to come in. Chi, did you say that you used, did you used to be at a mission officer for Yale?

Is that what I. So I used to be an admissions reader specifically. Um, not a full time AO, uh, but with partnered with Yale University and Yale and US College with one of its subsidiary, um, schools in Singapore. So, yeah. Nice, nice. I can only imagine how many applications you were, you were reading. It’s always a fun time.

So excited to sort of share, you know, the, the background secrets and everything. Um, so yeah. Yeah, that’s great. Well, you have the experience. So our audience is gonna get some really great information about these supplemental essays for Yale. Um, so the results are coming in for, um, what great our participants are, and we have about 64% are in the 11th grade, followed by that.

We have 27% 12th grade, and then 9% are in the 10th grade. So I will turn it over to you to get us started. Good stuff. Um, super admire all of the early starters, right? Love seeing, you know, 10th, 11th graders in here. And then also similarly for our seniors in the webinar tonight. Um, couple things before hopping into, right, talking about the essays themselves.

Uh, a little bit about, like I mentioned from education space. I always love just sharing, you know, what exactly are we going to be focusing on and talking about tonight, right? So really three learning objectives to take away from, um, in this webinar, right? The first one being, you know, what are the Yale application requirements, right?

Sort of the basics on paper, what you can see on the website, but really putting it together for you here as well. The second part, not only what are the supplemental essays, But also, how do I write strong supplemental essays more broadly speaking, you know, what are the, you know, insider tips, really great strategies and approaches.

And the last piece really complimentary to that are also, you know, what are common mistakes found in writing, right? So having been an admissions reader for a couple cycles, as well as being part of CollegeAdvisor and really coaching a number of really dedicated and bright students. Um, you know, part of that is the real privilege of getting in, able to see how people write, how people tackle these questions, and excited to share that with you all tonight.

So let’s hop right in into just sort of chatting, right? The Yale application process itself. Um, like I mentioned, part of this is based off of the website, so, you know, really tried and true to what you see on paper. Um, not gonna spend too much time discussing the details in the nitty gritty, but really it’s a lot about, you know, your application fee or your fee waiver, right?

So for our younger folks in the audience, when you apply to different schools, part of it is going to be processing your application fee. Once you’ve move through the process, you’re going to be tackling letters of recommendation. So if any of you all have had, you know, summer camp experiences, you know, part-time work, if you’ve asked for a letter of recommendation before, super similar to what you’re going to experience right throughout the college application process, your transcript, school report, um, standardized test results.

Now, one piece, you know, quickly note onto here, right, is, you know, Yale, along with a number of other schools in the country are still test optional. So, you know, SAT and ACT are very much still. Not required for the application process, you know, hence the asterisk next to it for any, you know, if there are any international students that are for part of our webinar today as well, right?

Or non-us, um, applicants, the English proficiency tests are still required, so, you know, small detail to that. And then of course, your mid-year report more relevant for our seniors in the call, right? If you’re applying to Yale, um, you know, in this case for regular decision. Part of it will also be having your counselor submit all of these great details with you as well.

You’ll likely notice the two quotes that I’ve also included at the bottom of this slide. And really part of it is like, you know, based on from Yale’s overall mission and their history, right? One focus that they really truly have within the admissions review and the application process is thinking about these two following questions, right?

You know, who is the most likely, or who is likely right to make the most of Yale’s resources and who will contribute most significantly to the Yale community. So really thinking about the details within your application. You know, what are you sort of signaling or what are you sharing in your experiences and in your essays themselves that allow the readers to get a sense about not only who you are, but the wonderful things that you’ve done in the past and how you’ll build into your time at Yale specifically.

So let’s dive right in into just chatting a little bit about the different prompts. So the first piece of the Yale application essays, right? And even before this, when you open up into whether it’s your common application coalition application, whichever direction you’re choosing to apply to. They’re going to ask you in the application to select up to a number of different academic programs that you’re interested in.

Um, you know, obviously for those I wouldn’t overthink it. It’s really just, you know, what are you curious about? What do you wanna study? What are you thinking about majoring in? Right? Um, and within the first question here, it’s going to connect to what you had listed, right? So the first one piece is really telling us about a topic or an idea, right, that excites you and is related to one of the academic areas.

So, as I mentioned, you know, if you’re a student who’s really interested in environmental science, but also wants to explore a little bit of sociology, right? Or, you know, even if you’ve loved writing and you know that Yale’s English, you know, program is exactly what you’re looking for, this is the opportunity to share more details, right in this essay about what it is that speaks to you.

Um, as you can see from the bullet points, right? I’m not gonna necessarily verbatim repeat everything that’s here, but one piece that I would certainly take into consideration, right, is, you know, being explicit by mentioning, you know, one, the actual ideas themselves, right? So, you know, if it’s biology, if it’s, you know, math.

Are there specific topics that really draw your curiosity, right? Um, you know, share truly why it’s so important to you. Um, you know, is it something that you discovered when you were younger, Right. Brain example about that? Or, you know, if it’s a newly or recently developed interest, right? So maybe you took an econ class in high school, um, and you really learn to love it, you know, talk about your origins of what really brought you into wanting to study this particular, um, idea within this essay.

And it’s not a lengthy one. You know, really just if you follow through these bullet points, it’s a great structure to really produce a valuable essay here, right? So I know both from this webinar, you know, I want you to take away, right, not only how to approach these particular essay questions, but also a really great structure on, you know, just what you can do to streamline the flow of these particular ones.

And so in thinking about the, you know, the second question, right? Um, for some of our seniors at the chat, this might be a little bit more of a, you know, a little shiver, like the dreaded why Yale question, right? Like, you know, truly why this particular school interests you. Um, and we’ll talk a little bit later on in the webinar as well, um, how to approach this particular style of essay, because you’re going to see it in a number of different applications as well, right?

Particularly for why Yale, Theirs is a little bit shorter, right? It’s 150 words you’re going to be writing, you know, it’s a small paragraph or perhaps a couple different, like, you know, smaller paragraph chunks, couple senses here and there. There’s three major recommendations that I always recommend when it comes to approaching any type of why us college question, right?

But particularly for Yale, um, you know, start with identifying the qualities that you’re seeking in your ideal college experience, right? When it’s asking you what about this particular university that’s really led you to apply, you know, is, is the quality, the fact that, you know, you really cherish the residence life and the residential system that they have?

Is it the particular program? Right? That really speaks to you. It’s a really great, you know, um, we’ll say, right? Like perhaps foreign language program that you’re really drawn to. Share that anecdote, right? About Yale. Have you gotten the chance to visit it for a tour? Have you taken a virtual tour? Right?

Have you spoken with, um, you know, a current student or alum really draw in those references with intentionality, right? Make it so that you know, you are able to demonstrate that truly these are the qualities that you’re looking for and why Yale aligns to your personal interests, right? So say for example, if I’m someone who, you know from me in college, right?

I studied political science as one of my majors, you know, I wanna put that into there, right? So start your essay with sharing a little bit about, you know, what brought you into perhaps, right? Like, you know, political science in general, and then also connect that to qualities where you see that at Yale, right?

Perhaps it’s one of the faculty members that really research is something that you’re really drawn to. Or maybe even just like, you know, um, the campus itself, right? The opportunities that you’re able to have, whether it’s, you know, being involved in the community, make your writing. Align to who you are and what you’re interested in.

Um, truly the vision of these why us essays and why they sometimes feel so dreadful is all about that perspective. Um, and as I mentioned, we’ll talk about it a little bit later on in this webinar as well.

So after you tackle the first two essay prompts within the Yale application, right, you know, you have one that really focuses a lot about just, you know, what brought you into your academic interests. You have the second piece that talks about like, you know, why Yale more broadly speaking, the, we’ll call it like, you know, just overall question number three.

These are a bunch of short answer responses that, you know, almost think of ’em as being in the hot seat, right? Or sort of just really being able to, if I were to ask you cold call you, what would you tell me as your response? Right? You know, what inspires you? Um, you know, what person, past, present would you want to have a conversation with?

What is a class that you would wanna teach, right? And what is something about you that is not shared anywhere else in the application? Um, from a bigger perspective, what I certainly would say right, is, you know, for these ones, as you notice, it’s really just 200 characters. So more than anything, I would strongly suggest not overthinking this particular part of the essay questions, right?

What comes to mind if it really speaks to you from a gut instinct perspective, or if you feel right that this is truly what you believe in. Like, you know, if what inspires you is, say, for example, right, really beautiful pieces of art because they’re, you know, breathtaking or because you find a lot of inspiration within the serenity, go with it, right?

Don’t overthink these particular questions. Um, and if you notice by the length, like I said, They’re pretty much the length of a tweet, and so approach it similarly to that lens, right? If you were to tweet out responses to each of these four questions, what would that look like? Right. You know, what would your class be called?

And particularly, you know, what about it is, is valuable to you? Right. One piece that’s especially important for the last two questions, these short answer responses is, you know, when you’re thinking about the class that you would want to teach at Yale, right? Use some of that space to be able to share, you know, what about it is meaningful to you?

Right? If I wanted to teach a class just about cooking in college, you know, use a couple words or a sentence, Right. To share a little bit about what is the value behind wanting to teach that. Right. Is it about educating people who, you know, might have not gotten the chance to eat anything other than Ramen yet their freshman year in college?

Right. Or is it about, you know, being able to partner right. With local, perhaps. Right. Like, you know, food vendors. All the more opportunity to be able to do so in this context. Um, and then the last short answer response in particular as well, right? My recommendation for this one would actually be to come back and handle this particular short response at the end, right?

Whenever you see an application question that asks you, you know, what is something that’s not found anywhere else in your application. I always encourage my students to approach this as their final question for the application, mainly because then you get the opportunity to really, you know, deep dive in, um, and, you know, essentially check everything that you’ve written about before, right?

So that for sure you’re able to write something new, um, that’s not found anywhere else. Nice. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, so we are gonna take a short pause because we wanna get a sense of where you are in the application process. So we know that we have a few, uh, seniors and we have juniors. Um, so let us know.

Maybe, you know, it’s okay if you haven’t started because it’s not your time yet to work on the applications. Are you researching, maybe you’re working on, your essays are getting your application material together almost up. So let us know where you are and I’m going to share the responses. I see them coming in already.

Great. Okay. So we have 52% are researching schools. Uh, we have. 20% that haven’t started. Understandable. 15% are working on their essays, 10% getting their material together and 3% almost done. So congratulations to those. Almost done. Congratulations to you all for just being here and wanting to learn more about how you can get to that almost done phase in successfully completing your application.

Okay, Chi, I’m gonna turn it back over to you. Thank you, Lonnie. Um, yeah, you know, big congrats for everybody wherever you are in the process, Right? Particularly for those like, you know, never too late to explore your college list. Um, and we’re thankful that, you know, you all are here, especially if you’re sophomores or juniors, right.

Um, thinking ahead into what to expect with the Yale application overall as. So really the last part of the questions themselves, right, Particularly for the Yale experience, um, it’s going to ask you to choose one of two different prompts, right? So as you notice, you know, throughout the application essays, it’s sort of like a hodgepodge, right?

You get a couple sort of 150, 200 word ones. Not that to tackle, you get a paragraph or so in, um, you have your short responses, and then Yale throws in also, right? One’s longer, medium range type of essay where you get to have the freedom to really pick one or the other. Um, something to note here is that, Absolutely no preference.

Whichever one you choose. In fact, like, you know, I absolutely would empower you to think about, you know, what question speaks to you more, right? That’s really the direction that I would go about when it comes to choosing whichever prompt that you would like to consider. So in thinking about both of these as well, right?

The first Yale prompt, um, I know it looks pretty dense, right? There’s a lot of text and a lot to sort of really work through. Really what the most valuable piece is when you see a lengthy, right, like essay question in general is thinking about the last part of the prompt, right? So really, you know, Yale is being able to share a little bit of its mission statement with you about how they really encourage, right?

Sort of this free exchange of ideas, you know, really, um, bolstering a, an atmosphere where you can, you know, express your sort of dialogue and have conversations, right? With others of diverse backgrounds. This question’s really thinking about, you know, from an experience that you had, right? What was a conversation or you know, what was a moment that made you either change your opinion about something or an idea, right?

Or had you reaffirm it, right? So, you know, if you’ve ever had a conversation in class, if you’ve taken apart, you know, again, just a couple examples, right? Like, you know, a summer camp or you’re able to really connect with people just from diverse backgrounds or perhaps even, you know, within yourself, right?

If you’ve talked with a family member, if you know you’re someone, right, like, you know, from within your own identity group or with others, you know, share an experience, truly just how that moment went. And then think about, you know, what happened, right? With sort of that moment, did you learn something new?

Did you sort of see the world a little bit differently after you, you know, had a conversation or had that experience with someone? So truly just, you know, having an opportunity to, you know, give you that space on how you’ve grown from set opportunity. The second essay is, you know, from another perspective, right?

Where it’s really wanting you to focus more about community. Um, and so one piece that I will say, similarly, as I’ve mentioned with the Why Yale essay, right, There’s a good chance where if you’re applying to a number of different schools, right, you’re going to see a, you know, a supplemental essay that’s gonna look very similar to these.

So, you know, the second one is asking, right? Just, you know, what was an experience where you worked to benefit or help your community? And really, you know, Truly the last part of this essay, as I mentioned, right? Defining community. It can be anything that you think about, right? So if you’re thinking about for this prompt in particular, you know, community could be that club that you’ve been a part of and have a leadership role in, right?

Throughout high school community could be, you know, your broader community. If you’re someone who does a lot of volunteering or community service, right? Community could be your own personal family or you know, like I mentioned before, an identity group, right? It could be, you know, for me, right? I identify as an Asian American, you know, that could be my community that I speak about in this particular essay, right?

It’s all about an experience where you’re reflecting and writing about what have you done to really, you know, deepen your sort of connection with that particular right space. Um, and so giving you a lot of freedom. Within both of these, right? These ones are truly opportunities where, you know, as you brainstorm, reflect about right?

What have been really fulfilling memories that you’ve had, whether again, right, it’s from a class, from summer camp, from conversations that you’ve just normally had before. Take those opportunities and reflect upon, right, like how you’ve grown from them. And that’s really the target focus of what this particular longer Yale essay, um, is really focusing on.

So now that we’ve gotten an opportunity right, to talk about the Yale prompts themselves, um, I’d like to shift our focus right, to really just a couple different tips on navigating how to approach this type of writing, right? So particularly for our seniors in the crowd here tonight, um, you know, these slides are definitely for you, right?

But also for those that are curious about just, you know, how does the writing process work more broadly speaking applications wise. It’s very different from traditional academic writing, you know, so, you know, for your English class, for your social studies class, it’s not gonna be as academic or you know, it’s not gonna be necessarily writing about a topic, you know, and then following a rubric, it’s so much more about thinking what’s meaningful to you, Right?

And focusing on an example and how it’s connected to really just how you’ve grown. So a couple common mistakes, like I mentioned after my experience reading, you know, hundreds upon thousands of application essays as a whole, three big pieces, right? That I absolutely would take away from, you know, focus on the big picture, right?

What I mean within this one is, especially within this year, what I’ve noticed is that a number of different essays that I’ve read, you know, I’ve coached a lot of students that have struggled it a little bit, right? Um, thinking about what is that perfect thesis or what is that perfect introduction. I always encourage thinking about, you know, again, right, that big picture, you know, really bring in what is sort of your overall message that you wanna convey to the reader, right?

A great essay keeps you engaged throughout, whereas a great hook might draw your attention, but it’s all about that continuity, right? It’s how you keep your audience, you know, drawn into to what you’re talking about. Um, second piece is, you know, really placing that perspective on you, right? We’ll talk about this in the following example, like I mentioned before, but, you know, make sure you’re using first person, right?

Like I mentioned, you know, narrative writing is, you know, few and far in between and, and most high school contexts, right? So it’s a lot about thinking, you know, I, my right, like, you know, mine, et cetera. First person thoughts that show the reader. What is it about you that you want me to know, um, ultimately as I read through your application?

And the third part is, you know, do not laundry list, write references. And so what I mean by laundry list is, you know, thinking about sentences where, you know, certainly when you do your research about Yale, right? Whether it’s about there where books library, you know, like I mentioned, their college house system, the different programs that they have.

When you do your research, make sure that when you reference examples about Yale, right, particularly in their Why Yale essay, that it’s meaningful. Um, you know, they know, right? Like, you know, us as me when I used to read Yale applications, like, you know, we know what we’re prestigious for, right? Or we know what we’re renowned for.

Don’t repeat it necessarily in the essays, right? Really focus it on your perspective and not about Yale at the end of the day. Um, so I know that sounds a little sort of counterintuitive, right? Um, so let’s walk through an example where we talk about this and then I’ll sort of show that for you. So I’m not gonna read through this paragraph in depth, but you know, as you, as you see within the webinar, right, you’ll have a handout on the PDF of the slides that we’ll be discussing tonight.

And so within the PDF itself, you know, I’ll be highlighting specifically what my talking points will be. So I really encourage you all to, you know, take a peek afterwards, right? So, so taking a look at the three, right, like different points that I had brought up from the last slide, really this example of why Yale, right?

I’m gonna share is one where the writing seems to reference a little bit more towards just focusing the perspective on Yale and where I don’t necessarily get a chance to, you know, really learn about the applicant themselves too much, right? So, you know, as I’ve been chatting, right, hopefully some of you have gotten a chance to sort of just skim through the background of this.

But like I mentioned, you know, you’ll, you’ll see this in the slides after our presentation tonight as well. So let me head to the next slide for you. Right. So one of the reasons for this Why Yale essay, why say, you know, for this one it’s gonna be a little bit on the weaker side is because, and I’m showing you here, right?

Um, you know, the words that are in red, um, and also, you know, for accessibility purposes, right? I’ve also underlined them if, you know, color is a little bit more sort of difficult to navigate here, this essay, right? Anything that I’ve underlined and, you know, slash put in red color focuses a little bit more, or rather too much in terms of the university itself, right?

You can sort of see anything that’s in red is referencing a part of the actual, like, you know what Yale offers, right? You know, their sociology program, right? Uh, one of the professors that they have, you know, Solomon, which is one of their residential houses at Yale as well, right? For me as an admissions officer or as an admissions reader, I don’t really get a sense of understanding, you know, why this particular applicant is drawn to Yale about these characteristics.

Right. So, you know, they talk about their sociology program and they talk about opportunities that they want to invest in. But say for example, you know, when they referenced the sociology course to explore democracy in this case, right. I don’t really get a full understanding of like, you know, why exploring democracy is important to them or rather, you know, why sociology, right?

Like, you know, what about Yale specifically? Differs from perhaps like, you know, other Ivy League schools or other, right? Like also highly selective institutions. Um, you know, when they reference the social environment, these are the parts where it’s a lot more focused on, you know, what is it about these qualities, right?

That truly align to your characteristics. And so, you know, I’ll transition us to talk about, right another example here as well. So for example, B Why Yale, right? And I’ll give you all a moment to sort of right, like take a peek through here as well. Like I mentioned, um, you know, this particular applicant, right?

Not just from the different spacing so that you can truly see where this writing is coming from. They are focusing much more on one particular facet within their Why Yale essay, right? So, you know, now that you’ve gotten the chance to at least sort of see the text itself, one area where this essay for Why Yale is a little bit of a stronger one.

Is when we, you know, transition to this slide, right? So anything that’s italicized or purple is an opportunity where, for me, as an admissions reader, right, I get that chance to truly understand why a particular quality is important to them. So in this case, right, you’ll notice that for, you know, we’ll call ’em applicant B, right?

They talk about the residential college system and you know, they reference, right? Like one of the pieces that the residential college system provides, which is an in residence faculty dean, right? Basically all that means is that, you know, within Yale’s dorm life, they have a particular right, like faculty member that also lives within the similar space, who can be a really great mentor who plans events for, you know, just the different undergrads.

And they, you know, they, they mention New Haven at the end of the paragraph, right? But as you notice, it’s not as right, like, you know, diluted. Or saturated, right? With a lot of different references to the university. This applicant really focuses the writing more on themselves. You know, so when they talk about, Right, like they introduce their essay by sharing, you know, what their background is from, right?

They’re from a rural town, you know, So because of that, they see that community is their source of strength, right? Immediately, right into this essay, I get a sense of what’s important to the applicant, right? It’s a sense of community. When they talk about, you know, why community is important, right? It’s because they can engage in those intimate conversations.

And so when they draw in, why Yale, right? What about Yale really attracts. They mentioned the residential college system because they see how that system, right, How that sort of tight knit, you know, bonding residential life, you know, dorm life, living and meeting people, having those conversations, they’re really able to connect it to, Right.

Why that’s important for them. You know, learning the stories about others, right? Offering questions. This is an example of an essay or for me as a reader, I get a sense and a strong understanding of, right, what is it specifically that’s at Yale that really draws them to here and what is it about the applicant, right?

That they’re really focused on and encouraged to want to discover within their college application experience. So the difference, as I mentioned from before, right? And I’ll take a quick peek into going back into the previous slide here, right? You’ll notice. Right. This particular applicant, A, they start their essay with the, you know, a sentence that focuses exclusively about Yale University, right?

So, you know, I don’t get to necessarily learn as much about the applicant yet, whereas within, again, right, Applicant B, they really start it with a reflection about who they are. Right? You know, it’s all about me. And that can sometimes be tricky, right? In this type of narrative writing, but it’s all about, you know, how do you connect it back to you?

How have you grown and what is it about you, Right? That truly is, you know, think about it from this perspective. What are things that you like, right? What are things that you’re looking for in your college experience? And you know, what about Yale, right? Aligns to that. Ultimately, this type of question and overall for your supplemental essays is thinking truly right.

You know, what are some examples that really fit the bill for, you know, that I feel describes who I am and how is that going to shape, right? What I’ve learned and who do I want to become in the future? And so that’s sort of the spiel in terms of the different Yale supplemental essays. But yeah, hope that was very helpful to you all.

That was very helpful. Thank you so much. I’m sure our participants have many questions that they’re gonna ask because now moving into to our questions and answers, that concludes the presentation portion of the webinar. Um, and so I just wanted to let you all know as we move into our live Q&A, I am gonna read through the questions that you have submitted.

Um, and I’m gonna piece them into the public chat so that you can see them and read them out loud before Chi gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page.

Okay. So our first question that we have, and I think this was in relation to a point that you made earlier, um, what are mid-year reports? Yeah, really great question. So essentially, um, a mid-year report is going to be what’s part of your transcript, right? So, you know, your transcript is a list of the different grades, um, that you’ve taken in the classes that you’ve had throughout high school.

Perhaps if you’ve also taken dual enrollment courses as well, right? With a local community college, et cetera. Your mid-year report is, the difference between that is that it’s going to include your first semester senior year grades. So particularly for our seniors in the webinar tonight, you know, if you’ve applied to any colleges early, you’re, you know, those schools are also going to be right requesting mid-year reports, and that’s something that’s run exclusively through your counselor as well.

So your counselor will be updating that for the different early applications that you’ve submitted, but also similarly as you’re applying regular decision, um, or right applying through the, you know, the January deadline. You’ll also be submitting that as part of the application process. Great. Okay, so our next question reads, what should I be researching and doing in order to make my essay stand out?

Yeah, great question. So I would truly start thinking, right, Um, in terms of what makes you stand out. I know this sounds a little right, like intuitive, but sometimes it’s helpful to have that nudge. Think about those experiences that have been really formative or meaningful. Right? So, you know, what makes a good, great essay and what makes it stand out for others is truly just, you know, what’s the story that you have to share about you?

Right? One of the most common pitfalls that I see within supplemental essays is truly thinking about, right? Like, you know, what is it about? And your story. That is right. No one else is. So let’s take for example, you know, say for example, National Honors Society, if we’re going back to the community as, say, for Yale, right?

You might have a number of people within your school that has participated, right? And National Honors Society or you know, student council, DECA, et cetera. What’s important to you is what have been your contributions, right? What are things that you’ve done that you know, you feel really proud of or really grateful for?

And from there, right, it’s a little bit less at that point about the specific example or the story and more about, Right, As you probably could imagine where I’m going with what have you learned from the experience and you know, what is it right that has made you into a better person or into changing your perspective, um, about the world.

Great, great. Um, which academic subjects should I get a recommendation letter from? Hmm. Fantastic question. I would certainly say from, right, if we had to rank, uh, quote unquote, right, just letters of recommendation, I would start with your core subjects, right? So that is math, you know, English, social studies and science, right?

Depending on the school, you know, like foreign language is fine as well. Um, if your school has like, you know, econ right? That falls under social studies, um, from there, right? I would focus on just those main core subjects. Um, definitely for at least one of your write letters of recommendation, if you’re sort of torn between, right?

Like, you know, a teacher that’s known you since freshman year and you really wanna have them, but they’re, they might be like, you know, um, like a home economics class, right? Or something that’s like, you know, an elective class like health or pe I think that could be valuable too. Really the most important piece is having at least one that’s a core subject and both of the letters coming from right?

Like an academic source.

Okay, so next question reads, how important are these essays relative to the rest of the application? Can you fail in your objective with a poor performance in these essays, even if your marks are exceptional? Gotcha. Yeah. So, you know, this is just sort of like a, a very brutally honest, like direct take on it, right?

When it comes to your overall application, really what’s most important is, you know, well in this case, right? Because Yale goes through a holistic application process, and what that means, right, is holistic means that they view each part of your application equally valuable, right? So ultimately, at the end of the day, right, like your academics, your grades are what’s going to get you into the door, right?

Those are gonna be the most, you know, marginally important piece of your application. But throughout right, um, the different components of your application, which is, you know, letters of recommendation, you know, activities list your personal statement slash your common or coalition app essay and your supplemental essays, right?

What I like to call them is, you know, it’s really sort of rounding out your circle, right, rather than necessarily one piece that’s more important than the other, but, you know, to, to note the question itself, right? A port performance quote unquote. And these essays isn’t necessarily going to be as much about the quality of the essays themselves, right?

It’s about gonna, it’s, you know, it’s gonna be the big picture that you’re drawing here, right? So say for example, if you’re an applicant who’s really interested in studying business, you know, your activities list, right? May display a couple business related groups such as deca, right? Or perhaps a project that you’ve worked on, you know, um, even an internship over the summer, right?

If you had the opportunity to write your personal statement might be focused on a topic where, you know, you’re sharing, right? Just a different story about yourself, getting the reader an opportunity to learn about you. Here, it’s gonna be a lot more, right? What are the skills that you want to be displaying to the admissions committee that, you know, you want to show about you, right?

So, truly when it comes to, you know, just, um, the supplemental essays themselves, right? Much of this focus is going to be as equally important as the remainder part of your essay because when admissions committees and admissions officers are reading your application, they’re going to be seeing it all from the perspective of, you know, what are we learning about who you are, right?

What is sort of your story that you wanna share with us? And no one part is gonna be more important than the other when it comes to really being able to, you know, give that narrative. Great, great, great points to emphasize. These are, this is good. Um, our next question reads, should the academic subjects, I am asking for a recommendation letter and reflect the major I’m interested in.

So example, um, ask my biology chemistry teacher since I wanna go into, Yeah, great question. Um, you know, if, if it’s there, right? Definitely. Um, like, you know, if you’ve built great rapport with your chemistry right, or physics teacher, um, and you, you know, you want to pursue that in college as well, right?

Definitely. You know, go and ask them, um, sometimes, right? Like say for example, a, you know, for high school, right? If your high school doesn’t necessarily offer the class that you know, you want to potentially major in and you just happen to discover, right? Because you really enjoy learning about it, I wouldn’t, you know, necessarily stress too much if it’s not a one for one fit, right?

This is one of those, you know, moments where I’d say if the shoe fits, definitely where it, but also know that when it comes to letters of recommendation, at the end of the day, the most meaningful letters that I read. Are ones that really get to show me how much that teacher knows the student outside of the academic context.

Right? Like, you know, for me, at the end of the day when I’m reading like, you know, 30 applications, 300 applications, um, most of the letters are gonna say, Oh, you know, really brilliant student, right? Like, you know, Studious did great in my class, but what is it about that particular right applicant? You know, do they, are they curious?

Right? Are they a great listener? Um, do they go out of their way to help people? Right? Those are the traits for me of what stand out as a great letter of recommendation. Someone who can tell me, right? Not only are they a really brilliant student, but also a really warm, kind, and positive person.

Okay. Our next question is, when doing an essay for Yale, do you speak about your accomplishments or the why to your accomplishments? Yeah, really great question. Um, I would focus it almost as a, you know, why these accomplishments are valuable, right? So, you know, if you want to incorporate an example that talks about an accolade, right?

So say for example, like, you know, if you’ve been involved in debate team and you know your team ha or you know, you specifically, right? Performed really well and received an award for it. You know, admissions readers are always curious about how you felt impacted by a particular memory or experience, right?

So one of the pieces when it comes to supplemental essay writing and also just application essay writing in general, it’s to not get too distracted, right, by what I call the eye candy. You know, a really great example. Could really draw that reader in. Right. But at the end of the day, you know, AOs are really looking for how has this experience shaped who you’ve become?

Right? So, you know, as great as it is, you know, perhaps, um, you know, quiz bowl accolade, right? Or like, you know, if you’ve been, uh, captain and you’ve lettered all four years in varsity football, how have you sort of learned from this experience, right? And, you know, why is that particular sort of award meaningful to you?

Uh, that is really what we focus a lot on when it comes to understanding who you are. Okay. Our next question reads, if my grades weren’t the best in my 10th grade year, however they increased in my 11th grade year, should I provide reasoning as to why? Or do universities really. That’s a really fantastic question.

Mm-hmm. Um, so the first piece to it, right, is like, you know, absolutely do not feel discouraged if there is, right, in this case, whether it’s one particular semester, one particular, like, you know, marking period or there was a discrepancy, um, specific to the question, right? If it’s, you know, freshman or sophomore year, right?

There’s a lot of reasons why that might happen. Like, you know, certainly no stranger to understanding, right? Covid impacted a lot of us. Um, and you know, a lot of changes happen, right? Both in terms of our wellbeing, but also how we study and prepare for classes. For, you know, the actual application process itself, right?

In this case, there’s what’s known as the additional information section, which is an opportunity where you get to share, right? Like in this case, you know, discrepancies that might have happened within your academic marks, you know, an opportunity to, you know, maybe write a paragraph or so. Right?

Explaining, you know, covid personal health reasons, right? Stress, um, it’s not going to be seen as an evaluative measure, right? Really and truly this is an opportunity to share that context with the admissions officers because at the end of the day, right, we only know what we know. Um, and that is on the application, so Absolutely right.

Like, you know, if it’s an opportunity where, right, like say for example if Covid had impacted it or like, you know, if you had moved schools, very different curriculum, right? Tell that in, you know, your application because it’s important for us to know as well. Um, the second, you know, part to, to that as well, right?

Is one piece that admissions, um, you know, offices really care about as well is also a trajectory, right? So, you know, if you had a weaker freshman year, but you really showed that your sophomore right? Or you know, in this case your junior and senior year, you’ve really improved over time, right? Like, you know, those couple of BS and maybe that one C has become right?

Like mostly a’s or all a’s that shows growth to us, right? When we look at transcripts, we also identify that, you know, certainly there’s people right? Who’s, you know, gotten straight ass all throughout and, and you know, kudos to those students as well, right? But if you’re also someone who’s, you know, maybe had a little bit of more difficult time adjusting, absolutely do not feel that that is a deterrence for your application because being able to show that growth is extremely valuable in your application.

Okay, we’re gonna take a short pause for me to share more with you all about CollegeAdvisor. Uh, so for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admission process can be, especially for competitive applicants like yourself. Our team of over 300 Admission Officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions. Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free consultation using the cure code on your screen. During that consultation, a member of our team will review your current extracurricular lists, discuss how it lines up with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth and leadership.

After us getting the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member. Of our team. Okay, So we’re gonna leave the cure code on the screen as we move forward with our questions and answers. So thank you all to have been submitting really great questions, um, and continue to, uh, ask your questions in the public chat.

So, next question, are there any different approaches for international. Yeah, really great question. Um, when it comes to, right, like for, for international students, I wouldn’t say that the process itself, right? Like, you know, approaching the essays, approaching the applications, um, from a, you know, ground level, right?

What’s on paper? Um, nothing too different in terms of, right, like the approach of your profile of what you want to write, how you write. Um, certainly, like I mentioned, the only major difference is, you know, proof of again, right? Like, you know, English proficiency through either the eyelets or the TOEFL. Um, but ultimately within the application process itself, you know, you’re going to be viewed within the context of other applicants, right?

So in this case, you know, the difference would be international students or, you know, rather, I should use the term of right non-us, um, based students. You would be evaluated within the context of, you know, other students applying outside of the US as well. But ultimately at the end, what’s on paper. Not gonna be a huge difference.

Okay. Um, next question. Even though Yale is test optional, would I be put at a disadvantage if I don’t send in my scores? Yeah. Really valuable question. Um, absolutely no disadvantage whatsoever if you decide to go test optional, right? So, you know, just a couple different anecdotal points. Um, you know, I’ve, I’ve coached a number of students within my time with CollegeAdvisor last cycle.

A lot of them applied test optional, um, both for Yale as well as for other Ivy League schools, right? With really great results. Um, the piece about test optional, sort of more broadly speaking is actually a really great benefit for you as an applicant, right? Or for you as a perspective applicant, right? If you’re a sophomore or junior, part of it is, it’s giving you the choice, right, of you.

For whatever reason. Um, and again, if you had a bad test day, you know, these, the SAT and ACT, I’m just throwing it out, there are inequitable, right? They’re not a great measure of how successful you could be in college, right? Ultimately, at the end of the day, if you choose not to submit your test scores, it will not be evaluated against you.

How the process works is that it would just be almost as if, you know, when, when an AO is reading your application, it would just be as if that line for where your test score would go, right? It’s just gone. Um, and they would see everything else as well in the context of your application. One piece to note is, you know, like I mentioned, it’s giving you the power, right, of deciding, um, AOs are not going to question why you decided not to, uh, you know, submit a test score.

Again, the decision making part is not the evaluative part, but if you do submit right, like an ACT or an SAT or ACT, um, then know that, right? It’s, it’s fair game for, for them to use as part of your application. Okay. Um, and then when she says AO, we mean admission officer. Sorry. Thank you No, no, no.

You’re ok. Um, so our next question reads uh-oh, it disappeared. Okay. So I’m interested in pursuing medicine in my future, but I’m thinking of taking political science as a major since I’ve started to take more of an interest recently. Should my essay based on my major or what I want, what I hope to achieve as a career in my future.

Yeah, that’s a phenomenal question. Um, well, I mean, you know, one kudos, right? For understanding, right? Like, you know, professional journey can be different from what you wanna study in college, right? Mm-hmm. Um, so if, you know for anybody that’s curious, like, you know, if you wanna go into law medicine, right?

Pre-law or pre-medicine isn’t necessarily a program, Um, you know, you get to study anything that you would like to, right? And ultimately that should be the goal for your college experience. How it works is, you know, you just have to take the classes, right? That’s required for, um, applying to medical school or, you know, law school, et cetera.

So yeah, again, kudos to, to that point as well. Right? Um, so the question itself, um, you know, I would say that you shouldn’t necessarily, so unless if the essay question is explicitly asking right, about academic goals, so for the Yale supplements, right? The first question is asking, right? What are experiences that have led you to want to pursue this particular academic topic?

I wouldn’t feel right, like, you know, pressured to have to bring that in. Much of the application essays overall is going to be more about learning who you are, right? So it’s gonna be much more personal experiences, you know, opportunities to share, right? So, so approach this, you know, sort of what the direction of, Right, if we were sort of meeting for the first time, having a conversation, um, at the end of the day, right?

I wanna leave that conversation with an understanding of, right, Like, you know, what do you, like, how do you sort of see particular, right? Like ideas or examples. Um, and, you know, what’s something fun about you, right? That’s really the perspective of how I would want to learn about it. Um, you know, from a casual conversation setting, right?

I think it would be a little bit awkward, you know, if we, you know, shake hands, meet each other and the first thing that we say is, you know, this is what I wanna major in, right? in college. Um, and I would take that approach similarly for this type of essay, right? Unless if they explicitly ask for it. I always err towards encouraging, you know, opportunities to share just more about right, what you love doing.

Um, now if you know for political science, right? Say for example, you know, if say like being able to, right? Like get out the vote or Right. If you’ve been part of right. Like, you know, um, lobbying for something absolutely a great memory that’s very relevant to right, like your academic major, but don’t feel like you have to, you know, force it within a particular essay if it’s not asking for it.

Okay. Our next question is, uh, do programs such as international BA or advanced placement put you at an advantage during admission? Yeah, great question. Um, so when it comes to like AP or IB, right, which are some of the more common ones, at least within the us, Um, I know for right, like international curriculum, there’s also various right contexts as well, uh, related to that, right?

It’s your application is going to be evaluated within the context of your peers. So, you know, when we think about AP or IB, right? If your school offers a number of right, like, you know, those types of classes and you’re engaging in them, you’re doing well in them, right? And even if you’re not doing like right, perfect.

Within them, that’s still fine. It shows that you’re right. Engaging with the most rigorous schedule that’s allowed, or you know, that’s available. That’s the most key part, right? Of the application process. So it can be advantageous, right? If you know you are taking Right. The maximum number that’s offered to you by your school, right?

The only time where I would say, You know, it isn’t an advantage necessarily, is if you’re actively choosing Right. Not to decide to take those classes. And again, there’s a lot of context when it comes to, you know, that type of decision making, right? Could be class conflict, could be, you know, don’t, like the teacher could be they’re not offering it.

Um, regardless of sort of Right. Like the background information on that. Um, you know, advantageous, not necessarily right above everyone else in the applicant pool, but certainly very important because like, you know, if your own classmates might not be right taking all the APs available, you might have a little bit more of a slight edge, right?

But, you know, chances are a lot of right. A lot of applicants to Yale are probably very much wanting to, you know, just enroll in what’s, you know, what your school’s giving you as the best that’s available. Okay. Our next question reads, how would I approach writing a college essay if I’m applying to multiple majors?

Yeah, really great question. Um, so when it comes to write, like when we reference college essay, um, for both the personal statement or if it’s for the Yale supplementals specifically, um, I’ll sort of touch on both. I wouldn’t, you know, as akin to one of the previous questions asked, Right. I wouldn’t feel, um, that you need to incorporate, right, like your major within your personal statement or within your main common app essay.

Right? But for your Yale supplemental essays, um, specifically, or if it’s another right supplemental essay, right, just sort of elsewhere in a different college. Um, if you’re looking at multiple programs, I would just take a, take it as an opportunity to share, right? Like, you know, The origin of what really brought you into, Right, that particular major.

And then, you know, how did these sort of intersect, right? So if we’re assuming, you know, you love two different programs equally and you really want to explore them equally, I. I would actually share more, right? About, you know, how do you see them connecting together? Right? What is it that allowed you to, right?

Or, you know, really gave you the opportunity, um, to fall in love with both of ’em, Right? Uh, at the same time, because one piece that’s, and it could sound like a buzzword, right? But one piece that’s super valuable is what’s known as interdisciplinary learning, right? So when you’re able to think between different ideas and think between different topics, that can actually be really beneficial.

You know, if you are able to, right? See like, oh, you know, I’m interested, right? Again, with the previous example in healthcare, but also right with political science where sort of that boundary comes together. Um, I think that could be a really great union for your essay to write. Okay, our next question reads, um, should we list competitions we participated in such as writing, art, design, um, even if we haven’t won, but highlighting what we’ve learned from the process about ourselves?

I love that second part of, of that question, right, because I feel like you might have answered it yourself, you know, Absolutely highlighted if it’s been a meaningful experience, right? So whether it’s in an essay or whether it’s on your activities list as another part of your application, my philosophy, right, is really, if this is important to you and you know, or if this has been meaningful to you and you’ve gotten something out of it, Then it deserves to be heard, right?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be all about the awards and the accomplishments. Say, for example, right? Like, you know, even if it’s not a leadership position, but you were able to help, right? Like, you know, plan an event, or you were able, like, you know, in this case, right, like been part of a competition and you really found that you, you know, really elevated your writing skill.

Um, definitely share that because it’s all about your growth and it’s all about right, telling us as the admissions officers or the admissions readers why that particular experience has been important for you. Okay, So this may be our last, maybe we might have time for one more, but I’m gonna ask this one.

This is a great, great one. What should I be doing this summer before senior year to prep for the application season in the. Really great question. Um, I think so, you know, not to dive too deep into it, like a timeline wise, right? Mm-hmm. what I would always say is like, you know, one. Relax, Right. You have the summer to be able to unwind and appreciate, you know, just a little bit of that slow time, um, in between right.

When you’re in classes, and I know that can sound difficult, right? Sometimes, you know, we’re, we’re go-getters. We really wanna be ahead of the curve. Um, take a time to start with relaxing a little bit first and, you know, giving yourself a pat on the back for right. Getting through another school year, um, and then afterwards, right?

A couple goals that I certainly think would be super valuable, um, is, you know, to prepare for the application process is, you know, getting a sense of, right, what are the colleges that you really want to apply to? Right. What are areas or what are, you know, colleges, programs that really speak to your interest, um, if you haven’t already done so.

Right. Certainly there’s no such thing as being too late to the process, Right? Like before the deadlines themselves. So take a moment to just think about, you know, also what have been formative experiences that you’ve had where, you know, you’ve really been able to grow. Right. I think, you know, I’m sounding like a broken record at this point, but a lot of this, you know, application process.

In the Yale supplements as well as more broadly speaking, is really getting an opportunity to, you know, show us right, who you are, how you’ve grown. Um, so whether it’s jotting down journaling, um, whether it’s brainstorming right, or if you have schools that you already have in mind, taking a peek at just, you know, the common app essay, right?

Or those supplemental essays as we’ve done tonight. Um, think about some examples, right? About what has been meaningful to you. Um, and you know, again, it doesn’t have to be within the last year. It could be something super casual as well. Um, the most meaningful right application prep that you can do is really just thinking about, right, Like it could even just be junior year.

Um, what all you have been able to learn about yourself since this time, Right, last year? Um, I’m not even applying to colleges that I can absolutely still tell you the amount of growth that I’ve had just within a year, um, to this day. So that would be sort of my, um, my best recommendation. Okay. Um, I think we can take this question here.

Um, you know, is there any advantage to handling regular decision applications rather than applying in, you know, January? Or is there an advantage to ha to handling or handing in regular decision applications earlier than January? So if we’re thinking about like, right, for the regular decision deadline applying like, you know, in November and December, right?

I would say not really. Um, now, now the caveat is right, again, I used to be an admissions reader, right? Like a lot of things change within a couple of years. Um, if you have the opportunity to speak with a particular Yale admissions counselor and they tell you differently, again, caveat is follow their advice, right, and then treat it as superior.

But more broadly speaking, in terms of approaching right, the regular decision deadline, which is, you know, again, when the majority right of college applicants are applying, um, to particular schools, I wouldn’t rush the process, right? Sometimes I’ve been telling a lot of my own senior students this, but you know, it’s good to put the blinders on and not have to worry about, you know, where everybody else is applying, right?

Or, you know, what, what’s the talk of the hallway, right? Of, of, you know, all those schools. Um, most valuable, right? Advice I could give you all, especially for seniors out there, is, you know, it’s your story, it’s your pace, right? Like you don’t run at your pace. The most important piece to college applications is submitting your.

When it is the best possible application that you could put forward, if you feel like you’ve given everything that you’ve got, you know, you’ve put in those hours, um, and it’s only December, then yeah, go ahead and submit it. Right? Because if you feel awesome about it, like, you know, definitely do it. But Absolutely right.

Don’t feel the pressure to have to submit earlier. Um, if you think that there’s still work to be done, right. So, you know, yes, submit early. If you know it’s been sitting there, you’re ahead of the curve, right? Um, but also know that honestly wide majority of the applicants apply right at the start of January where the deadline is.

And that’s fine. So, Yeah. So, um, someone shared positive feedback. They wanted to thank you for your time in this webinar, and I wanna publicly also thank you Chi. This was so informative and very timely. Um, as many of our students are working through their applications, you provided a really great, um, insight and opinion to how to approach these essays.

And, you know, I know we’re focusing on Yale, but like these are tips that can be applied to other supplemental essays that, you know, you may be writing. So thank you Chi for your time. Um, and thank you to our attendees for showing up and asking really insightful questions. I just wanna share lastly that we do have some more upcoming webinars.

So every week we host about two to three webinars, um, every month. And they’re all geared towards preparing you for the college application process. And so please continue to attend our webinars. Also, um, if you did not get the chance to scan the QR code, there will be a popup screen that will appear at the end of this webinar.

So thank you everyone. Have a great evening. Thank you Chi. Have a great night. Take care. Bye.