Successful Yale Essays

These are successful college essays of students that were accepted to Yale University. Use them to see what it takes to get into Yale and other top schools and get inspiration for your own Common App essay, supplements, and short answers. These successful Yale essays include Common App essaysYale supplements, and other Yale admissions essays.

Yale Essay Prompts

Yale University requires the Common Application, with its 250-650 word essay requirement, as well as their own short essay questions, included below.

Yale University Short Essay Prompts

Short Essays for Common and Coalition Application Applicants

Students applying to Yale through the Coalition Application or Common Application should respond to the essay prompts below. Responses are limited to 250 words and are intended to help the Admissions Committee learn more about the applicant.

  1. Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it?
  2. Respond to one of the following prompts:
    • Reflect on your membership in a community. Why is your involvement important to you? How has it shaped you? You may define community however you like.
    • Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it.
    • Tell us about your relationship with a role model or mentor who has been influential in your life. How has their guidance been instrumental to your growth?

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application: In addition to responding to the prompts above, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created. The upload should complement your response to one of the prompts. Above your response, include a one-sentence description of your upload. Please limit uploads to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Advanced editing is not necessary. Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. Review the Supplementary Material instructions for material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty.

Engineering Essay

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application who select one of Yale’s engineering majors will also respond to the prompt below in 250 words or fewer:

Please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you.

Yale University Short Answer Questions

Students apply to Yale through the Common Application, QuestBridge Application, or Coalition Application should include responses to the short answer questions below:

  1. Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
  2. Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)
  3. What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
  4. Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete the questions above via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received.

Students applying to Yale through the Common or Coalition Application must also include responses to the following short answer questions. Responses to these short answer are limited to 200 characters:

  1. What inspires you?
  2. Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask?
  3. You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called?
  4. Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six students. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?

Common Application Essay Prompts

The Common App Essay for 2020-2021 is limited to 250-650 word responses. You must choose one prompt for your essay.

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.