Successful Yale Essays

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For many students and families, Yale is a dream.  With application season getting more and more competitive, how can students step up and turn this dream into a reality? Take a look at the following essay intros from Yale students on AdmitSee:

Mouse43

Class of 2020

I believe in the power of the hallway.

I attend a high school filled with everything from a robotics center to a three-dimensional anatomy table; there exist so many special locations I could label “home.” And yet, I still find myself happiest when walking through the somewhat stuffy, overwhelmingly overpopulated, yet comfortably carpeted hallways I frequent between classes. Read on. 

Corilu

Class of 2020

I see it everyday: boxes piled upon boxes, the remnants of our last move. Every crevice in my apartment holds a reminder that my home isn’t permanent and in another couple of years, we’ll move again. 5 different homes. 7 different schools. Continue reading. 

Alice6180

Class 0f 2019

“Without balance, you have nothing.” My fencing coach has taught me many things, but this is by far the most important. He demonstrated it during my very first lesson, when he nearly toppled me over with merely a light push on the shoulder as I stood in the en garde position. Although I quickly found my balance while fencing, it wasn’t as easy to find balance in the rest of my life. View full profile. 

Aao1997

Class of 2020

The incessant Q&A never really got to me. “Yes, I am an albino.” “Yes, my eyes are blue, not red.” “Yes, I do know how much some would pay for this hair.” I always told myself I had a story to tell. God made me special, right? Living with a disability, I sought to convince myself of internal worth at a young age. Nothing truly combatted such worth until I reached high school and listened more closely. Surprisingly, words murmured behind my back dug a lot deeper than inquiries and insults to my face. Whereas before it merely represented a conversational ice-breaker, albinism began to define my identity. No longer did others know me as the theater kid with chamber music on his iPod. Rather, I became a sight to see. “I saw a shooting star!” “I saw an albino!” Keep reading. 

MK97

Class of 2019

I turned to see my mother’s red face, eyes welled with tears that I have not seen since my family immigrated to the United States. I remember the sorrow and vulnerability consuming my mother’s face, but I only heard my heart pounding against my chest. For the first time as a child, I remember hoping my suspicions and theories about my father’s long-term absence were wrong; How could he abandon his young family? Why would he abandon me? View full profile. 

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About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.




The life of an admissions officer can be a fascinating one. I spend a lot of time traveling to faraway places to meet students from around the world, voting in committee to help determine each next college class, but I am perhaps most privileged to have a unique glimpse into the personal lives of hundreds of 17 year olds each year via my absolute favorite art form: the college essay. After 5 years I have read thousands of these 650-word windows into the minds of high school students, and can assure you that the college essay comes in many flavors: good, bad, eloquent, conversational, sarcastic, insightful, deep, shallow, hilarious, painful, delightful, disturbing, and so on.

For any high school senior working on their college applications, the essay can seem like a daunting task. For Yale, you’ll even have to write more than one. I hope you see this not as a burden or a hoop you must jump through, but an opportunity: to reflect on your past few years and look ahead to college. The skills of reflection, self-expression, and cogent writing are all ones that will serve you well in college (in fact, they will be critical), so consider this practice. You do not have to be the world’s most eloquent wordsmith to write a successful college essay; the best essays we read are those where the genuine voice of a high school student (that’s you!) comes through loud and clear and we really get a sense of who you are.

When I talk to prospective Yalies about the application process, I am often asked what my favorite essay topic is. I assure you there is no such thing. The quality of a college essay has little to do with topic, and everything to do with reflection and voice. I truly believe I could read 100 essays about the same topic, each of them completely unique and in their own ways excellent and entrancing (or not). There are certainly amusing trends that emerge over time: in the past few years, I’ve seen an uptick in essays reflecting on life lessons learned from Uber drivers. I’m told that 10 years ago, essays explaining what Hogwarts House one belongs in were abundant. I wouldn’t dare say that there are any essay topics you should shy away from, because I’m certain that a great college essay could be written about nearly anything. And it doesn’t matter if we’ve read about it before – only you can write about you.

I do have favorite essays that I can remember, but they have no particular topic in common. Instead, they are the ones where at the end I have a grasp on what it might be like to have a conversation with the writer, to be in the same room as them. This is what we mean when we talk about voice. Revise and edit, but be sure not to lose the sense of individuality that only you can put into words. Have someone proofread, but don’t get too much help. My colleagues and I can tell when an essay is written more by a parent or, dare I even say it, a college consultant than by a student – and I can promise you that those pieces are not very good.

While your grades and test scores will speak for themselves and your teachers and counselor will write on your behalf, the essays are your opportunity to really take control of your application. Every required bit of writing should be considered precious real estate on your applications; think about what you want us to know about you, and do your best to work that information into the space allotted. It is through these essays that your admissions officer revels in your successes, shares in your disappointments, gets to know – forgive the cliché – the real you. So get writing. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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