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What do you look for in the Yale Supplement essay?
The best essays are thoughtful and reflective, conveying a specific idea related to your personal or intellectual life. We understand that in a mere 500 words you cannot possibly tell us everything about yourself. Please don’t try! The essay is not meant to be a comprehensive autobiography. It’s an opportunity for you to share with us something meaningful about yourself and your experiences. Take some time to think about what you want us to know about you. Consider the essay’s brevity to be a challenge: it’s often more difficult to say what you mean with economy.
The essay question is open-ended, and some students say the hardest part is knowing where to start. We suggest that you focus on specifics — don’t waste words on generalities. Choose a topic that expresses who you are and allows you to share with us something important to you. Don’t feel the need to come up with a “gimmick” or an original topic. Gimmicks usually fail, and many successful candidates write about fairly common topics, such as music, sports, community service projects, and family relationships.
Take the time to carefully review your essays before submitting them. We expect that your grammar and spelling will be correct.