Yale’s student publications have always dazzled me. Before I got to campus, I was both excited and nervous to get involved—excited because I had never before experienced an environment with so many opportunities and so many equally excited peers; nervous because I knew Yalies were talented, and I was afraid that my abilities wouldn’t be up to par.
I was both right and wrong. Yale students love to write, and they’re really good at it, too. But that didn’t mean I had to worry: Yale’s many (many) student publications are excited to publish your work, regardless of past experience. Through this far-from-definitive look into my experience with the writing scene at Yale, I hope to show that really, there is no right or wrong way to get involved.
The Yale Daily News, our student newspaper, is a behemoth—it even has an entire building to itself on York Street. YDN has a bunch of different branches; their most visible is obviously their daily reporting, but they also have opportunities to publish longform journalism or more creative pieces through their weekly WKND supplement and monthly magazine. As a first-year, I got involved with YDN as a member of the copy staff, which meant I learned how to proofread pieces for basic style and accuracy. Like anyone else seeking to join the YDN staff, I went through a non-selective process known as “heeling”—basically a fancy term to describe completing a few requirements to make sure you know what you’re doing, then celebrating at a tradition-filled party at the end of the semester.
But you don’t have to go through the heeling process to get involved with YDN. This March, when my COVID anxiety hit a peak, I wrote an essay meditating on lost time in the pandemic. Even though I wrote the piece primarily for myself with no specific publication in mind, my words eventually found a home in WKND, where the editors often seek creative essays. Even though I wasn’t a staff writer, WKND gave me a place to publish something I wanted to share.
The YDN building on York Street.
The Politic is, as the name suggests, a magazine dedicated to politics—local, national, and international. They publish in-depth longform journalism pieces in their print issues, as well as shorter articles online. This summer, I wrote a biweekly column covering healthcare injustice. Being a columnist was a rewarding experience: I got to do in-depth research on a topic I cared about, then share what I learned with a wider audience. I also learned a lot about clear, forceful opinion writing from my amazing editor (shoutout Emily!)
Okay, this one I might be a bit biased towards: throughout the years, I’ve been a YSM writer, copy editor, section editor, and next year, I’ll be editor-in-chief. YSM seeks to communicate science—groundbreaking discoveries, the human stories behind them, and their societal implications—to the public. We’ve been around since 1894, making us the oldest college science publication in the country (a fact that totally blows my mind). I got involved with YSM in my first year by serving as a staff writer. Like many other publications on campus, for each issue, YSM sends out a list of article pitches to everyone on its email panlist. From there, anyone interested can sign up to write. As a writer, I got to talk to cool professors about their cutting edge work, with an editor helping to guide me throughout the process. I’ve since written articles about everything from nanoscale polymers to newly discovered immune diseases to end-of-life medicine in the age of COVID-19. Later, as a section editor, I got to see the other side of the process: keeping up with the latest scientific research to develop pitches and working with writers to refine their words.
YSM’s most recent issue, which was a special edition celebrating women in STEM.
As my experience hopefully shows, there’s so many ways to get involved with student publications at Yale. You can publish essays that you write for yourself, or you can become a staff writer with a specific focus; you’re free to sign up for articles whenever you’re available, or you can commit to a masthead position as an editor.
And beyond my experience exclusively, here’s a (non-exhaustive!!) list of other publications I’ve seen put out some really cool things: The Herald (journalism/creative pieces!), The New Journal (more journalism/creative pieces!), The Globalist (international relations!), Broad Recognition (intersectional feminism!), the Global Health Review, the Historical Review, 295 (Asian American identity!), the Yale Literary Magazine (creative writing!), Distilled (interdisciplinary dialogue!), the Layer (mental health!), Logos (religion!), DOWN (BIPOC experience!), the Record (comedy!).
Basically, at Yale, there’s bound to be a publication that fits your interests. And this doesn’t even begin to cover the numerous other ways you can immerse yourself in writing on campus, from spoken word groups like WORD and JookSongs to legendary English classes like Daily Themes, English 120, or any creative writing workshop.
At Yale, I’ve grown immensely as a writer. Working with other students has allowed me to build both new skills and new friendships. And because I’ve had so many opportunities to share my work, I’ve in turn grown more confident that my work deserves to be shared.
Long story short: if you like to write, have no fear. Your words will find a home here.