Creative Writing at Yale

This may be one of the more niche posts I’ve made on this site, but it’s something I would have appreciated as a Baby Bulldog, so it’s worth a shot. If you’re an early admit (congrats, bowwowwow, boola boola, all that JAZZ!!!) or a prospective applicant (also very good!), and you might be interested in creative writing, this is the post for you.

I was very into writing fiction as a high schooler. Classic story: wrote exclusively Dursley-focused Harry Potter fanfic in my tween years (someone had to corner that market), then got a little older and started working on original stuff. I did competitions, summer programs, independent study—you name it. When it came time to apply to colleges, a robust creative writing program was important to me.

One of my biggest concerns in committing to Yale was that I wouldn’t be able to pursue writing in the way I wanted. While Yale does have a creative writing concentration within the English major, it doesn’t offer a stand-alone creative writing major. (And if you do go the CW concentration route, you need to complete 11 normal English courses in addition to the four writing courses you take.) Also, a lot (but not all!) of Yale’s CW courses are application-based, requiring you to submit a writing sample and a statement of purpose. This is because CW classes are often small workshops, so they need to cap off around 12-15 students.

I haven’t been accepted into every CW class I’ve applied to, and I probably haven’t taken as many classes as I could have at a school that offered a CW major. BUT I have managed to take five CW classes over five semesters, and really loved each one. Of these five, only two required applications, and they all spanned genres—fiction, journalism, playwriting, and poetry. 

I spent a good chunk of the semester writing a long-form journalism piece on nearby high school. This is a picture from my last reporting trip there.

After two-and-a-half years here, I can say with great confidence that Yale is a wonderful place to be a young writer. For one thing, the faculty is stellar. (Fiction Professor Susan Choi just won the National Book Award!), and the English department is constantly attracting cool literary people to campus. For another, if you’re into journalism, you really couldn’t be at a better place—The Yale Daily News runs like a national paper, and student editors are working almost full-time hours. Additionally, there is a huge range of publications on campus, including my personal favorite, The New Journal, which often publishes long-form creative nonfiction. Also, Yale students really and actually read these publications. It’s not unusual to see students pouring over the YDN at breakfast, cereal spoon hovering mid-air.

But the best part of creative writing at Yale is the other students. In my experience, there’s no competition among student writers here, even though everyone is definitely working at the top of their game. Students really support each other’s projects, whether that’s one-on-one workshopping, connecting a friend with the editor of an on-campus publication, or passing along internship opportunities or class recommendations. I know that writing in college, especially among young people who are often competing for the same fellowships or coveted spots in certain seminars, can be a cut-throat pursuit. But, in my experience, that is far from the case at Yale.