The Application Process to Yale, as Told by Seniors

group of friends laughing and smiling

Last week, I grabbed dinner with three of my fellow Yale 2021 classmates. The pandemic and our differing responses to a remote semester meant that our dinner was one of the only times we we’ve caught up this semester. The conversation came close to the anniversary of when we all met, and I reminisced on the moments that had gotten us here. As a high school senior four years ago, I never could have imagined finding such lifelong friendships at Yale. 

I took the opportunity to ask my friends what stuck out to them in the application process. I asked each of them what they’d want prospective students to know. Here’s what they said: 

Nickolina, ‘21+1
Major: Biomedical Engineering
College: Jonathan Edwards

two girls smile in the Harvard Yale crowd
Nickolina and I pose together at the 2019 Harvard Yale Football game (we were there when Yale came back and won after double overtime!).

Nickolina and I were placed in the same suite together by our residential college dean our first year at Yale. Before moving into Old Campus (where most first-years live), I’d never met any of my suitemates, but Nickolina has come to be one of my closest friends. Given the remote semester, Nickolina is taking the year off doing biomedical research with the Jackson Laboratory. 

Favorite part: ”Definitely my interview. Because I lived in Connecticut, I was able to do an in-person interview with a student interviewer. He was a senior Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry major. It was just so fun. We talked about the research I was doing; we talked about what our families were like; I remember talking about pets. And I really got to hear from him what his experience at Yale was like. That interview was what got me so excited about applying to Yale. I still remember that conversation.”

Hang, ‘21
Major: Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology
College: Jonathan Edwards

two girls pose in a large coats in front of a large tree
Hang and I pose together before we left for a Valentine’s Day show and dinner in New Haven (JE paid for our tickets and dinner because Hang won the culture draw!).

I met Hang at the beginning of the fall semester my sophomore year, when she asked me if I could swipe her into the college (who knew that would be the start of one of my closest friendships?). That summer Hang and I traveled through Europe together as we studied abroad, and I stayed with her family in Florida before returning to Yale for my junior year. Hang is currently a Jonathan Edwards Froco (First-Year Counselor) living on campus. 

Scariest part: “Probably the supplemental questions that Yale asked outside of the common application essay, because I’ve never written something like that, and it was just foreign to me. As a first-generation low-income student, I didn’t have anyone model for me how to apply to these colleges, not just Yale. But I ultimately answered the supplemental questions by being myself. I was casual in the way I answered some of those questions. A lot of them I answered as a joke, and it worked out.”

Favorite part: “Yale made it really easy for me to arrange an interview. An alum from Yale came to my school and did an interview with everyone who applied so it was very effortless. It was really nice having a conversation that was more casual. It wasn’t nerve-wracking. I felt like I had a chance to talk about myself and describe myself that’s not conveyed through the application. For example, I talked about my art. The interviewer asked to see it, so I showed him.”

Calvin, ‘21
Major: Psychology
College: Jonathan Edwards

3 people pose in front of a blooming tree
Calvin, Nickolina, and I before spring fling 2019.

I met Calvin also at the beginning of sophomore fall, when he lived across the hall from my suite in Jonathan Edwards. I’ll always remember how his suite felt like an extension of my own (but with an endless supply of gummy bears!). The many psychology study sessions and Starbucks Caramel Frappuccinos that Calvin and I shared formed another invaluable friendship. My Yale experience would not be the same if I’d never met Calvin. This semester, he’s taking classes remotely from his home in New York.

Hardest part: “The ‘why Yale’ question, where they ask you why that college is the right choice for you. I didn’t want to seem like I was regurgitating facts off the website. It was also hard to avoid comparing myself to my classmates when we were all going through the process together.”

Best part: ”Getting into Yale”

It was interesting to hear my friends think back on the application process. When I applied, I didn’t know other people had the same worries about supplemental essays or answering the “Why Yale” question. I didn’t even know that I would be interviewed until I was.

Note how all my friends had worries and favorite parts of the application. The application process was a time of stress and self-discovery for everyone, and we all wanted to do well! As you move forward with applying to Yale or any of your schools, remember that the application is meant to reflect you, so let it! I’ve made some of the best friends at Yale by following this advice!