How to Tackle the Yale Transfer Application

Graphic of a girl on a computer, pencils, and other school supplies

Getting Started

So, the transfer applications for the upcoming school year are finally available! Whether you’re applying from a community college like I did, a 4-year university, or another beginning route, this application season is set to be the start of your new academic journey and you should be very proud of yourself for getting here.

I’m sure if you’re reading this blog it’s because you are either unsure where to start or how to “tackle” a transfer application. Unlike applications a high school senior fills out, transfer applications are slightly different: You’ve already graduated high school, you’ve most likely already taken quite a few college-level courses, and instead of deciding where you want to spend the next 4 years learning, you’re choosing a different university to spend the later half of your college journey in. It’s a different process and can be quite a daunting task to face.

Now, when it comes to Yale’s specific transfer application, a few requirements are no-brainers and are typically required for any other transfer application: academic references, official transcripts and SAT or ACT scores (optional). For these requirements, you want to get them filled out or ensure they are filled out by the designated college official as soon as possible. The earlier you can submit these documents, the more time you have to dedicate to other supplementary requirements such as the essays. You’ll also be less stressed out once these requirements are out of the way or alternatively, you’ll have time to ask questions if you run into any issues with those requirements.

A girl holding a laptop open with a congratulations screen displayed

Snapshots of Yourself - Answering the Short Prompts

After those requirements are out of the way, the next step is to begin writing the essays (emphasis on more than one). Yale not only requires an essay detailing why you want to transfer and why you specifically want to transfer to Yale (many other universities have a similar main essay) but, they also require several shorter essays in an effort to know you as both a student and a person outside academics. 

In my experience, I found it easier to begin with the shorter essays. These essay prompts are where you can be more fun, more creative, and mention things about yourself that you don’t necessarily want to include in your “Why are you transferring to Yale?” essay. Trust me when I say that you should not overthink these short prompts or even the main essay itself. Express yourself in the manner you are most comfortable with and be genuine. Think about the topics that interest you and the true reasons why (more so than “I just find them fascinating”). Think about the communities and people you interact with and why you continue to make the purposeful decision to connect with and interact with them. Think about the moment you realized you enjoyed learning and how that impacted every decision you made since(for me it was during an art history class in community college). Think about the defining moments that have led you to continue pursuing your education in a new place, hopefully at Yale - this is what you want to base these shorter essays on.

A girl standing on a street called Yale Avenue holding a Yale acceptance letter

Defining Your Purpose - Tackling the Main Question

“Why do you want to transfer? Why do you want to transfer to Yale?” These two questions will arguably define your transfer application and if you switch out Yale for any other university, their defining characteristic will remain the same. I can attest that answering these questions is a hard task to do and it takes serious reflection and introspection. Initially, when I first approached these questions all I could think of was “I need to transfer out of community college” and “I like Yale.” However, while those thoughts may be good building blocks to begin writing, they in no way captured the desire I felt to transfer and to attend Yale. So, I reflected. I re-read my short essays - already completed - and began to think about how transferring and how attending Yale would fit into that story, why I wanted Yale to fit into that story.

For me, I realized that I looked at life much like I look at a game. You enter new levels constantly - elementary school, middle school, high school, community college - and each level teaches you something about yourself and about the next level you’ll “play” in. You meet new characters along the way, some of which either stay with you throughout the entire game or stay behind, content having helped you during a certain stage. You progress at your own pace and move on to a new level once you’re ready. My main essay ended up being formatted like a game, beginning with: “Round One: Level Selected - Citrus College. Begin the game” and ending with “Continue to Round Two: Level - University? Yes.” As I wrote in that essay, “the idea of once again beginning a new level [was] frightening. Yet at the same time, I [felt] an overwhelming sense of calmness.” Transferring and specifically transferring to Yale was something I viewed as the best move I could make in my “game” and so I expressed it like that, further elaborating on the personal reasons behind that “move”.

However, you don’t have to structure your essay in a fun, creative way if that’s not how you express yourself. You don’t have to think about yourself and your life as a metaphor if that’s not how you perceive things. The main essay is where you - as a person, a student, a sibling, a volunteer, etc. - should shine the most. If anything, think about this essay like a letter to yourself, or better yet, a letter to your future self. Talk about the past moments, memories, and events that are important to you but also look towards the future and express what you hope your life will be like in a year’s time.

Trust the process as cliche as that may sound and with all that said, good luck!

A cake with frosting saying Congrats Good Luck at Yale