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The Ivy Coach Daily

August 1, 2023

2023-2024 Yale University Supplemental Essay Prompts

A panoramic of Yale University's campus at sunset.
Yale’s admissions essay prompts have been released for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle (photo credit: Namkota).

Yale University has released its admissions essay prompts for the 2023-2024 college admissions cycle. In addition to the essay options on The Common Application, Yale applicants will indicate their intended majors and then be required to write two short essays, one of 125 words or fewer and another of 200 words or fewer, four short answers, all of approximately 35 words or fewer (or 200 characters), and a 400-word essay from an option of three prompts. So what are this year’s Yale essay questions? Let’s dive in!

2023-2024 Yale Essay Topics and Questions

Short Answer Questions

1. Students at Yale have time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.

So many students indicate particular intended majors but then neglect to showcase their interest in these subjects on the rest of their applications. We at Ivy Coach urge students to ensure they’ve demonstrated — in their activities and storytelling — the origin of this interest and how they’ve showcased their passion for the discipline.

2. Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)

Here, of course, is an applicant’s first opportunity to shine a spotlight on precisely why they’re interested in studying the disciplines they’ve indicated. It shouldn’t come out of left field. If a student expresses an interest in math and they haven’t gotten involved in all sorts of math activities outside of school, they’ll lack the content to answer this question effectively. Yale wants to know how a student will contribute to their classrooms and potentially their research in this field.

3. What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

While the essay prompt contains 11 words, make no mistake — it’s Why Yale. This short essay needs to be filled with specific after specific about how a student intends to contribute their singular hook — rather than well-roundedness — to Yale’s campus. And, no, don’t treat the Why College essay like a game of Mad Libs. If one can easily replace the name of one school’s program with another school’s in a sentence, strike that sentence from the record. Yale wants to see that you genuinely want to attend. They want to see you’ve done your homework on the Ivy League institution. So name-dropping professors or regurgitating class names is not the way to go. It’s about capturing enduring specifics about the school.

4. What inspires you? (no more than 200 characters or approximately 35 words)

While these prompts are short, each must showcase an applicant’s intellectual curiosity. And always make sure admissions officers learn something while reading such responses — not only about you as an applicant but ideally also something they didn’t know before parsing through your application.

5. If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be? (no more than 200 characters or approximately 35 words)

This prompt is a chance for an applicant to show their creative side. A fun, pithy name for a course or book can work here. But students must include more than just the name of the course, book, or artwork. They’ve got to use the remaining real estate to address why they’d wish to teach this course, write this book, or create this piece of art. The why matters.

6. Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? (no more than 200 characters or approximately 35 words)

Too many students write the name of a teacher or coach — although we at Ivy Coach strongly discourage students from writing about coaches since sports essays are all too common — and follow it with a cliché explanation. Aim to be original. Did you see someone do something that inspired you when they didn’t know you were watching? How so? Tell a story!

7. What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application? (no more than 200 characters or approximately 35 words)

This prompt is an opportunity to write whatever applicants want but, again, they should make sure it still showcases their intellectual curiosity and, ideally, it’s in line with the singular hook that they’ve spotlighted throughout their application, never in the same way but always in complementary ways. Great essays are essentially like puzzle pieces. No two pieces are the same, yet they all fit neatly together.

Essay Prompts

Applicants must respond to one of the following three prompts:

1. Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful? (400 words or fewer)

In this essay, students must ensure they treat people respectfully — no matter their disagreements. Contrary to popular belief, it’s ok to delve into political issues and for applicants to express their viewpoints as long as they understand and appreciate that theirs is not the only acceptable view. While admissions officers are known to be liberal, they covet diversity of thought on their campuses. A student with a conservative perspective should not shy away from expressing it — with deference for the other side. Too often, students are advised to avoid any issue that could potentially be controversial. It’s terrible advice. Dare to write something interesting instead, leading always with respect.

2. Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like. (400 words or fewer)

While Yale has asked applicants this essay question in years past, it has new meaning in the wake of the Supreme Court’s outlawing of Affirmative Action. For students from underrepresented backgrounds, it could be an opportunity to spotlight how a student’s race or background has influenced them. But community can be any sort of community. It could be a community of sculptors or writers, physicists, or even musicians.

3. Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you? (400 words or fewer)

Like The Common Application’s Personal Statement, this essay question is also open-ended, allowing students to write whatever they wish. In short, Yale hopes students will write about how they’ll contribute to Yale’s community — ideally through a singular hook. If a student will enrich Yale through their science research, let’s hear about the student’s research to date and how they hope to further their work. If a student will enrich Yale through their love of the Classics, let’s hear about their interest in the Classics and how they hope to contribute to the literary canon in their lifetimes.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Yale 2023-2024 Essays

If your child needs assistance brainstorming and writing compelling essays to wow Yale admissions officers, fill out Ivy Coach‘s consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services for seniors.

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