Case Studies

How to gain Admissions to Yale University

Miguel Marfori

Know how to get admission in Yale University

It can be said that Harvard, one of the world's most elite colleges, has produced several highly-intellectual graduates who have gone to change the world. But it'd be wrong to assume that because Harvard's got a rival and its name? Yale University. Part of the Ivy League, Yale University has quite a history that's so vast it even emits that feel today. Just a look at its campus along with its surrounding areas and you'll find yourself seeing history unfold right before you. You'll even find great galleries, collections and other great things that'll delight you with every step. 

But are you ready for such a place? Can you get yourself up and running to be part of a university that’s got notable alumni such as Meryl Streep, George W. Bush and Jodie Foster? Then read on the guide we have for you to below and find out how you can gain admissions to this beautiful place. 

1. Take note of what Yale University is looking for 

When it comes to what they’re looking for in a prospective student, Yale University strongly goes for the one with the academic ability. If you’re in doubt, you can check for their full description here. As described in the link, they state that "The single most important document in your application is your high school transcript, which tells us a great deal about your academic drive and performance over time. We look for students who have consistently taken a broad range of challenging courses in high school and have done well.” Simply put: Yale University will gladly consider students who’ve got the academic drive in them. But it isn’t just about the grades and scores: They’re also looking for students who they can help become leaders of their generation in what they wish to pursue in life and who have a story to tell that brings their application to life. 

2. Brush up on other factors Yale University look for underneath

While the elements are just a few to remember, there are still other ones that Yale University don't say out loud. In the same link above, they reveal two questions they ask themselves as they go through the admissions process: “Who is likely to make the most of Yale’s resources?” and “Who will contribute most significantly to the Yale community?” It might not be much, but just these two questions alone can tell you there are factors they're looking for beyond academics. Take note of these questions and discover what you've got that you can contribute to them. For the first question, what they're looking for is someone resourceful which means they want to see the way you solve your problems, make use of the resources at hand, and strategize your way around things most people find challenging. For the second question, they're looking for a student who can bring a positive impact to Yale University. It's where they'll see other parts about you that go way beyond the scores. 

3. Develop the spike from within

Even with the factors learned, it won’t be enough to get your application a boost for Yale because you still got to get a spark that’ll dazzle them. What would that be? A spike. What's that? According to PrepScholar here, a spike, "is what sets you apart from all other applicants. It goes against the spirit of simply being well rounded. By nature of being unique, you don't fit in with all of the other well-rounded applicants; you do something that truly stands out in a meaningful way." Another way to put it is you’ll go above and beyond to become world-class or spectacular in one area of interest with dedication and hard work.  

Though when it comes to reaching that level, it’s going to take a while before you can get there. You may even consider giving up and just sticking it out with another college that's not your type. Need a little boost? Think about Andy Samberg. Yes, the actor who plays Jake Peralta in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and is part of the Lonely Island. He knows his comedy and shares the love with his acting and rapping. Sure, he might not be the kind of guy you'd want to have on a sports team, but he can sure crack a laugh as Jake while rapping about Jack Sparrow. But you have to consider the many hours and days he's done to get everything right. If he can do it, you can do it too! 

When it comes to developing the spike, make sure to choose one area of interest that you’re already good at and extend your skills to the max. It also means creating a weekly plan on when and how you’ll develop your skills so that as you’re spending your time, you’ll have a clearer idea on how your progress is and where you’ll take your journey next. 

4. Maintain excellence with other areas of interest

While you’re developing the spike in one area, you’ll need to maintain excellence with other areas of interest. As you learned earlier, Yale University’s admissions team look for students who can contribute significantly and make a positive impact on them. For example, if you're spending time with five areas of interests, it’s best to keep 2 or 3 of them while the rest will be ignored. From there, the remaining fields can be improved by yourself through scheduling and goal-setting. When you got your groove going with your spike and the excellence, Yale University will be having a good look at your application with wonder.

5. Pick the areas of interest that sync well

When you're maintaining excellence in your prioritized areas of interest, make sure they're the kind you like. If you're going to be great in one area of interest that isn't right up your alley, then it's going to be a chore for you, and that's not something you'd like to do. On the other hand, you also need to pick the kind of activities that you know would smile at Yale University. If you can find a few areas of interest that you and Yale University dig, then you got yourself a deal! 

6. Take on a few more AP courses than usual

Most high schools nowadays are offering AP courses. What are they? AP courses, also known as Advanced Placement, are specialized high school classes that let you earn college credit. It's an excellent way to advance your way into college and have a feel for it while you're still in high school. Usually, some students will take a few, but, in your case, you can tackle a few more. We're not saying you overwork yourself, and your school might have limits on how many AP courses you can take, so map out your route and plan how you'll receive the classes. Then, when you're up and ready for the AP exam, study hard and tackle the test with confidence. 

But it does make you think: Why take more AP courses than most students? Because it'll spark up your application significantly for Yale University. As you've learned earlier, academic ability is one factor they're quite strong about so when they see you got excellent scores on the AP courses, they're going to see you're no ordinary student at all. It'll also show them that their questions will be answered. 

7. Give the honours class a try

AP courses might not be your thing, or they're not available in your school so that you can have a go with honours classes instead. Honours classes follow the traditional system of high school but add a bit more material than usual. Another way to put it is whereas your fellow students are on a level 1 field with their schoolwork, you're levelling up a bit and raising the difficulty. It's an excellent way to boost your application as well because it gives Yale University that you’re firm with your academics and you’ll gladly spend a little more time maintain them while other students go about and frolic in fun. (But of course, you got time to spare for fun when you’re finally done).

8. Select the course that speaks to you at Yale University

Got everything all settled down with the things you’ve read above? Good! Your next step will be picking a course. There's quite a lot of courses to choose from at Yale University, so here’s a list of them all when you need a little assistance.

9. Collect the requirements you’ll need

When you’re finally settled on your course, your next move will be getting the requirements. When it comes to applications, Yale University dedicates a lot of pages to give you the lowdown on what they are and where to submit them. You can read about them here, but we'll provide a peek at the essentials below:

  • Completed Common or Coalition Application
  • $80 application fee or fee waiver
  • Recommendations from two teachers and one counselor
  • School Report with transcript
  • Standardized test results (ACT or SAT)
  • Mid-Year Report (due when first semester/term senior grades are available at your school)

You'll also be answering a few essay questions since you're a first-time applicant for Yale University. Not to worry, we'll give some tips about that later. If you feel like you want to boost your application, even more, you can send supplementary materials too. There are more details here, but the gist of is you can amaze the admissions team with a presentation that'll just make them go, "Wow!". But this is entirely optional, so it doesn't need to be done. 

10.  Check out the scores Yale University will want to see

Your standardized test results from the ACT or SAT tests you’ll need to take are part of the requirements when applying at Yale University. Knowing that academics are a big deal, you’re going to need to score really well in the tests to show you’re serious. Yes, Yale University may say they have no standard line for scores but based on what CollegeSimply and PrepScholar got, it paints a different picture:

SAT and ACT scores Yale University want to see

As you can see, your SAT score must be above 1515 and ACT score must be above 34 to let Yale University know you mean business. But the scores you see above aren’t going to be a walk in the park, so you’d better be prepared for the next step.    

11. Score significantly on the required tests

Now that you know the ACT and SAT scores Yale University love to see, your next move is getting them. But how? You’re going to set up a way to study well and be ready for the tests. It’s going to an uphill battle, so here are a few things to remember: 

  • Practice the tests 

Practice makes perfect, right? So when it comes to this mantra, apply it well with when prepping up for the ACT and SAT tests. It’s a matter of conditioning yourself and getting comfortable with the questions you’ll need to answer so when the actual day comes, you’re already pumped up and ready. 

  • Prepare with the apps

In the old days, prepping yourself up for the tests was agony. Can you imagine trying to set up a desk with piles of books and wondering how much time has passed since you decided to tackle the practice? Today, you can get a device and download the app versions of the SAT and ACT tests where you can apply what you've practised and rev yourself up for the game. 

  • Expand your mind 

While you’re getting ready for the test, how about expanding your mind? Tackle a few thought-provoking shows, read challenging novels, solve puzzles and do other activities that’ll give your brain that much-needed boost when it’s about to help you out with the tests. 

  • Go to class

Yes, the app versions are quite significant to be there and help you out in your time of need, but it still pays to be in a class where you'll learn with fellow applicants and learn from the ones who survived the tests which are now teaching their way of tackling them and how it can help you and everyone else out. 

12. Have a gander at Yale University’s acceptance rates

Seeing as how Yale University has quite a fascination with academic-driven students, their acceptance rate is going to be quite a surprise to the point that if you're even going to apply for them, you'd better be super-competitive. As TopTier Admissions shows here: 

UC Berkeley Acceptance Rates

The acceptance rate from 2012 was as high as 8.29%, but the rates went down yearly until it came to 6.27% by 2020. It's estimated that by 2024, the acceptance rate will be at 6.54%. 

What does this mean for you? It means that you're going to need a lot of motivation and energy even to get through. With so many students applying and a few accepted, it's going to take a lot of willpower.

13. Polish and perfect your application with excellence

When you've studied all that you can about the requirements, scores and the rest of the data Yale University like to see, you're now ready to polish and perfect your application excellently. When it comes to applying for Yale University, you’re going to need to put extra effort. Here are things to consider and remember:

  • Answer spectacularly with your essays

When applying for UC Berkeley, you'll be prompted to write three application essays but don't think they're the usual ones you see in most colleges. They're the kind UC Berkeley prepped up, so they get to know about who you are which means you're going to want to tell a few good stories on who you are. You can think of it as a show-and-tell but in words.

  • Make an authentic story with your strengths and other parts of life

As you're getting your profile all polished up, remember to tell your story with authenticity. Yale University not only looks for students with strong academics but also with a story that just captures authenticity, which means if you're trying to pull a false impression, you're going to be busted. So just be yourself and let them see who you indeed are. 

  • Have a look at the tips 

For an elite college that’s got an acceptance rate way below most colleges, Yale University sure loves to give tips to applicants. That’s why when you’re looking at their website, you’ll come across this section where they show a significant number of tips, tricks and other great things to help you with your application. Give it a read and apply them with your application. 

  • Chat with the experts

As you're slowly reaching the completion of your application, have a chat with some experts. It'll not only give you a second opinion but also learn what you've missed out, what you can change, what you can add and more. You can also ask for an excellent example of how the application should be if they were in your place.

14. Gain more perspective on Yale University’s selection process

When you look around the Yale University’s website for info on admissions, you won’t find much except what they’re looking for, the two questions their admissions team ask themselves as they process thousands of applications and other info that just gives a vague overview of the admissions process. So you’ll be quite surprised that there’s more than what you’ve read there especially when Jeremiah Quinlan, the Dean of Admissions, revealed some personal details in a podcast interview that Ivy Coach took notice of back in 2019. As Quinlan explained: “We have 25 admissions officers who are responsible for applications from all over the world, and we divide up the world into geographic portfolios. So there's someone who is responsible for reading all of the applications from Virginia or all of the applications from Michigan, all the applications from Eastern Europe. And that person opens up the file and looks at testing and the transcript and tries to ask themselves, ‘Can this student do the work at Yale?’ Fortunately for most of our applicants, the answer to that question is yes. So they read the rest of the application regardless. But if they really find the student would also — in addition to being able to do the work here — would be able to contribute in a really, really valuable way to the classroom, to the Residential Colleges, to extracurricular activities, to the New Haven community, then that person would probably be passed on to be read a second time. Now since it’s all virtually, the person would read the application, send it back to the area officer and then the area officer is responsible for presenting the strongest applicants from their geographic area to the admissions committee. 

Quinlan then continues: “The admissions committee at Yale consists of usually around five folks: three members of the admissions staff, a member of the faculty, and a dean in Yale College. And the presentation is made about the specific applicant and then the application can be reviewed in the admissions committee room. So you can see five people around the table with a screen and they would hear the presentation, look at the credentials of the student-applicant, and then review different parts of the application — live in person as a group, discuss different parts of the application, and then vote on the application of that specific candidate. So by the time a student gets admitted to Yale, their application has been read twice and then seen by a five-person committee.” 

To sum it all up: Yale University doesn’t have it easy when it comes to the selection process. They got quite a system to go through before one student can even be admitted into the elite college. 

15. Submit everything, cross your fingers and hope for the best

Once you've got it all under wraps, make that submission, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. It's not a guarantee you'll get right in, and you’ve already learned Yale University’s admission process goes through many paths before it reaches its final destination, but just go for it and see where it'll take you. 

Not Accepted? 

After waiting for a while, you finally see that the results for your application are in. The results? Negative! You weren't accepted into Yale University. Does it mean all hope is lost for you? Not yet. There are still two options you can try. We're not saying they'll get you right in as a guarantee but seeing as they're not the usual options, you can give them a go. Here they are: 

Alternative Option A: Attend a different college and transfer to Yale University later

You can try applying for a different college and transferring to Yale University later. The requirements for transferring can are here. But before you go all cheery about this, be aware that their transfer acceptance rate back in 2019 was 1.76% according to CampusReel. Yes, that's right, it's that low. So if you're going for this option, you'd better be compelling enough for Yale University to give you another go. 

Alternative Option B: Apply again after going through a gap year

Another way to get yourself into Yale University is applying again after you've gone through a gap year, a year-long break before or after college to pursue other activities for further development in education and other parts of life. It's also the chance for you to take a nice long break from your time with school and pursue things that can expand your mind and body. Here are some benefits:

The benefits of a GAP year

The option is less risky than the one above because it gives you a chance to grow your spike and maintain excellence with other areas of interest. But again, don't think of it as a guarantee because Yale University will look at you back and may already consider rejecting your application if they don't see much at all. That's why when taking this option, be sure about it and don't change your mind at the last minute. 


It’s incredible what history can bring to you when you're seeking it out, especially when you're at Yale University. From its beautiful landscapes to its mesmerizing structure, you'll be entangled in a tapestry of legacy, loyalty and determination. It's the same halls where Jodie Foster studied. It's where many students who just became themselves learned to love the way of the Yale life. Yes, it's hard to get in here, and it'll be a fierce battle. But knowing yourself, you know that with the guide we got for you, you'll get yourself up and come winning on top! 



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