The Yale Essay That Worked and Why

When applying for the college of your dreams, it is standard to dedicate a portion of your child's time to the required written essay or short response questions.

The objective of these supplementary brief inquiries in your student application is to ensure officers from the admissions office have an extensive outline and overall picture of your child as an individual. The short response and written segment of a candidate's college application will allow evaluators, in essence, to assess a student's personality from beyond an ordinary, dull, and resume-like application.

These questions are a great opportunity for you to highlight and emphasize your values, passions, goals, and how these ambitions make you a prime fit for the university you are applying for.

How to Write a Compelling College Application Essay

Generally, students should expect these questions to limit writing to 35, 100, or 250-word answers. While it can be discouraging to have a restricted amount of words to convey your thoughts and answer, student applicants illustrate their ability to convey essential personal details alongside with succinct, powerful words.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Stand Out College Essays to learn the tips and techniques on writing a winning essay and maximize your college admission chances!

Standard Questions for College Application Essays

While it can be intimidating to brainstorm and figure out what you may want to convey and write on your essay portion of the college application, preparing for the conventional questions may be of help.

The list below are some routine and conventional short response questions you can anticipate to see: 

  • "Why Choose This College?" 

  • "What is it about College X or University X that has led you to apply?" 

  • "What inspires you?" 

  • "Most first-year College X or University X live on-campus. What do you hope to add to their experience, and vice versa?" 

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Stand Out Essay Example and Why It Was A Great Response

Now that you are aware of the common essay questions to look out for, the bigger question of what to write in response crawls up from behind you.

Fear not, below is a sample essay responses written from an admitted student applicant (to prestigious Ivy Leagues). Analyses are added below the responses and how they are outstanding answers to what admission officers assessing candidate are on the search for. 

An admitted written essay response to Yale University from Carolina Williams :

"The sound of my doorbell starts off high, then the pitch mellows out, and the whole effect mimics an instrumental interpretation of rain finally finding a steady pace at which to fall. I have spent several minutes analyzing its tone because I have had many opportunities to do so, as one thing I love to do is order pizza and have it delivered to my house. When the delivery person rings my doorbell, I instantly morph into one of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating to the sound that signals the arrival of the cheesy, circular glory. It smells like celebration, as I love to rejoice a happy occasion by calling Papa John’s for my favorite food. It tastes like comfort, since having pizza delivered to my quiet home is a way for me to unwind. It looks like self-sufficiency, because when I was young, ordering pizza made me feel grown-up, and it still provides that satisfaction for my child at heart. Accepting those warm cardboard boxes is second nature to me, but I will always love ordering pizza because of the way eight slices of something so ordinary are able to evoke feelings of independence, consolation, and joy."

Williams concisely expresses her love for pizza in a unique and charming way, capturing the attention of the regional Yale admissions officer.

She triumphantly reveals a profound passion for pizza through a description of her childhood recollections of when Williams would order some Papa John's Pizza and having it delivered to her home. The story and language depicted a setting of solace in addition to her individuality and self-sufficiency at a young age. 

"Accepting those warm cardboard boxes at my front door is second nature to me, but I will always love ordering pizza because of the way eight slices of something so ordinary are able to evoke feelings of independence, consolidation, and joy"

When you are responding to a similar common application question, follow these suggestions:

Get creative but include the reason

A bland statement such as "I love pizza" does not communicate to evaluators that you are unique from the rest of the student applicants in your passion for pizza. While it is unusual indeed, students should remember to respond with creativity and the why.

Construct a personal moment with vivid details

Pursue Williams approach and create a written response that details a specific moment in your life related to your passion. Do not forget to illustrate the depth of your recollections as this shows the admission officer the extent of what you are inspired by.


Although there are many recommendations and strategic tips on completing your written essay, always remember the following the takeaway:

The final written responses should ultimately display a student's analytical self-consciousness in regards to considering and thinking about who you are as an individual, what you care and are most passionate about, and the reason why.

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The Yale Essay That Worked and Why
7EDU Impact Academy 29 May, 2023
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