How to Get Into Yale: Data & Admissions Strategies
When it comes to getting accepted into Yale, the good news is that the school is enrolling more undergraduate students now than at any previous point in the university’s history; the Class of 2024 was the fourth class to be part of Yale’s expansion from 5,400 to 6,200 undergraduates. The bad news is…well, just about everything else. Such is life when you are aiming to gain acceptance to a school with a sub-5% acceptance rate that yawns in response to 1600 SAT scores and rejects valedictorians with regularity.
Of course, the best way to optimize any elite college application is to do extensive homework on each school, finding an edge over your competition wherever you can. Toward that aim, the intent of this article is to give those considering applying to Yale University:
1) An understanding of what you are up against.
2) More data on which to accurately assess your chances of admission.
3) Advice for how to get your application to Yale stand out, even against other superb applicants.
To accomplish these goals we will touch on the following topics:
- Yale’s Class of 2025 early (SCEA) acceptance rate
- Yale’s Class of 2025 acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted Yale applicants
- Admissions trends from the Class of 2025
- Why being “well-rounded” won’t help you get into Yale.
- How Yale admissions officers evaluate applicants
- A look at the demographics of Yale undergraduates
- The percent of accepted students that attend the university (yield rate)
- Tips for applying to Yale
- How to assess whether applying to Yale is even worth the $80 application fee (for you)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
Yale: Early Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025
Out of the record 7,939 early applications received for a spot in the Class of 2025, Yale accepted 837, working out to a 10.5% acceptance rate. The early applicant pool was significantly larger than last year which saw 5,777 hopefuls apply to Yale. The acceptance rate for the Class of 2024 was a friendlier 13.8%. In the 2020-21 admissions cycle, 50% of early applicants were deferred for reconsideration in the regular round and 38% were outright rejected.
Yale Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025
There were 46,905 applications submitted for a place in the 2021-2022 freshman class, the greatest number in school history. The acceptance rate was just 4.62%, an all-time low. However, this is just a bit lower than the last handful of years when the acceptance rate has hovered between 5.9% and 6.9%. The last time that Yale had a double-digit admit rate was for the Class of 2003. Back in 1995,the acceptance rate was actually 20% and was as high as 26% for the class receiving their diplomas months before the American bicentennial.
Yale Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank
According to the most recent official statistics available (Class of 2024), the mid-50% SAT range for admitted freshman was 1470-1560; the ACT the range was 33-35. An astonishing 89% of 2020-21 freshmen scored above a 700 on the math section of the SAT; 86% scored above a 700 on the reading section. Ninety-four percent had earned a place in the top 10% of the graduating high school class compared to last year’s figure of 92%.
Admissions Trends & Notes – (Class of 2025)
- Yale admitted 72 students through QuestBridge this year.
- The university admitted students from all 50 U.S. States and 72 countries.
- Yale offered a spot on the waiting list to 1,030 applicants.
- Applications increased 33% for the Class of 2025.
- 20% of admits are Pell Grant recipients.
- Class of 2025 admits attended 1,600 different secondary schools.
- Admitted students possessed 79 different intended majors.
Be Great at One Thing; Not “Well-Rounded”
As at the likes of Princeton and Harvard, Yale University is looking for the next generation of luminaries in a variety of areas. One look at the list of notable Yale alumni and you’ll get a sense of what the university is looking for: the next wave of politicians (the Bush dynasty, Hilary Clinton), award-winning writers (Naomi Wolf, David McCullough, Tom Wolfe,), journalists (Anderson Cooper, Bob Woodward), business leaders (Stephen Schwarzman, Indra Nooyi) and actors and actresses (Claire Danes, Jodie Foster, James Franco).
Being spread thin across ten activities, even if they are all impressive, simply isn’t going to blow away the Yale admissions committee. Shining in one or two areas is key. For advice about how to stand out on the extracurricular front, check out our previous blog entitled How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need for College?
How Yale Evaluates Applicants
In the words of one former Yale University President: “selecting future Yale students was a combination of looking for those who would make the most of the extraordinary resources assembled here, those with a zest to stretch the limits of their talents, and those with an outstanding public motivation.” Some elite schools tend to favor pre-professional candidates but Yale is known for placing great value on intellectual curiosity and demonstrated passion for a given pursuit. As the school’s own admissions website encourages of applicants, “pursue what you love and tell us about that. Be yourself. Ask the teachers who really know you to recommend you. Apply and relax.”
Yale ranks the following categories as being “very important” to the admissions process: application essay, recommendations, extracurricular activities, rigor of secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, and character/personal qualities. No factors are rated as “important,” and interviews, first-generation status, legacy status, geographic residence, state residency, racial/ethnic status, volunteer work, and paid work experience are all “considered.”
In terms of extracurricular activities it is vitally important to have some type of “hook” when applying to Yale. For example, there are 34 Division I sports teams at the university and 800+ varsity athletes. If you are a star player being heavily recruited by a coach at Yale, your chances of admission rise exponentially, particularly if you are “in range” academically. If you are less athletically-inclined, perhaps you are a star orator and future member of the Yale Debate Association or possess talents and a writer, researcher, violinist, actress, activist, or entrepreneur.
Who Actually Gets Into Yale?
Let’s look at the demographics of the Class of 2024.
Geographically, the Class of 2024 was comprised of students from the:
- Northeast: 29%
- Mid-Atlantic States: 9%
- Southern States: 14%
- Western States: 17%
- Midwestern States: 11%
- Southwestern States: 9%
Yale, like most elites, likes to achieve a level of geographic diversity that allows them to say they have a class member from every state. Therefore, if you hail from the Deep South or a less-populated state like Montana or Idaho, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances than if you live in New England or New York.
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown was as follows (percentages do not add up to 100% as applicants can list multiple races):
- White: 45%
- Asian American: 29%
- Hispanic: 14%
- African American: 13%
- American Indian: 2%
- International: 9%
Looking at the type of high school Class of 2024 members hailed from shows the following:
- Public: 67%
- Independent Day: 19%
- Boarding: 5%
- Religious: 9%
Yale’s Yield Rate
Yale’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was 69% for the Class of 2023. Even though this represented a decline from the previous year, Yale’s yield rate is still one the very highest in the country. For comparison, elite schools such as Emory, Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, and Georgetown all have yield rates under 50%.
Tips for Applying to Yale
The nearly 47,000 Yale applicants should all be aware of the following:
- An interview is not a mandatory part of the admissions process, but all applicants are encouraged to connect with an alumni interviewer whenever possible. Interviews are intended to be both informational and evaluative. SCEA interviews are scheduled prior to those for the regular round. Interviews can take place face-to-face or via video chat.
- A limited number of on-campus interviews are made available each year on a first-come, first-served basis. Interviews are with current Yale seniors and are made available over the summer and in the fall.
- For advice on what types of questions you should be prepared to answer/ask visit our blog—College Interview Tips.
- Yale does not consider “demonstrated interest” due to their aforementioned sky-high yield rate. Therefore you do not need to make contact with the university just for this purpose.
- Do everything you can to “bring your application to life.” This means seeking out recommenders who can speak to your passion and help your unique personality and attributes pop off the page. Essays will also be key…
- Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essays and short answers required by Yale. In the 2020-21 cycle, they were as follows:
Short Answer Questions
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application will respond to the following short answer questions:
- Students at Yale have plenty of 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.
- Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)
- What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
- What inspires you? (200 character max)
- Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask? (200 character max)
- You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called? (200 character max)
- Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six students. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours? (200 character max)
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application: use the two short essays (250 words or fewer) below to reflect on topics and personal experiences that will help the Admissions Committee learn more about you.
1. Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it?
2. Respond to one of the following prompts:
- 2A. Reflect on your membership in a community. Why is your involvement important to you? How has it shaped you? You may define community however you like.
- 2B. Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it.
- 2C. Tell us about your relationship with a role model or mentor who has been influential in your life. How has their guidance been instrumental to your growth?
Should I Apply to Yale?
If you are at the top of your high school class and sport exceptional standardized test scores, it is definitely worth adding Yale to your college list. Yet, no matter how bright and accomplished you are, this is one university that is a “reach” school for every single applicant. Unless you are a star athletic recruit of the progeny of a U.S. President, it’s hard to give anyone a better than 50/50 chance at earning a place in the Yale freshman class. For more information on constructing a properly balanced list of prospective colleges, consult our blog—How to Create the Perfect College List.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).