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My concerns about the PEOPLE at Yale

ArcessoArcesso Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited May 2011 in Yale University
So I have 3 days to make a decision about where I'm going to college and I'm completely undecided. Right now it's between Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Williams.

My main concern with Yale is that I feel like I won't fit in with the people there for the following reasons:

1. Yale students are known to be preppy and rich. Not a big fan of this type.

2. Yale students tend to be very politically involved. I'm completely apathetic about politics.

3. There seems to be more drinking and partying at Yale than at the other schools I'm considering. I'm a quiet guy and I like to just chill with friends and talk rather than drink and party.

I really love Yale and everything about it besides these cultural things that may or may not be true. I really want to choose Yale but I'm afraid because of the reasons above that I might fit in better at Harvard or Stanford or Williams socially. Help?
Post edited by Arcesso on

Replies to: My concerns about the PEOPLE at Yale

  • TheAscendancyTheAscendancy Registered User Posts: 481 Member
    1. Yale students are known to be preppy and rich. Not a big fan of this type.

    Common misconception. It's simply not true. Most of my friends are neither preppy nor rich. Are there preppy rich kids here? Yes, but no more than there are at Harvard, Stanford, or Williams. If this is a concern for you, it should be a concern for you at your alternatives as well.
    2. Yale students tend to be very politically involved. I'm completely apathetic about politics.

    The politically involved are usually in the YPU and other politically related activities. Again, most of my friends are completely apathetic about politics. The political scene is definitely there if you want it, but it by no means dominates the campus. You'll fit in perfectly fine if you don't care much for politics.
    3. There seems to be more drinking and partying at Yale than at the other schools I'm considering. I'm a quiet guy and I like to just chill with friends and talk rather than drink and party.

    There are PLENTY of people who do just that. I, myself, don't party much and chill with my friends on the weekends. I've never felt out of place or pressured to go out. Just like the politics, the parties are there if you want it, but it's nowhere near dominating the social atmosphere. If anything, schools like Stanford are more frat-oriented than Yale is.

    If you liked Yale, you should definitely come here -- especially if those are your only concerns. I can assure you that they're simple misconceptions, and that you'll fit in just fine.
  • livorneolivorneo Registered User Posts: 138 Junior Member
    I can absolutely attest to everything TheAscendancy wrote. Most of my friends are definitely not rich and preppy. I and most of my friends are also pretty apathetic about politics. I and my suitemates do not drink or party, and I have other friends who don't as well, but there's still plenty of full/chill things to do on weekends and such.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 16,658 Senior Member
    There seems to be more drinking and partying at Yale than at the other schools I'm considering.

    Unless Hell has frozen over recently without my having noticed it, this could be true only if you have already crossed Stanford and Williams off your list.
  • memakememake Registered User Posts: 559 Member
    Of the four schools you mentioned, my guess is that the one that is most relaxed socially and easiest for a friendly, non-drinking slightly awkward nerd to feel comfortable in is probably Yale. If that is an unfair or inaccurate portrait of you, my apologies - I'm basing it very loosely on your post.
  • ArcessoArcesso Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thanks for the replies! It's helpful to hear that. I just want to make sure that I'd fit in considering what Yale's social scene is known as.

    I also have a question about Yale's housing. This is copied from my post in Harvard's forum and I wanted to know what your say is about it.

    I know the differences between Harvard and Yale in terms of The fact that Harvard has the blocking system and Yale has residential colleges. People talk about how Yale's system promotes community and meeting lots of people. But I feel like Harvard's promotes more of a small social-circle atmosphere where you live with your closest friends. But at Yale it seems like you have to live with a lot of random people you may not like and have to settle for hanging out with your best friends on the side. Is this true?
  • wjbwjb Registered User Posts: 2,908 Senior Member
    Arcesso, did you have the opportunity to visit Yale yourself, or are you getting your info on Yale students and the social scene from second-hand sources who perhaps have an axe to grind? I say that only because your broad perceptions are just way off target.

    I'm not a student, but my son is. Here's his observation on Yale's Residential College system: You can't really understand its immense value until you are part of it. It creates a high-functioning artificial community that’s a place to make friends who aren’t exactly like you, and to do it with almost no effort. He has several other circles of friends based on his interests, but my son’s anchors are his roommates -- a disparate bunch united only by their having been assigned as freshmen to the same room in the same Residential College.
  • BayBay Registered User Posts: 12,499 Senior Member
    There are preppy, rich kids at all of the colleges you are considering. Stanford has the most full-pay students: 50%, so it is likely that it has the most rich kids.
    But at Yale it seems like you have to live with a lot of random people you may not like and have to settle for hanging out with your best friends on the side. Is this true?

    There is a little bit of truth to this. I have a D at Yale and a D at Harvard, so I understand the difference in the living situations pretty well.

    At Harvard, in Spring of your freshman year, you pick your sophomore roommates from among your friends, and you will be assigned to the same house with them for the rest of your years there. You can continue to live with them or not for Jr and Sr years, but will have to choose from among others in that house if you do not.

    At Yale, you know upon arrival which res. college you will be assigned to for the entire 4 years, and are immediately placed in a suite with fellow-college members your freshman year. If you all decide stay together for sophomore year, then your work is done finding roommates, but like you say, they might not be friends who you hang out with.

    In D at Yale's case, she did not want to live with her freshman suitemates - they were not like her, she did not like some of their living habits, and she did not spend time with them as friends. She therefore had to find other people in her res. college to live with soph year, which was not difficult for her because she is quite social, but it created a bit of stress and maybe moreso than Harvard's system does, because D's closest friends whom she would have liked to live with were not in her college.
  • wjbwjb Registered User Posts: 2,908 Senior Member
    ^One of my son's freshman suite mates transferred Residential Colleges for that reason. I don't think it happens often, but it does happen.
  • KhachaturianKhachaturian Registered User Posts: 80 Junior Member
    I have to agree with everything that has been voiced thus far.
    My year at Yale has been by far the best year of my life and this is largely because of the people I have met here. I'm a relatively quiet reserved person; I don't party, I haven't touched a drop of alcohol during my time on campus and still I can say that socially I've had a blast. There are so many options outside of the party scene; there are literally student organization run events every weekend, and they're a lot of fun. And if you want something a little more laid back, the suite-style living is really conducive to just bringing over a couple of friends and chilling.
    Coming from a background that was neither preppy nor rich, I feel like I was able to find my place in Yale culture pretty quickly. Are there some people that may be a little on the preppy side? Sure. But there are enough people on campus that you don't have to interact with people you don't like. And honestly, just about every single person I've met on campus has been a genuinely nice person, even if they aren't my ideal friend type.
    As far as residential colleges, the system works well. I think one of the problems that can happen with Harvard's blocking can be that you end up with one college filled with one kind of person. Yale's random assignment during freshman year makes it so that you interact with people that you might not have, and staying in your residential college fosters a great sense of community. That said, I found a terrific group of friends outside of my residential college. We really are a little family, so I chose to transfer to their residential college. It was a very smooth process. So, you, there's really no drawbacks to Yale's college system. No matter how you look at it, it provides you with a really great social foundation and support system.
    Basically, if you're worried about Yale's social climate, please don't be. Yale has been the most amazing thing to happen to me. I have grown and learned so much, and a large portion of that growth is due to the people I've met and the social experiences I've had. I promise you, if you come here, you will not regret it.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 16,658 Senior Member
    Yale's system has a couple of advantages over Harvard's otherwise very similar system:

    1. Freshmen at Yale already belong to a college. So they can join the college's intramural teams, singing groups, etc.; indeed, they are recruited to those organizations, welcomed with open arms. They eat in their colleges sometimes, too. They thus have a lot of casual social contact with upperclassmen (contact that doesn't depend on being attractive and being hit on by the upperclassmen).

    Also, all of the academic advising is done through the colleges, so there is continuity in advising from freshman year on, and opportunities for casual contact with faculty associated with the college beginning freshman year.

    2. The Harvard system can cause a lot of stress in freshman spring as blocking groups are formed -- who is in what group, what groups associate with each other or not, where everyone ends up. You are assured of being with your closest friends (if you are certain you know who they are), but you may wind up half a mile away from your next-closest friends. At Yale, there are fewer choices to make, so a lot less drama, and if you aren't rooming with people you like, you will still see them every day.

    The great part of the Yale system is not your closest friends, but the people you wouldn't be friends with at all if you hadn't lived near them for four years and eaten with them on a regular basis. Harvard produces some of the same effect, but there's a year less of it. On the other hand, at Harvard you wind up with freshman dorm friends all over the place, not just EC or class friends, while at Yale 99% of your freshman dorm friends are still in your dorm when you are a senior. So at Harvard you may know a few more people in a few more houses.

    I note that Harvard changed its system about 20 years ago to make it a lot more like Yale's. It used to be that Harvard freshmen applied to the houses of their choice, and had to be accepted by them, and only then could they form their living groups (unless you got a group of people together to apply to unpopular houses where acceptance was assured). Back then, the houses had different characters, and did not necessarily have a broad range of students in each one. By moving to a much more random system, Harvard affirmed that Yale had been doing something right all along.
  • addymithasaddymithas Registered User Posts: 480 Member
    OP, would you mind telling us your stats and EC'S? I just want some type of benchmark/goal or a decent idea of how to judge myself based on EC's and scores. Thanks! I hope to be a Yalie soon too!
  • DandemomDandemom Registered User Posts: 141 Junior Member
    "You are assured of being with your closest friends (if you are certain you know who they are)"

    In D's case, her friend group and her friend group at the end of freshman year are completely different. If she were to have chosen her living arrangements at the end of freshman year, she would never have met the people who mean the world to her today. D is definitely neither rich nor preppy and she has had the most amazing three years. She is pretty conservative and says that she never feels pressured to do ANYTHING she doesn't want to. When she signed up for her senior seminar a couple of weeks ago, she called me crying that she has only a year left at Yale! (yes, she is overly dramatic)
  • worknprogress2worknprogress2 Registered User Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    Dandemom - your D's experience was similar to my D's. She is still living with one of her freshman suitemates, but the other two were much different. Nice young women, but different.

    My D thought of herself as liberal until she was a student at Yale. What I think is interesting, is that without ANY prompting from me, she found her way to a church group in New Haven where she made some really nice friends and with whom she traveled on a couple of mission trips. I think if she had gone to a conservative school (not that any of the OP's options fit in that category), she would have been less inclined to connect with a church group.

    Now - that doesn't mean she doesn't party and have a good time - that is certainly on the agenda, but she found a balance.

    Dandemom - wait til next year at this time - then the tears will really begin to flow!!
  • zenkoanzenkoan Registered User Posts: 1,118 Senior Member
    >Stanford has the most full-pay students: 50%, so it is likely that it has the most rich kids.<

    Bay, your statement is incorrect. Only 20% of Stanford's student body is full-pay, and that has been the case since 2008.
    Families cope with tuition hikes | Stanford Daily
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