Hello! I’ve applied to Yale SCEA and would like to have an idea of how I might fare on Wednesday. (Obviously, I know that it’s extremely unlikely for anyone to get in, but I was wondering how I might stack up.) Please be brutally honest.
White male (RI), divorced parents.
My parents are both alumni, but we’re definitely not fantastically wealthy or anything like that. My mother is a college professor and my father is a farmer.
Intended Major: Ethics, Politics and Economics
UW GPA: 4.0
W GPA: 4.66
Class Rank: 2/102
SAT: 1580 in one sitting (800 M/780 EBRW)
Calculus AB - 5
Spanish Literature and Culture* - 5
US History - 5
Microeconomics* - 4
Macroeconomics*, Statistics* – this year.
I took Calculus II at my state university (online) this past summer and received a grade of A.
I’m an IB Diploma candidate and am taking/have taken:
Math SL (I took Algebra II as a freshman and this course sophomore year; my school didn’t offer Math HL at the time. I still haven’t taken the exam, though, because I was too young as a sophomore and my school’s IB coordinator decided that I should wait to take it this year rather than just send in the IA last year with the exams being canceled.)
World Religions SL
English A HL
Spanish B HL
History of the Americas HL
Other than IB/AP courses, every class I have taken in high school has been at the Honors level, except three years of theology (it’s a Catholic school), which is only offered as college-prep. In addition to my core courses, I’ve been in Honors Band every year.
Extracurriculars listed on the Common App (I broke them into categories for ease of reading here instead of putting each separately):
- State Model Legislature – Senator 9, Senate Liberal Whip 10-11, President of the Senate 12 (I’ve won an award for distinguished participation – usually 5 or 6 are given to the top students out of about 115 – each of the past two years and will probably win one of the two major book awards this year, since they traditionally go to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House.)
- Sports – Cross Country (Varsity 12, Captain 12) and Indoor Track (Varsity 9-12, Captain 12, All-Division/All-Class 11). I’m not going to be a recruited athlete anywhere, but I’ve done fairly respectably and improved a ton from my freshman year.
- Campaign volunteering – I was a text moderator/organizer on the Biden campaign and put in about 250-300 hours between March and November of this year as one of about 800 leaders of a team of roughly 45,000.
- Student government – Class Secretary 9-11, Student Body President 12
- Volunteering – For the last two summers, I’ve been the official scorer, data analyst and statistican for my local summer collegiate baseball team. The sport has always been a passion of mine, even though I’m absolutely terrible at playing it (which I did recreationally until aging out last year), and I wrote my Common App essay on this activity.
- Work – I’ve had to work on my dad’s farm every summer to contribute to the family business. I listed this under “family responsibilities.” This year, I used the skills I’d learned to spend extra time out there doing my IB CAS project – growing over a quarter ton of squash for the food bank that’s literally two blocks from my house.
- Religious – I’m an altar server at my Episcopal church and also volunteer at parish community events (not during covid, of course).
Awards (these are the five I listed on the Common App):
- School Highest Honors (every year)
- National Merit Semifinalist
- National Spanish Exam Gold Medalist (Levels 1-4)
- Herbert and Claiborne Pell Medal for Excellence in United States History (statewide award given to rising seniors, originally established by our longest-serving and most accomplished senator and now given in his memory)
Counselor – She’s also my IB English teacher and loves me in there, because I’m one of only three in a class of about 27 who participate. She has described my profile as “very impressive” and is fairly confident about my chances at Yale, so I’m hoping that means she’s written a great letter to back me up. I’m hoping for an 8.5/10 or 9/10 from her and don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation.
Teacher 1 – My IB World History teacher and Model Legislature advisor whom I’m very close to. He and I have had hours of off-the-record conversations about politics after class, and last week at parent-teacher conferences he told my mother that I was “one of the few most remarkable students” he’d ever encountered and “the kind that make you want to keep teaching.” I’d say it’s reasonable to expect a 9.5/10 or 10/10 from him.
Teacher 2 – My IB Spanish teacher who I’ve had since sophomore year and was my advisor when I independently studied the AP Spanish Literature and Culture course last year due to an irregularity in the schedule that prevented me from taking the second year of the IB class. I don’t know her quite as well as my history teacher, but we get along well and she’s always been very complimentary at parent-teacher conferences. I’d expect somewhere between an 8/10 and 9/10 from her.
Outside Recommender – The state Model Legislature coordinator, whom I’ve known since joining the leadership team my sophomore year. This is the only recommendation I’ve seen, and it’s incredible. She wrote two whole pages about my leadership ability, intellectual curiosity and motivation. Easily a 10/10.
- Common App – I wrote it about Extracurricular (5) and tied it into my love for the sport, working on the family farm, my attention to detail, growth in social confidence and the ability to be assertive but not arrogant, and my command of a litany of arcane rules and regulations (look up “Baseball Rule 10: The Official Scorer” to get the idea). I spent months working on it and revising it with input from my parents, my counselor, and a family friend who used to be an AO at a Catholic college in the Northeast. It came out really well – I’d give it an 8/10 or 9/10.
- Short Answer 1 – I talked about being inspired by the rise in political activism in my generation. A little generic, but it connected to my interest. 8/10
- Short Answer 2 – I chose a behavioral economist whose research I’ve read extensively and inspired my interest in the subject. My question seemed clever, and he was probably a fairly uncommon choice. 9/10 or 9.5/10.
- Short Answer 3 – Tied this into working on the farm and the history/future of American family agriculture. “Playing the farm card,” my dad dismissed it, but he had to acknowledge that it was unique. 8.5/10 or 9/10.
- Short Answer 4 – Talked about my mastery of esoterica regarding US presidents and sports but not pop culture, expressed the hope of finding suitemates who could fill in the rest and make us an unstoppable trivia team. This was the question I struggled the most with, and I think it’s my weakest response. 7/10 or maybe 8/10.
- Why Major – This came out great; I tied it to my voracious reading habits, favorite activities and more. 8.5/10 or 9/10.
- Why Yale – In addition to doing the standard picking out activities, courses and resources routine, I took a gamble and alluded to my legacy with a phrase about “my parents’ class reunions.” Now, I’m panicking about that potential misstep. This essay is either an 8.5/10 or 9/10 if that wasn’t a screw-up or maybe a 4/10 if it was.
- Engagement With an Idea – I tracked my fascination with politics from going to the polls with my mom to vote for Obama in '08 to another clear childhood memory – listening to NPR commentators discussing the Shelby decision in the car – to my continued passion for voting rights, which I’ve explored in Model Legislature, the Biden campaign and as a poll worker this year. Probably my favorite essay in the package – I’d be willing to call it a 9.5/10.
- Membership in a Community – I talked about improving as a runner from 25th/25 to 3rd/19, being part of a supportive, offbeat group, becoming more motivated and learning about setting ambitious goals and realistic planning, and then using my experience to be a stronger leader both as team captain and elsewhere. 8.5/10 or maybe even 9/10.