My first few days at Yale

<p>Hey all,
I haven't posted here for some time, but I thought that there seems to be a dearth of Yale posters on this forum, so I'd provide a little window into some of my first few days at Yale. Certainly I'm not authoritative voice, but I can tell you a little bit about my own experience here so far if it's of any use to those of you who are looking at Yale, then that's great.</p>

<pre><code>Housing - Yale housing is great. I'm a freshman with a single in a suite of six, with a spacious, high-ceilinged common room. It's a pretty fantastic living situation. Not everyone is so fortunate, but even those in Lanman Wright (L-Dub), which is generally considered the worst freshman housing at Yale, seem to be living well. Plus, they then get to go on to Saybrook and Pierson, to lovely, renovated colleges for their next three years.

I'm in the Directed Studies program, one of Yale's signature freshmen programs. I'll tell you more about the program in a moment, but I suppose I'll tell you about how I got into it. I was always very interested in DS - it was one of my primary reasons for applying early to Yale, and once being accepted, not applying anywhere else. I wasn't preadmitted to the program, however, and upon applying, was waitlisted. Once I got to campus and explained my to my freshman counselor (a senior who lives in freshman housing and who helps us out throughout the year - distinct from an RA) my predicament, she set me up with her friend who had taken DS and was beloved by the faculty. The friend met me for coffee to talk about the program, and, after talking with me for well over an hour, wrote a recommendation to the director of the program on my behalf. She then referred me to a graduate fellow who was tied to DS as well. After talking with me, he mentioned me to the director of the program as well. All this took place within my first few days of arriving on campus. I went to the DS orientation meeting, spoke with the director (I had emailed her previously), and that very same day, I was called off the waitlist. I relate this story not to tell you that you need remarkable connection to get into any programs (several others who used far less elaborate tactics got in as well), but to give you all some idea of how people I've never even met before have been willing to take their time to go to bat on my behalf.

This willingness to help out underclassmen has extended to extracurriculars as well. Upperclassmen have helped me get involved with every organization I want to be a part of, and have offered to meet me for coffee, lunch, and dinner to talk about their organizations or just shoot the breeze. It's great.

DS has astounded me so far. It's 3 full-year courses in Literature, Philosophy, and History and Politics. Each course has 1 lecture/week, and 2 seminars/week. The seminars are taught by full professors, many of them Yale's best. Charles Hill (google him, or something) teaches one of my seminars, and the chair of Yale's Comp Lit department teaches another. My third section is taught by an apparently fabulous philosophy professor. I'd never imagined having this kind of access to professors as a freshman at anything but a liberal arts school.

I suppose I'll close on this note - I've been trying to articulate why I'm so happy at Yale, and I think I've figured out at least part of it. Everything about Yale reminds you that you're at Yale - except for the people. I don't mean to say they aren't brilliant or extremely talented. They are, and remarkably so. But they'd never tell you that. The humility, sociability, and general warmth that surrounds my peers, and seemingly Yale itself, is just exceptional. And so you can move from Woolsey Hall, where you look at the names of Yalies who gave their lives in wars past, to your wood-paneled, ornate dining hall (with plenty of organic food!), where an a capella group is staging an impromptu performance. And it all feels so... Yale, I guess. And then you sit at your table with your classmates, and you realize that, amdist all this pomp, they have so little pretense.
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<p>I guess my only piece of practical advice is that if you're interested in Yale, apply. If you're really interested, apply early. The admissions process is crazy and unpredictable - I personally think they could've replaced all of us with a totally different class, and no one would've known the difference- but you'll never get in if you don't try</p>

<p>All the best, and goodluck,
DMW</p>

<p>Thanks for this :)</p>

<p>nice post!
directed studies sounds FANTASTIC.
i've heard that it's generally considered more difficult than most freshman classes. is this true? do you imagine you'll have more homework/less free time than most of your peers?</p>

<p>I'm the mother of a HS sophmore daughter and I was so happy to read your post. It's great to hear that things worked out as well as or even better than you expected. We are about 35 minutes from Yale and plan to visit it in the near future. Continued good luck.</p>

<p>Directed Studies is definitely intense. DS has some nicknames around campus like "Directed Suicide" or, my favorite, "Death Sentence." I've heard that there can be anywhere up to 1000 to 1,500 pages of reading per week. I have not faced that yet (though I hear we're given 2 weeks to finish Don Quixote, and that's only the reading for the Literature course). There is also a paper in one of the three courses every three of four weeks.</p>

<p>All that being said, I hear it's really not as bad as is common to believe. While staying current with the reading can be brutal, the papers are only 4-5 pages in length. They're also staggered properly, so you'll never have more than 1 DS paper in a week, so work doesn't really pile up onto only a couple of days. There is also no midterm (though each class does have a final). In essence, I hear you really do give up your Thursday nights (the papers are due Friday), but that, if you're willing to be a bit behind on the reading on occasion, you'll be ok.</p>

<p>I'll be honest, I'm still trying to figure it all out myself, but, if you're willing to put in the work (and it's what you're interested in!), it really does seem to be a wonderful program. I had all my sections today, and loved it. I mean, some seriously heady stuff, much of which went over my head, but my goodness - this is what I came to college for!</p>

<p>Best,
DMW</p>

<p>Edit: I've heard that the grading scale in DS isn't so bad. If you write your papers without scrambling at the last minute (harder than it sounds, admittedly) and do a decent job of showing your interest in discussions, I hear you do reasonably well. I hear that for most of the overachieving types, an A- is well within range, but an outright A is difficult.</p>

<p>Another practical aspect of DS is that you get to know some senior teachers your first year at Yale, and so you have a better chance at getting into selective, higher-level courses later. I've also heard that all profs generally know how rigorous DS is, and so if they see you handled yourself there, they're more likely to recognize that you can manage the work in whatever seminar you're trying to get into.</p>

<p>Awesome!
Best of luck with the rest of your year.</p>

<p>Wow, DS sounds great! How exactly do you get into the program? Do you have to apply to DS when you're applying to the school? Do you write it down on your application to Yale that, if admitted, you want to be a part of the DS program?? How does the whole thing work?</p>

<p>You receive information on applying to DS after you are accepted.</p>

<p>So here's what I've figured out about the Directed Studies application / admissions process. Some people are, along with their acceptance letter to Yale, offered pre-admission into Directed Studies. These students can be either those that Yale truly wishes to lure away from other schools by offering an intensely rigorous and intensely personal freshman year experience, but more often, they offer it to those who have taken Latin in high school (the logic, being, I think, that studying Latin demonstrated an interest in studying the Western Canon).</p>

<p>For we of the hoi polloi not fortunate enough to be pre-admitted, there is an application process which was a short essay on why you want to take DS and then 500 words on a class you took in high school. The majority of students who take DS get in this way (it's a fairly rare thing to be pre-admitted, and many of the pre-admitted don't accept). Many are admitted, but those who aren't are instead waitlisted. I relayed my tell above as to the efforts I took to get off the waitlist, but in general, those who are waitlisted and really want to get into DS do. Because of the program's fearsome reputation, and in part because kids realize the multitude of other courses that Yale offers, the dropout rate for the program is pretty high, and so the waitlist is certainly relied upon.</p>

<p>All the best,
DMW</p>

<p>I wish my DD was considering Yale. I'm afraid a number of schools that seem so right for her are very far away geographically--which is a problem to her (and me, truthfully). I read this thread right after reading some disparaging comments elsewhere about Vanderbilt's characteristics (Vandy being one of only 3 schools my DD is currently applying to). I'm not sure Vandy would be a good 'fit'.
At least you've made me stop and think, while there's still time. Thanks.</p>

<p>I was wondering whether, still by applying ED, did you get enough scholarship and financial aid to fill your needs and so on?</p>

<p>Excellent post. I've heard testimonials from hundreds of alumni of all the different Ivies, firsthand - and everything you say has been confirmed to me numerous times over. When David Brooks (a UChicago alum and famous columnist) called Yale the best school in the country, it was an understatement. Yale alumni are incredibly happy with their experiences there. Every time I've visited, I've been impressed with the social life at Yale, which blows that of the other Ivies out of the water.</p>

<p>I know this doesn't directly answer your question with regard to my personal situation, but Yale is SCEA, which is non-binding. Therefore, you can apply early to Yale, and if you are admitted, get your financial aid offer, and then apply to other schools regular and compare those offers.</p>

<p>Best,
DMW</p>

<p>My judgements about other school's social scenes were of course relevant to me with regards to where I was to apply, but I wouldn't say I could make definitive claims about Yale's social scene relative to the other schools. It's flattering that Mr. Brooks would say such a thing about Yale, but I think everyone should check them out themselves and make their own judgements about the relative merits.
I can joyfully tell you, however, that my academic advisor told me the other day that she has been at Yale for twelve years and has never talked to an undergrad who was not happy with their experience and their choice to attend.
Best,
DMW</p>

<p>when you ask for financial aid or scholarships at Yale what do they want, because I know my families income is well over the normal rate, but my family is of four kids with most of the money going into retirement and a good size, but not Yale size amount of money. it could probably pay for instate, but it couldn't pay for just my four year undergrad; not to mention grad school. How does it work, because I couldn't find a clear statment.</p>

<p>i'm so glad that you're having such a wonderful time.. i have a few questions that i hope you can answer. do you think that you can get a similar "liberal arts college type" environment when you're not in DS? right now, i'm planning to apply to yale early because of all the incredible music opportunities on top of amazing academics, but every other school on my list is a small LAC. i'm worried that if i went to yale, i wouldn't get as good of an education there as i could at, say, williams, because i wouldn't have much access to professors and i wouldn't have very many discussion based classes. do you know if other people have any access to this type of education?</p>

<p>DS is not exactly what I would consider a liberal arts style environment. It's an extremely intense course/freshman program of study for people into classics, history, etc. The liberal arts environment has now come to mean just a broad education in many subjects. With Yale's distributional requirements, you will definitely get exposure to a liberal arts-style education. If you choose to just fulfill the distributional requirements, you can, and if you want to get a broad education, you can take many courses outside of your major. As to class size, you will very likely have a large class your freshman year. Though, the freshman seminar program and other small classes such as freshman intro to econ, freshman orgo, freshman English seminars, and a few others are classes that you can choose that will allow you daily interaction between your professor and fellow classmates (around 18 total students, except for freshman orgo which is 60 vs. regular lecture hall of 200). As to quality of education, I think it depends on the class and professor. A large lecture course can be more educational than a small discussion-based course, depending on how they are structured.</p>

<p>My daughter just began her sophomore year. During her first semester freshman year all of her classes had less than 25 students. Her second semester she had two classes with over 100 students in them, but this did not seem to be a problem. </p>

<p>The distributional requirements coupled with no specific required classes and the large number of classes of all types available without pre-requisites provides a great opportunity to have a Liberal Arts education. </p>

<p>From what I have seen, there is a great deal of effort placed on making sure that students have sufficient access to classes and professors.</p>

<p>God, I love it here too. Way to capture something we all realize but seldom talk about.</p>