If I select Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as my first-choice intended major over plain Computer Science, then do all my essays need to be about Electrical Engineering? Can they just be about past experiences in Computer Science?
Intended major affects the essay more if the essay topic is something like “describe your intended academic pathway and how and why you chose it” versus something like “describe a difficult problem that you solved”.
In general, an essay should demonstrate something about you that the reader can’t see somewhere else in your application. The exception is the example ucbalumnus mentioned above about your intended academic pathway.
Depends on the essay. If it’s something like “why did you chose your major”, probably.
If it’s “Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.” it can be about anything. Unless the best story you can tell is about an Electrical Engineering failure, you shouldn’t try to force it to be about your major.
A vast majority of essays are attempts to learn about you as a person.
So if the essay was, for example: “Please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you”, I would have to write about Electrical Engineering? Can I just write about the computer science bit and say I would like to explore EE?
You’ve got several points of confusion. Your original question made it seem like you meant the Personal Statement and general supp questions every Yale applicant answers. Now, you’re talking about a specific engineering prompt. It asks about the engineering program and you really should answer to that.
Many kids have zero idea what engineering does. They “want” to explore it. You have to ask yourself if that makes one competitive for the program. It’s easy to filter out kids who don’t have the range of experiences that can be expected at hs age, when it’s a tippy top college.
It’s a “qualifying” question, meaning, you stated major XX, what understanding and background? It’s a chance to show you know what you’re aiming for, have somewhat tested this interest, taken on appropriate challenges. And, for engineering, that you have the mindset and a few other traits. In that respect, it’s also a test of your general thinking.
So, how could you answer that prompt? How do you present yourself as qualified and compelling for EE and CS? Other than “I would like to…?” There’s a broad range of decent answers, but should be some basis.
I have plenty of experience in CS, but not much experience in EE. Are you saying that I should just apply for plain CS if I don’t have past experience in EE?
Do you actually prefer to study EE instead of CS or other majors?
What do you know about EE, and what attracts you to the subject?
I can’t tell you what to choose. But I know many kids have difficulty with this prompt.
Engineering, for many, looks like fun problem solving. It is, but it’s much more, day to day, than the media view, products invented, etc.
There’s overlap with CS thinking and process, especially CSE. What experiences do you have, outside classes?
It’s ok to want to explore. It’s just that any highly competitive program is looking for a little more.
It would be less competitive than computer science, right? I’ve got a very extensive portfolio in computer science, but not so much in hardware. I am guessing EE and CS looks for more hardware people?
What major do you really want to study?
At a college where CS is filled to capacity, students who enter as another major or undeclared will have to go through another admission process to change into CS.
Yale admits all frosh undeclared, and Yale CS does not appear to be filled to capacity (require high GPA or competitive admission to declare), so you may as well list the major you actually want to study.