What are my chances of getting into Yale or NYU?

I’m curious about my prospects of getting into both Yale and NYU. With an intended double major in theatre and business, I aim to apply to Yale through their limited early action program. I intend to apply to NYU for normal admission with a music business major.

My stats are as follows:

  • I attend a high school in New Haven, CT
  • Top ten percent out of 127)
  • I will be going test-optional
  • GPA weighted: 4.636
  • GPA unweighted: 4.201
  • Theatre major at my high school
  • Letters of recommendation will be done by my AP Lang teacher, my AP gov teacher, and my counselor.

My extracurriculars are as follows:

  • New voters with Harvard Student Leader
  • Youth Leaders Council New Haven Treasurer (Work with mayor of New Haven to combat race inequities)
  • Started a High School Democrats chapter
  • NXTHVN Apprentice (my apprenticeship focuses on arts management)
  • Curated a professional exhibition in New Haven, CT
  • Lead and writer of a touring anti-bullying musical
  • Red Cross Blood Drive Host
  • Created my own student Ted Talk
  • Student Council member
  • National honors society president
  • Thespian honors society member
  • Published on Teen ink

College list:

  • NYU
  • Pace
  • Emerson
  • Carnegie Mellon
  • George Washington
  • American
  • Berklee Boston
  • Fordham
  • Drexel
  • Yale (early action)
  • Northeastern

It looks like a you have a good list of schools, with some safeties & matches as well as several reaches. I assume that at least some of these schools are affordable for your family. In terms of Yale, it will be a reach for you just as it is for every student - you sound like you have a wonderful academic record and solid ECs, but Yale turns away droves of similar students every year. Unless you have a hook of some kind (recruited athlete, national academic prize, legacy etc) the odds are against you (as they are for all students). I think you stand a better chance at NYU, especially if you aren’t looking for any financial aid (they are notoriously stingy) - your background and stats are similar to kids I know who have been admitted in the past. Of course, that’s no guarantee, but just an observation.

Your hook at Yale is being a New Haven resident (assuming that is your city of residence). Yale really likes that

Just curious— given your background why are you going test optional? It may not be a negative but I am wondering.

I am not a New Haven resident but I have been in the New Haven School system since the 5th grade. I really hope being an NHPS student helps. I am going test-optional because I did not perform to Yale’s high standards. Being online for the past year and a half has made learning SAT material imbedded within my curriculum extremely difficult. Also, we do not have the recourses for high-end tutors at my school. I will probably end up submitting scores to some targets and all my safeties.

Thank you very much for responding so quickly. I failed to mention that at my school, I received the Harvard book award. However, I’m not sure how significant an award that is…? The only thing preventing me from EDing to NYU is their inconsistency and stinginess in terms of financial assistance. When my sister was accepted into NYU, they were going to make her pay $72,000! I am assuming I will get around the same package. My family would certainly not be able to pay anything over $50,000.

First of all, you sound like you have a very impressive academic record, and a nice list of ECs.
I think that you have a pretty good chance at NYU. Not so sure about Yale. What is the connection that leads to the letter from Titus Kaphar? Has he taught you painting? You haven’t mentioned fine arts as an interest.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have a “hook” (recruited athlete, legacy, URM, big donor relative) or a serious spike (national or international level achievement in some field, or in some area that the school wants), then it’s very tough to get into the tippy-top schools. You have a chance, but it’s small. I think you are smart to use your early action card on Yale - it might improve your chance. And it looks like you have good safeties and matches, too.

Should you apply to UConn? They have some hefty merit scholarships for high achievers like you, that your school guidance counselor can nominate you for. But from your list, it sounds like you don’t want to be out in the cow fields of Storrs.

As it’s been easy to get a test seat in CT for about 10 months now, I imagine you weren’t happy with your SATs. Did you consider taking a free practice test for the ACT, and seeing how you score on that? It’s pretty straight forward to prep for it. Some people who do meh on the SAT do better with the ACT (and vice versa). I think that high achievers without ADHD tend to do better with the ACT (with some prep), and with your high achievement and many ECs, I think you might be a good match for the ACT. I don’t know how colleges are going to view test optional applicants this year. They can pretty much assume that everyone had a chance to test even multiple times, so I’m worried that schools will assume your scores weren’t good. I’m not saying you cannot get in test-optional, but it seems to me that you would have a higher chance with a high test score. It’s not too late to consider trying the alternate test (which for you I would presume is the ACT), to see how you might do with some preparation for it.

Rest assured that wherever you wind up, they’re going to be lucky to have you! Your application screams campus leader.

Thank you so much for your reply! I know Titus because I am an apprentice at NXTHVN which is a new national art model who collaborates with artists, art professionals, and local entrepreneurs to further New Haven’s growing creative community. I curated/managed the high school apprentice exhibition, Roots to Benevolence, which is open right now until the beginning of September.

I think I may apply to Western Connecticut State University… I am looking into more liberal arts private colleges.

I was not happy with my SAT scores. I am going test-optional because I did not perform to Yale’s high standards. Being online for the past year and a half has made learning SAT material imbedded within my curriculum extremely difficult. Also, we do not have the recourses for high-end tutors at my school. Thank you for the suggestion to take the ACT, I am definitely going to look into that!

Thanks for all the suggestions:)

The letter of recommendation from Titus is appropriate, then. I really do not recommend that a high-achieving student like you use WCSU, or any of the CT state colleges, as your safety. For you, Storrs is a safety. These days, you need a C minus average to get into the CT state colleges, but an A minus average for Storrs. That’s where you belong, if you’re going the in-state public college route. You want to be where the A students like you go. At Storrs, a leadership/honors partial tuition scholarship is a match, and one of their full tuition merit scholarships is a reach, but very possible for you.

My kid’s PSAT wasn’t great. He took a practice ACT off of the ACT website, got I think in the low 30s with no prep. The science section is really data interpretation, and for that, all you have to do to prep is to do a few science sections from old ACTs. Students from China who are not native speakers of English target the ACT because the English reading sections are easier than the SAT’s English section. And you can prep yourself for the ACT math section. My kid used the two book series called Best ACT Math Books Ever by Hanson. Kid wound up with a 36 overall, with a 34 in math (his weakest subject). He didn’t use a tutor - did it all himself, with about 60 hours of prep over three months, I think. He had very high achievement in music, and got into a tippy-top school. I don’t know if he would have gotten in, had he gone test optional, because his overall class rank was about top 5% in a good suburban public school.

There is no question that your application’s overall strength will be greatly improved if you have an ACT of 34 or above to go along with it.

Have you considered finances? Depending upon your family’s income and assets, you may need a financial safety, too, which means you really should apply to Storrs. And speak with your guidance counselor about recommending you for one of UConn’s top merit scholarships.

I did considerably better on the SAT reading section than on the SAT math section. The ACT would be a fantastic fit for me because the science component is simply another reading section. I’m also good at geometry, which may come in handy.

I earn a full scholarship to any CT state school since I am at the top of my class. Of course, this is applicable for UCONN. That is unquestionably a chance I do not want to pass up. Financially, my family is looking to pay anything under $50,000, preferably in the $20,000-$30,000 area. I was asking a teacher at my school about any New Haven Public School merit scholarships, and she informed me that Yale awards 5-6 scholarships to NHPS kids (some need-based, some merit-based). I’m going to do some investigation to see if there’s any way I can qualify and how to apply.

Earlier in your post you mention top 10%. If you are really at the top (valedictorian or salutatorian) then it really changes things. If you are in the top 10%, then I think Yale is a longshot.

Are there any other film/theatre programs that you might like (USC)? I honestly think you would be more competitive elsewhere. Getting into Yale during early round is incredibly difficult.