Yale Club of Hong Kong :


Frequently asked questions


Below are some questions about Yale undergraduate admissions that are often asked by high school students in Hong Kong and their parents. This section doesn't attempt to answer general questions about Yale that might be asked anywhere in the world; for general information, please visit Yale College's admissions page.

This information is provided by the Yale Club of Hong Kong, an alumni association. This is not an official Yale University website; opinions expressed here are those of the Yale Club of Hong Kong.

What subjects is Yale strongest in?

Yale is genuinely strong in all subjects. It is one of only a few universities in the United States that provide real excellence at the undergraduate level in all departments.

What is New Haven like?

Yale's home is the historic town of New Haven, Connecticut, founded in 1638. Although New Haven had a reputation as a recently as the early 1990s as a backwater town with a crime problem, those days are behind: the city is experiencing a renaissance. In the past decade, the crime rate has dropped by more than 60%, and Yale now has one of the best safety records in the Ivy League. In particular, the areas around the campus are safe, clean and attractive, with dozens of restaurants, local retailers and nightlife spots thriving.

In the past few years, nearly 30 new biotechnology companies have been attracted to New Haven, generating over $1.5 billion in private investment. The downtown area is growing again, as is tourism. Most students arriving at Yale for the first time are pleasantly surprised at how convenient, livable and welcoming the city is.

If you've visited New Haven recently, you've seen all this for yourself. If you haven't, enjoy a do-it-yourself "weekend excursion" walking tour written by the travel editor of the New York Times.

How hard is it to get into Yale from Hong Kong?

More than 100 students from Hong Kong apply to Yale each year. (This does not include Hong Kong students who apply to Yale from boarding schools overseas.) The number accepted seems to average about 8-10 each year, although for the Class of 2007 only 7 were accepted.

Does Yale have a quota on admitting Hong Kong students?

No. Yale admits students solely on their own merits. The number admitted from Hong Kong goes up and down from year to year, sometimes quite a bit.

What is Yale looking for?

In selecting a class of 1,300 from well over 17,000 applicants, the Yale College Admissions Committee looks for strong academic ability and achievement combined with such personal characteristics as motivation, curiosity, energy, and leadership ability. Admission is extremely competitive. Most students admitted are among the top few at their respective high schools.

Are my chances better if I apply for certain areas of study?

This question is commonly asked by ESF students who are more familiar with the British university system, whereby a student applies to "read" in one particular subject. By contrast, American liberal arts universities like Yale encourage students to be challenged from a wide range of courses in their first year or two before choosing a major (an area of concentration) in the later years.

Many students who arrive at Yale with a particular major in mind find that - to their delight - they change their minds after being exposed to previously unknown areas study. This is not surprising, since Yale offers about 70 majors, many of them in areas that high school curricula simply cannot cover.

Do students from "American" schools in Hong Kong have an advantage?

No. Students at local schools that embrace an American curriculum, such as the Hong Kong International School, may have a better initial understanding of what an American college education entails, but Yale is well aware that excellent students can be found throughout all of Hong Kong's top schools.

Over the past six years, 59 students from 21 different Hong Kong schools have been admitted to Yale. No one school predominates.

Are my chances less if my native language is not English?

No. As one of the few truly international universities, Yale appreciates that many of its finest scholars will not be native English-speakers. However, students at Yale must be able to understand rapid, idiomatic English and to express themselves easily in both spoken and written English.

If your native language is not English and you have not been taught primarily in English for the past four years, Yale requires that you take the Test of English as a Foreign Language ( TOEFL ) or the SAT II Writing Test. A minimum score of 600 is required on the paper-based TOEFL ; a minimum score of 250 is required on the computer-based TOEFL.

How good must my SAT scores be?

As important as your SAT scores are, they are just one of many factors in your application. As a rough indicator, though, the most recent Yale class admitted (the Class of 2007) had median SAT scores of 750 verbal and 750 math. As evidence that test scores aren't everything, it's worth noting that every year there are more students applying to Yale with perfect SAT scores - 800 in verbal and/or math - who are not admitted than who are.

Isn't Yale expensive?

Like all top-ranked universities in the United States, Yale is not cheap, even though the fees paid by students actually cover only a fraction of Yale's costs on their behalf. But if you are accepted, Yale is committed to providing sufficient need-based financial aid to cover the cost of attending. So you should not hesitate to apply to Yale on financial grounds.

Are my chances of admission less if I need financial aid?

No. Yale is strongly committed to enrolling the best students, regardless of their ability to pay. Its need-blind admissions policy, which covers all students no matter where they apply from, ensures that the College will be accessible to candidates of great personal and academic promise from every part of the world. An application for financial aid will have no bearing on the admissions decision.

All financial aid is based solely on demonstrated need. There are no merit scholarships, either athletic or scholastic. The amount of a financial aid award varies according to need; the student's family will be expected to contribute funds to the extent it can, and Yale will then meet the full demonstrated need of admitted students through some combination of gift scholarship, long-term loan, and term-time employment. Students entering Yale with financial aid renew their aid application each year, and they will continue to receive aid as long as they demonstrate sufficient financial need.

Funds for transportation to and from the United States are not included in financial aid awards. International students are expected to provide money for their own travel expenses.

For further information on financial aid, please visit the Undergraduate Admissions section of Yale's website and consult the pages on financial aid.

Is it possible to start at another university and then transfer to Yale?

It's possible, yes. But Yale's student retention rate is so high - at nearly 99%, it's the highest among major U.S. universities - that very few transfer places are available. Last year, the acceptance rate for transfer students was only 4.3%, with 35 taken from a pool of 800 who applied. So your chances of getting in as a transfer student are even smaller than as a regular first-year applicant.

For further information, write to the Transfer Department, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, P.O. Box 208234, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8234, USA, or visit the section of Yale's website on transfer students.

Is it better to apply to Yale in Form 6 or Form 7?

C ompetition to get into Yale is intense. An extra year of secondary education gives students more time to mature and more time to prove themselves - not only to Yale, but to themselves as well. For this reason, while it's possible to be admitted to Yale from Form 6, Yale strongly encourages most students to apply from Form 7.

If I enter Yale from Form 7, can I start as a second-year student?

Matriculating students may petition to receive credit for A-Level work. This is usually done in the first semester of freshman year. Credit is awarded on an individual basis, and may or may not bring a student one year closer to graduation. For further details about "acceleration credit" at Yale, visit the "Acceleration and Credit" page at the website of Yale Undergraduate Admissions (click here) and Chapter II of Yale College Programs of Study on line (click here).

If I've done exceptionally well in high school, can I earn credits towards a Yale degree?

Yes. Yale awards "acceleration credit" to students who wish to graduate in fewer than eight terms for scores of 4 or 5 on most (though not all) of the Advanced Placement exams; for scores of 6 or 7 on the higher-level International Baccalaureate exams; and for A-Level results of A or B, as mentioned above.

Does Yale offer Early Decision?

Yale used to offer Early Decision, but came to realize that it wasn't working well for students. Too many felt that if they didn't make an Early Decision application somewhere - even to a school that they weren't sure was right for them - they would be decreasing their chance of acceptance. The result was that too much pressure was being placed on high school students, too early.

Yale now offers Single-Choice Early Action, which is designed for students who have decided that Yale is clearly their first-choice institution. This program is similar to non-binding plans at other schools in that candidates who are admitted early need not respond to the offers of admission until May 1, and may also apply by Regular Decision to other schools. (This would, for example, allow students and their parents to compare offers of financial aid in the spring.)

However, Yale's early plan is unlike standard Early Action programs in that candidates may not apply under Early Action or Early Decision programs to any other school. (In other words, students who are candidates for another college's Early Action or Early Decision program may not apply for Single-Choice Early Action at Yale.) If you want to apply early to Yale, you and your parent or guardian will be asked to sign an agreement stating that you intend to file only one early application, to Yale.

The application deadline for Early Action is November 1. Students will receive a response of admit, defer, or deny in mid-December. Candidates who are deferred under Early Action will be reviewed again in March in the context of the entire Yale applicant pool and will receive a final decision in early April. Applicants denied admission under Early Action are not eligible for reconsideration during the March meetings of the Admissions Committee.

Are my chances better if I apply under Early Action?

Don't feel bad if you're not sure which school you want to attend. It's understandable that Hong Kong students who haven't studied in the United States will probably be uncertain as to which American university might be best for them.

The purpose of Early Action at Yale is not to give you a way of making your application look stronger, but to help you get an earlier "yes" or "no" if you're totally confident that Yale is your first choice. If this is the case, by all means apply under the Early Action program. Otherwise, don't hesitate to apply under the Regular Decision schedule. Either way, your application will be judged on its merits.

How can I arrange an interview?

Once your application has been received at Yale, the Undergraduate Admissions Office will contact the Yale Club of Hong Kong and ask that an interview be conducted. A local member of the Yale Club will then get in touch with you and schedule an interview at a mutually convenient time and place. So you need not do anything; the Yale Club will contact you.

How about visiting Yale?

If you will be traveling to the eastern United States, we encourage you to visit Yale. Even if you aren't ready to apply yet, Yale is blessed with what one architectural critic has called "the most beautiful urban campus in the United States," and it's well worth a visit for your entire family. The University's museums, libraries, art galleries and public walks make for a fascinating visit; allow at least one full day, if you can.

We would also urge you to spend some time exploring the historic town of New Haven, which was chosen as an "All-America City" in 1998. New Haven was one of ten U.S. cities to win this coveted designation in a competition sponsored by the National Civic League, which seeks to honor communities that best exemplify grass-roots problem-solving and municipal pride. As mentioned above, the city is currently experiencing a renaissance of urban renewal and civic pride, and is becoming one of the East Coast's primary biotechnology hubs.

New Haven is easily accessible by car, train, or other public transportation. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions holds general group information sessions Monday through Friday throughout the year and on Saturday mornings from September through mid-November. You can get the latest schedule of information sessions and campus tours from Yale's website.

Campus tours are offered every day of the week. Appointments are not necessary for a group session or a campus tour.

If you visit Yale when school is in session, you may wish to observe a class or spend a weeknight on campus in a student dormitory. The Admissions Office can help arrange an overnight stay, but you should write or call well in advance of your arrival:

Yale University
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
P.O. Box 208234
New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8234 U.S.A.
+1 203 432-9300 (phone)
+1 203 432-9392 (fax)

Is there anyone in Hong Kong I can talk to?

Yes. If you have questions about Yale, or about applying to Yale, please call the chair of the Yale Club's Alumni Schools Committee, Ann Chan (Yale College '98), at 2354-3714 during office hours, or send her an e-mail.