What is it Like to Attend Yale University?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Angela is a Houston tutor and graduate of Yale University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Film Studies and currently specializes in Literature tutoring, Writing tutoring, Spanish tutoring, and more. See what she had to say about her experience at Yale:

VT:  Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike? 

Angela: Yale is a great, urban campus in a small city, New Haven. The transportation options are fantastic, with a Yale shuttle readily available along all the major streets. There's even a smartphone app that students can use to track the shuttle as it travels along a route. If you find yourself in a strange place in the middle of the night and are not comfortable walking, you can also call the shuttle and they'll do a personal pick up. You don't need a car or bike to get around.

VT:  How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Angela: They all tend to have office hours, so I would say they're readily available to answer any questions. I never had an issue with a professor or TA not being available.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Angela: Architecture wise, it's like being at Hogwarts School of Wizardry. The gothic architecture is beautiful, and certain buildings, like Sterling Memorial Library, are worth exploring for their gargoyles and glass-stained windows alone. The system of residential colleges is ideal, making you feel like you're part of a smaller community within a greater one. Socialization opportunities abound, with more extracurricular clubs that I can re-count and a steady stream of activities specific to each of the 12 residential colleges. There are friendly rivalries among the colleges, which make for an engaging intramural sports environment. Yale really does a good job at setting up activities to get students to know their peers, even before they start school, such as with pre-orientation programs like FOOT. 

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Angela: I wouldn't say that there are any majors that are best represented or supported. From my experience, no matter what you majored in, you had a vast network of support, both resources-wise and from the faculty. The alumni network is particularly helpful after you graduate, regardless of your major. I majored in Film Studies and I didn't think I would have the support that I received while at Yale and thereafter. Furthermore, the opportunities I've been exposed to thanks to the Yale-In-Hollywood network have been invaluable. That said, going to Yale, you should understand that you'll be receiving a liberal arts education, meaning, one that is well-rounded and that focuses on honing your critical thinking skills. For example, Yale is not the place for you if you know that you want to be a cinematographer and only care to study that and nothing else, because you will not be getting the technical training you would receive at a place like AFI, or some other institution that focuses strictly on teaching you technical skills. Going to Yale is all about learning how to think outside the box.

I studied film because I was introduced to my first film studies class and walked into my first film set freshmen year, and almost instantly fell in love with the prospect of working in film. Perhaps I would have never found my true passion had it not been for the curriculum structure at Yale, which encourages freshmen to try out classes in vastly different fields of interest before settling on a major. 

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Angela: I would say, compared to high school, it was very easy to make friends and meet people. Greek life plays a role in campus social life, but not an overly significant one. Seniors in secret societies only make up 10% of the total, so that's not a huge factor either. Mostly, what makes up the campus social life are the extracurricular clubs that are at the core of where your interest lie and social events at your own residential college. 

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?  

Angela: The Career Center is quite helpful, especially with the process of finding summer internships. Many reputable companies recruit on campus. I had a friend who worked for the CIA the summer of her sophomore year and another who interned at TIME magazine.  

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges?  Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious? 

Angela: The study areas are spacious and, with the exception of Sterling Memorial Library during finals week, typically not overcrowded.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Angela: There are plenty of bars, theaters, and restaurants near campus. New Haven is definitely a fun city and undergoing a renaissance of sorts. Plus, New York City is only a two-hour train ride away if you want a change of scenery. 

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Angela: Most classes are small (20 or so students). Big, popular lectures are the exception, but in those, you usually have smaller sections that meet once a week. I was typically pleased with the class sizes.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Angela: Two of my favorite classes were "The Rise and Fall of Civilizations" and "Nietzche." I loved how you had the whole blue book of classes at your disposal and only a minimal amount of requirements for your major, which would allow you to branch out and take classes you didn't expect to find fascinating. I didn't regret any of the classes I took. Yale has a drop period for classes, so if you really don't like a class you're taking or are finding it too challenging, you may drop it and enroll in another.

Check out Angela’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.