Yale Model Essays

Harvard University freshman Brenden Rodriquez is immersed in the strenuous course load required of his mechanical engineering major.

But before he was accepted to the prestigious Ivy League school, he had to first navigate the tricky aspect of writing a stellar admissions essay.

His hard work certainly paid off. In addition to Harvard, he gained acceptances at Yale, MIT, Columbia and the University of Virginia.

Rodriquez brilliantly merged two of his passions — music and math — to explain how each has shaped his life and improved his happiness.

Rodriguez' other impressive stats are included on his Admitsee profile. AdmitSee is an education startup that has 60,000 profiles of students who have been accepted into college. In addition to admissions essays, and test scores, the students list other data points for prospective students to browse.

Rodriquez graciously shared his admissions essay with Business Insider, which we've reprinted verbatim below.

I think about the converging waves of the notes I play, the standing waves being created by plucking a string, and the physics behind the air pockets being forged that eventually find a listening ear whenever I sit down to play my bass. Thus, my passions of math and music synergistically become more together than they could ever be apart. I started thinking about this when a former math teacher of mine approached me one afternoon and asked me if I was interested in giving the induction speech at the Mu Alpha Theta induction ceremony. Being a member of the honor society and recounting the memorable induction speech given the year prior at my own induction, I wholeheartedly agreed. I decided on the topic of music and math because I play upright bass in the orchestra and electric bass in the jazz ensemble and being a math enthusiast, it is impossible for me not to see the mathematics and physics present in music.

At music's core, math is present in the tempo and rhythm of a piece, with the time signature being represented as a fraction and the tempo being represented by a numerical value in beats per minute. The relationship between the two gets even more intriguing when applied to actual notes being played. The best sounding music is that which uses flawless mathematics. It is common knowledge that each note has a letter name—A through G—but also has a number value, measured in hertz. An A4 for instance is 440 hertz. In Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," there exist triads in triplet form. These triads are made up of D, F#, and A. Since sound is a vibrational energy, notes can be graphed as sine functions. When the triad notes are graphed, they intersect at their starting point and at the point 0.042. At this point the D has gone through two full cycles, the F# two and a half, and the A three. This results in consonance, something that sounds naturally pleasant to the ear. Thinking about this opened my eyes to all the aspects of my life with which I utilize math to enhance.

There is also an incredible amount of unseen math present in football. At 5 foot 10 inches and 160 pounds with pads on, I fall short of the average player at my position who is usually at least 6 feet tall and well over 200 pounds, so applying math to football is intellectually stimulating, but is more importantly a survival mechanism. When I have to go up against an opponent who is over twice my size and looks like he eats freshmen for lunch, brute force is not on my side and it helps having equations for momentum and attack angle running through my head. Math not only helps me survive, but also thrive. As an opponent running back is darting down the sideline with seemingly cheetah-like speed, I can trust that my angles and velocity will allow me to make the play and possibly save a game-changing touchdown. Or when a ball is sailing through the air caught in the stadium lights, I can picture a projectile motion problem with constant acceleration downward and a near constant velocity in the x-direction, and know that I have a leg up on the player next to me who does not think about it the way I do. When I look at aspects of my life in a math context, they make more sense and make things that I love even better and more enjoyable.

College application season is underway. Whether you  have framed and hung your original Common App essay in all its Shakespearean wit and Dickensian style, or cringe each time you are reminded of the essay that landed you here as if being reminded of the darkest shadow of your past, every student at Yale knows the experience of writing an admissions essay (or two, or eight). In a special #throwbackthursday post, XC asked current (admitted) students to share a few of the best lines from their own admissions essays to Yale. Hope, love, drama, intrigue, scandal, hilarity, travel, family, friends and extracurricular activities — the premises spanned the spectrum. Sit back and enjoy the bumpy ride down the memory lane to your high school days and former selves. All submissions were self-reported by students.


I’m not a good person to take to parties – at least, not the type of parties that Hollywood claims happen at college. Sometimes I pause in the middle of a conversation and observe as an impartial third party. In my mind’s eye I see the movements and random formations around the room as a battle map; the type found in military theory books. I imagine orchestrating the Waterloo of conversations or recreating the Cold War between two conversation giants. I see different colored dots moving around an aerial view of the room – green for interesting, orange for lively, and black for those monotonous few. I call it a “Diet Coke and Mentos” combination: mixing my interests and rowdy parties is neat a few times but quickly causes a sticky mess. — Chris Homburger ’16


Leaping into the air from the couch, flapping my arms, ambitiously trying to achieve flight. The first dream I ever had was to fly. This dream drove me to consistently jump off the couch, believing I would touch the sky. — Kristoffer Acuna ’17


From Derek Soled ’16… Thus, although my soles do not sport dazzling rays anymore, shoes, I have discovered, are not the sole way to make people smile. And making people smile—well, that’s good for the soul (theirs and mine) . . . and it never goes out of style.


“Because in the end, he and I alone understand the bliss of cubing; we alone can appreciate reading late at night with our trusty buddy and value the stress relief it offers with our spinning and rotating its faces at four turns per second; we alone know what it means to be a cuber: confident, patient, and resilient. Because when the sun exits left and the moon enters stage east, this is who we are and who we will be: cubers ’til the end of time.” — Ike Lee ’15


The Model United Nations (MUN) Committee Chair taps his gavel, while delegates from across the country rip papers and pass notes. Whispers flow through the air, and nervous delegates click their pens. The atmosphere is like no other: intensely dynamic and powerful enough to make delegates speak, debate, ally and divide over the issue of womenís rights in the Middle East. Like everyone else, I feel the presence of resolve, tension, focus and youthful passion. I am conscious of appearing red-faced, sweaty, and anxious, but deep down, I, the delegate of Iran, am determined, confident, excited and ready. I recall my first MUN conference two years ago when I was an inexperienced, quiet observer. But now, it is my game. I sit in the front row equipped with my orange binder filled with information and a hijab wrapped around my head. Committee session is in full order.— Hannah Gonzales ’16


Veritas without Lux is like reading in the dark. — David Lawrence ’15

As a Yalie and a global citizen, I want to be the one on top of the wall, staring down at the guard, hammer in hand. I want to be the one holding the microphone, saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” I want to be the one taking down today’s Berlin Walls.” — Attila Yaman ’16

I am drawn to Yale by the prospect of being able to think alongside the very best of my peers. There are no problems left in this world that are capable of being solved alone. — Paul Steffan ’16


In the three college interviews that I have had, the conversation drifted towards the unique Foreign Service life that I lead. distinguishes me from the other, more influenced aspects of my life. — Noah Baily ’17


‘Friend Request Pending’

I am going to break a taboo and invite you, the college admissions officer, to look up my profile.

First off, like any good Facebook inspector, you would check out my pictures. What do you find? A quirky, fun-loving social butterfly (literally, I was a butterfly for Halloween) and government buff who just happens to rile up crowds for a cause and look pensive in a boardroom.

Then you peruse my wall. Here you’ll see my interactions with my peers, along with my “innermost thoughts”—or at least the ones I want the technological community to know about. If you scan back far enough into cyber history, you’ll see that my statuses generally fall into one of three categories: announcements aimed towards getting students involved in Youth and Government, links of contentious political articles I think will be most likely to start debates, and the occasional Voltaire/Taylor Swift quote geared towards generating the most “likes” possible. The first two of these most likely end up annoying my less politically inclined virtual acquaintances, but I don’t think I’ve lost too many friends over it—yet.

Lastly, you move onto my info, where you find my eclectic cultural interests. I enjoy a variety of literary genres, from Southern classics like Gone With the Wind to nonfiction masterpieces such as The Power of Myth. I openly profess to loving National Treasure in a world where Nicolas Cage enthusiasts are generally frowned upon and admit my fondness for a cheesy yet heartwarming television show in which the sassy protagonist achieves her dreams and studies at Yale. My favorite TV programs are limited (I’m not good with long-term commitments to confusing series) and my musical tastes are painfully “indie.”

Now that you’ve assessed every part of my profile, I’ll make you a deal: I’ll accept your friend request if you accept me as a student?

— Haley Adams ’16 


“As Remus Lupin once said, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.” — Lucy Fleming ’16


My greatest indulgence is nostalgia and that sickeningly sweet taste it leaves as I swirl time around in my mouth. — Isidora Stankovic ’16

Mexican food is meant for the soul, it is the food meant to complete the individual and teach you how to love and how to indulge in the world you live in everyday. — Helder Toste ’16


I was like a proud mother duck, admiring her line of ducklings flailing and booty-dancing behind her. — Caroline Smith ’14


My Sundays and my Wednesdays hate each other. — James Lee ’16


On boring airplane flights, I do not shy away from strangers. Rather, I conduct little interviews. — Rachel O’Connell ’15


“They’re wearing nothing but underwear… Nothing but underwear…” I chant to myself as I look to the expectant, slightly bored faces in the crowd of the Knights of Pythias Regional Speech Contest. — Uriel Ephstein ’14


I like to think I’m a tall man trapped in a short man’s body. — Andy Vo ’15


As honorary custodian, looking down with his finger pointing upon my array like a watchdog, looms Winston Churchill. His poster hangs right above my bed. The statesman, who secured victory in World War II through his eloquence and perseverance, is my greatest inspiration, my role model. I have memorized his speeches off my ipod. I have paid homage to his birthplace and home at Blenheim Palace. I have attended lectures in his honor, given by his official biographer Martin Gilbert and the Director of his Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge. One day, in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, I hope to deliver a message which will carry beyond the confines of my bedroom. — Josef Goodman ’14

Now imagine the possibilities if only job interviews asked for personal essays rather than cover letters.

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