Yale Young Global Scholars Application – My Experience and Tips

Today, I am going to talk about the other parts of my YYGS application. Namely, the Activities List, Financial Aid and Scholarships, and Recommendation Letters.

Introduction & Take-away Lessons

I am very grateful for all the kind comments and emails that followed my last post titled “My YYGS Accepted Essay + 10 Tips to Writing a Good Essay“, and upon several requests, I decided to make a second YYGS video detailing the other parts of my application.

To summarize this post, if you want to save time, for the Activities List, write about the things you enjoy doing, and be genuine. For the Financial Aid and Scholarships, apply for them even if your familiy is not at the low end of the income spectrum. For the recommendation letters, tell your teachers early so that they have time to prepare, and also choose teachers that are close to you, not because they “sounds good”. If you are interested in more details, please continue reading.

Activities List Introduction

You can put a minimum of 1, and a maximum of 3 activities under the Activities List section of the application. I personally included 3 activities. The main parts are the description (130 characters maximum) and for the first activity, “Why is this activity meaningful to you?” (100 words maximum).

This may sound silly, but please know the difference between words and characters! As I was preparing my application, I thought that words and characters are the same thing, and had about 130 words of description for all 3 of my activities! Instead of 130 characters, which is basically a short sentence. I wrote everything of my application on a Word Document, and as I was copying and pasting the different parts over to the YYGS online application, I realized my mistake and had to make last minute changes, which is not ideal! So, please do not make the same silly mistake as I did!

Activity #1

For my first activity, which is the main one that YYGS want to see, I talked about my penpal in Austria. We had known each other for about 2 years at the time of my application, and write emails to each other everyday. She means a lot to me, and hence, I thought it was appropriate put this as my first activity.

For the Description (130 characters), I wrote:

Writing to Bianca allowed me to develop a different perspective on things, and see into another world, as we learn from each other.

Why is this activity most meaningful to you? (100 words), I wrote:

I do not have much friends, but I hang on dearly to those who mean a lot to me. No matter how bad of a day we are having, we confide to each other, and became each other’s pillar of support.

Writing to Bianca allowed me to take a step back from the life that I have busily occupied myself in, and reflect, shedding light onto the minute details that I would often have missed during the day, allowing me to have a daily take-away lesson, and improve, as I prepare to face a new day.

Activity #2

For my second activity, I talked about my experience of volunteering weekly at my local animal shelter.

Description (130 characters), I wrote:

Providing the animals with the love they deserve, as I learn from them, and doing my part to make a difference in my community.

Activity #3

For the last activity, I wrote about my experience of singing for the church choir, which I did every week.

Description (130 characters), I wrote:

Through music, I found peace and connection with God, and the people who attends the mass, as everyone comes together in one voice.

Tips on Activities List

As you can see your activities list doesn’t have to be super impressive. You do not have to win a national competition or invent a new drug. I literally wrote about writing emails as my first activity.

Activities List – Tip #1

You have to remember that each portion of the application is for Yale to get to know who you are as a person because you will be part of the Yale Community for two weeks. Not just to study and learn there, but you live and grow there as well.

Hence, you do not have to try and make your activities impressive even if they’re not. Simply, be genuine and show Yale who you are and what you are interested in or what to do you stand for, Yale basically wants to see what type of person you are through the activities that you do in your free time.

Activities List – Tip #2

Also, another tip is that you can shorten the number of characters by deleting the space after each “comma”, which was what I did.

Financial Aid and Scholarships – Introduction

The full price of YYGS, excluding flight tickets, is $6,250 USD, and it was way too expensive for my family to afford. I come from a family background where money is quite tight, and hence I applied for Financial Aid.

Unfortunately I was not qualified to apply for the scholarships offered by YYGS (as I live in Singapore). YYGS only offer scholarships to selected people in selected countries.

Here’s a link of the YYGS scholarships page, you can check it out if you haven’t yet!

If you want to learn more about Yale’s Need-Based Financial Aid, YOU can view the FREE recording of the 2020 YYGS Financial Aid Webinar, which includes 30 minutes of information and 30 min. of Q&A.

Financial Aid and Scholarships Tips

I applied for financial aid, and below is a screenshot of the package they gave me according to my family background.

Different families have different financial backgrounds, and Yale customize the financial aid package according to every student. This means that, some people may get more money, and some people may get less money, or the same amount of money, from Yale, so it is all subjective, and based on different factors.

Tip #1: Apply, Go for it!

YYGS is one of the only pre-college programs in the world that provides need-based financial aid equally to both domestic and international students, and they are quite generous with this, hence, I recommend everyone to apply for the financial aid if you think that your family may need it, even if your family is not at the low end of the income spectrum, I still strongly encourage you to try for it. I do know quite a few people who got the full tuition discount, and also the YYAS and Young Leaders Scholarship.

Tip #2: Be creative!

There are also students who did a fundraiser for themselves due to various reasons, and I know of one student who is a talented painter and sold her paintings to raise money for the Yale programme. So, you may consider this route too. Be creative!

Tip #3: Organize all the documents!

Also, there will be lots of documents for you to submit, so it is good to keep everything organized in a thumbdrive or in a folder on the laptop.

Tip #4: Currency Conversion

YYGS requires all values to be keyed-in in USD. If you are an international student like me, you can convert your currency to USD for all of your documents at the end. If you do it together, it will be easier.

Recommendation Letters – Introduction

You have to submit 2 letters of recommendation, and they are important as well, just like any part of your application. Although it may seem that you have no control over this part as you will not be the one writing it, but, in a way, you do have a little control over it because you are the one to choose which teachers to write your recommendation letters.

My Recommendation Letters Experience and Tips

I asked my Maths teacher and the Head of my School to write my recommendation letters.

My Maths teacher is phenomenal, and I am really lucky to be his student. Maths is actually not my strongest subject, in fack, it is actually my worst subject, but because we have a good teacher-student relationship, hence I believed that he would be able to represent me well. I also participated actively in his class, and I would often ask him for advice.

The second recommendation letter was actually not from a teacher, it was from the Head of School. She did interview me a couple of times when I was applying for various school things, so she did know me. I actually found out that she asked all of my closer teachers to write a recommendation letter for me, and asked my other teachers about me, and added some of her own sentences, and combined everything together. She was so incredible to do that for me, and I am incredibly grateful. Despite her heavy responsibility, she still took the time and effort to do this for me. Without my teachers, I can never be where I am today.

Recommendation Letter Tip #1: Choosing the right teacher

Make sure that the teacher whom you ask needs to know you well as a student. Because the teacher is basically trying to convince Yale that you are a good fit for their programme through the recommendation letter. To do that, you need to make sure that the teacher is convinced of that fact first before trying to convince Yale.

Also, you do not choose a teacher because they “sounds good” due to their status. If they do not know you well, there is nothing much that they can write about to showcase Yale who you are as a student. Hence, it is harder for Yale to be convinced that you will be a good fit.

Recommendation Letter Tip #2: You do not have to be the best at that subject

For me, Maths is not my strongest subject, but I still chose my Maths teacher as I believe that he knows me well as a student. There is not point in choosing a subject that you are very good at, but you are not close with the teacher. Personally, Maths was my worst subject. I struggled with it, and had ups and downs, which was why my Maths teacher and I are close because he had helped me through all these tough times. Also, YYGS already know all of your results as you would have included it in your application, so there is no point trying to prove that you are good at something and hide the things that you are not as good.

Recommendation Letter Tip #3: Submit your application early

It is good to have 2 teachers in mind early, and tell them about your idea so that they can prepare and start writing. Also, the teachers can only receive the instructions to submit your recommendation letter after you have submitted your YYGS application, so do not submit your application last minute, if not your teachers will have to rush to submit their recommendation letters too.

Also, the teachers will send in the recommendation directly to YYGS, and you will not be able to read it. On your online application, you will need to fill up the names, role, and email address of your 2 teachers. What I heard from my teachers was that after I submitted my application online, they received an email detailing the instructions on how to submit the recommendation letter.

Recommendation Letter Tip #4: Remind your teachers

After you have submitted your online application, you can check the status of your application submission as a whole, including whether your teachers have submitted your recommendation letters or not. Once your teacher have submitted it, you will receive an email as well, and the status on your YYGS application portal will change to: Submitted. I can’t remember exactly what it said before, but it was something along the lines of: Submission pending if the teacher have not yet submitted the application.

If the deadline is near, and your teacher still have not submitted the recommendation letter, it is good to remind them the deadline, but do it in a polite way!


In a nutshell, it is important to be genuine. Also, the whole experience of YYGS application is very much similar to the experience of applying for university. I am sure students, like me, am really grateful that YYGS application is crafted that way. Because then, you get to experience the whole university application process even before you apply for university.

If you have any questions, or would like me to help you with the application process in any way, please indicate by commenting below.

Lastly, thank you very much for reading through, I hope that you found this post helpful, and if you want to see contents like this, please leave your suggestions in the comment section down below, I would be very grateful for that!

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