Asked about: Yale University

If my behavior in school isn't that great, but my grades are strong is there a chance I can go to Yale?

Answers

Amy Yvette Garrou, College admissions expert (US and international colleges)

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I second Michael's advice. I would like to expand on his point about the effect of recommendations. As a college counselor in high schools for the last 12 years, I had to write a letter of recommendation for every student who applied to college. And I read all the teacher recommendations written for each student (usually two teachers' letters per student). I can tell you that it's very difficult for a teacher or a counselor to describe a student at his best, when that student's behavior isn't good. "Behavior" encompasses a lot, but here are some examples of behavior which influence a student's reputation: talking rudely to a teacher or another student in class; being part of a small-group project but not doing any of the work; always talking while the teacher is talking; coming in late all the time; and being disruptive in some other way. Most teachers have planned their classes carefully, and feel pressure to help students learn a large amount of material. So students who behave badly in class can affect the outcome not only for the teacher, but for fellow students.

A letter of recommendation for college needs to focus on you at your best. Yale and similar colleges get more than 30,000 applications per year; Yale offers admission to some 7%. So a teacher's or counselor's letter has to say more than "XX makes excellent grades." In order for that letter of recommendation to have an impact as admission officers read your file, the teacher needs to be able to say that you not only have the top grades in the class but you also raise questions that advance the discussion; that you were an invaluable part of your small-group project, and cite the work you did; that you allow others to speak even if you always know the answer. You want your teachers to think of positive examples when you ask for a recommendation. You don't want a recommender's first thoughts of you to be negative. And because the norm is usually that students are well-behaved, the students with uncooperative or disruptive behavior stand out.

It's about your reputation: not just your purely academic reputation, but about how you treat other people. Colleges are communities where students live in dormitories or apartments close together. Admissions officers will prefer to admit students who seem to get along with others, and have a positive effect on others.

I realize that "behavior that's not great" could be a range of things; it could be defined differently depending on the culture where you live. But it sounds as though you, and others, perceive that your school behavior is lacking. I would encourage you to ask teachers, other school staff, or even your friends what you can do to improve your reputation at school. When you apply to college, you'll apply to more than one (not just to Yale). Being your best self is important for all your college applications.

Michael Schoch, Answers questions on Noodle

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Without knowing the details of your academic record I can't tell you what your chances are for getting into Yale.

I would definitely take a careful look at the "Admissions Considerations" section of Yale's Noodle profile to see what qualities they most value. I can tell you that GPA is a very important factor, but it's not the only one. Yale is among the most competitive schools in the world and its assumed that most candidates will have excellent grades.

Other factors, like your test scores, college essay, letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities will have a similar if not equal impact on the way your application is viewed.

Whether or not your behavior in high school will play a role in your admission to college depends on the sort of issues you've experienced. Behavioral problems can become a severe hindrance if they prevent you from getting letters of recommendation, or if they show up on your school record. Even issues like chronic lateness or frequent detentions may be reflected in your transcript.

Here is a statement from the school itself entitled "What Yale Looks For"; maybe it will give you a better understanding of your prospects.

The best way to find out how Yale admissions officers view their candidates and how they will view you in particular is to call the school at (203) 432-4771 and ask them. You may be able to get specific insight or even a definitive yes or no answer this way.

While you're looking for a college, you might find some of these articles and pieces of advice useful. Good luck in your college search and feel free to ask more questions any time!

ritariya, nice post

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Anonymous, Philberta

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Stacey Ebert, Educator, Writer, Event Planner, Traveler

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I agree wholeheartedly with the aforementioned details. Behavior (depending of course on the situation) is not often categorized on a transcript. That being said, the other items that you use to show yourself to the university in question (whether Yale or otherwise) might. Having been a high school teacher and advisor for years as well as interviewing prospective applicants for my own university, I do agree that it's very difficult for a teacher to write a glowing recommendation when the behavior of that student has been difficult at best.

There is in fact a grave difference between a recommendation and an exceptional letter of recommendation. If you're concerned about your behavior, try to find other ways to show your strengths and be sure in who you're asking to write your letters of support. Perhaps your in classroom behavior is in question, but your out of classroom behavior is not. Focus on a coach, youth advisor, boss/director or someone who can show the positives you're looking to accentuate. Be sure that the rest of your application shows the many facets of 'you' and support to back them up.

It could also benefit you in an interview phase to take responsibility for any actions you believe were unfavorable in your behavior. Owning up to yourself and learning from experience are incredible teachers and show breadth of maturity, a sign of adulthood and ability to change. These are assets of a student that universities look for in the process.

Be sure to check the admissions process for any school to which you're applying. If possible, speak to an admissions counselor or present students to see what their experience has been in regards to building the strongest application possible. Your future is in front of you; find the parts of your past that you're proud of to best support your endeavors. Good luck in the application process.

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