250 Words on Yale’s 250-Word Essay
There is so much advice floating around the internet about how to write Yale Law School’s infamous 250-word behemoth. It should be intellectual! No, it should be funny! Professional! Personal! Creative! Quirky! But not too quirky!
The problem with this advice is that it’s all correct. And it’s all wrong. The challenge is figuring out which advice applies to you. (For a few universal 250 “don’ts” see this blog post by YLS Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Asha Rangappa.)
Navigating this essay can be tricky, but here is the key: it is just another essay. The only difference is that it’s shorter. (How short is 250 words? This blog post should give you an idea.) There is no need to panic. All of the regular advice about law school essays still applies. Tell a memorable story. Demonstrate your ability to reflect meaningfully about a topic or experience. Write clearly and have no errors.
The topic itself is not crucial—great 250s can be written about violins, scuba diving, or foreign policy. Identify an issue, experience, or belief that is important to you and is not yet explored in your application. Pick a topic that showcases a new aspect of your personality, background, or intellectual interests and that you can write about compellingly.
People often ask if you can use a shorted version of one of your essays for another school. Definitely. But be extra careful that the shorter essay stands on its own and flows beautifully.