Yale students are pretty diverse for a bunch of nerds (a large portion of whom are personally quite wealthy). Everyone can find a niche. Political activism is very strong here, and while the majority consider themselves liberal (particularly socially), there is room for the right wing as well. That being said, intolerance of homosexuality, racism, sexism, etc. will provoke a strong reaction here. The LGBT community is significant (there's a reason we're "the gay Ivy"). There is also a strong Jewish community, many houses for worship (primarily Christian), and several cultural clubs and houses. Some students form small, tight groups of friends and hang out with them all the time, while others create broad networks of friends and friendly acquaintances instead. In general, I think people tend to have several main groups - people they live with (that is, in the same entryway or residential college), people they have classes with, and people they do their important activities with (theater, a capella, sports, politics, etc). While it can be a little overwhelming during freshmen year, students eventually sort things out and find their own rhythms. As with academics, social life is what you create - you can wear sweatpants or dresses every day, because you'll find people who do both.
I'm pretty sure the only people who feel "out of place" at Yale are conservatives. People at Yale, and I suppose this is true of American culture in general, are very quick to label themselves "victims" of racism, sexism, this that or the other... it's ridiculous. We have an incredibly diverse, incredibly open, incredibly privileged community here, and anyone who says otherwise is looking for pity or attention. This is an incredibly, incredibly liberal campus. That said, the comparatively small conservative movement here is passionate, intelligent, and fearless. For the most part you don't see childish, unproductive shouting matches a la Crossfire in political discourse here- you see intelligent people passionate about their ideas engaging each other in political and philosophical discourse (or at least, within the Yale Political Union; it's probably different elsewhere). There seems to be a disproportionate number of students from California... People dress well here. Incredibly rare is the sloppy pajama pants and baggy t-shirt look (I never saw it once from anyone in my 9:25 class 1st semester, which is one of the earliest time slots Yale has). Heels, skirts, sport jackets, et cetera, although this is not a universal phenomenon.
A common trend among students is that we all have the drive to do something great - whether it be a future political leader or simply write the best essay ever. The best part about this motivational energy is that it pushes everyone to strive in their own niches. But the thing is, everyone here is just so different (I guess that's what admissions wanted?). Personally, I love the fact that I can walk into a dining hall and sit next to a stranger with a totally different life story and leave with a new friend. Because the atmosphere here is so academically competitive, students use extracurriculars to handle their stresses in proactive ways. As a result, Yale has a host of incredibly influential student groups, all comprised of leaders and resourceful minds. The student groups here have the power to actively participate in local elections, invite prominent guest speakers for Master's Teas (actors, politicians, writers, etc.) and even create non-profit organizations, among many other things.
Yale is large enough that no one should have a problem finding a group to hang out with. Being discriminatory in any sense is frowned upon by the Yale community - for example, homophobic comments are largely just not tolerated. Of course, there is a large amount of ethnic diversity, but the more important diversity here is socio-economic. The University's administration hasn't done a fantastic job of addressing this sort of diversity, largely because it's a newer kind. There are definite differences between these socio-economic classes, but by no means do they divide the student body - students just seem to be very aware of socio-economic standings and issues. The student body is incredibly well-informed, and people make a large effort to take care of themselves in every way. Going to the gym is expected, as is making an effort to look decent in class. There is a somewhat large divide between those students who go out and those who don't.
Like I said, the students here are mostly the coolest. Everybody is supernice and interesting, they all have some weird secret talent. Like you’ll have been talking to somebody for a month before they’re like, “Oh I worked on this project to help make removing plaque from people’s arteries easier” or “Oh yeah, that poem I published in the New Yorker.” As for minority groups on campus---I went to a high school with like 5 people of color in my class and zero out gay people. You wouldn’t have gotten the shit kicked out of you for being gay but you would definitely get teased mercilessly. Here that just isn’t plausible. Something like a quarter of the kids here are gay and nobody cares. Everybody’s friends with everybody else. And I finally have gay, black, and Hispanic friends, which is exciting.
The gay community is pretty big and pretty active on campus. As the saying goes, “one in four, maybe more,” so if you're thinking about coming out, this is the place to do it. The student body is really diverse - there are a students from every state and a lot of international students here as well. People constantly practice speaking in other languages in normal conversation. Everyone is smart here (even the students who got here on athletic merit had to do pretty well in school and be pretty intelligent to be here). Everyone either has one thing they're really awesome at, or is ultra-intelligent, or is really well rounded, or is just really interesting here. I have never questioned why any student got accepted into Yale, because it's always so apparent.
No complaints here, essentially. The student body is very diverse, with people from all walks of life and races and perspectives. There are a bunch of people I find boring but for the most part they seem to get along with each other, so that's great for them. That said, this leads me to a different point: there is an element of cliquiness among the students, with athletes (even single sports teams) only hanging out with each other, science kids only hanging out with each other, hipsters only hanging out with each other, etc... I think this is natural, and when people from different groups are forced to interact, as in freshman year housing and some extracurriculars, there are rarely problems. Oh, and there are a ton of the gays. Yale loves gays.
Fine, they're pretty in your face, but (as I have discovered) with good reason. Out of place? Erotic minorities, goths, people who've lived in the real world for any period of time, people who are WISE beyond their years, people who are alternative, people from certain super-conservative countries/areas. Yale tilts towards the mainstream, so anything too far removed from that, watch out. 1. Black kids. 2. Internationals. 3. Athletes/Frat boys. 4. College-proud, bland kids with nothing outside their residential college. Most Yale students? Northeast. Financial backgrounds? Upper-middle-class. Politically EVERYTHING? Yes. Centre, with some right inclinations. Bank accounts? No concept of money, yet. Give it time.
The residential colleges are a great system because they randomly assign you to roommates your first year and its always very diverse, but people almost always end up getting along. People tend to interact along the lines of their interests or groups, not their racial or class background. Most people here are quite smart, but in general I would divide the student body into Athletes/Frat Boys, Nerds/Shy people, and hipstery/artsy kids. And with a lot of overlap. But most of whom are incredibly wealthy, relative to the rest of the country. There's a lot of political activism on campus, but a lot of ignorant hate speech as well. And people often seem to care more about money than learning--but that's a personal choice.
I'd say that the Yale student body definitely takes all kinds ... There's an awful lot of interest group/race/religious cross-pollination unless you choose to stay specifically within your clique (I'm talking about YOU, overachieving Asians, Orthodox Jews and "political" Black kids.) But because Yalies are so driven and self-absorbed, no one really takes a huge amount of trouble being "social." People wear their pajamas and worse to class, and campus is so spread out that it's easy to fall into just hanging out with your roommates and their closest friends. Most Yale students are pretty liberal, which makes the conservatives who do go there react by being awfully loud and obnoxious.