Not at all. Even I, as in love with Yale as I was during the application process, didn't believe the line from admissions officers about legacy admits being just as good as all the rest- but to be honest, many of the brightest people I know here are legacies. That's what comes of having a well-educated family. There are a lot of awful overachievers here, "craven careerists" as my friends are wont to say, who do all the "right" things for all the wrong reasons- it's this sort of thing that prompts resume padding (even here in college), cheating on exams and papers, doing the bare minimum- worst of all, in my eyes, it absolutely stifles academic passion. But there are diamonds in the rough, true intellectuals, true students, devoted to their studies. Their presence here keeps me going.
Yes, sort, no, and yes, but in a good way. We are nerds. Almost all of us will admit it. But we function perfectly well socially, and we're generally very happy people. There is some divide between athletes and non-athletes, but it's not destructive and the groups aren't exclusive; You can find whatever social environment you want at Yale. Yale students are not pretentious, at all. I know many students here who try to avoid saying what college they're from rather than flaunting the Ivy League. We are a little obsessed with our work, but again, not in a destructive way. Most students prioritize their academics, but we definitely still know how to have fun. Where else would students pre-game the opening of the newly renovated library?
There are some people like that everywhere. We call them "section a**holes". But I'd say at least 80% of the people here are so grounded that they are amazed they even got in. Yalies come from all over the world and have so many great experiences that sitting down over lunch with any one of them is usually astounding. We love each other and Yale, and like to show it. We are an amazingly friendly bunch of people.
The first, the one about Yalies thinking they're better than everyone else is not accurate in my experience. The second? Well, I suppose there is some truth to it... the kids I knew who went to Yale were often mopey and self-obsessed. Some of it comes from the location of course ... living in a drafty gothic castle in the middle of a ghetto does weird things to your psyche.
Great school - check. Dangerous surroundings - based on personal experience, you'll be fine at night as long as you travel in groups. If you're a girl and it's 2am, of course it's not going to be a good idea to walk through New Haven Green by yourself, so just be smart about it.
For the most part, no. There certainly are competitive kids, but public opinion largely discourages this. It's seen as not "cool" to be competitive and obnoxious about one's intelligence level. The prevailing opinion is, "we're all smart, or else we wouldn't be here".
Some stereotypes -- that Yalies are very smart and ambitious -- are very true. However, Yalies are also incredibly down to earth; I have come across very few snobby or pretentious people, and actually have been amazed to find how friendly and fun everyone is.
Yalies are certainly pretentious...but no more so than at any other Ivy League University. In many ways Yalies attempt to defy the standard stereotype by immersing themselves in the greater-New Haven area and engaging with the community via service.
Some of them... but there are a lot of people who don't fit the stereotypes. Also, the preppy, old-money thing is not that big. If anything, rich new york hipster types are a much bigger presence.
I do not think that these stereotypes are accurate at all. I think, generally, Yale students do a really good job at balancing their social, academic, and if it applies, athletic lives.