Yale University Top Questions

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

jp

The competitive eating club is pretty popular. We try to eat as many hot dogs as possible. Of course, only the most popular students can be in this exclusive club. You have to be invited and it is a secret society that will help you throughout life, particularly if you like hot dogs.

Wenzel

Everything is available. There's never a dead moment. At almost any given moment, you can go attend a debate, a play, a dance performance, a fancy dinner party, a frat party, a toasting session, a mixer, an orchestra performance, an a capella performance, or any other bagillion special events that are constantly going on.

Victor

Acapella and theater are huge. For some reason, Yale has the most talented students in arts. Even if you aren't a part of it, it's wonderful to know such talented students and also to benefit from them enjoying their arts. Also food! It's huge, with amazing dining halls and multitudes of restaurants in New Haven, food is a big one at Yale. Make sure to try New Haven Pizza- amazing.

Jess

You can find a group for pretty much anything, and if you can't, you can start one. (My friends and I founded the Yale Jazzercise Association our freshman year.) Theater, a capella, community service, and publications are big on campus. A fair number of students are involved in Greek life, but frats are a bigger deal than sororities, and most frat parties are open to all students. Other than extracurriculars, though, I'd say residential colleges are a huge aspect of social life on campus, since they determine whom you live with and whom you see most often.

Jess

You can find a group for pretty much anything, and if you can't, you can start one. (My friends and I founded the Yale Jazzercise Association our freshman year.) Theater, a capella, community service, and publications are big on campus. A fair number of students are involved in Greek life, but frats are a bigger deal than sororities, and most frat parties are open to all students. Other than extracurriculars, though, I'd say residential colleges are a huge aspect of social life on campus, since they determine whom you live with and whom you see most often.

Josh

There are hundreds of student groups at Yale, from a capella to sports, politics to religious groups, cultural houses to frats and sororities. It's really hard to say what the most popular groups are, since there are a lot of varying interests at Yale. Socially, though, every weekend there are plenty of things to do--from suite parties to frat parties, dances to student shows and performances. Frats and sororities are not that big here--they're there if you want it, but I know I'm not in a frat and don't feel inhibited at all in terms of my social life. I'm involved in the Yale College Council [Yale's student government], Yale College Democrats, the Office of Sustainability, and various activities within my residential college, Davenport.

Bella

Cultural Houses: I spend a lot of my time at the Asian-American Cultural Center, one of Yale's four (soon to be five) cultural houses on campus. The cultural groups here are great - you don't have to be of a certain racial background to participate in any events hosted by the student groups of each house. For example, I've listened to spoken word at the Af-Am (African-American) House and eaten tamales with my friends at La Casa (Latino House). The Game: The annual Yale vs. Harvard football game is probably one of the biggest traditions among the undergrads. It's the one event that brings absolutely everyone together in the biggest display of school pride, ever. The bands and half-time shows are great, and the atmosphere is absolutely fun and crazy in the best of ways. Stay Up Late: Doing homework (lab reports, finishing papers) and just talking to people. Our residential college system is a great way to explore other parts of campus and talk to different groups of people. Student groups and residential colleges also provide study breaks, where you can relax from work and mingle with other people over yummy snacks. Sometimes the best friendships are made when you walk into a common room and just sit down for a two-hour conversation with a then-stranger. The unique stories and experiences of every person on campus are incredible...you just have to take the time to sit down and talk.

Ryan

Everyone seems to be involved in 1-3 extracurriculars, which they love. Each of these extracurriculars either does not affect the rest of their life at all (most publications, community service) or it completely dominates their life (a capella, YPU parties, the YDN). Theatre and a capella are very active, well supported and visible; athletics are less so, but there's a sizeable contingent who's into them. Some people are really into their residential college, but they are usually very boring people. Parties are a big deal; they are very varied and are always happening, at the very least, Thursday-Saturday. Wednesday and Saturday a lot of people go to Toad's, which is this dance club on York St. It's pretty cheesy but a good way to find someone drunk to hook up with. One thing that's nice about New Haven is that the rent is low enough that a lot of people can move off campus and host great parties in off campus apartment; this provides an alternative to the generally subpar frat scene. Luckily though, it's not hard even to throw parties in freshman dorms: alcohol is essential legal on campus for all ages.

Ryan

Extracurriculars are socially mandated at Yale. Everyone is involved in something. Most people will get involved in something political and also something that may be related to their possible future career. Going out on weekends to party is much less ubiquitous - probably 50% or possibly less of the student body does so. This is the largest social divide on campus. Students who go out to frats or Toads will rarely interact with students who don't. Joining a frat definitely isn't a requirement, but it's much bigger than the sorority scene, and they throw lots of parties. In terms of dating, it's true that at Yale, people are either married or hooking up with random people. Either is a respectable option and both are relatively easy to do.

Betsy

Partying is a choice at Yale, which I love. My advice-- find friends who like to party the way you do. There are all types here.

PoliSci gal

There's so much to do on campus! On any given weekend, I am torn between seeing one of five plays, one of four dance performances, one of three a cappella concerts, one of ten sports games, or attending one of a dozen parties. There is something for everyone, and the problem is always narrowing down your activities rather than not finding enough to interest you.

Amelia

It's overwhelming how many groups on campus. All the freshmen go to the activities bazaar and come back with a heavy bag of brochures from different organizations. It's hard for some of us to choose which groups to join at the beginning, but it also means that there are always causes to support or more groups to join if you want to switch. A lot of people are involved in political, community service or singing groups, but there are also random groups, like the "Anti-Gravity Society" or the Pundits, who play tricks and run around naked right before exams. Every weekend, there is something going on (a cappella concerts, Dramat shows, international dance parties, college-sponsored parties, guest speakers, debates, movies, etc.) Everyone goes all of these activities at some point- it's often hard to decide to go what to go to in a given week because there are so many cool or interesting things going on. Football is definitely the most attended sport. A lot of people play intramurals for their colleges (the college with the most points at the end of the year gets the Tyng Cup). On weekdays, people study or have meetings for various organizations. Some people go to Toad's (the most popular dance club) on Wednesdays, but Thursday, Friday and Saturday are when most people go out. There is definitely a big party scene, but the frats have a pretty small presence on campus and there are plenty of other options for people who don't like partying. Once or twice a semester, the undergraduate funding committee pays for a $5000 all-campus themed party, which can be awesome, and can be a big flop. The dating scene is a little disappointing since such a large proportion of the guys are either gay or only interested in hook-ups. My closest friends are from my residential college and my Christian fellowship. Yale has a lot of traditions. A cappella and secret society "tap nights" are tons of fun because people in crazy costumes are running around all over campus doing silly things. Silliman throws the annual "Safety Dance" (80's dance) in Commons, which is tons of fun. A newer tradition is the Branford "Crushes and Chaperones" 90's dance. At the end of first semester, every college has a holiday dinner and the freshmen have a huge, extravagant dinner, complete with a parade of lobster and gingerbread houses. During reading week of spring semester, we have "Spring Fling" when some musicians come to perform and we all hang out on Old Campus (this year we had Jimmy Eat World, Sean Kingston and The Roots). Also during reading week, every college celebrates their special day, which is different for each college. Every week, there are 6 or so master's teas, where the master of a residential college invites a distinguished speaker to come and you can go have tea, eat cookies, hear the speaker and ask questions. There are also some fun preorientation programs to do the week before coming to school as a freshman and meet other freshmen. I did Harvest, where you live on a farm for five days. I loved it and am still friends with most of my group. The Yale Farm is pretty awesome in general- every Friday, they cook homemade, fresh, brick oven pizza. 40% of our food is organic and sustainable, which is pretty awesome (and very rare for college dining).

gavin

there is plenty to do at the school outside of the academic world

Andy

Only at Yale would the traditional Halloween activity be to get in costume, have a few drinks, and go to see the Yale Symphony Orchestra's midnight show in which they play a student-arranged soundtrack to a student-made movie in which the Yale Dean makes an appearance in a plaid skirt. Yale is AMAZING! I love that my a cappella group was all the brotherhood of a fraternity, but based around singing instead of drinking.

Anais

The suite rooming system allows for lots of parties, and there are lots of nightclubs and frats if you're into that. You can drink or not drink, not really an issue - the university is really lax about drinking and emphasizes safety before penalties (if you get your friend to the health center for alcohol poisoning and s/he leaves by the next morning, nothing is reported/ recorded). Students definitely leave suite doors open, despite security warnings from our house masters, and people tend to drop by just to say hi when passing by. Masters Teas with famous personalities (from heads of states to R.L Stine and Hanson) are also scattered throughout the week. People make friends through extracurriculars and clubs, which are almost as important, if not more, to some. After all, college is about networking, and you can't find more fertile ground for connections that matter than at Yale.

Rhys

There are so many activities at Yale that if you don't find so many that it would ruin your schedule, then you're not looking. There is something for everyone, from entrepreneurship to juggling. Yalies seem to enjoy the party life, but are not obsessed with it. There are plenty of people who enjoy themselves every weekend without ever picking up an alcoholic beverage. In general, Yale has something for you to do, no matter what turns you on. Plus, frats are relatively unimportant, which many students will find appealing.

Rachelle

there is fun stuff to do every single night of the week if you look for it.

Emmerson

A capella is pretty big, and we think highly of ourselves :-) Frats exist, but they're pretty small. There's amazing theater, both undergrad and at the Yale School of Drama. I didn't date much at Yale.. It was okay. There are a decent amount of bars to go to, if you're into that sort of thing. Ping pong in the common room, yeah!! I met my closest friends through classes, a capella and theater.

Jesse

Master's Teas are awesome - the Master of each residential college invites interesting/famous/cool people. Tuesday 2am - studying, writing, reading, procrastinating on facebook, reading and responding to emails. On a Saturday night - dance.

Alexandra

Yale is definitely a party school, though perhaps not in the traditional sense. There are several frats and a couple sororities, and they do throw parties, but they aren't necessarily the place to be on a Saturday night. The cultural associations tend to host good dance parties, as does student government, and individuals or groups of students throwing parties in their rooms make up a big portion of the weekend scene. There's at least one major dance/party every weekend (usually a couple), and there are always smaller parties, often on Thursday nights as well. A lot of people drink; not everyone does. There is drug use (ranging from pot to more serious substances, such as cocaine), but it doesn't define the culture, or even a single aspect of it, really. We have a lot of major events and traditions each year at Yale, including the Safety Dance (an 80s themed dance hosted by Silliman), the Yale Symphony Orchestra Halloween concert (people go crazy for Halloween around here), Sex Week, the Harvard/Yale football game, and a hundred others. People like to dress up, get drunk, and dance, and we seize every opportunity to do so. There is a scene in New Haven also, ranging from the popular and somewhat sketchy Toads (a nearby bar that often hosts good bands/musicians) to gay night clubs on Chapel Street. There is definitely enough going on on campus to keep people entertained, though. Dating can be difficult. Yale students are very busy people, and it's hard to find time to develop a relationship. It seems as though people often end up dating their friends, since they hang out with them a lot anyway. There is also the drunken-hook-up option, which is fairly popular. As I mentioned, politics and general activism are big on campus. Theater and a capella are also huge. The "rush" process for a capella is more intense than that of sororities or fraternities. Yale has very strong art and music programs, so there are always student art showings, orchestral concerts, and exhibits up at the University Art Gallery and the Center for British Art. In addition to all this, there is a constant stream of guest speakers, Masters' Teas (famous/cool people come to chat), and debates. I actually can hardly begin to talk about activities at Yale without exhausting myself... Oh, and on a Tuesday night, a student up at 2 am is probably doing homework. But she might be doing it with a group of friends, and they might have consumed a beer or two to loosen up before settling down to that p-set.

Kirsten

Yale is definitely a party school. There are countless organizations around campus, each with a ton of money at its disposal. Imagine a Yalie's creativity mixed with a large budget. This results in a very fun Saturday night. From Safety Night to Freshman Screw, every event is all out.

Shawn

So much goddamn a cappella, which I did and loved, and which introduced me to all of my current best friends as well as the guy I dated for four years in college and afterwards. I definitely loved all of the silly events and rituals that surrounded a cappella. In addition to that, I definitely went out almost every weekend night for at least the first two years of college. The people I hung out with tended to like their liquor but know how to manage it, for the most part. There was always more stuff going on in terms of theatre, dance, music, lectures, etc than I actually went to, but that was sort of comforting to me, knowing that I had so many choices. Master's teas were the freaking bomb dot com because they fed you and it was a room full of smartass kids asking some famous guy irreverent questions.

Wenzel

New Haven can sometimes be dangerous (no worse than other cities), so people try to be careful about security. But most of the crimes are just armed robberies. Athletics are pretty popular among the athletes, but that is a very separate world form the rest of Yale. I never hear about sports events. I tend to hear about naked parties and performances, etc. Or philosophy lectures. There is really a mind-blowing amount of activities going on every night, for any type of person. There are a lot of fraternities and a few sororities, but they tend to have their own social scene. Sometimes they throw parties. As a girl, at least, there is no pressure to join a sorority.

Alex

There are so many drama shows going on each weekend (and it's always fun knowing, for example, 10 people in the spring mainstage show or something like that.) A capella is really big here too, and the members of a capella groups are really close (it's like having an entirely separate group of friends to hang out with). Also, a capella jams go on several times a month, and some of them are free, so you don't have to worry about spending too much on going to all of your friends' shows. Also, the organizations on campus and even Yale itself host many dances and shows - in fact, Saybrook college got Gunther to have a concert here, and BEN FOLD AND LUDACRIS IS COMING TO OUR SPRING FLING, which is an annual spring concert Yale hosts. Drinking/drugs/debauchery is actually not that big of a deal at Yale as is rumored. You can have a perfectly normal and fun life not drinking/doing drugs/debauching - you could go to shows, eat out at really great restaurants, see movies, etc. You could probably even go through your entire college experience having not seen any sort of drugs. However, if do want drinking/drugs/debauchery to be part of your social life at an academically-excellent university, then Yale is definitely a fun place to go. We have our fair share of partiers, even though our partying scene isn't “in-your-face.” Tailgaiting (especially for The Game) is really fun and everyone should go to that. Mostly, students go out and party on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, so, during the week, campus is fairly quiet with most everyone studying or just hanging out in rooms. There are a couple of clubs around campus, like Toad's or Gotham, that a lot of students go to, but I usually try to not go to that. A lot of upperclassmen (mostly juniors) live off campus, so there are several off campus parties during the weekends.

Andy

I cannot imagine anyone having an interest they cannot continue to explore. We even have a juggling club.

Claire

Volunteer service organizations, intra-murals, a cappella and other musical groups, and political groups are probably the most popular groups. Football, soccer, basketball, hockey and volleyball are (I think) the most popular sports. I'm a member of both the Varsity Track and Field team and the Cross Country team. I love being on the team!! They're my family at school, my closest friends. People at Yale are very social, they go out, they have fun, they are involved, at the same time as they are serious about their studies.

Sandy

I hang out with my friends pretty much every night of the week. Drinking (and getting drunk) on weeknights probably won't raise eyebrows. There are lots of ways to party- the boring, typical Toads style, where you dress slutty, dance drunkenly, and hook up randomly; the more personal suite party, where much of the same happens, but it's less dirty; the intellectual gatherings where you sit with friends and a bottle of vodka and wax philosophical until the sun comes up; and then all sorts of parties thrown by this group or that... it's not hard to find your scene. 2am on a Tuesday I'm probably reading or doing homework after getting back from Yorksides after a Yale Political Union debate. (After each YPU debate it's traditional to go to Yorksides afterwards for pizza- often the guest speaker will come along.)

Steve

Yale's social life takes place entirely on campus or in a few select bars right off campus. New Haven (though vastly improved since I lived there) is not a great city, or even a mediocre city. Most of what you do while at Yale actually happens AT Yale. Since everyone is so involved in so many things, there's always four plays going up at any given time, plus dance recitals, music performances, film screenings and so much goddamn acapella that you can't NOT see it at some point while you're a student. So, what I'm saying is a typical weekend night is going to see your friend in something they're doing, and then going and getting drunk at dorm parties. That's fine ... it's cheaper and more reliable than trying to drink with a fake ID at Rudy's. There's no Greek system to speak of. I mean, there are a couple frats and sororities, but they aren't recognized by Yale, so there's none of that Greek system running the social scene thing that you see in all the college movies.

Alexandra

Dorm life is interesting but certainly not the foundation for social life. Most people meet people through activities. I was involved in a newspaper and political debate but there is a large array of activities.

Rory

Uuuuuuuu im getting sick of writing this there are somewhat popular athletic events, namely when we play Harvard (sidenote: fuck harvard). The biggest recreational activities are drinking and that’s it. well that’s not true theres always activities and shows and stuff, and you can always just get high and play video games, but drinking’s the name of the game, which is probably normal for a college. If I am a wake at 2am on a Tuesday I am definitely studying or trying to fall asleep after getting wired on coffee because I was studying.

Robin

ISO!! ISO!!! ISO!!! Dorms open? Depends on the lock (present or absent.) Athletic events? Assez. Guest speakers? Meryl Streep! Theater? Huge. Dating scene: ALL RELATIONSHIPS COME TO YALE TO DIE. Closest friends? Imported together. 2am on a Tuesday? Masturbating. Traditions/events? Casino Night, the Game, COMA, Screws, Safety Dance etc. etc. (look it up) People party? Wed through Sun. Frats? Non-essential, fun times. Last weekend? Got drunk thurs to sun night, got behind in homework, cried. Non-drinking fun? Come to my dorm, baby, FB22E, you'll love it. Off campus? New Haven glory town. Koffee, Toad's.

Lindsay

The social life at Yale is pretty limited, since we are kind of isolated. Everyone goes to the same clubs, bars, and restaurants. I really like it because I run into people I know from all different types of groups. Yale does a really good job at hosting events for students, which I think a lot of school don't do.

Max

Athletics events and guest speakers (and theater) are very popular. The dating scene relies heavily on one-night stands which usually spore at some frat. I feel that my girlfriend and I are the only couple in our entryway. Some people party and they do it a lot. Partying starts on Wednesday evening and stretches to Monday morning. Frats and Sororities are a big part of the party scene. I met my best friends in my crew team and in my entryway. Also the European society has been a source of close friendship.

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