Major: Economics and Politcal Science
High School: Bellarmine College Prep, San Jose, CA
introduce yourself (name, college, major,
high school and city)
Hi, my name’s Sameer. I’m currently a junior at Yale, and
I’m double majoring in Economics and Political Science. Before
Yale, I attended Bellarmine College Prep, in San Jose, CA.
2. How did you
select your college and major?
I was deciding between Yale and Stanford till the day my registration
was due; both are great schools with excellent academics, loads of
opportunities, and happy students. In the end, the kicker was that I
wanted to get a taste of the East Coast, instead of going to college
20 minutes from home.
As for my majors: I’ve always been interested in analyzing
social and political issues, and Yale is known for its strong
Political Science department. I’m double majoring in Economics
because economics runs the world—on some level, economic
incentives underlie almost all human behavior. I also like that it
provides a systematic way of analyzing social issues and arriving at
precise, rigorous conclusions, in contrast to the softer approach of
other social sciences. Plus, it looks good on a résumé.
Did you do anything special
in high school that helped you in getting admission to this college?
My main focus
in high school was speech and debate, and I definitely think that
helped me with admissions.
enjoyed it so much, I was motivated to put in a lot of time and
energy, and that meant I really got a lot out of it.
It developed a
vast range of skills for me, I enjoyed a reasonable degree of
competitive success, and I served as captain of the debate team
senior year, and these were all things I was able to write about with
genuine passion on my college application: rising to new challenges,
learning how to lead a team, coaching novice speakers and debaters.
one of those people who did 10 different activities; aside from
speech and debate, I did some community service, and I was a member
of the Indian Student Coalition. I also did a couple of
internships—one in Santa Clara County government, and another
at the Public Defender’s office in San Jose. But speech and
debate was definitely the core of my high school experience.
doesn’t mean, “if you want to get into Yale, do speech
and debate.” When I was in high school, I saw a lot of kids
doing the activity halfheartedly because their parents were making
them, and I can’t imagine they got a lot out of it. So I
definitely think it’s a fantastic activity, but my advice is to
do things you can get excited about, things that will challenge you,
and work hard at them.
What do you think of the
classes in college? Professors, Class size, are the classes
really enjoyed most of my classes so far. It’s pretty great to
be able to study interesting things with the guidance of expert
Classes at Yale
vary from 500-person lectures to 4-person seminars. Many intro
classes, particularly in the sciences, tend to be large lectures, but
it’s definitely possible to start taking some small classes
right away. Even in lectures, you’ll usually have weekly
sections in which a graduate student leads discussions or reviews
problem sets in a group of about 10 students.
with Economics and Political Science at Yale is that there are a lot
of students in both majors, so sometimes you can’t always get
your first choice for upper-level seminars. But there are so many
classes I want to take, and such little time, that I’m pretty
happy with my schedule nonetheless.
lectures and seminars I’ve had many fantastic professors,
experts in their field who did an excellent job keeping students
engaged and thinking hard. I’ve also had some less interesting
professors, but that’ll be true at any university. Luckily,
Yale offers an Online Course Information system with student reviews
for almost every class; also, at the beginning of each semester
there’s a 2 week “Shopping Period” during which you
can visit multiple classes before finalizing your schedule.
How hard is it to cope with
transitioning from studying in high school to college?
required a lot more self-discipline when it comes to managing my
time. Since you don’t have nightly readings, daily class
meetings, and daily homework exercises, the burden is on you to make
sure you’re working hard enough to really learn the material.
average courseload of 4-5 classes assigns a lot more work than 4
classes in high school, and it takes some adjustment to juggle that
with a social life and various extracurricular activities. Many
classes (especially in the social sciences) assign more reading than
you think you can do in the time allotted, so you get good at
figuring out what you absolutely need to read and what is less
It takes some
getting used to, but you eventually figure it out.
What do you think about
Campus life at
Yale is fantastic; there are more organizations and activities than
you could think of. (Check out this
link to see some of our student organizations). In my
time here I’ve done all kinds of things, playing intramural
sports, dancing on the bhangra team, and writing for a variety of
One thing I
want to mention in particular is the Yale Political Union, which is a
group of debating societies where students gather every week to argue
about political and philosophical issues, often with a famous person
to kick off the debate. To my knowledge, the opportunity to first
hone your ideas in an intimate intellectual community outside the
classroom, then argue with famous people like Justice Scalia, John
Bolton, and Al Sharpton, is something you can’t get at any
other college in the country.
activities, such as Model UN, Mock Trial, Parliamentary Debate, dance
teams, and a capella groups, require a tryout in which you
compete with many other bright, ambitious Yalies for a spot. But
aside from those, most organizations and activities are open to
anyone who wants to join.
How are the dorms?
One of the best
things about Yale is its unique residential college system, which
provides a smaller community of 400 students amongst the larger
student body of 5,000 undergrads.
are randomly assigned into one of 12 residential colleges before they
arrive on campus. The first year, you live with other freshmen from
your college in a building on “Old Campus,” the freshman
quad. Sophomore year, you move to your residential college, where
you’ll live for the rest of your time at Yale. It’s
really nice to be able to walk into your dining hall for any meal and
find familiar faces every time.
The food is
pretty decent, with a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian
options. Yale is also expanding its sustainable food program, which
offers a couple of sustainably grown items every week.
People and Social Scene?
find a wide variety of people here, but Yale students are generally
intelligent, hardworking, friendly, and happy.
scene is pretty much centered on campus; New Haven offers all kinds
of restaurants, but there isn’t a whole lot to do in the city.
But it’s unlikely you’ll ever be bored. For those who
want a quieter social scene, there are plenty of student
organizations, cultural events, and talks, in addition to Yale’s
two art galleries. There are also plenty of parties every weekend
(some thrown by frats, some by residential colleges and student
organizations, and many smaller parties in dorm rooms), and every
Saturday night, Yalies crowd into Toad’s, a popular New Haven
nightclub right in the center of campus. The frat scene exists, but
is much smaller than at big state schools.