June 29, 2024

Becoming a Yale Young African Scholar as a high school student from Nigeria


Ifeoluwapo from Nigeria 🇳🇬

Becoming a Yale Young African Scholar as a high school student from Nigeria

Hello! My name is Ifeoluwa, and I am 17 years old. Currently, I’m a high school senior. Last summer, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Yale Young African Scholars program.

What is YYAS?

Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS) is an intensive academic and enrichment program designed for African high school students who plan to pursue tertiary education and wish to make a meaningful impact as young leaders on the continent. The program primarily focuses on career exploration, preparing for the university application process, and facilitating a safe transition from secondary school to university.

Participants in YYAS enhance their academic skills, receive guidance on university admissions and career path options, and become part of a network of young leaders from across Africa. If you're familiar with Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS), YYAS serves as its sister program!

Two Paths

YYAS offers an online program option and a residential program option. There are no tuition costs for participation in either program. I participated in the online program option since traveling was not feasible for me at that time. It was a very busy summer, #risingsenior.

YYAS Workshop (online)

The YYAS Workshop accepts about 200 students and is open to students across all countries in Africa. To participate, students must be able to access Zoom and Canvas on their own mobile phone, tablet, and/or computer with reliable internet for the duration of the program. Given the limited duration of the program, YYAS has strict attendance expectations, where students are expected not to miss even one day of the program. Students who attend for the required number of days will receive a pdf YYAS Certificate of Completion that can be added to college and university applications, and become official alumni.

YYAS Summit

The YYAS Summit accepts approximately 120 students and is open to students across all countries in Africa. Each year, the residential program will take place on a host campus where students will reside in an African country. The program will focus on the same college prep topics as the online workshop in addition to leadership, innovation, design, and 21st century skills. Students who successfully finish the program will receive a pdf YYAS Certificate of Completion that can be added to college and university applications. The YYAS Summit is tuition-free ($0) and provides free housing, meals, and all academic curriculum materials.

For the YYAS Summit, you must be able to travel to and from the host country (currently Zimbabwe), and all students will coordinate and pay or raise for any required travel documentation (such as passports, travel visas, etc.). However, there are a limited number of need-based travel grants available for students who are offered admission and live outside of the host country. All applicants will automatically be reviewed for travel grant eligibility and will be included, if given, in the offer of admission.

Applying is completely free for both options as well.


In order to apply to YYAS, applicants must fulfill all of the following requirements:

  • Be between 14 and 18 years old by July 18th. If you are 16 to 18 years old, you can apply to both YYAS and YYGS simultaneously.

  • Be able to participate in a rigorous academic curriculum conducted in English

  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of an African country (or refugee residing in an African country)

  • Currently attend school in an African country

  • You must be a current 10th or 11th grade student (or the international equivalents).

  • Not be a YYGS or YYAS alumnus/a

If you are currently in your final year or term of secondary school, have already graduated secondary school, or are a university student, then you are not eligible to apply. I was in the 11th grade and sixteen years old when I applied.

Deadlines & Applying

YYAS reviews applications on a rolling basis. However, admissions decisions will not be made or released until mid-April, when all applications from your respective applicant pool have been thoroughly reviewed. There are two application opportunities: early action and regular decision. In my case, I applied under regular decision as my school counselor informed me about the program after the early action deadline.

To submit your application, you will need the following:

  1. Completed Application Form: The application form is available online and must be filled out by the applicant. Students are required to complete a 500-word essay and respond to two short prompts. Additionally, they must provide information about their extracurricular activities and the school they currently attend.

  2. Official High School Transcript or Grade Report(s).

  3. One Teacher's Recommendation.

I decided to apply to YYAS primarily because I have always wanted to study abroad. My counselor encouraged me to do so due to my strong academic performance in school. Upon further investigation, I discovered that YYAS is a university prep workshop with a primary focus on American universities. The prospect of breaking out of my comfort zone and connecting with other African students and university representatives was particularly intriguing.

The application process took me about three weeks because of its lengthy list of requirements. While the essay prompts change annually, I recall that last year's 500-word essay prompt asked applicants to write about a significant life event. The two short essay questions centered around explaining why you love your favorite movie and describing how you have contributed to your community. Additionally, the application form provides space for listing extracurricular activities. In my case, I highlighted my active involvement in music, speech and debate, and karate.

A Week Becoming a Scholar

YYAS took place over seven days, with each day involving approximately three hours of engagement. As scholars, we were divided into smaller groups of about 20 people, with whom I got to know on a deeper level during the program’s stipulated “family time”.

Throughout the program, we participated in various academic seminars. These interdisciplinary, standalone classes covered various topics related to the African continent, including the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The seminar-style classes provided a glimpse of what university learning environments are like. Past seminars have explored subjects such as "Water for Wellness," "Language and its Effects on Our Behavior," "Afro-Innovation," "Foreign Aid in Africa," and "Why Do We Sleep?"

YYAS also organized two virtual university fairs for us. During these events, university representatives spent two days interacting with YYAS students, sharing information about their institutions' curricula and financial aid offerings. Notable universities that participated in the past include Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, Rice University, Sciences Po, African Leadership University, and Ashesi University. My cohort specifically had the opportunity to meet admission officers from Yale University, the University of Toronto, Brown University, and other prestigious institutions.

Career guidance was another valuable aspect of YYAS. As someone interested in public relations within the field of media and communications, I benefited from lectures delivered by a professional photographer and journalist. These interactive talks exposed students to diverse career pathways, including communications, technology, entrepreneurship, and public health.



  1. Encourage your friends to apply so that you can essentially work on applications together. Having a majority of my classmates vying for a spot in the YYAS cohort really helped because we could review each other’s answers and offer feedback. However, I would strongly advise against plagiarism. Most of the questions asked are personal ones that only you can answer to the best degree. Be as original as possible!

  2. Another valuable tip is to seek help from a teacher. In my case, my counselor was the person who encouraged me to apply. Asking for interpretation of some of the application questions and having her review my answers was a no-brainer.

  3. Break It Down: Rather than attempting to complete the entire application at once, take it in stages. Tackling it step by step will prevent it from becoming overwhelming. Applying early gives you more time to refine your answers and ensure everything is in order.

  4. Connect with Ambassadors: Reach out to a YYAS ambassador or directly contact YYAS if you have any questions that can't be answered through the website. Ambassadors often have valuable insights and can provide personalized guidance based on their own experiences.

After YYAS

Post-program, YYAS consistently sends emails months later to make you aware of numerous opportunities available for you to apply for. Rise For the World is a prime example. Additionally, there's an opportunity to apply for a college admissions mentor. These mentors assist YYAS students in various areas, such as identifying extracurricular activities, selecting universities, writing essays, and test preparation strategies. Having a mentor was a lifesaver during my college applications. Without their guidance and the knowledge I gained from the program, it would have taken much longer to truly understand the process.

YYAS provided me with the chance to connect with a diverse group of Africans, some of whom are still my friends today. It also helped me become more socially open, as I actively participated and spoke up during our designated family times.

Currently, I serve as a Yale Young African Scholars Alumni Ambassador! I wholeheartedly encourage any African high schooler out there to apply for YYAS. If you choose to do so, best of luck, and I hope you have a successful application process! 😊🌟

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