Yale University is a large research institution chartered in 1701, making it the third-oldest institution of higher education in the US. On top of the numerous academic undergrad degrees at Yale College, students also have access to Multidisciplinary Studies, which examine pressing social challenges, Special Programs, such as Studies in Grand Strategy, and International Experiences, which 64% of the Yale student body utilizes. Before their freshman year, all students are randomly divided up into twelve residential colleges on the New Haven, CT, campus, where they will live and socialize for the next four years. The campus is also home to the Marsh Botanical Garden, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, an observation and planetarium, farm, art gallery, museum of natural history, and the Yale Center for British Art.
Yale offers everything that I wanted in a school. It has a beautiful campus, wonderful faculty and incredible residential college system. The students here are super motivated and driven, but the atmosphere isn't competitive so even though you are pushing yourself really hard, you don't feel intimidated by what everyone else is doing--everyone is brilliant at something, be it academics, an extracurricular or in the personality and social life.
Yale is a great place for an academic challenge and usually great socially, but it can be isolating for students from lower-income families due to the large number of extremely wealthy, boarding school/magnet school kids. The residential college system gives you a group of people to associate with, but is basically luck of the draw, and because the dorms are organized by entryway, there are few people on one floor, which keeps groups fairly small and close-knit. STEM majors are often discouraged due to harder courses and a lack of well-taught intro classes, especially in mathematics, but tend to bond over the walks to science hill, the never-ending stream of midterms, and the eccentric lecturers.