Thursday, April 10, 2014

Class of 2018: Choosing Yale

YWAA and ASC hosted Westchester students admitted to Yale at the annual reception in Bronxville, Apr. 9 (YWAA photos)
The numbers are mind-boggling, head-shaking, as they are every year now.  Yale received over 30,000 applications during the current admission season, and it accepted just 6 percent, a number that has caused many to shudder and wonder what it takes to reach Old Campus in New Haven.

Yale continues to be a prize for high-school students, not just around the country, but from all corners of the world, as the number of international applicants rises steadily from year to year. (By constructing two new residential colleges along the borders of Science Hill, Yale promises it will seek to accommodate a few more students each year in the admissions process in years to come.)

Yale is a prize for Westchester students, too.  The admissions office reports 335 area students applied to Yale, and only 29 were admitted, an admit rate of 8.7 percent, reflecting Yale's national trends for selectivity.  It's tough to get into Yale, whether you apply from Seattle or Mumbai, whether you apply from north of I-287 or south of it.

Once again, YWAA and the Westchester Alumni Schools Committee hosted a reception for admitted Westchester students Apr. 9 in Bronxville to welcome them formally into the Yale community and to encourage them to choose Yale.  YWAA, ASC, and Yale must now reverse the courtship and persuade admitted students to select Yale on May 1.  Yield rates for Yale normally hover about 60-70% each year.  If Westchester yields reflect national trends, about 20 students from Westchester will head to New Haven this fall.

Bill Primps '71, Westchester ASC coordinator, greeted over 50 admitted students, parents, and  alumni at the Bronxville reception and introduced current students and Associate Dean of Admissions Debra Johns.  Johns and the students conducted a spirited panel discussion for the prospective students, tackling all questions tossed at them and offering dozens of reasons why Yale is a best choice. Parents may have asked more questions than prospects.

Tim Mattison '73, YWAA president, welcomed the prospective students and encouraged them to reach out to alumni and students in attendance to learn more about the Yale experience. 

Joshua Ackerman '14, a Yale student panelist from New Rochelle, explained how a course "Perspectives in Technology and Science" was one of his favorites.  He gladly reminded the group (not once, but many times) why he thought Berkeley College was Yale's best residential college. Because prospective students always want to know what's served in dining halls (an important criteria on students' lists), he described how the food at Yale has improved. Cuisine is just as important as courses and campus for many new students. 

Ackerman, double-majoring in Biology and Latin American Studies, is also a freshman counselor.

Johns, in the admissions office, described the essence of a "can do" environment on campus.  She said in many places, students are encouraged to explore interests and new pursuits, but encounter responses of "Yes, but...."  Yes, they can pursue projects or research, but....

At Yale, Johns explained, the approach is "Yes, and...," as in, yes, you can pursue and explore, and we at Yale can help you find a way.

Shopping period, the way Yale students have embarked on a new semester for generations, was a hot topic during the session.  Yale students for decades have approached shopping period with an assortment of approaches and clever strategies, but they do it eagerly and joyfully.  Johns and the student panelists shared experiences from shopping courses in recent years--how they planned "shopping lists," how by serendipity they stepped into the best courses in their Yale years, and how they wound up sometimes choosing courses on their "B" and "C" lists.

Prospective students asked about music at Yale, professors, favorite classes, New Haven highlights, a  capella singing, course requirements, freshman seminars, and "Bulldog Days," when Yale hosts over 800 prospective students in late April for a few days of Yale discovery (and revelry, some say).

"You won't sleep," the Yale panelists said about "Bulldog Days." Ackerman encouraged prospects to make time to attend "Bulldog Days" and to "take time to explore Yale off the beaten path."  That might mean, he said, taking a walk alone up Science Hill or slipping into a class on a whim. Some of the best experiences at Yale, he and the other Yale students suggested, are unplanned, impromptu moments.

Westchester students have less than three weeks to decide to click "Enter" and choose Yale. And then the urgent cycle to choose who gets to attend Yale next year starts all over again. This time for the Class of 2019.

Over 50 newly admitted students, parents and alumni gathered listened to a panel of current Yale students (YWAA photos)
Debra Johns (top left) from the Yale admissions office explained the challenges of admitting just 6% of 30,000 applicants (YWAA photos)

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