Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Class of '18: 992 High Schools

Yale regularly attracts top Westchester students from (clockwise, top L) high schools in Rye, White Plains, Scarsdale, New Rochelle, and Chappaqua (Greeley) (Patch.com, YWAA photos)
In the world of college admissions, myths abound.  So do hearsay and notions of what it takes to boost the odds of getting into selective colleges. Parents, counselors and students themselves spread what they hear, perceive or guess.  There is a popular notion that to be admitted to an Ivy League school or many selective institutions, it helps to to have attended certain pipeline or feeder schools, as if slapping Exeter on the application will give the applicant an advantage--similar to the perceived advantage of being a legacy, athlete or foreign student. For some colleges, perhaps it does.

Without doubt, there are some schools across the country that send students to the Ivy League in impressive numbers, enough to help boost such notions.  In Westchester, it's not unusual for Rye Country Day or Scarsdale High School to send as many as four or five students to Yale in a single year.  But as most student applicants and their parents who have gone through the "college process" know (especially after admissions offices distribute acceptance and rejection e-mails), stellar GPA's and SAT scores while attending one of those schools is no guarantee of admission to Yale or many selective colleges.

Perhaps in an effort to discourage the notion that applicants who don't attend popular feeder schools have little chance of getting admitted, Yale's admissions office this summer shared statistics about high schools that will send at least one student to Yale as a new freshman this fall.  Sharing the numbers was a way to show upcoming applicants that students attending a high school with no past or meaningful track record of graduates going to Yale still have a good shot in getting in, if they also possess the strong application and recommendations the admissions team looks for in candidates.

In July, Yale reported that 992 different high schools will send students to become members of the Class of '18.  At least 57% (or 776 students) will be the only student in the freshman class from his/her school.  In many cases, the student is the first in many years or the first ever to attend Yale from that high school.  Scattered among the clusters of students from Exeter, Andover, Horace Mann, Shaker Heights, Choate, and Stuyvesant are hundreds of students from high schools from inner-city Kansas City, from the suburbs of Denver, or from rural areas in Kentucky, many of whom are the only ones from their schools in New Haven. 

Nonetheless, there are various angles to examine the same set of statistics.  For a handful of popular pipeline schools, the numbers haven't diminished significantly.  The office reports at least 18 schools are sending at least five students to Yale this fall.  (Three are sending more than 10 each.)

In Westchester, the two dozen or so first-year Yale students include those from many high schools--including favorite feeders (Rye Country, New Rochelle, Schecter, Greeley, Briarcliff, and Scarsdale, e.g.) and some recent newcomers (Sleepy Hollow, e.g.).  From year to year, the Westchester list is often assorted, each year including the usual feeder schools and schools that send students to Yale in less predictable patterns:  Stepinac, Ardsley, White Plains, et. al.

The admissions office and the Yale community enjoy defining the Yale experience as being about the student from Bronxville rooming with the student Huntsville, Ala., or the student from Dalton becoming best friends with the student from Booker T. Washington High in Atlanta. 

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