Saturday, April 18, 2015

Class of '19: Overcoming Daunting Odds

In Bronxville, current Yale students joined Debra Johns from the Admissions Office to greet Westchester admitted students and convince them to choose Yale before May 1.  (YWAA photo)


A lucky group of Westchester high-school students beat Yale's formidable admissions odds this school term. They were among the 1,962 from around the world fortunate to receive the jubliant "Bulldog-Bulldog" admissions e-mail (6.5% from over 30,000 applicants) from the Yale admissions office last month. The admissions office invited them to join the Class of 2019, the privileged 1,350 or so who will close out the 2010's at Yale.

The odds were slightly better for Westchester students (about 10% from about 300 applications), but still daunting, still harsh realities for trail-blazing students in the area deserving of a chance to choose and attend Yale.

Yale Westchester and the admissions team invited Westchester admittees to the annual admissions reception at the Bronxville Field Club, Apr. 16. Along with their parents, 17 local students attended and got the chance to mingle with Debra Johns from the Yale admissions office, meet three current Yale students and greet some alumni interviewers who likely wrote glowing interview reports to help them get in.

They squeezed a couple of hours out of an evening to be among students and alumni, but the Westchester admittees are still involved, still leading clubs and still preparing for AP exams back at school.  One student, a top baseball prospect for Yale, couldn't attend because he was playing in a crucical game, but his parents represented him at the reception. (His team won the game, 10-2.). A few, including another baseball player and a lacrosse player, rushed to join the reception moments after stepping away from the playing field.

The reception was hosted by YWAA and the Yale Westchester Alumni Schools Committee.  Bill Primps '71, Westchester ASC Chair, emceed a short program for parents and students.

Last year, the admissions office announced ongoing efforts to expand the number of high schools represented in the first-year class, reporting that 992 schools sent students to be members of the Class of 2018. The effort to expand high-school representation seems evident, too, in Westchester and in the Class of 2019.

Admitted Westchester students this spring hailed from the familiar pipeline high schools (e.g., Scarsdale (which may likely have the largest Westchester representation come fall), Rye Country Day, New Rochelle, Rye, etc.). But this year, at least a dozen Westchester schools had seniors who gained admission. They include Holy Child, Ardsley, White Plains, Kennedy Catholic, Mamaroneck, Hastings, and Pelham high schools.  Among those who plan to attend (and have already chosen Yale) are at least two baseball recruits, two soccer recruits, and a football/ice hockey recruit.

Many others attending the Bronxville reception have already selected Yale and plan to move to Old Campus in August. They came to meet other Westchester students, share stories about the stress of applications and the relief of getting in, and to meet Johns, who knew a lot of more details about them than they realized. Some others are still deciding, wrestling with a big May 1 decision, but politely acknowledging to Yale alumni at the reception they are leaning toward Blue.

During the program, Johns and theYale students provided ample reasons for why Yale should be a no. 1 choice.  They answered parents' questions about transitions, workloads, and the inevitable feelings of a freshman feeling homesick.

Johns and the students presented campus updates and pleaded with them to attend "Bulldog Days," the two-day campus extravaganza next week that welcomes over 1,000 pre-frosh to campus and turns into a campus party and pizza-fest to celebrate the Class of 2019.

Emily Yankowitz '17, a Pierson College resident and history major, discussed her experiences in studying and traveling abroad, even as a sophomore.  She has already spent time in Croatia and Nicaragua. On campus, she is a Girl Scout leader for a New Haven troop.

The students reported the latest trends, traditions and cool activities on campus. They raved about the annual Halloween Concert presented by the Yale Symphony Orchestra. Last year's concert, so popular an event and tradition, was sold out in 72 seconds.  They recounted the joys of playing inner-tube, intramural water polo, tooting the tuba in the symphony, engaging in impromptu conversations on Elm Street, taking courses in cognitive science, and basking in the sun on Cross Campus after what they all admitted was a rough, snowy winter.

They talked about how they support roommates' projects and activities by attending their games, concerts, theater productions, and art exhibitions.  The students say these are opportunities for "I See You" shout-out moments, where roommates and friends shout out, "I see you (roommates name here)!" to signal presence and express support. A common occurrence at Yale events these days, they said.

Johns summed up.If you were to ask each Yale student about why Yale was special, she said, you would get an account of 5,000 "amazing experiences."

At the reception in Bronxville, Admitted students and parents had an opportunity to ask about Bulldog Days, academic workload, athletic facilities, and experiences abroad. (YWAA photo) 

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