Thursday, April 14, 2016

Class of '20: First Step Toward Yale

A panel of current Yale students addressed questions from Westchester admitted students at the annual reception in Bronxville. (YWAA photos)

You never know what factors influence the decisions prospective college students must make when they go through the agonizing process of selecting a campus to spend the next four years, even if it's Yale.  Sometimes they want to know all about the dining-hall offerings, whether the meat loaf that was served in the 1960's is still a popular staple today or whether Berkeley College indeed offers farm-to-table selections.

Sometimes they want to know whether they will have time to race from a Lindsley Chit English lecture to a Linear Algebra class at the bottom of Science Hill before it starts. Often they want to know about relationships with professors, majors that will promise employment, research opportunities in other countries, and juggling academics with Yale's bountiful supply of extracurriculars.

At the annual Westchester admitted-students reception in Bronxville, Apr. 12, (sponsored in part by YWAA), the surprise Yale topic for the moment was whether freshman students living in Timothy Dwight and Silliman Colleges are at a social disadvantage.  As all Yale College alumni know, freshmen from 10 of Yale's residential colleges live together on Old Campus, where they can bond with first-year students from other colleges before they scatter to their respective colleges in sophomore year.  Freshmen from TD and Silliman live in their colleges. Or in other words, they get a one-year head start on residential-college life.

So who has the advantage? A freshman from TD or a freshman from Davenport?

Christopher Bates '14, a Yale Admissions officer, led a panel of current Yale students, who traveled from New Haven to convince about 20 newly admitted Westchester students and their parents that Yale is the right choice. Bates took a poll and learned that most in attendance were already committed to Yale, so he and the students addressed lingering questions, thoughts, or worries.

Many students and alumni who lived on Old Campus have always groaned that TD and Silliman Colleges "are too far away."  Yet Bates and the student panel explained that the distance from one end of Old Campus (Vanderbilt) to its other end (Durfee) is the same the distance from TD to Old Campus's edge.  They said while an Old Campus resident shares experiences with 1,000 other freshmen, TD-Silliman freshmen become better acquainted with their deans, masters, and college traditions.

Freshmen assigned to the new colleges (to be ready by fall, 2017), Bates said, will live in those colleges in their first year (like TD and Silliman).  Hence, about 30 percent of future Yalies won't have an Old Campus experience.

Bates and his panel addressed an assortment of other questions and reeled off long lists of the wonders of Yale.  They explained how Yale students live in suites and common rooms and highlighted the diversity not only on campus, but within suites. They boasted of the special guests who speak at Masters' Teas.

Emily Yankowitz '17, who returned to participate on the panel again this year, spoke about her academic interests (including history, Alexander Hamilton, and slavery in Jamaica), her activities elsewhere (the New Haven Girl Scouts) and her loyalty to Pierson College.

The students shared stories about attending Bulldog Days, singing in the Bakers Dozen a cappella group, playing tuba in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and getting involved in Autism Awareness at Yale. They said their favorite Yale traditions included the Symphony Orchestra's annual, sold-out Halloween concert and something younger alumni are familiar with (Freshman Olympics on Old Campus) and something even older alumni know all about (the annual Freshman Holiday Dinner in what is still informally called Commons).

This year's class of Westchester admitted students included those from popular Yale feeder schools (Scarsdale, Rye Country Day, White Plains, Hackley, Byram Hills and New Rochelle), but also from other schools (Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, e.g.).  Three classmates from Mamaroneck High School will also become members of the Class of '20.

Bill Primps '71, who leads Yale Westchester's Alumni Schools Committee, welcomed students, parents and Yale alumni who are involved in interviewing applicants. Yale applications in total set another record with over 31,000 applying; about six percent were admitted.

Next year's process will add about 200 more freshmen (above the traditional 1,350) who will be part of Yale's largest freshman class ever and who will matriculate to become members of the still-to-be-named new residential colleges. TD and Silliman will be their neighbors.

Timothy Mattison '73, president of YWAA, also congratulated and greeted students, their parents and guests.
The Yale panelists talked about suites, common rooms, popular majors, the symphony orchestra, a cappella groups, Freshman Olympics and Old campus living. (YWAA photos)

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