Yale Ambassadors Program to grow

After last year’s inaugural run, the Yale Ambassadors Program — revamped and now broader in scope — is expanding to reach out to more schools.

The program, which sends current Yale students to selected high schools throughout the country, will now allow ambassadors to visit schools during all four breaks from Yale, as opposed to last year, when ambassadors made visits only during Thanksgiving and spring breaks. In the most significant change from last year’s program, each of the chosen ambassadors will make two visits to their assigned schools rather than one, as was the case last year.

While program administrators said they expect the number of high school students targeted to increase from the 1,500 students targeted last year, the number of student ambassadors will remain about the same at 130 students, said Jeremiah Quinlan, a senior assistant director of admissions and the director of outreach and recruitment.

Quinlan said he believes the changes will allow Yalies to connect with high school students in a more meaningful way.

“By building more continuity, students will be able to build up better relationships with schools and high-achieving students,” he said. “Furthermore, if schools are closed during Thanksgiving break, students will still be able to visit at other times during the year. This will allow us to reach more students in more places.”

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel said that while the first year of the program was successful, there will be changes this year to better target specific high schools. Last year, the program — which is run by both the Admissions Office and the Yale College Council — reached 203 high schools in 35 states.

“Where they found strong interest in particular schools [last year], we are trying to schedule follow-up visits by our full-time admissions officers,” Brenzel said. “I think we’ll stay with this effort for at least two more years to see how the greater outreach affects application growth over time.”

Last year’s efforts may have contributed to a 9.8 percent increase of applications from the targeted high schools that were visited by ambassadors, Quinlan said.

“This growth was only modestly larger than the 8.5 percent overall increase in Yale applications,” Quinlan said. “But it was a step forward, and if we can be consistent in visiting schools, we believe we can show continued growth.”

Hannah Friedman ’08, who served on the Undergraduate Recruiting Committee staff last year, said she believes the program has been beneficial and served its purpose.

“The program is able to provide outreach to schools where maybe there are no college counselors or where they wouldn’t be guiding kids [to Yale],” she said. “They try to emphasize the fact that Yale has financial aid packages.”

But Yonah Freemark ’08 said while he believes the program is a good idea, he thinks there are other ways to increase the number of applicants from low-income areas.

“I tend to think that it’s a good use of time to go to high schools in low-income areas,” he said. “But on the other hand, the main reason students from low-income schools aren’t applying is likely financial aid packages. If Yale really wanted to increase the number of low-income students, they should focus on increasing the financial aid component.”

William Alexander ’10 said he is interested in applying to become an ambassador.

“I would consider applying,” he said. “I was just a senior a year ago, so it would be cool to go back and talk to kids and maybe make the process less stressful for them.”

Ambassadors are compensated $40 for their first visit to a targeted high school and then $20 for each subsequent visit.

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