Admissions Office cuts travel

As the admissions office begins to recruit the class of 2014 this fall, it will be working within the confines of a significantly smaller budget.

Following a University-wide 7.5 percent cut to department budgets, Yale’s Admissions Office has “trimmed” its travel for conferences and recruitment events and cut down on the volume of publications printed, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said this week. The office will not make any cuts to the total number of admissions officers, he said, adding that measures being taken are in line with admissions budget cutbacks at Yale’s peer schools.

“I feel strongly that we took a ‘creative’ approach,” Brenzel said of his office’s reduction strategy. “We tried not to have cost-cutting as the focus … The question was: Where can we get maximum leverage on the time we devote to outreach?”

Brenzel declined to give specifics about the degree to which officer travel has been cut and the ways in which Yale has adjusted its travel schedule. Brenzel said Yale’s new travel strategy — which will “target” certain audiences more forcefully than in the past — is an improvement on past practice, noting that the office went through several weeks of planning and a full-day retreat in order to put it together.

In the spring, Yale’s peer schools like Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College all announced major reductions in travel, reaching decreases as high as 50 percent compared to last year.

Harvard Director of Admissions Marlyn McGrath said in the spring that her office would redesign its Web site and will focus more heavily on using the Internet as an outreach tool. Brenzel, for his part, said Yale has devoted “a lot of attention” to enhancing the office’s Web presence.

While a half-dozen college counselors interviewed Tuesday said they will miss having college representatives at their schools, they agreed that high school visits are not an essential part of the admissions process. The counselors added that they have seen relatively little or no change in the number of college visits scheduled for this year.

Yale will send a representative to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a public magnet school in Alexandria, Va., said Laurie Kobick, director of the college and career center at that school. Still, she said, a few other top schools have decided not to visit. Kobick said that might put those schools at a disadvantage as they vie to attract Thomas Jefferson’s talented science students.

Mary Anne Modzelewski, director of college counseling at Sandia Preparatory School in New Mexico, agreed that students benefit from the personal interaction afforded by high school visits.

“It is important for students to have contacts and that they make contacts,” she said. “It makes the experience more personalized and allows the student to see that [Yale] is not just this big fancy school out East. There’s a person behind the desk who might be looking at their application. It makes it more real.”

Still, the mission behind admissions visits has changed in recent years, said Tom Walsh, director of college guidance at the private Roxbury Latin School in Boston.

“Visits are a vestige of another era,” he said. “With the Web, with students visiting colleges and being more attune, I’m not finding too many kids coming to that many visits.”

The Admissions Office will also save money by reducing the volume of publications it distributes, as well as by sending its printing orders once every two years, rather than every year, Brenzel said.

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