New admissions video premieres

The new video, produced in house, features more than 200 student, faculty and staff performers.
The new video, produced in house, features more than 200 student, faculty and staff performers. Photo by Juliana Hanle.

For a generation of high school students raised watching viral videos and splashy television shows, Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions is venturing into pop culture with a new promotional video — and it’s a musical!

The Admissions Office will post its new video — “That’s Why I Chose Yale” — in high definition on YouTube, the admissions Web site and the admitted students site today. The new video forgoes the campus stills and student interviews of past Yale promotional videos in exchange for more than 200 students, faculty and staff belting out songs of praise for Yale.

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Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said the video allows Yale to “set a tone” for prospective students, capturing the spirit of the University even if they cannot visit. The video was the brainchild of recent alumni and current students, he said, and captures the Yale experience first-hand.

“It’s going to get noticed because there’s nothing like it,” Brenzel said in an e-mail. “I expect that there will be parodies and attempts at imitation.”

Although Brenzel declined to specify the exact cost of the film, he said the video was written and shot in-house at less than one-tenth the cost of a professionally-produced admissions video.

The video opens as an admissions officer, played by New York City-based actor Kobi Libii ’07, finishes his address to a campus tour. A bored-looking girl in the last row asks, “But why did you choose Yale?”

Libii pauses before launching into a musical exposition of all Yale has to offer. When the scene changes, Libii, striding before the looming Gothic buildings in Branford College’s iconic courtyard, is joined by Sam Tsui ’11 — the YouTube sensation, who is also a Yale College tour guide.

Hundreds of other Yale students join in the singing and dancing over the course of the 15-minute movie. Even NBC news anchor Brian Williams, the father of Allison Williams ’10, makes a cameo appearance at a staged Master’s Tea. Libii walks the viewers through scenarios that showcase Yale’s residential colleges, academics and extra-curricular activities, and eventually, viewers are brought back to a panting Libii, who cries in elation, “That’s why I chose Yale!”

The last time the Admissions Office produced a video nearly a decade ago, it featured students strolling around Yale on rollerblades, donning high-waisted jean shorts and baggy T-shirts, according to Andrew Johnson ’06, senior assistant director of undergraduate admissions. Until today, the outdated video still greeted prospective applicants when they first arrived at the Admissions Office.

But because of its age, the video offered potentially misleading information and dated facts, Johnson said. Last spring, after making an amateur, private video series about the lives of admissions officers, Johnson said he raised the idea of making a new admissions video but with a twist: He wanted the movie to be a musical. While he was initially unsure if the Admissions Office would approve his idea, Johnson said, he met with Brenzel and was given the green light and a modest budget.

Work began that summer when Johnson and student filmmaker Ethan Kuperberg ’11 started the first of two drafts of the video’s script. The pair mostly worked via e-mail, meeting once over a weekend. Meanwhile, Johnson drafted the score to accompany the lyrics and recruited Kurt Schneider ’10 – who works with Tsui on his YouTube projects — to help with the sound editing and production of the video.

The next challenge was getting together the cast. With his low budget, Johnson said he had to rely entirely on volunteers, whom he drew from a network of friends, student organizations and eventually Facebook. Even admissions officers and their children did not escape his net, Johnson said.

“We begged, pleaded, coerced anyone we could find,” Kuperberg said. “We would tell the cast that we were about to start the shoot when the camera equipment hadn’t even been set up.”

Ben Stango ’11, president of both the Yale College Democrats and the College Democrats of Connecticut, was cast in the video as the member of the Yale Political Union.

“Ethan told me to come in a suit,” Stango recalled. “I quoted Aristotle and page numbers.”

The strategy worked: For the final shoot, more than 200 students turned up one morning early last semester to storm down the front steps of Sterling Memorial Library, Johnson said. To complete the scene, which features a large crowd of students jumping for joy, the production crew even asked onlooking Yalies to join in.

But the 10-day shoot was not without a few close calls. The directors of the musical still vividly remember what they now call “that camera incident.”

On the afternoon before they were due to shoot the Yale Symphony Orchestra playing in Woolsey Hall, Schneider said the production crew received a call from their equipment rental company, which informed him they had rented the equipment to someone else.

“We had three and a half hours to get new equipment or walk into Woolsey empty-handed,” he said.

Streeter Phillips ’10, the movie’s cinematographer, said the best memories from the set were from the end of the day, when he, Schneider and Johnson would stand exhausted and giddy from the day’s accomplishments before heading to the Applebee’s in Hamden to kick back for a beer and a two-for-$20 meal.

Of the roughly 60 Jonathan Edwards College students who attended a preview in the college Thursday night, all 13 interviewed had overwhelmingly positive responses to the video and approved of the Yale the film portrays. Five students added that they liked that it displays a playful side of Yale College.

Zachary Groff ’13 noted with approval that, though very obviously an admissions video, the film is self-aware of its camp nature. Indeed, Schneider said that the night before shooting, he and the rest of the production team watched Disney’s “High School Musical” for inspiration. He added that the score for the video is meant to be “accessible and pop-friendly.”

The new admissions video will also be shown to campus visitors at information sessions and tours at the Admissions Office. Yale students interested in seeing the video on the big screen can attend the premier in the Whitney Humanities Center tonight at 7 p.m.

Correction: Jan. 15, 2010

An earlier version of this article misreported the location of tonight’s premiere, which is at the Whitney Humanities Center, not William L. Harkness Hall.


  • Jojo45:

    A lot of credit has to go to Brenzel here who took a risk trusting a production like this to amateurs. If this turns out to be as good as it looks, he will have really pulled something off… On a budget no less.

  • yale '11:

    You will NOT be disappointed. I saw the video in JE last night, and not only is it wonderfully well made, it is SO Yale and made us all almost want to be applying again!

    This is definitely going to be a party; can’t wait to see it again!!!

  • Matt M.:

    The production is truly an embarrassment to the school. Why is poppy, inane “accessibility” (to use a sublimation) a concern for one of the nation’s most elite centers of learning? I hate to think that “Yalie2010’s” comment, “This is SOOO Yale,” could be true, but it has its validity — the film’s obsessive coverage of Yale’s social opportunities perfectly reflects the student body’s general trend of trading intellectual vigor for inebriate juvenility.

  • Skeptical:

    This clearly took lots of work, and congratulations on getting it off the ground.

    Though to echo Matt’s comment, it is revealing that they began with the ludicrously over-the-top amenities offered by the residential colleges and tacked on academics as almost an afterthought.

  • Academics:

    Look at the video again. It didn’t “tack on” academics: it WORKED UP to them. Academics was about 40% of the video I would say. But that is what the form is. Sitting here right now after having viewed it once I remember a seminar with an English professor, a lab scene with people doing experiments, several (at least) library scenes, a young woman talking about an internship for human rights, a bluebooking event with people discussing course choice and opportunity, There were more I think -these stick in my mind. It’s a 15 minute video for the love of heaven! In any case, the spirit of this thing was wonderful. But most wonderful is that the concept itself came from recent Yalies, proof of originality, creativity and imagination. I’m not saying no one else could do this. But the fact is – Yalies did. Congratulations.

  • Yale '11:

    ^haha apparently it works!

    It’s cute… totally corny… i think it will resonate well with pre-frosh who have grown up on HSM.

    And i think it’s a fair representation of yale. Even if it glamorizes yale life far beyond reality (don’t be fooled… we’re not actually jumping for joy when we have a ton of work to do), the opportunities presented in the video are very real and accurate.

  • Yalie:

    ^Agreed, it was really cute!
    What makes the “glamorous” depiction reasonable is that the video really showcases Yale the way an info session and tour would anyway; it would be a fun, upbeat (and pretty attractive) way for the admissions office to introduce Yale to visitors.

  • Agree with academics:

    I actually thought the second half of it on academics was better than the first half. The music’s more upbeat and the content is really reflective of the intellectual vibrancy on campus. Also, I love the freshman counselor/shopping period scene!! Amazing job!

  • MC 08:

    This video is fabulous!

    But regardless of whether you like it or not, it’s also a perfect example of how receptive the Yale administration is to its students’ ideas and talents.

    Perspective students: VERY few colleges have an administration and faculty that will give you the amount of time, energy, and financing to nurture your ideas as Yale’s do. It’s a main reason why I chose Yale.

  • Yale '09:

    Good for you Yale ’14! After I watched the video, I was like YEAH, that IS why I chose Yale. It wasn’t easy, trust me, but it was well worth it and I have absolutely NO REGRETS. I’d do it all over again :)

  • yale2010:

    its a shame so many people don’t have a sense of humor. this was made by yale students and is certainly self-aware of its own cheesy nature. it was hilarious. congratulations to the production team and to ethan and all the students involved.

  • laughs at Matt M.:

    You forget that after a certain point, academics are all pretty much the same. The reason why a student would choose one school over another becomes which school he or she would enjoy more. Honestly, academically speaking, the whole Ivy League + others are pretty much the same; the criteria for decision lies in other aspects.

    I bet you chose Yale for the academics though. Because Yale’s academics are so far beyond those of other colleges that other factors made no difference.

  • Embarassed '10:

    This video is incredibly embarrassing.

    The video may appeal to the theater crowd and “1 in 4” Yalies, but does not have general/ widespread/ universal appeal. Sit the football or hockey team down and show them this video and see what their reaction is. Heck, sit most fun, “normal” people down and they’ll be embarrassed by this. Geez.

  • Yale Alum:

    I am extremely disappointed with this video. Its tone is bizarre: self-conscious, though never-quite-deadpan, but also at times humorlessly earnest — which, combined, make for a dreadful viewing experience. The editing is amateurish, particularly the beginning setup (shots are held too long, and the pacing is far too slow). As someone who was heavily involved in the arts at Yale, even I myself find the video to be, in a word, lame.

  • perspective:

    I imagine residential colleges were focused on first because this is targeted at potential, not current students. One of the top questions among potential students is what exactly the residential college system is…

  • To embarrassed '10:

    Watch the video again. You’ll see that there’s a Yale football player singing, next to the Master. So I tend to think the teams will love it rather than be embarrased…(and please, lighten up!)

  • Harvard '10:

    I enjoyed the video–and I agree with the comment from By Perspective. All the haters and otherwise forget that this video was made for perspective students–not jaded current students. Or alums who obsessively follow their former college newspapers (NYTimes might be more age appropriate).

  • it's:

    it’s simply too big of an artistic risk to take on the “unspoken” budget they used. do not be fooled, in no way is this a student video. it’s a professional video made by skilled students. they’re not at fault here, but Yale is. did someone research musicals and find that every smart kid in the US likes them? well, even if they did, should this be the way we represent the University? absolutely not. it’s a fictionalized sell on Yale that is both highly fictional and over sold. it both makes me embarrassed that they chose to use it, and sad that they chose to spend so much money on it. the only connection i had was to the people i know that were on screen.

  • Recent Alum:

    The sort of people who would love this video are precisely the sort of people who would pick Yale over Harvard in any event. A different video with a different kind of focus could have done much to convince those who are on the fence between the two schools. What a missed opportunity.

  • y11:

    People who are arguing “lighten up” need to WAKE up. Sure, this was a fun little project, but it’s actually being pushed as a real admissions tool by the administration (in an effort to be what… hip? fun?).

    Yale is NOT high school musical. This is going to attract the wrong kind of student. The whole thing is one big showcase of Ethan’s Pierson drama geek friends, and that’s NOT who we want as the face of Yale.

  • alum09:

    I loved it! The only thing I would have liked to see included that wasn’t would be something about the relationship b/w Yale and New Haven – maybe something about students tutoring or mentoring out in the community, showing that students do venture outside the gates of their residential colleges. The video seems to avoid the topic of New Haven as a city.
    Otherwise, it rocked! It’s been stuck in my head all day :-)

  • Yale alum '78:

    I do regional interviews for the Alumni Schools Committee here in Northern California, and since this came out I’ve done several interviews this weekend for applicants heading both to the sciences and to the humanities, and I passed the link on to applicants I’ve already interviewed. The response has been uniformly positive (not that they’d tell their interviewer that they thought it sucked, I realize) with several saying they showed it to their parents to explain why they want to come to Yale. They all recognize its ‘campy’ nature and like it all the more for it. Whether you like it or not, I think it’s achieving its purpose.

  • Yale Alum:

    Harvard ’10,
    I would not characterize myself as a hater– I actually know most of the people involved in this video’s production, and when I first heard that a musical admissions video was being made, my reaction was, hell yeah, that sounds really awesome and fun. My beef now is purely with its execution. I guess I expected it to be, I don’t know, better? Especially if Yale has endorsed it officially. Sorry, just being honest.
    P.S. RE: your age appropriate comment: I’m a recent alum, but that’s beside the point– I think it’s great when alumni keep up with their college’s newspapers. It is a positive reflection of the spirit and investment of Yale’s undergraduate student body, and that carries into post-Yale life.

  • Stilesian:

    it’s, what makes you think they spent “so much money” on it? Brenzel says it was less than 1/10 of a professional company. Would you rather they spend ten times the amount for another lame video that no one will watch? I’m no fan of musicals myself, but at least this will get some attention. Have you seen Yale’s previous video? I can’t find it anywhere and I don’t recall ever seeing it. What’s the point of spending money on something no one will see? I think this was precisely the RIGHT call to make in a budget crisis.

  • Yale '10:

    The video is well done. The production is great. That said, had I seen this video after being admitted to Yale, I would surely be commenting on this article as a senior from a different university, saying “That’s why I didn’t choose Yale.”

  • Y09:

    Loved it and would watch it again, if only it weren’t 16 minutes long.

    But please don’t show this to the athletes who might actually be thinking about coming to Yale, that is, if we don’t want the football team from “Glee”.

  • CC 01:

    I don’t remember Yale students being so good-looking. I also don’t remember the weather being so beautiful.

    But otherwise – this was a fantastic tribute to Yale! Good work!

  • anon:

    I think even athletes would realize that it is meant to be ridiculous. “Cats was better” was a great way to close it — meant to show they realize that it is ridiculous.

    Also, RecentAlum, it is pretty much universally clear that you are a Harvard troll, did not go to Yale, got expelled, are a drug addict, or something else that makes you INSANE.

  • yale '09:

    But how does this video compare to what the admissions office has been showing up to this point (and indeed for the past 10 years)?

    In the admissions office and at the Yale visitors center, the admissions video is typically played in the 15 minutes leading up to a tour or info session. The video we’ve had for the last 10 or so years (aside from now being very out of date and inaccurate) is extremely dry and self-congratulatory. As a former senior interviewer/summer tour guide, I’m pretty confident in saying that the old video probably never convinced a single person to come to Yale. It played neatly into everyone’s expectations about an Ivy League school, and was entirely unmemorable (unless you had to hear it twice a day every day for nine weeks… in which case the pre-fab quasi-ethnic soundtrack theme will be stuck in your head forever).

    I think the new video will turn some heads and stand out. I doubt anyone’s going to stop considering Yale because of this video (especially since they’ll have 3 hours of info sessions and tours after it to fill their head with other perspectives and presentations). One of the best ways to start an admissions tour is to ask people how many other schools your visitors have visited that year, week, and day. I think many many students and parents will appreciate a self-aware video that pokes fun at the high-stress process of applying to college.

  • tc'10:

    this video is embarrassing. i am short of stunned that the school backs it. yale comes out looking like summer camp. i am not against the campy quasi-self awareness of the video, let alone against theater or a cappella kids, but the video is not remotely representative of the kids here. that it is so blatantly not representative (i.e. we do not sing in the classrooms about our choice to come here) does not serve as a stand in for actually suggesting the vibe of the school which is what these videos are supposed to do. yes yale’s admission video stands out from the ‘flatter’ videos of other schools, but this does not in and of itself make it better.

  • Hieronymus:

    I am not ashamed or embarrassed by the vid; however, it points out a certain lack of perspective among students.

    First: the vid is all about “stuff.”
    -“Free food in the evening.”
    -“Workout room two floors below”
    -luxurious suites (vs. standard dorms)
    and on and on.

    It touches now and again on academics, but mostly in a way accessible only to those already *on* campus.

    Some truths:
    Campus looks *awesome*, and actually does a good job of showing an outsider what is available. Of course, this could also be considered a real “in your face” taste of what “the haves” really have.

    Untruths: Wow. Talk about a diverse and integrated campus… Yale comes across as super-brown (not saying that wouldn’t be great, but I think the vid sort of… “colors” things a bit more than is reality). Won’t go into details (and it should be fairly self-evident), but I do not see that level of friendly interaction among various groups–or even representation (esp. among the science scenes!). One question: in casting the piece, isn’t a bit cynical to have so conscientiously over-sampled certain groups? Also: compare what you see to the production credits…

    One point worth noting: Kobi Libii was great (his facial structure, esp. when he smiles, sure does look like President Obama’s–and, no, I am *not* referring to any Reid-esque coloration issues; conscious decision?).

    Now, my other issue–this is really gonna hurt the feelings of those who don’t get in, just further heightening their expectations prior to dashing them against the rocks of reality.

    The whole premise is “Why I chose Yale,” as if one simply… chooses. Like from a box of chocolates. Princeton praline? Creme de Cornell? Uh… not in most cases–and certainly not the majority of those who apply.

    (Unless the vid was aimed, you know, at those who *actually* have some sort of choice… a rather small demographic).

    But, overall, it certainly conveys the “feel” of Yale (if not actual circumstances), capturing for SURE the energy and Yale chauvinism (a.k.a., loyalty) often absent from other campuses.

    All that said: I would rather have focused on academics and intellectualism over lattes, but… well… that’s Yale, too, these days.

  • Yale '88:

    It’s interesting that the reaction among my creative Yale alum friends is one of universal shock and horror. What’s wrong with you kids? The video is embarassingly sincere, completely devoid of sophistication, real humor or any sense of self-awareness. The only thing the video does is reinforce our stereotype of the younger generation as narcisstic airheads with no engagement in the real world.

  • Art:

    When you are marketing a product sporting a $53,000 price tag, you ought not to be portraying it as a bunch of “campy” fluff. Parents want to know they are buying their kid a quality education. My kid is already at Yale, but if I had seen this beforehand, it would have given me major pause.

  • Class of '13 parent:

    I think it’s brilliant. For those of you who prefer the pedestrian admissions, it’s still up. You can view it here: This video innovative, spirited, fun, campy and yet still informative. It’s exactly my child chose Yale over Harvard and other top schools. It’s the Yale “love factor” that comes through. And when I’ve been on campus, I’ve seen plenty of good-looking people. Congratulations Mr. Brenzel and all you talented students and alum associated with this extraordinary depiction of why one chose Yale. Bravo!

  • JE 91:

    My Yale friends and I were initially convinced that Harvard’s Hasty Pudding had pulled off the best hoax in decades. Unfortunately, we were wrong: the video is real.

  • Yale'12:

    I think older alums just don’t get things like this, having not grown up in the age of YouTube and viral marketing. This video is amazingly well-done and it reflects the energy of campus in a way that nothing else can. No, this probably doesn’t appeal to the meathead future I-bankers and frankly, Yale could use a few less of them.

  • interested:

    What’s important here is if the video has had a positive impact on the intended audience – high school juniors and seniors. Take a look at the comments on CollegeConfidential about this video – the lionshare of the 65 comments are giddily enthusiastic.

  • je alum:

    The video is cute, heart warming, and captures the giddy excitement that comes with being at a place as wonderful as yale. Unfortunately it also appears to have been populated almost entirely by self satisfied singing group types who have for eons displayed an amazing lack of self awareness. Let’s hope the admissions office balances the cloying copy with some a little more humor and respect for Yale’s many fine non-musical traditions in the future.

  • Utterly...:

    …generational. If you don’t get it, it’s either because you’re too old or you’re a fogey before your time. My friends here–including those from the “helmet sports”–think it’s hysterical…and actually count among their friends people who sing and dance. The thing is clearly meant to be ironic about admissions videos generally. View it in that context, please.

  • Sam Pratt (J.E. '91):

    It’s amusing that an undergrad from the Class of 2012 thinks that phenomena such as viral marketing were invented in the YouTube era.

    Plenty of “older alums” are highly conversant with camp, kitsch, and schlock — and are equipped to tell the difference after many years of not just thinking about pop culture and marketing, but actually working in such fields. We’ve actually seen a few trends come and go, y’know. And some of oue classmates appalled by this production were Whiffs.

    That said, this polished-yet-cringemaking video may well appeal to a certain type of applicant, and indeed is garnering lots of attention. However, whether it appeals to the sort of applicants Yale needs is another matter.

  • David St. Hubbins JE'92 YSM '97:

    Criticism of the video should be taken with a little more grace and less stereotyping.
    It is rather shallow to assume that someone who doesn’t like the video is either “old” or an “athlete”. Perhaps, the most wonderful feature of Yale, is its diversity and tendency to cast off stereotypes and embrace the varied talents of the student body as a whole.
    I think most people who are applying to Yale, attending Yale, or who have graduated from Yale understand the campy nature of the video and its attempt to pantomime productions such as Disney’s high school musical.
    The video is just not edgy or self-effacing enough to be very funny.
    “It’s such a fine line between stupid, and clever.”

  • Jerry Stacker:

    It’s fascinating to watch the trolls descend (quite anonymously and often instantaneously) on any article having to do with Yale’s admissions process. I wonder how many of the anonymous Yalies posting with their college initials and class years on this story are actually dropping their love notes from Cambridge, MA or Princeton, NJ? (The YDN encourages this with the anonymous posting capability — you won’t find it at the Harvard and Princeton newspapers.) But on to the video: it’s fun, it’s campy, the students themselves made it and the admissions office backed them. About 99% of the audience, whether high schoolers or anyone else, are getting all of that and getting a kick out of it. It’s intended to be — and is — a funny take on admissions videos, for god’s sake, not Ingmar Bergman on Yale.

  • Yale '11:

    This video is an abomination. I am really concerned about the future generations of Yalies that this video will attract. I can safely say that watching this video would have steered me towards Harvard.

    Today is a sad day – Yale became that much less cool

  • @Jerry Stacker:

    Sure, it’s a “funny take on admissions videos,” but that’s the whole problem: You don’t use a “funny take on admissions videos” as a REAL ADMISSIONS VIDEO.

    Sad I go to Yale right now. And I think you’re wrong about Princeton and Harvard trolls–they don’t need to say anything. The awfulness of the video speaks for them. If they are speaking up, though, I’ll gladly join them.

  • princeton11(lol):

    This video is earnest in a sickening way. It attempts to be self-aware, to poke fun at its own silliness, but fails. It’s clear that everyone involved thinks they’re on a train to Funnyville. They only could have pulled it off by adding some absurd elements, Andy-Samberg style (like a scene about Yale’s great toilet paper, or something).

    HOWEVER, it is a big ‘ol laugh, for those of us who watch from a distance.

  • another04:

    My prediction is that a solid majority of incoming students (or unwitting applicants) will watch this video in an open-mouthed stupor, and all evidence of its existence will be gone after a year. I am surprised that nobody in the admissions office thought a campy musical (and an amateurish video) wouldn’t end up getting more negative than positive buzz.

  • Y09mx:

    I was about as removed from the Yale drama scene as one can possibly be, and I think it’s brilliant. Prospective students I’ve interviewed loved it. Friends said they thought it was gay, but what were they going to say.

    A more positive spin from a more reputable source:

    Q – who are the “parents” in the admissions office scenes? Thought it’d be funny if they were actual Yale-affiliated Nobel Prize winners, but they’re not afaik.

  • Ashamed Alum:

    I have viewed this piece and know it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, aspiring to a “High School Musical” or “Glee” sensibility, but it is a total misfire, coming off as smug and self-congratulatory to the extreme. Releasing it at the same time as an international tragedy of epic proportion speaks to astounding ignorance and myopic insularity. Having been there, I know this particular representation is not the side of Yale that holds great value for me. However, showing this to prospective matriculants will most likely result in a number of highly thoughtful, potential students running to competitor institutions, eschewing an institution that seems to official endorse and embrace the most insidious, noxious aspects of elitism and privilege.

  • Yale Alum 02:

    This is a horrible joke. Who in their right mind thinks that this is going to make 18 year olds want to spend 4 years at Yale? The song is about dorms and dining halls and how our facilities are so great that you’ll never want to go outside. Wow. Sounds like fun.

    Plus, it’s going to be forcibly shown to prospectives at info sessions. 17 minutes of embarassment. If they had shown this to me, I might have chosen Harvard, god forbid.

  • chaosakita:

    As a high school sophomore (and the video’s target audience), I thought this video was kinda cute. I think it makes Yale sound like every other college out there and it’s a bit worrying to think that admissions would seriously use it as a way to attract people. However, even though I’m not a particular fan of musicals, I did think the idea was very, very unique and I can definitely see the campy charm appeal. I might just apply to this school because of it. On the other hand, I only could bear watching about five minutes of the video. I’m not sure how close my friends’ opinion on this might be.

  • Yale 1998 (Morse):

    Yes, I went to Yale. Yes, I use youtube. No, I’m not old.
    And, this video is horrifying.
    It’s fine to try for a joke as an admissions video (no doubt the old standard admissions videos were bland and relatively pointless), but if your 16 minute admissions video is going to be one long joke, the joke had better be funny.
    When the only aspects of the old admissions video you decide to keep are blandness, innocuousness, insipidness, and corny self-congratulations, it is very very difficult to be genuinely funny.
    I second the thoughtful commentary posted above:

    “I think most people who are applying to Yale, attending Yale, or who have graduated from Yale understand the campy nature of the video and its attempt to pantomime productions such as Disney’s high school musical.
    The video is just not edgy or self-effacing enough to be very funny.
    “It’s such a fine line between stupid, and clever.””

  • Y:

    It is funny that the most complaints that this video gets come from alumni and students who obviously missed the spirit of Yale, and probably people whose first choice was Harvard and got rejected. This video exemplifies why I chose Yale–not only because of what is in the video, but because Yale houses the kinds of students who would want to do something like this.

    People are not going to think that Yale is all fun and games. They are not going to think Yale is a camp. (There was a girl here who commented that it makes Yale seem like a normal school… but everybody knows that it isn’t, and a video is not going to change that.) If they have any semblance of intelligence, they will know that Yale is an academic institution that has just as much to offer as our rival schools. What this video will help them realize, though, is that Yale has people who are willing to go out and have fun. It shows how comfortable Yalies are expressing themselves, no matter how silly they are, and the fact that the admissions office *supports* this video just shows that even the faculty of Yale supports students having fun. You are right–this video would never be shown at Harvard or Princeton, and that is exactly what Yale needs to exemplify. This is how we are different. Despite how Princeton, Harvard, and Yale are all similar on paper, and despite how Harvard and Yale are identical in most respects, there is a stark difference in the people. Yale has better, more fun loving people.

    As for the diversity offered, they mentioned how they had to get people last minute. Whether or not they were actively trying to make Yale seem more “brown” than it actually is is irrelevant if they needed people.

    Sports people left out? This favors singers? Well… yes… It is a musical. Anything that is a musical is probably going to “isolate” the “helmet sports,” but from what I hear, the football players do a lot of singing of their own accord, too. I know people in there who do not sing. In fact, the video does a good job of showing many things that Yale has to offer in terms of extracurricular activities, and I do not see how just because people are singing while they are being shown means that the video favors singing/the arts.

    All that aside, the video is “cute.” One of the best institutions in the world just released a quirky music video about why students should come, and why Yale is so awesome. Sure, parents may not like it, but who cares? It is obvious that the target audience is students. At the very least, it will draw their attention to Yale so they can read all the boring facts and statistics, since that is what you believe 18 year olds want to do. Parents will see how relaxed the environment is. If they do not like the video, they can wait around for the kids to leave(because no kid would want to sit around for the boring stuff) and they can sit through the boring informational sessions.

  • also @87:

    “Despite how Princeton, Harvard, and Yale are all similar on paper, and despite how Harvard and Yale are identical in most respects, there is a stark difference in the people. Yale has better, more fun loving people.”

    Can anyone argue that one college has “better people” than another? I’d wager a “no.” What a narrow-minded statement.

  • A loyal '71 alum:

    I am a very proud alum of Yale, but think this film does the school a real disservice. My instant reaction, shared by others, was “Are we donating money to this school to pay for organic food, gorgeous gyms and Broadway tickets?” Life is not a High School Musical for most American families right now, and this film seems tone deaf to the current economic reality for prospective students’ families and alums who are being solicited to support Yale. I understand this video is a spoof, but Yale seems an island of luxury for those privileged few admitted through its gates.

  • Devin:

    As a once prospective student, I think this video would have appealed to me greatly. This really does speak to the nature of the student body, and I think we can all appreciate that. (Well, unless you’re the minority in that student body. Then you just feel outta place.)


    Knowing what I now—about Higher Ed. Inc. (to borrow the term)—this marketing ploy while borderline ingenious undercuts Yale as an elite institution of higher learning. Derek Bok, if I recall correctly, once paraphrased Oxford University’s thoughts about ranking in the following way:

    “We don’t care about rankings. We’re Oxford.”

    But it’s very clear to me that Yale is aware of the numbers’ games when they facilitate a production such as this. So the video speaks to many different things.

  • Y:

    First off, I am not Andrew. Don’t give him any hate for things I say.

    Secondly, @89, I understand how that statement may have come across as arrogant. At Y H and P (to name a few), students are equal in academics as far as I am concerned, but nobody can judge whether or not a person has a “better” personality than another except as a personal preference. My statement was not intended as saying Yale students are superior to the others, it was meant to mean that I feel the students of Yale are, in my opinion, better people to hang out with, better suited for me, and better in my mind because they are the kind of people who would enjoy things like our admissions video. Obviously, this is a subjective view, and not at all meant to be taken as an absolute truth that everyone will believe Yale students are better, i.e., superior, which was not intended.

    @91 (Devin), I do not see how a music dance video shows that Yale cares about the numbers, especially when they did not create this video. All they did was fund a former student’s idea to update the far out-of-date old video. Updating is hardly associated with being aware of the numbers, and far more closely associated with coming to terms with the fact that times are changing, and this video (for now) is more relevant and enjoyable.

    @ ’71 alum, Since this video “seems tone deaf to the current economic reality for… families,” how do you suggest it be changed? Should we make Yale seem less blessed than it actually is? For students as its target, not mentioning financial aid is fine. When I was applying, that was hardly a factor in me deciding whether or not to apply–my parents would worry about that, and parents still have resources to find out about our aid. Personally, I do not see how the economic reality affects this video at all negatively. While families may be struggling, Yale’s extremely generous financial aid will remain steadfast (we are assured), and many families who send their children here can rest assured that their child can experience things they might never have been able to afford otherwise.

  • Alum '08:

    @94: Great for you that financial aid wasn’t something you had to worry about in applying, but it is a concern for many students (not just their parents). Seriously, I’m not horrified by this video – it’s obviously designed to be cheesy and campy – but it would have been much improved by even one line along the lines of “And we offer great finanical aaaaaiiiiiiid…”

  • Princeton '12:

    Why? Because Harvard is not the only school that Yale loses applicants to. I turned down Yale (and Harvard) for Princeton. I know many people who’ve turned down Yale for Stanford, Amherst, or Middlebury (yes, Middlebury). This video will appeal to a lot of those kids (it definitely appeals to me, although not quite enough to make me regret my decision.)

  • Von Allen, Austin, Texas:

    I watched all 16 minutes of this video. It was long and the admissions person singing appeared dubbed and fake compared to the rest of the performers. Those are my two criticisms. Beyond that, I thought it was a commendable effort. I liked that I could see the ins and outs of Yale — the spaces, the places, the people — in a fun and innovative way. I agree with the sentiment above which says, “This video exemplifies why I chose Yale–not only because of what is in the video, but because Yale houses the kinds of students who would want to do something like this.” I have never visited or attended Yale, but I applaud the efforts of the students and admissions office to put together a production of this magnitude. Those who have no knowledge of theater, music, or film have no idea what an accomplishment this is. It will win no Oscars or Tony awards, but wow, how do you diss an effort of this size? I take my hat off to the students and alum for putting this together.

  • Princeton '12:

    (My earlier comment was cut off for some reason. Here’s the full version.)

    One earlier commenter pointed out that the applicants who like this video would have chosen Yale over Harvard anyway. You’re right about that. But the video can still do Yale a lot of good.
    Why? Because Harvard is not the only school that Yale loses applicants to. I turned down Yale (and Harvard) for Princeton. I know many people who’ve turned down Yale for Stanford, Amherst, or Middlebury (yes, Middlebury). This video will appeal to a lot of those kids (it definitely appeals to me, although not quite enough to make me regret my decision.)
    One group of applicants with whom the video will hurt Yale enormously is overseas students. For some reason, I don’t think British kids will get it.

  • Yale '00 (SY):

    In order for this to be a “funny admissions video,” it would have to be funny. It isn’t. I find it excrutiatingly embarrassing and smug.

    Completely agree with #86 above.

  • Mike:

    Ok, gang. Applications to Yale are slightly down and applications to H*hv*hd and Princeton are up.

    What might be going on here? Think hard. And think about what happens when USNews notes the declining applications and Yale, already bumped by H&P, gets bumped by, say, Columbia, Penn or Bruno? I was around in the late 70’s and early 80’s when Columbia was a total drag and Bruno was the hot Ivy. Now it’s clearly Princeton, and since it became safe, Columbia’s back in business. You can say you don’t care, but you do.

    Why might Yale be getting passed over by some of the cohort of high school students who are bound for the very top schools? New Haven hasn’t gotten worse in the last few years. Tuition at all of the Ivies is about the same.

    What’s different?

  • howdy:

    When I was in an internship last summer my boss received the Yale alum magazine that called Yale the Gay Ivy and looked at me with a ‘what the hell?’ look, mostly because he suspected I’m gay even though it was never spoken. Back in the 1970s Yale apparently didn’t have this identity.

    Now, we all know the saying: 1 in 4, maybe more. Here’s what I don’t understand: how do the straight guys take this? We produce a video that is a beacon for gay applicants–face it, the video is really ‘gay’ and many straight guys will dislike it–and the straight Yale guys don’t say anything. They can’t. They just got crushed. And there’s nothing you can do about it now. Right?

  • Yale '94:

    I will start by admitting that I am fascinated by the video & the commentary that it has generated. In reality, getting into Yale is still extremely difficult (less than 10% got in last year), so it’s not like the school is in danger of having to admit 2nd rate applicants. Still, the idea that this is meant to sell or represent Yale leaves me disturbed.

    Like many posters before me, I thought the video just wasn’t funny enough. It was going for campy, “Glee” style, obviously, but it just didn’t do it in extreme enough a manner to be funny. A lot of it actually came off as earnest.

    I also agree that it really over-emphasized the arts at Yale and really gave the rest of the campus short shrift. There are a lot of people at Yale that play varsity and club sports – there’s even prizes at graduation for dedication to intramural sports – and the only representation of that was the girls’ track team and a shot of a few guys playing basketball. Why not include some really ‘typical’ Yale sports like rowing or squash? Or even have the football or soccer or lacrosse teams sing a line or two? Who cares if they can’t actually carry a tune – that would be funny.

    And what about the frats at Yale? Those were a pretty big part of my social life as an undergrad. Not even a line in the statistical middle part? What about the public service organizations? Give the folks at Dwight Hall a stanza? How about all the ethnic and religious groups? That could have been done in a cute, campy way, too – have a stereotypically Jewish kid and a stereotypically Muslim kid singing together about “harmony” or something like that.

    And if they were going for funny, how did they pass up the opportunity to make a joke out of the secret societies? There are so many ways to go at that. Show pictures of the tombs and write “9 Secret Societies . . . or maybe more” or have students cover their faces with their hands and sing a line about the societies. Or have someone singing in front of Skull & Bones’s tomb and have a black car pull up and grab the kid off the street and speed away.

    I understand that this was a small budget production, you can’t please everyone, it’s meant for 18 year olds, but . . . it seems like it was produced in a particularly tone-deaf way to how it would be received. Basically, I am left wondering: did no one think that straight 18 year old guys might balk at this thing? I imagine that my husband (also a Yale alum) might have chosen to apply early to a different school if he watched this video 20 years ago. I don’t think the campiness would have amused him. I think it would have freaked him out. As an alumni interviewer, I will not be recommending this video to the non-arts oriented kids that I interview.

    Well, maybe the chatter about the video is enough. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity. Then again, Tiger might disagree.

  • 2010:

    I love Yale, I have loved every single moment of the three and a half years which I have spent here, but had I seen this video four years ago you can bet the house I would have gone to any other school I was considering.

  • '09Parent:

    As a parent of an ’09 graduate, I suspect my reaction to the video is similar to that of prospective Yale parents, some of whom like me will find it somehow off-putting. As others have said, the video is not good enough to justify its goofiness. Moreover, there are some serious aspects of Yale that are referred to in the video, but are not represented by it. For that reason, is it not possible that some 17- and 18-year olds who might previously have envisioned themselves as Yalies will not be able to see themselves in this scene? My guess is that the video will skew the applicant pool, and that within a short period of time the admissions people will stop using it.

  • Alum 08:

    @101: If a straight man decides not to come to Yale because of a cheesy musical theater video some students made – even if the admissions office is endorsing it – because it’s, like, totally gay, then Yale is better off without him.

  • Y:

    At some earlier comments, I am a student dependent on financial aid, and I am a straight male, and I still like the video. High production quality is not going to happen with a video like this–it would cost way too much. The fact that it is a student effort, fully thought up and created by students and recent alumni, to me, justifies some of the corniness. I guess you also have to be in a good mood to appreciate a lot of humor, but believe me–students WILL be giddy about applying to Yale and hoping to get in.

  • Y @ Devin:

    Yes, but from my understanding, it was an independent project that he had wanted to create for a while (i.e. before he started working there after graduation). It was not the admission office’s idea.

  • Alec - Harvard '88:

    Yes, I went to Harvard. But please let’s not pretend there’s some deep fundamental difference between the kids who go to Yale or Princeton or Middlebury or any other hard-to-get-into liberal arts college.

    And I’m not being smug, but I honestly believe this video may be the greatest recruiting tool Harvard has ever had.

    Take a look at the video a small college up in Canada did in (I’m told) three hours. It has become an Internet sensation and raised the visibility of the school in all sorts of good ways. The comparison is on our blog:

  • Prof Robert M. Young, '57:

    I was an admissions officer at King’s College at Cambridge Universityin England for eleven years and have six children, five of whom have attended various elite British universities. I wish they’d had the benefit of such imaginative exhortations about the universities to which they were considering applying.
    I think the video is very good, indeed – informative, witty, gently self-spoofing. I have a sixth child, age 13, and I cannot wait to show it to her in the hope that she will think favouraby about applying to Yale.

    By the way, I was induced to watch it by an admissions officer at one of Britain’s best universities, Imperial College. He urged me to look at it, saying that he thought it was lovely and should do Yale a lot of good.


  • Dumbndumber '76:

    If a majority of young pups at Yale think this video is cool, America is in worse shape that any imagined it could be in the bad old days. Srry to rain on the parade, here, but Yale as advertised is unrecognizable; attractive notwithstanding. What’s going on in New Haven, is it something in the drinking water?

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