New Haven Promise will not likely affect the number of public school graduates who attend Yale, according to New Haven Public School administrators.
Emily Byrne, founding interim director of New Haven Promise, said the initiative does not make getting into college any easier, so she does not expect a significant rise in New Haven Public School students attending Yale. Yale generally accepts more students from private high schools in the area than it does from New Haven Public Schools, Yale Dean of Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said, but this reflects the strength the region’s private schools, not a weakness in its public schools. He said New Haven Promise, one of many partnerships between the University and New Haven Public Schools, is designed to encourage students to attend college, not Yale specifically.
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“The real win for the city of New Haven is to vastly increase the number of New Haven Public School gradutes who get a college education,” he said.
He said Hopkins School and Choate Rosemary Hall, private schools in the New Haven area which regularly send students to Yale, are two of the top high schools in the United States, and that many Yale faculty enroll their children there. As a result, Yale students from these two schools often have better academic credentials than the average student on campus.
While Byrne said the initiative aims to get more New Haven Public School students to college, not to top colleges in particular, University President Richard Levin said the program could possibly raise the number of New Haven Public School students who are qualified to come to Yale by motivating them to work harder in school.
But Steven Pynn, principal of the Sound School Regional Vocational Aquaculture Center, part of the New Haven Public School system, said New Haven Public Schools already have high-performing students that the University is overlooking. In his seven years as principal, he said, not one of his students has been accepted to Yale.
“The candidates that have applied were some of the most talented students I’ve seen in my life,” he said. “It’s totally inexplicable to me why they haven’t been accepted at Yale. I would love to hear someone from the admissions office explain what the weaknesses are in some of these applications.”
He suggested that the Yale admissions office could contact public school principals who know who their top students are, adding that he does not understand what Yale is looking for.
But Brenzel said Yale admissions does pay close attention to applications it receives from the New Haven Public Schools. He also said Yale admissions works with guidance counselors at these schools on techniques to strengthen the applications of their strongest students.
He said based on the national figures, 1 out of 1,000 United States high school graduates going to college is offered a spot at Yale. For graduates of New Haven Public Schools going on to college, that statistic rises to 8.4 out of approximately 1,000 students.
Brenzel said Yale admissions does not schedule regular recruitment visits to either private or public schools in the New Haven area. Yale admissions will go to Hopkins or Choate if asked to do an information session, he said, but this is not part of typical outreach.
Max Jacobson ’13, who graduated from Hopkins, said he did not notice any special effort by Yale to recruit students from his school. In fact, he said, many other universities were more active than Yale.
“Remaining aloof provides a nice contrast to the other schools and makes Yale seem even more impressive,” he said.
Yale as a community is already very involved in the public school system, Brenzel said. Many Yale community members work in the public schools, he said, and as a result the University is very visible among New Haven high school students.
Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, associate vice president for New Haven and state affairs, said over 10,000 New Haven Public School students participate in academic and social development programs at Yale each school year. He said these programs enrich the students’ educations and encourage them to attend college, if not Yale in particular.
“It’s an important thing for students that don’t have parents that went to college,” Morand said. “It helps them understand what college is like and that it can be part of their lives going forward.”
Morand added that New Haven Promise would not likely increase the number of New Haven Public School students who have access to Yale because the University already meets 100 percent of financial need.
Richard Therrien, New Haven Public Schools supervisor of science, said there are about 50 University-affiliated programs for science alone. For example, last May about 900 students came to Commons for a science fair where they presented their projects to Yale professors and graduate students. Meeting Yale researchers is especially valuable, he said, because students can see that scientists are normal people just like them.
Director of Public School Partnerships at the Office of New Haven and State Affairs Claudia Merson highlighted the Public School Internship program, through which Yale students commit to work at a certain school for two years to help find ways to enrich the programming for New Haven students. She said Yale students serve as liaisons to help the schools identify how they can use Yale’s and Dwight Hall’s resources.
Brenzel said Wednesday he and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. will announce a series of volunteer initiatives that will accompany New Haven Promise in an effort to transform the college-going culture in New Haven Public Schools.
They will be accompanied by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and J.B. Schramm ’86, founder and CEO of College Summit, a national nonprofit organization that helps high schools raise their college enrollment rates, Brenzel said.
Danny Serna contributed reporting.