New survey tracks Yalies’ summers

Yale introduced a brand new survey at residential college registration meetings this fall as part of an effort to better track undergraduates’ summer activities.

Though the University keeps tabs on students who complete internships organized or funded through Yale, it has not previously tracked activities funded by external organizations. With the new start-of-semester survey administered to all undergraduates, Associate Dean for the Arts Susan Cahan and the Center for International and Professional Experience are aiming to fill that gap in Yale’s knowledge.

After Cahan pitched the idea for a survey to better understand student engagement with the arts outside of Yale, the CIPE decided to integrate its own questions for students about what they had done with their summers, said Jane Edwards, dean of international and professional experience and associate dean of Yale College. Edwards said she was familiar with the details of activities that Yale facilitates, but had wondered for years about internships — particularly international ones — that students do not register with the University.

“We know about the people who get funding and credit — I want to know how many kids are having international experiences because their dad’s friend is the CEO of something,” Edwards said. “From my perspective, now that we’re thinking more globally, in the U.S. as well as abroad, we want to get some kind of handle on how people are constructing their experiences … Not because we’re trying to invade anyone’s privacy. We just feel that the more we know, the more we can line up resources that support things people want to do.”

Since the survey was administered on paper rather than electronically, administrators said they do not expect to have the data tabulated until at least October. Cahan said in a Wednesday e-mail that Yale now has some 4,000 documents to process.

Once the data has been organized, Cahan said the results will hopefully help Yale create more summer opportunities for students.

The CIPE will examine the data by type of activity, for example, health, arts or government, and will try to approach organizations that have taken on Yale students in the past about working with them more regularly, Edwards said.

“Surprisingly, this has never been much monitored,” Edwards said. “I bump into people who say, ‘I often have people from Yale,’ and I say, ‘How do you find them?’”

Edwards said she had looked into initiating a similar type of survey when she assumed her post at Yale five years ago, but that members of the University felt they “just weren’t ready to do that” at the time. Yale is still concerned about overloading students with requests for information, she added.

Sam Gardenswartz ’13, who worked for a venture capital firm, Birthright Excel, in Tel Aviv, Israel this summer, said he noticed the new survey during registration and thinks the paperwork is a good idea. He hopes the survey results will help the University inform students of other summer options beyond the ones that Yale funds.

“There’s no reason Yale shouldn’t have a database of other programs that people have loved,” he said.

The CIPE launched this August.

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