Re: “Yale-NUS plans first admissions cycle,” (Sept. 22): Like much else about the proposed Yale-NUS College, the stated admissions policy for the new institution is marked by contradiction and confusion. On the one hand, we learn, it will not rely mainly on applicants’ test scores, but rather will evaluate them in a holistic manner. On the other, Yale will be coaching teachers at Singapore’s top junior colleges on how to write effective recommendation letters on behalf of those applicants. How does Yale think that students are admitted to Singapore’s top secondary schools and junior colleges, if not on the basis of scores on tests, called the “Primary School Leaving Examination” (the “PSLE”) and the “O-Levels”? If Yale really wants to bring to this island a fresh approach to admissions and education, it must transcend extant norms and standards in a thorough rather than merely superficial way. That would mean offering coaching in recommendation-writing to faculty at such low-ranking local junior colleges as Yishun, Innova, Pioneer, Meridian, Catholic and Serangoon. While lacking in prestige and enrolling students with relatively low PSLE and O-Level results, these schools attract students — many from less affluent backgrounds than their peers at Raffles and Hwa Chong Junior Colleges — who also deserve educational opportunities. Too much about Yale’s half-baked plans for Singapore already represent compromise with the University’s basic values. One hopes that the admissions policy will not be another case in point.
Michael J. Montesano
The writer is a 1983 graduate of Saybrook College.