Yale-NUS recruits with open house

Even though Yale-NUS College is still over a year from opening, more than 600 students and family members attended the Singaporean liberal arts college’s first official open house on Sunday.

The open house was part of outreach activities for Yale and the National University of Singapore’s jointly operated college, Yale-NUS Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan told the News in a Tuesday interview from Singapore. Students at the open house asked questions about the Yale-NUS educational model and walked around University Town — the part of the NUS campus where the liberal arts college will be temporarily located for its opening year, before relocating to a dedicated Yale-NUS campus, Quinlan said.

“There is [intense] interest in what we have to offer,” Yale-NUS Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn said in a Tuesday email. “There are a lot of questions about what we are doing, since it’s very different from anything that has been done there before.”

A special first round of applications will be made available on Feb. 1 and due by April 1. The first full cycle of applications begins in fall 2012 and will consist of three rounds, with due dates spanning from fall 2012 to spring 2013.

Though global outreach will begin in May, recruitment for the upcoming round of admissions is geared toward Singaporean students who have to complete the nation’s two-year military service commitment ­— required of all 18-year-old males — Quinlan said. As those students generally apply to college before beginning their military obligations, Yale-NUS officials are “already late” in recruiting students for the inaugural class, Bailyn said.

But the event was open to anyone who wanted to attend, and some families made the trip from Cambodia, Malaysia and India, Quinlan said.

Students at the open house asked about many aspects of Yale-NUS, including possible majors at the college and details of the admissions process, said Quinlan, who spent three hours answering questions on Sunday.

Bailyn said that because Singaporean students are often unfamiliar with the concept of a liberal arts education, it is important to help those interested in Yale-NUS understand what the college has to offer so they can decide whether to apply.

Quinlan said he and other admissions officials emphasize the unique aspects of the liberal arts and drawbacks of career-focused education when speaking with prospective students.

“We talk about the need for a broad but rigorous education for the 21st century,” Quinlan said. “We talk about the idea that students are changing careers seven times during their lifetime and specialization is not the ideal type of education for the future.”

Bailyn, who is a professor of astronomy at Yale, said he delivered a sample science lecture at the open house while Quinlan provided an overview of Yale-NUS. Students also watched a virtual “fly-through” of the future campus before touring University Town. Students and parents were able to ask questions at a reception later in the day.

Quinlan, who has spent 11 weeks in Singapore setting up the Yale-NUS Admissions and Financial Aid Office, said he visited 19 schools in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in October to promote Yale-NUS. He is still balancing his Yale-NUS commitments with his other duties as the deputy dean of admissions for Yale College.

Yale-NUS will accept roughly 150 students to its inaugural class in 2013.

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