Yale-NUS launches special app round

Though students will not arrive at Yale-NUS College until fall 2013, the college opened its first batch of applications to students on Wednesday.

The online applications are part of a special admissions round that ends April 1, marking the first effort to recruit students to the liberal arts college jointly operated by Yale and the National University of Singapore. The school’s first full cycle of applications, consisting of three rounds, will begin in fall 2012, and administrators have said they intend to enroll 150 students in the school’s initial class. Jeremiah Quinlan, Yale-NUS dean of admissions and financial aid, said officials at the school will evaluate candidates through a “holistic admissions process,” much like the one used by the Yale Admissions Office.

As Yale-NUS is only beginning to recruit student applicants, Quinlan said the first round of admissions may not be a “great gauge” of how future admissions cycles will run.

“We’re doing this for the first time, so we don’t have any idea about how selective the process will be,” Quinlan said. “But more important than how selective it is, is the type of student we’re trying to attract. We want pioneers interested in creating a Yale-NUS culture and environment and experience.”

The first round of applications is mainly geared toward 18-year-old male Singaporean students who must complete the nation’s two-year military service commitment, Quinlan said. Those students typically apply to college before serving in the military and, if accepted through this round, would attend Yale-NUS starting in the fall of 2014. Female students who apply through this special round would also have the option of taking a gap year, if accepted, and beginning freshman year in the fall of 2014.

Quinlan said Yale-NUS has not focused on international outreach yet but plans to have a “robust international body” of students within the next several years.

The Yale-NUS application is similar to Yale’s and requires students to submit an academic transcript, two teacher recommendations, responses to short answer questions and a longer personal essay. The online form also requires students to fill out basic personal information, such as extracurricular activities and work history.

Quinlan said the application is much like the Common Application used by many U.S. colleges and universities, including Yale. He added that Yale-NUS has applied for membership to the Common Application in hopes of streamlining future admissions cycles.

Prospective students from Singapore or countries that do not offer the SAT, such as China, are not required to submit standardized test scores but may opt to do so, Quinlan said. All other applicants must submit their ACT scores or both SAT scores and two SAT subject tests.

“The SAT score requirements are an issue of access,” Quinlan said. “There are some Singaporean and international students who did not take the SAT and we want to make sure they can apply. We’re trying to attract a global student body as well as students who are interested in going abroad.”

In addition, students must meet Yale-NUS’s standards for minimum proficiency in English if their high school instruction was conducted primarily in another language. The proficiency standards are aligned with Yale’s expectations for international students, Quinlan said, and use an approved English language exam, such as the TOEFL, to evaluate students’ abilities to use and understand English in an academic setting.

Quinlan said competitive applicants will be placed on a shortlist for required interviews with Yale-NUS admissions officers.

While Yale-NUS has only just started accepting student applications, the college has been recruiting faculty since fall 2011.

Charles Bailyn, the college’s inaugural dean of faculty, said the school expects to have about 50 professors — about half of its faculty — in place by fall 2013, whereas only one-sixth of the student body will have matriculated. Despite the disproportionate faculty-student ratio, Bailyn said class sizes will not be exceptionally small in the college’s first year, and will likely be kept around 18 students each, which administrators determined was the best number for facilitating discussion. When Yale-NUS reaches full capacity in fall 2012, administrators aim to have hired 100 professors.

Students at Yale-NUS will be randomly placed into one of three residential colleges, where they will live for all four years.

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