After reaching its goal of recruiting students interested in science in the class of 2016, Yale’s Admissions Office aims to maintain the same percentage of science-oriented students in future years.
Keeping in line with other major research universities and University-wide science-centered initiatives, the office began a targeted plan of science recruitment six years ago. The class of 2016 represents the first in which over 40 percent of students matriculated with the intent to major in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field. Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said despite starting out “a bit behind,” Yale’s science outreach efforts have now caught up to the University’s broader focus on the sciences.
“We had to get the message out about Yale as a place to do science, in a more focused and aggressive way than the Admissions Office had been doing [before 2006],” Brenzel said.
The Admissions Office began to emphasize recruiting top STEM students in 2007, shortly after Brenzel took his current position, said Jeremiah Quinlan, deputy dean of undergraduate admissions, in an email to the News. Quinlan said the Admissions Office started to benchmark its applicant pool and recruiting strategies against those of close peer institutions at the direction of University President Richard Levin and other Yale officers.
Brenzel said that since then, the Admissions Office has been working closely with the University’s science departments to gather information so it can best represent Yale’s science offerings to high school students. The Admissions Office targets an incoming class with 40 percent STEM-interested students, Brenzel said.
“Yale has made real progress in attracting and matriculating more of the country’s very top students in the STEM disciplines,” Quinlan said, adding that the Admissions Office changed science and engineering campus tour programs, created a group travel program and changed its way of messaging online and print materials.
From 2006 to 2011, the number of STEM applicants to Yale increased by about 52 percent, compared to a 40 percent increase in overall application numbers in the future. In February 2011, the Admissions Office debuted Yale Engineering and Science Weekend (YES-W) — a program that invites targeted applicants from Yale’s regular decision admissions pool to visit campus to see the University’s science and engineering resources — and plans to continue hosting the program each year, Brenzel added.
Yale also announced a $500 million initiative in 2000 that aimed to upgrade its science programs and facilities. Yale’s West Campus was created specifically for the strengthening of science, medicine and engineering programs.
Current undergraduates in STEM majors said they were surprised by the number of science-related opportunities on campus, and that they only found out about them through promotional material from the Admissions Office and YES-W.
Madeleine Barrow ’15 said she did not think the science departments at Yale were “something extraordinary” until she received an engineering brochure from the Admissions Office while she was applying to colleges. Barrow said she values how Yale is not a science-specific school and that others around her are studying different fields, allowing her to be in a “place where people appreciate arts [as well as sciences], with a creative vibe.”
Nimisha Ganesh ’15 said she chose Yale for its research opportunities, which are not generally offered to undergraduates at other major research universities. She added that she has been surprised by the abundance of science and research available to students, though she is as “tech-oriented” as some others.
Students said they were enthusiastic that a substantial percentage of science-interested students would be included in each incoming class.
“Yale is really far behind some other schools … in terms of engineering and math,” Dhyan Valle ’15 said. “Bringing in a lot more engineering students hopefully sparks the interest for more students to apply here, and take part in the program.”
Roughly 20 percent of students in class of 2011 graduated with degrees in STEM fields.