Yale outreach hits home

Although no official data exists tracking the number of New Haven Public School students who are accepted to Yale each year, numerous individuals involved in the admissions process say they have noticed a rise in local admits.

The Yale Admissions Office does not publish data on the number of applicants or accepted students from New Haven Public Schools, but New Haven Promise —  a university scholarship program founded in 2011 and funded by Yale — has been tracking its students’ college acceptances for the past three years. To qualify for a Promise scholarship, a student must reside in New Haven, attend a New Haven Public School or approved charter school and graduate with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

While only four Promise scholars were accepted to Yale in 2012, 10 Promise applicants were accepted to Yale last week when the University released regular decision results, said New Haven Promise Executive Director Patricia Melton ’82. Melton said that even though the numbers might fluctuate and therefore do not reflect the total number of New Haven students admitted to Yale, there does seem to be a gradual increase in acceptances her program sees.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that there is more outreach and that Yale is making a more dedicated commitment to getting more minority, urban students, and those who would be the first generation go to college,” Melton said.

She said this increase may stem from Yale’s efforts to increase diversity among its student body.

Yale’s partnerships with New Haven Public Schools, including New Haven Promise and Yale undergraduate volunteer programs, have raised the University’s profile in the lives of New Haven high school students. The University’s goal of this outreach is primarily to enhance students’ education and motivate them to develop high aspirations, said Director of Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan.

This increased awareness has led to a gradual increase in the number of New Haven students applying to Yale, said  James Doss-Gollin ’15, a native of New Haven who attended Wilbur Cross High School and has founded an organization called REACH to increase college access for youth in the city. He said more families now understand that although Yale’s ticket price is upwards of $50,000, they would not have to pay the full sum if they qualify for financial aid.

“We believe that, as a result of all our strong partnerships with New Haven’s public schools, students in the city are generally more aware than students elsewhere that if they are accepted at Yale they can afford Yale,” Quinlan said in an email.

In addition to understanding Yale’s financial aid policies, Doss-Gollin said, students are beginning to set higher standards for themselves. Whereas most students in his graduating class did not consider applying to a school like Yale, Doss-Gollin has noticed an increasing trend of high achieving students considering the school as a realistic option.

These higher aspirations could be the result of Yale students’ presence in New Haven high schools, said Alondra Arguello ’17, who graduated from New Haven Academy last year. She said that she may not have considered applying to Yale if she had not interacted with students through a summer scholars program on Yale’s campus.

“Before I took those classes at Yale, I was like there’s no way I would ever apply, its way out of my league,” she said. “But having Yale students reaching out, I realized that you don’t have to be a crazy genius who knows every subject to get in. Having contact with the students gives you confidence and makes you realize that maybe I can do this too.”

Career High School college counselor Barbara Drummond also said students become familiar with Yale through partnerships with the University. She highlighted a program that connects students taking honors level Anatomy and Physiology with students at the Yale Medical School and another partnership between Yale undergraduates and Career’s debate team. This familiarity with Yale, she explained, makes students at Career High School more inclined to apply to Yale than other Ivy League schools.

Although not a precise gauge, according to Yale Facebook, there are 60 current students who hail from New Haven. Even a brief comparison suggests that New Haven’s representation is far greater than that of neighboring towns with similar demographic and socioeconomic diversity. Yale Facebook reports one current Yale undergraduate from Hartford and five from Bridgeport.

Still, some college counselors think Yale is not making enough of an effort to recruit students from New Haven Public Schools. At an annual college fair this week, over 40 colleges from the New England region travelled to different New Haven Public Schools to promote their schools and answer students’ questions about the application process.

Although Yale is invited to the fair each year, it has never chosen to participate, said Chaka Felder-McEntire, a college counselor at Hillhouse High School. She added that while other college admissions officers come to the school throughout the year to recruit students, Yale has never come to her knowledge.

This year, 6.26 percent of applicants to Yale College were admitted.

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