Both lecture halls and dining halls are overflowing with people, which can mean only one thing: Bulldog Days.
Bulldog Days, an annual three-day program to welcome admitted students and their parents to the University, began on Tuesday and ends today. During Bulldog Days, prospective students — commonly called “prefrosh” — are offered on-campus housing with current undergraduates and attend activities presented by the Admissions Office in conjunction with various other departments and student extracurricular groups. According to Mark Dunn, director of outreach and recruitment for the Admissions Office, almost 1,150 admitted students registered for this year’s Bulldog Days, with an expected 800 to 900 parents tagging along. Both numbers are slightly lower than last year’s totals of 1,235 students and about 1,000 parents.
“As always, students seem thrilled about the opportunity to engage with the Yale community for three days,” Dunn said in an email. “Based on what we’ve heard from students who have called or emailed our office or posted on social media forums such as the Class of 2018 Facebook group, enthusiasm seems high.”
Last year’s inaugural scavenger hunt was replaced this year with a large “ice-breaker” event on Old Campus, where prefrosh played a series of games and activities under the supervision of Freshmen Outdoor Orientation Trip leaders. Dunn said the games were structured around the orientation activities that FOOT leaders do on their trips with incoming freshmen.
During the Tuesday afternoon registration, Dwight Hall and the surrounding area was bustling with prefrosh and their undergraduate hosts, many of whom were carrying their guests’ bags and introducing them to suitemates. Of 14 prefrosh interviewed, eight said they were likely to attend Yale and six said the University is one of their top choices.
“The University is so attentive to the students compared to British universities and everyone has been really friendly,” said Helen Price, a prefrosh from London. Price, who committed to Yale last year before taking a gap year, added that she has found Yale’s school spirit to be singular among the universities she has visited in America.
Grace Shu, a prefrosh from California, said Bulldog Days helped convince her to attend Yale, citing the passion with which University professors teach their classes and mentor current undergraduates.
Dunn said this year’s Bulldog Days is the first to feature a forum dedicated to Directed Studies, as well as a forum entitled “Learning Beyond the Classroom,” which highlighted the growing strength of Yale’s Global Health Initiative and the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said the University is also hosting a number of academic forums such as ones for the social sciences, humanities, engineering and science.
Olivia Herrington, a prefrosh from New York who attended the Bulldog Days Directed Studies Forum, said she was impressed by the intellectual rigor of the Directed Studies program and the intimacy of its seminars. A prospective classics major, Herrington said she was leaning toward Harvard before visiting Yale and is now undecided.
Dunn said more than 600 undergraduates signed up for the Admissions Office’s host matching process, while several hundred more students are staying with friends who are current undergraduates. He added that there are over 100 events for this program created by Yale student organizations and about 300 clubs participated in Wednesday’s extracurricular bazaar. Faculty and staff from more than 100 departments, programs and resource centers attended Wednesday’s Academic Fair, Dunn said.
“We are routinely impressed by the commitment of the Yale community in helping us put on a Bulldog Days that matches the vibrancy of the University’s environment,” Quinlan said.
Still, he added that it is not for ideal for Bulldog Days to be held on the last week of classes because many students are taking exams or have final papers due. Last year’s Bulldog Days were held in mid-April, he said. Nevertheless, Dunn said the Admissions Office had great success finding hosts and other volunteers, despite this being a very busy time of the academic year.
Both Quinlan and Dunn said the scheduling was unavoidable because of the timing of this year’s Passover and Easter holidays, adding that the University did not want to disadvantage religiously observant students by hosting it at those times. After consultation with Conference Services and Events, the Chaplain’s Office and officers of the Yale College Dean’s Office, Dunn said the office decided last May to host Bulldog Days this late in the term.
Dunn said it is regrettable that this year’s events overlapped entirely with Brown’s annual program for admitted students — A Day on College Hill — but that these conflicts were inevitable because so many schools chose not to host events during this year’s religious holidays.
In a Monday email to the student body, University President Peter Salovey asked that current students help show the prefrosh that “Yale is the best place to be an undergraduate in the world.” The same day, Quinlan sent an email requesting that students treat admitted students and their families as guests and reminded students that Bulldog Days is a “dry” campus event and undergraduates could be “held liable for a prefrosh who is intoxicated.”
Still, not all activities during Bulldog Days displayed Yale in a positive light.
On Wednesday afternoon, Christopher Landry ’15 organized a public reading on Cross Campus of students’ experiences with mental illnesses at Yale. He said he decided to organize the event on Bulldog Days in part because it was important to discuss this issue not only with University administrators but also with incoming students. Diane Kim ’16, one of the speakers at the speak-out, said she hopes the timing of the event will pressure University administrators into action.
Landry said he did not hope to dissuade students from attending Yale. Rather, he said it was important for students to both see the best that Yale can offer and also areas where the school can improve. He added that mental health is a problematic area not just for Yale but for most universities across the country.
For the second consecutive year, visiting parents received their own printed programs with recommended events, Dunn said. In addition to the backpacks, buttons and maps that each admitted student receives, Dunn said this year’s “swag bags” include an aluminum water bottle and a Yale Class of 2018 sticker.
Admitted students have until May 1 to decide whether to come to Yale or another college.