December 6th, 2012 | University

Reach Out receives record-breaking number of applications

Roughly half of the record-breaking number of students who applied to one of Reach Out’s nine spring break service trips will be notified by 5 p.m. tomorrow whether they will be traveling abroad next semester.

Though the organization typically receives 100 to 150 applications each year, Reach Out collected roughly 300 this year, according to Reach Out President Iva Popa ’14. Reach Out organizes annual service trips to countries such the Dominican Republic, South Africa and Tibet each year for Yalies looking for a spring break activity.

“We have had more trips before but never so many applicants,” Popa said. “This is one of the most competitive application years.”

Mehdi Lazrak ’14, leader of the service trip to Morocco, said he spent around 20 hours conducting 10 to 15 minute interviews with students before selecting 14 out of 70 applicants. Students ranked their top three choices for trips but, unlike in past years, trip leaders were only able to interview students who put their trips down as their first choices, Popa said. But even after cutting down on the number of required interviews, trip leaders still conducted roughly 70 to 80 interviews each.

Popa said she believes an increased push for publicity this fall can account for the rise in applications, adding that the spike indicates a need for structural changes — such as more trips or a bigger student board — within Reach Out to accommodate growing interest.

The training for trip leaders includes emphasis on selecting participants with particular attention to their service record and without bias based on friendships, she said, but the final choice lies with individual trip leaders.