As admissions officers sent off boxes and boxes of acceptance and rejection letters for the Class of 2005 yesterday, James Nondorf ’90 was already analyzing ways to attract students for next year’s round of applicants.
As Yale’s first recruitment director, Nondorf will analyze data and anecdotes to determine the best ways to attract applications from top students around the world — and convince admitted ones to enroll. This new position is the latest step in the admissions office’s drive to achieve a more diverse applicant pool, and Nondorf said he wants to reach out to top students who might not think of applying to Yale.
While most admissions officers spend hours reading applicant files, Nondorf will instead devote the bulk of his time to improving and evaluating recruitment efforts. His tasks range from bolstering Yale’s admissions Web site to visiting high schools.
Nondorf said the last 10 years have provided him with market analysis and development skills, which will help with his new admissions job. Nondorf, who majored in economics at Yale, worked for the Cambridge Technology Group, an incubator company for start-ups. He retired from that job two years ago and founded a charter school in Tampa, Fla., before coming to Yale to work in the Office of Development.
When Nondorf attended Yale a decade ago, he played on the football team, sang for the Baker’s Dozen and worked in the dining hall to help pay his part of his financial aid package. Nondorf attended a public school in Indiana and followed his older brother on to Yale, a place he said most of his classmates didn’t even consider in their college choices.
He’s been back at Yale for a year and says he loves it. He lives on High Street — next to Sigma Alpha Epsilon — and gets together with current football players and Baker’s Dozen singers. Next year, he will live in Berkeley College as a residential fellow.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw said Nondorf is already working hard in the admissions office. Nondorf is helping to plan Bulldog Days, a pre-orientation program for admitted freshmen that will be held April 17 and 18 this year.
Yale saw a record 14,500 applicants this year — a 12.5 percent increase from last year’s 12,887 — that makes recruiting seem unnecessary. But Shaw has said the effort is about increasing diversity and quality, rather than increasing numbers of applicants.
Yale has launched a series of vigorous recruiting initiatives this year. The University announced plans in November to adopt the Common Application for the Class of 2006. Earlier in the fall, the admissions office mailed CD-ROM videos to students in rural areas and full-color viewbooks to international students.
This recruiting push followed a drop in applications for the Class of 2004. In 2000, Yale received about three percent fewer applications than in 1999.
But numbers are back up this year — way up. And Nondorf is hopeful his work will help diversify those numbers.
“It’s a shame that people who would be great students just don’t know this is a great place,” Nondorf said. “They just need to know it.”