It will be a while before Yale’s admissions office snatches any Oscars away from Jodie Foster ’85.
As part of a renewed effort to increase and diversify its applicant pool, Yale unveiled its new recruitment video this year. High school students who visit campus will nervously sit in the admissions office as Yale unfolds itself before their eyes on a large-screen television.
The video begins with punchy percussion bells, which lead into inspiring, Yale-changed-my-life student interviews. Ravenous football fans holler at the screen as the fight song “Bulldog” blasts through the speakers.
The breathtaking cinematography includes sweeping shots of the Berkeley College dining hall, the Branford College courtyard, and the interior of Sterling Memorial Library. Directors chose to emphasize the more upscale parts of New Haven, such as Atticus Bookstore and Cafe, Gourmet Heaven and the Yale Bookstore.
But the admissions office has to be given some credit in highlighting Yale in a way that will interest prospective students. Given its short length — it is only 15 minutes long — the video presents the social and academic life at Yale reasonably well. At one point, a student says life at Yale is “60 percent extracurricular, 40 percent academics.” And the video itself places more of an emphasis on the social life at Yale, rather than the academic experience.
Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead, who is interviewed for the film, describes the students at Yale engaging in “joyous exploration of what they can do with themselves.”
The video also reiterates the proverbial maxim that more is learned outside of the classroom than within — showing clips of conversations at Naples Pizza and rehearsals for theater productions.
When the video does delve into academics, it places more of an emphasis on the sciences than on the humanities. Engineering and pre-medical students are interviewed and shown putting their talents to work in local public schools as part of the community service organization Science and Math Achiever Teams.
The video is one part of a more wide-reaching effort by the admissions office to increase the number and diversity of students that apply to the University following a slight drop in the number of applicants for the Class of 2004. Hoping to reach students in rural areas, admissions produced more than 10,000 copies of a miniature CD-ROM that it sent to prospective students across the country last winter. The CD-ROM featured a three-minute video and was sent with an application.
Yale admissions also created a new position, director of recruitment, last year, hiring James Nondorf ’90 to deal specifically with strategies for attracting top high school students.
Yale has also recently made concerted efforts to diversify the student body and make the application process easier. The University now accepts the common application, a standardized application form used by many colleges throughout the nation, and has made admission for international students need-blind. With need-blind admission, a student’s ability to pay for a Yale education is not taken into account when making an admissions decision.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw thinks the new video will be an important new component to Yale’s admissions strategy.
“It looks great and really shows off what a great place this is,” Shaw said.