Months after Princeton admissions officials broke into Yale’s online admissions Web site, more than 2,300 Yale applicants logged into a newly secured Web site in December to learn their admissions decisions.
From Dec. 12 to Jan. 1, the Web site was accessed 7,550 times, Information Security Officer H. Morrow Long said. Unlike last year, when the site used Social Security numbers and birthdates as passwords, the admissions office mailed applicants unique personal identifiers to access the site this year. Information Technology Services reviewed access logs for the site and did not find any pattern of abuse, Long said.
This year, several other Ivies, including Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania, used online notification systems. Harvard offered applicants the option of receiving their admissions decision via e-mail.
Both Long and Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said they were pleased with the security level and the large number of students who used the Web site.
“The level of security was very high,” Shaw said. “We’re quite happy.”
On the first day decisions were available online, 2,344 applicants visited the site, approximately 90 percent of applicants, and 95 percent of applicants had viewed the site by the end of the next week, Shaw said. Many applicants logged on multiple times, although a few of the 7,550 accesses may have been unsuccessful attempts because of mistyping of the password.
“It’s amazing really,” Shaw said. “It was certainly old news by the time they went to their mailboxes.”
The 29 international students admitted probably benefited the most from the online notification system, which officials introduced for last year’s applicants, Shaw said.
“Certainly it was most effective for the international community,” he said. “Who knows if they’ve gotten their paper ones yet.”
Shaw said he did not foresee online notification replacing paper acceptances entirely in the future, since several forms starting the registration process are sent along with the acceptance letter. He said the admissions office will likely use a similar system of online and paper notification next year, with the same online security precautions.
“It would certainly be cost conscious because you’re mailing similar information,” Shaw said. “[But] I think people need paper in their hands.”
The admissions office gave students their personal identifiers via regular mail in what Long said was the one drawback of the new system. The admissions office received many fewer calls inquiring about decisions this year, but “a fair number” of students called saying they had lost their numbers, Shaw said.
Maya Shankar, a high school senior from Cheshire, said she very much appreciated the Web site, even though she received her letter in the mail only a day after she viewed her acceptance online. She logged on to the site twice, signing on later in the day to show her parents the “Welcome to Yale” banner and the online version of the acceptance letter.
“I thought it was a really fast and easy way to find out the information, and there weren’t any problems,” she said. “It’s probably better than having everyone call and get busy tones.”
Shankar said she especially liked how the site provided contact information for current Yalies who come from her area.
“It’s really good to have people from this community who I can call and ask questions,” she said.