Tinbet Tecle ’07 participated in the Yale Multicultural Recruitment Program last year when she wasn’t sure whether to apply to Yale. On Saturday, Tecle attended the program again — this time, to share her impressions of her first month as a freshman.

The first of two open houses this fall designed for multicultural outreach drew approximately 400 to 500 high school juniors and seniors and their parents — a larger turnout than in past years in part because the admissions office now invites all interested students, not just minorities, organizers said. Participants took tours of campus and the cultural houses, listened to academic and student life panels, saw performances by groups such as Shades and Stepping Out, and got the chance to speak informally about Yale with the Student Recruitment Coordinators and volunteers like Tecle.

The decision to widen the focus, based partly on the University of Michigan affirmative action Supreme Court case this summer, led to a larger, more diverse crowd, said Derek Morales ’05, a Latino Student Recruitment Coordinator.

“Yale has made a decision in the wake of the University of Michigan cases to open it up,” he said. “We’ve had an incredibly diverse turnout.”

Morales said about 800 people were registered for the event, but many did not manage to get to New Haven because of Hurricane Isabel.

The event is a good way to find out what groups the admissions office needs to focus on recruiting, Morales said.

“If a lot of people don’t show up from a particular ethnic group, we know to strengthen our efforts in that area,” he said.

Students at the event seemed appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about campus life and get advice and encouragement about their applications.

Jill Bentley, a senior at Tower Hills School, said her second visit to Yale confirmed that her original doubts about the University were unfounded.

“I thought Yale was really preppy,” she said. “[But] when I came here it was so beautiful and so nice that I had to come back again. The students particularly — seeing that everyone here is so nice — I was worried that on the second or third look, I’d see beneath the veneer.”

Many students said they appreciated the e-mails the admissions office sent reminding them about the event and directing them to Yale’s Web site.

Joanna Busby, a senior at a French high school in New York City, said she would not have come if it weren’t for the admissions office’s numerous reminders.

“They just kept writing me.” she said. “I decided, well, let’s see what it’s about. Mailing all that stuff to people does help.”

The Multicultural Recruitment Program will also organize phoneathons, overnight visits, and talks at high schools during the year to continue the multicultural recruitment effort.

Byron Sun ’05, an Asian American Student Recruitment Coordinator, said the idea behind the “fly-outs” and other recruitment events is to talk to students who might not yet think that Yale is for them.

“People that normally wouldn’t have applied feel like they have a chance,” he said.

Matthew Trojic of Flushing, N.Y., agreed that the e-mails encouraged him to learn more about Yale and said he is happy he has done so.

“I never thought Yale was like this,” he said. “Everything is so open, everyone is so nice. It gave me a better view of Yale and I got to learn about the residential college system.”