The Admissions Office is offering a new specialized campus tour for prospective Yalies who are better versed in the use of a Bunsen burner than the literary devices found in “The Great Gatsby.”
The Sciences at Yale tour, which launched earlier this month, is led by guide Zachary Dennett ’06 and is offered twice a week. Dennett, who is currently the only guide for the tour, leads visitors around Science Hill and into laboratories while outlining the science curriculum and resources available at Yale. The tour has met with initial success, and plans are underway to further develop the tour for the future, said Jeremiah Quinlan ’03, acting director of student outreach and senior assistant director of admissions. Yale is one of the first among its peers to offer such a tour. Admissions representatives at Harvard and Princeton universities said their schools do not have a similar offering.
Quinlan said the hour-long tours are designed to highlight Yale’s science resources, which he said can be overlooked on the general tour.
“The Sciences at Yale tour was introduced as an enhancement to our on-campus programming for prospective students and their families,” he said. “It was met with such strong reviews when offered on Bulldog Days that we wanted to add it to our normal schedule as the next visiting cycle for the Class of 2011 began this February.”
So far, each tour has attracted between two and 15 people, Dennett said, though Quinlan said he expects numbers to increase as more visitors come onto campus for spring college visits. Initial response to the tours has been positive, Dennett said.
“The feedback has been informal so far,” he said. “But generally the people on the tour have told me that they’ve learned a lot or that I answered their questions very well.”
The tour takes students to Sloane Physics, Sterling Chemistry, Kline Geology and Osborn Memorial laboratories as well as the Environmental Science Center.
Quinlan said he believes Science Hill merits this increased attention.
“With all of the groundbreaking research and construction, the Science Hill area is one of the most dynamic areas on campus and certainly deserved more of a showcase than it was receiving on our general campus tour,” he said.
The specialized nature of the tour allows students interested in the sciences to get more detailed answers to their questions, he said. Dennett, who was chosen to be the Sciences at Yale guide after leading two Bulldog Days Science Hill tours, said other potential student guides have been identified.
Becca Jackson, a senior at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass. who was accepted early action to Yale’s Class of 2010, said she did not learn much about Yale’s science offerings when she took the general tour.
“From what I remember, there wasn’t enough emphasis on the sciences,” Jackson said. “We weren’t shown any of Science Hill on the tour, and I think the sciences were only talked about briefly in the information session. I wasn’t put off by the lack of focus on the science, but I also didn’t become enthusiastic about the science opportunities at Yale until after I got in and started learning more about the department on my own.”
Jackson said she would definitely have taken a Sciences at Yale tour had one been offered when she visited the Yale campus.
“Science-focused tours sounds like a really good idea,” she said. “I would be much more enthusiastic about studying science at Yale if I knew more about it.”
Valerie Gordon ’09, who plans to be a science major, said she thinks the introduction of a science-based tour might help dispel Yale’s reputation for being weaker than some of its peers in math and science.
“Some people say the word on the street is that Yale isn’t as strong in the sciences,” she said. “These tours might be a good way to help try and address that perception.”
Quinlan said the Admissions Office plans to increase the frequency of the science tours on campus as the spring semester progresses.