Freshman Scholars at Yale, a program that brings a small cohort of incoming freshmen to the University each summer, is expanding to its largest size yet.
For the summer of 2015, 48 students from under-resourced high schools, first-generation college families and low-income backgrounds will be invited to participate in FSY, up from 35 students last summer. Two years ago, in 2013, the Admissions Office invited 33 students to participate in the pilot version of FSY. Participants lived and studied on campus for five weeks in the summer for no cost — fulfilling coursework, attending seminars and engaging in activities designed to ease their transition to college.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said a rigorous assessment of the first and second years of the program indicated that FSY successfully reduces the adjustment period for these incoming freshmen once they arrive full-time in the fall. Administrators are excited to extend this opportunity to more students, he said.
“All signs pointed to an incredibly successful program and incredibly successful students,” Quinlan said. “The program is truly top-notch and ready for expansion.”
Dean of Yale Summer Session William Whobrey said data from the Freshman Orientation Survey indicated that FSY participants were much more prepared to engage in the orientation process and become part of the advising system than other Yale freshmen. They knew how to interact with faculty and college deans and were able to hit the ground running in the fall, taking advantage of the University’s resources from the very beginning, he said.
There is still potential for growth after this summer’s expansion, Whobrey said. He added that given the current program model they plan to continue to use, the next expansion would be to 60 students.
“To some extent, that’s a budget issue,” Whobrey said. “But there are also questions about what still constitutes an effective program in terms of size. How big can a program get, while still allowing students to get to know each other?”
While former participants of FSY interviewed were enthusiastic about the expansion, many expressed similar concerns about the program becoming too large.
Dustin Vesey ’17, who participated in the inaugural FSY program, said he is both excited and worried about the program expanding to such a large number of students.
“The goal is to help freshmen become acclimated to life at college before they get here, and if that can reach more students then it definitely should,” he said. “That being said, I feel like our group [of 33 students] got so close because of the size. I don’t know if 48 will be too big, and I really hope it doesn’t take away from the intimacy of the program.”
But Viviana Andazola Marquez ’18, a participant in last summer’s FSY program, said she doubts the intimacy of FSY will be largely affected by the expansion. Participants will form strong connections by virtue of being on campus together when hardly anyone else is around, she said. Even if FSY expanded to 100 students, Marquez added, the program would retain its intimacy.
FSY Dean and Ezra Stiles College Dean Camille Lizarribar said the main changes to next summer’s program will be logistical. Housing and group trips for FSY will be altered in order to include 12 extra people, but the goals and the structure of the program will remain the same, she said.
“I don’t think the idea is to change anything,” Lizarribar said. “The idea is to include more people who will benefit from the program by being able to engage a little bit earlier with Yale.”
She added that because there are now roughly 70 students on campus who have participated in FSY, these students will begin to play a larger role in the program. Next year, students from the first summer will be able to do work as FSY counselors, Lizarribar said.
Whobrey said the balance between intimacy and expansion will be monitored as the program moves forward, and that FSY will stay at 48 students for at least the next two years. He added that similar programs at Yale’s peer institutions are generally capped at 50, and that he personally does not think the program should grow much larger than that figure.
Kerry Burke-McCloud ’17, who participated in the pilot FSY program, said he is confident that next summer’s program will be just as effective as it has been in the past, regardless of the expansion.
“If you increase the number of students, then you increase the number of students who will be prepared for Yale’s challenges,” McCloud said. “How could you lose?”
FSY is jointly run by the Admissions Office and the Yale College Dean’s Office and is supported by Yale Summer Session.