In Washington last week, Yale committed to a series of measures aimed at increasing the preparedness of incoming students.
Last Thursday, the White House hosted the College Opportunity Day of Action, in which participating schools of nonprofits were asked to make a series of specific commitments. According to the Commitments to Action on College Opportunity report issued by the White House, Yale will partner with 12 other institutions to pilot the College Transition Collaborative, which aims to develop interventions that will help students “overcome doubts about belonging and ability that undermine academic progress.”
What is more, the University will expand the Freshman Scholars at Yale program to 48 students — its largest size yet — this coming summer. The program, first piloted in 2013 with 33 students, brought 35 students from under-resourced high schools, first-generation college families and low-income backgrounds to Yale for five weeks during the summer of 2014.
In addition to aiding incoming students through the expansion of FSY, the University also made a commitment to continue supporting New Haven public school students and their families through efforts such as New Haven Promise and the Pathways to Promise program.
“You can clearly see that this year the White House was focusing on coalitions between the universities,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said. “What [Yale] found important was new partnerships between school districts, colleges and universities to increase high school graduates’ college readiness. We think New Haven Promise really highlights a wonderful partnership between Yale, New Haven and New Haven schools.”
Through the “Yale Pathways to Science” program, the University aims for 30 percent of graduates of New Haven schools to attend college and major in STEM fields.
Thursday’s summit — which was attended by Patricia Melton, the executive director of New Haven Promise — came nearly a year after a summit at the White House brought 140 university presidents together to discuss how to expand access to higher education. At the more recent summit, schools were asked to update the White House on the status of their old commitments, in addition to posting new ones.
Quinlan said the University was successful in meeting the commitments it made in January. He added that the January commitments mainly focused on college opportunity, whereas the new commitments aim to increase college readiness.
“The White House definitely had a different approach to the summit this year,” Quinlan said. “They were much more focused on looking for specific goals. That changed the nature of our submission this year because we already felt like we had done so much with last year’s commitments, and there was a real sense of [the White House] wanting to do something different this year too.”
At last year’s conference, which was attended by University President Peter Salovey, Yale pledged to expand outreach efforts to regions currently underrepresented at the University, dispatch student ambassadors to over 600 schools and increase the enrollment of QuestBridge finalists. The University also committed to develop an online pre-calculus module for incoming students and continue the FSY program.
Both Quinlan and Dean of Yale Summer Session William Whobrey said an assessment of the first and second years of the program indicated that FSY successfully reduces the adjustment period for participating incoming freshmen once they arrive as full-time students in the fall.
Whobrey added that there is still potential for growth after this summer’s expansion. Given the current model, he said, the next expansion would be to 60 students.
“To some extent, that’s a budget issue,” Whobrey told the News earlier this month. “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?”