While Yalies were enjoying the winter break, several graduate students at the School of Management teamed up with the school’s admissions office to host Winter Break Socials for prospective students around the globe.

The annual event, held domestically in cities such as New York and San Francisco as well as in international locations such as Sydney and Shanghai, served as an information session for those interested in applying to the SOM. In contrast to formal information meetings hosted by admission officers, the Winter Break Socials were attended only by current students at the SOM and prospective candidates. The socials also had low attendance caps — 10 prospective students in most cases — highlighting the admissions office’s intention to create an informal and intimate setting. Students interviewed said the relaxed nature of the socials made communicating with potential applicants easier and more effective.

“These events allow for small group conversations with current students in an informal atmosphere,” said Melissa Fogerty, deputy director of the SOM Admissions. “This helps prospective students gain a deeper insight into student life and the Yale SOM full-time MBA program by hearing firsthand accounts of our students’ experiences.”

According to Fogerty, the Winter Socials were very well attended, and in larger markets such as Boston and New Delhi, the events were sold out and had waitlists. But the attendance at each of the 30 events varied significantly from a dozen prospective students to only one.

Student hosts interviewed all said the settings of the socials, which were mostly held at cafes and bars, created a positive and casual atmosphere. Given the small scale of the socials, Harvey Yang SOM ’16 said, prospective applicants had the chance to ask a range of questions — from the culture and academic experience at the SOM, to advice for the application process. Apart from answering these questions, many student hosts said they also had personal messages to impart upon the prospective candidates.

“Hopefully, I imparted that we are a down-to-earth group, easy to get along with, and the type of people they would want to go to school with for two years,” said Rebecca Chan SOM ’16, who hosted the Seattle social.

Yang said they focused on giving a candid view of their own experience by highlighting specifics about the SOM that they enjoyed, including the smaller class size, global focus and close community.

Ashlee Tran SOM ’15, who hosted the San Francisco social, said she believes the socials are an important example of the SOM’s broader admission strategy.

“It’s a great way for us to make a strong impression on candidates who may be coming through the admissions pipeline later on,” she said. “Some attendees weren’t applying for this upcoming cycle but instead for 2016, which reinforces the importance of these Winter Socials as a part of the SOM’s broader, long-term applicant outreach efforts.”

Some of the host students had previously attended the Winter Break Socials themselves when they were prospective candidates, and all said the positive atmosphere of the socials convinced them to apply.

Hilde Dahmer SOM ’16 said the casual atmosphere made her more comfortable asking questions and that the friendliness of the hosts was indicative of the SOM’s atmosphere.

While admissions officers did not attend the Winter Socials, the office was involved both before and after the events, Fogerty said. Admissions officers assisted with the organization by coordinating student volunteers, posting events to their webpage and sending event invitations. After the events, the admissions office sent attendees a follow-up email inviting them to share their location and specific interests to receive invitations to future events. Many attendees have continued to correspond with their Winter Social student hosts, she said.

There are currently 614 graduate students enrolled at the SOM.