This Valentine’s Day, 80 to 100 prefrosh who received “likely letters” of admission may not meet their special someone, but they will get to hear from Yale’s Nobel Prize Laureate James Rothman ’71.
Over the past five years, the Admissions Office has invited around 100 students from Yale’s regular admission applicant pool to attend the Yale Engineering and Science Weekend. This year, the three-day event, which will run from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16, will include master classes; tours of the campus, Science Hill and the Peabody Museum; a science symposium of Yale undergraduate research; among other activities. Current freshmen who are alumni of the most recent YES-W said the weekend contributed to their decision to come to Yale.
“We feel like [YES-W] has definitely impacted and improved our recruitment efforts for young scientists and engineers,” said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan, adding that this impact has not been quantified by the admissions office.
Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Director of STEM Recruitment Ayaska Fernando ’08 GRD ’17 said that while the programming will be almost the same as last year’s itinerary, the admissions office has provided students with more free time in reaction to students’ responses from last year’s weekend.
Quinlan said the office has no plans right now to increase the number of students they recruit for future YES-Ws, but because the office is seeing significantly more interest from STEM students, expanding the program remains a possibility.
YES-W alumni Serena Tharakan ’18 said that last year’s program positively impacted her impression of Yale and was part of the reason she chose to come.
“The weekend was very personalized, and it was clear the admissions team put in a great deal of effort,” Tharakan said. “I remember being impressed that professors would actually take the time out of their schedules to meet with prospective students.”
But the weekend was a bit too focused on the first three letters of STEM, and could have been better for math recruits, Eliot Levmore ’18 said. He noted that while programs and events for those interested in engineering abounded, he found few targeted towards prospective math majors.
For him, the likely letter and not the weekend itself made a larger impact on his college decision.
“Getting a likely letter was a big deal because Yale gave me this gift, somehow, of peace of mind, knowing that I had gotten into a great school,” Levmore said. “The next acceptance didn’t come for two months or so, the entirety of which I spent thinking about how awesome Yale was.”
Haleigh Larson ’18, who chose to attend YES-W, forgoing several other general recruitment events at Stanford, Case Western and Northwestern, said the weekend illustrated Yale’s investment in the sciences. It showed that the University was willing to give ample attention and funds to students interested in STEM, she added.
Young-eun Hyun ’15, a current member of the student YES-W student team that plans the events for the weekend, said one of the most important parts of YES-W is that it emphasizes that Yale is a liberal arts institution. In addition to taking engineering, math and science classes, students can immerse themselves in everything else the University has to offer, she added.
But Tobias Holden ’17, leader of this year’s YES-W student team, said he believes one of the most important parts of YES-W is that the prospective students get to interact with Yale undergraduates. Holden said that a current freshman told him that the moment she decided to go to Yale was while lying in an igloo chatting with Holden and other STEM undergraduates on Science Hill during YES-W.
“You get to share what your favorite parts of Yale have been, and you can really see it click with some people that this could be a place they call home,” Holden said.
Each student gets a stipend of $500 for travel funds in order to come to YES-W, Fernando said.