More than 100 high school students flooded Kroon Hall over the weekend, attending master classes, learning about undergraduate research and taking a closer look at the University’s science and engineering resources.
For the past five years, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has invited a cohort of highly qualified high school seniors from the University’s regular decision applicant pool to visit campus for the Yale Engineering and Science Weekend. This year’s YES-W ran from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16, attracting 103 students — who have all received “likely letters” of admission — to campus for a weekend of science-related activities. The events began with a welcome dinner in the Timothy Dwight College dining hall, and concluded with a Master’s Tea hosted by Nobel Prize Laureate James Rothman ’71.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said YES-W has been very successful in helping the University attract and matriculate strong students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math majors.
“My perspective about Yale has been completely revolutionized,” said Brandon Truong, a high school senior from Texas. “Honestly, I didn’t really know anything about the STEM programs before coming here, and now my mindset has really changed — it’s like black and white.”
The weekend gives the University the opportunity to talk to some of the top students in the applicant pool about the strengths of pursuing an undergraduate STEM education at Yale, Quinlan said.
He added that each year the Admissions Office has made minor changes to YES-W in order to make it more enjoyable and enriching for visiting students.
“We found that having different lab tours scheduled for Monday afternoon resulted in a bit too crowded [of a schedule], and that the high school students enjoy spending time with Yale students,” Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Director of STEM Recruitment Ayaska Fernando ’08 GRD ’14 said. “So we encouraged the hosts this year to take their students to labs and show them around, so they could band together in interest groups and [participate] in something more organically done, rather than something we pushed on them.”
The program has had a high participation rate all five years, he said, with 2015 being the fifth year in a row that over 100 students attended. Fernando added that the University provides YES-W participants with travel stipends, and that the events have always taken place during Presidents’ Day weekend, allowing students to visit Yale without missing school on Monday.
Both Fernando and Quinlan said weather proved to be a minor difficulty this year, with heavy snow interfering with student travel plans. However, the weather did not cause any issues with programming, Quinlan said.
Emily Silva ’17, a YES-W volunteer who also attended the program as a pre-frosh, said YES-W was the primary reason she decided to go to Yale.
“I probably wouldn’t have come to Yale if it hadn’t have been for YES-W,” Silva said. “The goal of YES-W is to convince people that are probably looking at MIT, Harvard, Cal Tech and other well-known STEM schools that Yale is also a really strong place for STEM. And when I visited, I was able to see that, and also talk to a lot of great people about other aspects of Yale.”
Silva added that by bringing students to campus in February, YES-W also makes students begin to consider Yale earlier than they would otherwise, since regular decision results are not officially released until April.
Attendees of this year’s YES-W interviewed said they were struck by the vast number of STEM resources on campus, after having thought that the University was much stronger in humanities disciplines.
Naomi Wharton, a high school senior from Massachusetts, said the weekend was fun and “eye-opening.” The highlight of YES-W was the master classes, Wharton said.
Valerie Chen, a high school senior from California, said that prior to YES-W, she knew little information about specific STEM resources at Yale, due to her far location from the University.
“I’m from the Bay Area, so I didn’t really get to hear much about what’s going on at Yale in terms of STEM programs before visiting,” Chen said. “I was also able to get to know the residential college system really well, and understand what life is like at Yale. It’s been a great experience.”