Students readmitted to Yale College after withdrawing face a host of uncertainties. Among them: the location of their housing.
Although the deadline to apply for readmission is June 1, students must also complete a series of on-campus interviews before they can return. As a result, students often do not receive notice of their readmitted status until a few weeks or even days before the semester begins. Their housing is therefore frequently assigned at the last minute, often leaving them to live with people and in a location they did not choose.
“I understand logically why they can’t provide housing in advance for readmitted students, but I guess it just frustrates me on a personal level,” Eugenia Zhukovsky ’18 said. “Academically, I’ll still be a sophomore when I return, but the people I’d want to live with are going to be juniors.”
According to Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Pamela George, who chairs the readmission committee, whether or not a student is able to enter the housing draw depends on the time of his or her withdrawal. Students who leave campus after the spring housing draw may be able to keep that spot for when they return. The exact procedure varies by residential college, George added.
George said that while readmitted students are usually able to find housing that is amenable to them, there is room for better coordination. As the chair of the readmission committee, she only handles students returning to campus, but is not aware of students who are leaving campus in the first place.
“Because I’m not involved with withdrawn students, I don’t know who they are and what those issues [with housing] are,” she said. “I recommend that there be a closer relationship with my role in readmission and the withdrawn students, so I’m aware of them and can reach out to them and start the process even earlier. We’re still looking at that.”
THE ON-CAMPUS PROCESS
Despite the rules, where students live upon returning to campus often depends on accommodations made by residential college deans and masters.
Matthew Mattia ’18, who withdrew early in the fall semester, said he was able to return to his same room when he returned in the spring.
“Dean [Hilary] Fink and Master [Elizabeth] Bradley said they saw no reason for me to have to move all of my stuff out, because they expected me back,” Mattia said. “While the official policy was that I would have to move all my stuff out of my room, there’s space for masters and deans to operate outside the law of it in a way that’s really comforting. Considering how anxiety-inducing the whole process of withdrawal is, they knew that was the one thing they could do to make the process easier on me.”
But George acknowledged that most students who withdraw in the fall or early spring before the housing draw and do not return until the next academic year are not as lucky. In those situations, each college’s dean will look for a spot for the student among the remaining housing, if he or she wishes to live on campus.
Typically, George said, readmitted students are able to find housing in their own college.
“Because we know that the majority of students are readmitted, I think residential college deans also anticipate [the need for housing],” she said. “Knowing by the [readmission] deadline how many students have requested an application gives us an idea of what space might be needed. Oftentimes the deans are proactive.”
Ten residential college deans did not return request for comment.
If there is no room within a student’s college, George added, he or she may be assigned to annex housing or to live within another residential college.
THE OFF-CAMPUS PROCESS
For students who wish to live off campus when they return, however, there are often added complications, in large part due to the timeline of readmissions.
Stewart McDonald ’15, who was readmitted last fall, already knew several months in advance that he wanted to move off campus, as most of his friends would have already graduated by the time he returned to school. But although he would not receive notice of his readmission until the end of the summer, the deadline to sign a lease on an apartment was much earlier, in late February. In order to guarantee that he would have an apartment in the fall, McDonald had to pay a deposit before he even knew if he would be allowed back at Yale.
“It made me exceptionally nervous,” he said. “I had to look over the [readmissions] policies and requirements a thousand times and try to understand them. I just had to basically make a bet at the probability of being readmitted. That was the risk I took. Luckily, that risk paid off. For some people, it doesn’t.”
Because of other regulations, some students are not even eligible to live off campus.
Zhukovsky said that when she plans to return, many of her friends will be juniors living off campus, but because the University stipulates that students cannot live off campus unless they are over the age of 21, married or an upperclassman, she will not be able to join them. She added that she attempted to receive an exemption from her dean in order to live off campus — a way to secure housing for herself in the fall without entering the housing draw — but was told by her dean that this would not be possible.
The logistical difficulties that accompany housing readmitted students are not unique to Yale. Administrators at both Harvard and Stanford acknowledged that they, too, often encounter challenges in trying to house students where they would like.
Adam Muri-Rosenthal, the dean of Adams House at Harvard, said w housing is the “main issue” for students who return from leaves of absence, Harvard’s equivalent of withdrawal. While he tries to be flexible, he said, the availability of housing will depend on how early a student submits a petition to return.
Sally Mentzer, an academic advisor at Stanford who coordinates the returning student process, echoed the need for early notification, adding that students are encouraged to apply to return at least eight weeks before the new quarter, and that students may be wait-listed for housing if they do not apply early enough.
According to George, between 80 and 100 students apply for readmission each year.