Three years after admitting its first class, Yale-NUS continues to receive applications from students who share their Yale College applications with the school rather than apply directly.

Currently, a student can apply to Yale-NUS in three different ways. A student can submit his or her application through Yale-NUS’ own application portal, apply directly to Yale-NUS through its page on the Common Application or share his or her application to Yale College with both schools by simply checking a box on the Common App. Both Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis and Yale Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said the option to share applications benefits international students who might not get into Yale, because Yale-NUS meets all financial need regardless of nationality, unlike most American liberal arts colleges.

However, Yale-NUS students interviewed said the option often leads to students applying to the school without much thought, thereby inflating the application pool. According to a 2013 Yale-NUS press release, the acceptance rate for its inaugural class was just under 4 percent. Still, the school’s yield rate — which measures how many students chose to matriculate -— was 52 percent, comparable to the yield rates for competitive liberal arts colleges in the U.S.

Of the four Yale-NUS students interviewed, two applied through Yale-NUS’ member screen on the Common App, one applied through Yale-NUS’ own application portal and one applied by sharing his Yale application with Yale-NUS. Students indicated that it was common for applicants to seriously research the school only after they had applied.

“[The choice to share applications] may be perhaps too convenient, and thus sufficient thought is not put into whether that person really wants to come to Yale-NUS,” said Walter Yeo YNUS ’17, who applied through Yale-NUS’ separate portal. “For example, I have some friends who only found out about Yale-NUS after they got in.”

Isabel Perucho YNUS ’18 said the option to share applications left her concerned about the inflation of applicants who “don’t really know what they are getting into” when agreeing to share their Yale application with Yale-NUS.

Perucho said many students shared their applications “without much thought,” adding that one of her friends at Yale-NUS does not even remember answering “yes” to the sharing option but was still admitted.

Regina Marie Lee YNUS ’18 said some students she has spoken with knew nothing about Yale-NUS before sharing their application with the school, but did more research on the college later in the process.

Quinlan said while there was never any initial plan to remove the share option after a set period of time, questions on Yale’s application are evaluated on a yearly basis. He said Yale’s faculty committee on admissions and financial aid evaluated the question two years ago and suggested the language be modified to better describe the similarities and differences between the two institutions.

Quinlan, who previously served as Yale-NUS’ inaugural dean of admissions, said the way the question is framed on the application portal removes any possibility of students applying there as an afterthought, because students have to read through a paragraph of information and actively click “yes.” Currently, the question provides students with a brief description of the college, including the similarities and differences between Yale and Yale-NUS.

“The option to share their applications with Yale-NUS is a benefit to Yale applicants, especially the thousands of international applicants who are not admitted to Yale College and whose options to find universities that offer financial aid to admitted international students are limited,” Lewis said. “At this point, there are no plans to remove or change the question in the coming years.”

Jim Sleeper ’69, a lecturer in political science and a vocal critic of Yale’s partnership in Singapore, criticized the administration’s decision to allow applicants to Yale College to easily share their applications with Yale-NUS. He said that despite the addition of a short paragraph describing the school, he believes the question is an attempt to artificially boost the number of applications to Yale-NUS to make the college appear more competitive than it is.

“Nobody has ever given me a compelling reason why there should be a check box for Yale-NUS on the application to Yale College,” Sleeper said. “Yale-NUS is still in a very experimental stage. It is definitely not Yale in New Haven, and I think they are trying to create more of a synergy between the two than is warranted at this point.”

Ultimately, Quinlan said, the option provides international students an opportunity to apply to a liberal arts college that offers generous financial aid policies and a need-blind admissions process. He said nearly 5,000 international students apply to Yale each year, many of whom are dependent on financial aid. Still, the paragraph on the Common App makes no mention of Yale-NUS’ financial aid policies.

Lewis added that Yale and Yale-NUS will rethink the application-sharing program if applicants to Yale find the option confusing or misleading. But, there is no evidence that this is the case, Lewis said. Quinlan added that his office has received very few, if any, inquiries about the question.

According to Yale-NUS’ admissions website, students sharing their applications with the school receive an email asking them to complete an additional question specific to Yale-NUS, but they are not required to do so. However, Lewis said no applicant is admitted to Yale-NUS without an interview. Therefore, its applicants are clear about the distinctions between a Yale-NUS education and a Yale one.

Students also said the option to share their application is a good way for Yale-NUS to reach out to students who might not learn of the new liberal arts college otherwise.

Manas Punhani YNUS ’17 said that as a small and young college, Yale-NUS is able to reach out to a much larger audience because of the Common App’s sharing option, adding that the paragraph about Yale-NUS raises awareness about the college.

“I would imagine that students would just be intrigued by the option and at least Google the college if they choose not to apply,” said Punhani, who applied to Yale-NUS through the application-sharing option.

According to Yale-NUS’ admissions website, Yale-NUS does not give preference to one type of application over another. Each type of application is given equal weight.

  • Pei Yun Chia

    I have to say, kudos to the editors for writing a really *exciting* and *attention-grabbing* headline. It got me to read the entire article, trying to find evidence of some ‘ire’, but was sorely disappointed. Who expresses any ire in here – apart from Jim Sleeper (whose ire, which here is surprisingly mild, is not news to anyone who’s been paying attention)?

    Four students and their friends’ reported experiences would give you a laughably small window onto the generic application experience to the college. Even then, more importantly, what does it matter that some people don’t research the school until after they share their application? A respectable proportion choose to attend anyway. Let’s think through this.

    Suppose, if you will, that nearly all the students who apply to Yale-NUS don’t know a single thing about it until after they share their Yale College applications. This is obviously an exaggeration, but let’s just pretend that this (non-)issue is far bigger than it is. Then we would expect that a good proportion of the students who receive offers are such students. (This isn’t too far off the mark; I’ve mingled with enough prospies to find that this is often the case.) And yet, our yield rate is comparable to US-based LACs. Obviously these don’t-know-a-thing students found something that they liked enough that it encouraged them to matriculate. So… I fail to see the problem.

    If anything, at least in these kinds of admits we can’t give extra points for students fawning over the school because they knew they wanted to come here since kindergarten, or something, but can only evaluate them based on what they bring to the table, and which they have not tried to squish into a Yale-NUS jelly mould, seeing as they don’t know what that mould even looks like.

    And to retread a point that is by now very well-worn, yes, Mr Sleeper, Yale-NUS is indeed ‘definitely not Yale in New Haven’, and thank heavens for that.

    (In case it matters: I’m a Yale-NUS ’17er who did not apply to Yale.)

  • Roshan Singh

    As a sophomore studying in Yale-NUS, I appreciate the investigation of the significance and possible impact of the shared application system. It’s certainly an important point to consider as the college moves into maturity.

    I must ask, however – where is the ‘ire’ in all this? I cannot find any content in the article which justifies the strongly worded article headline.