Two summer programs established to help students transition to college will expand this year to accommodate more participants.
Freshman Scholars at Yale — a program run by the Yale College Dean’s Office and Yale Summer Session for low-income and first-generation college students — will increase its capacity from around 48 to 60 students in 2016. Likewise, Online Experiences for Yale Scholars, which is an online quantitative study program for incoming students with comparatively weak secondary school backgrounds, will be able to accommodate 80 students, up from 60 spots. FSY started in 2013 and ONEXYS in 2014, and both have expanded in size each year since their founding.
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions selects a number of incoming freshmen each year to come to campus in July for FSY, where over the course of a month students enroll in Yale courses like English 114 and attend workshops designed to acquaint them with campus resources. Participation in ONEXYS is also by invitation, and students in the program follow online lectures, interact with tutors via Skype and complete web quizzes.
“There is strong evidence that the first two cohorts of Freshman Scholars gained valuable exposure — in advance of the start of freshman year — to the academic and community resources that make Yale such a special place,” said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan, who is involved with the selection process for the programs. “Like FSY, ONEXYS is an innovative effort to provide all students with the tools and experience to ensure a successful Yale experience. There is strong evidence that students … came to Yale in August better prepared to engage in the QR curriculum here.”
Quinlan added that student demand for spots in FSY last year was far larger than the program could accommodate, although he did not provide any numbers.
Dean of Student Engagement Burgwell Howard, who is involved with FSY and is tasked with developing programming for first-generation students on campus, said research has shown the program to be an effective way of preparing students for academic life at Yale.
“The FSY Scholars are all quite academically able students, capable of excelling here at Yale,” Howard said. “However, through no fault of their own, these students often come from under-resourced schools and environments compared to some in the class, so we want to make sure that they have a solid grounding in writing, which is foundational to academic success at place like Yale.”
The establishment of ONEXYS in 2014 was part of a series of commitments Yale made to the White House to increase college accessibility and ease the transition to college for high-achieving, low-income students.
Jim Rolf, a mathematics professor who oversees ONEXYS, said the program is able to expand relatively cheaply because it takes place almost entirely online. ONEXYS employs current Yale students to serve as coaches, and these instructors meet with small groups of around five students over video chat several times per week. Like Howard, he said research indicated that his program was effective in achieving its aims.
“This past summer, student perception was very positive and data about student learning indicated that learning had occurred over the summer,” Rolf said. “So of course, we want other people to have a similar experience when the data is pointing in a good direction.”
Rolf and Howard also both stressed the community-building aspect of the programs, which they said can help the students acclimate socially to Yale. With ONEXYS, Rolf said, the student instructors can serve as mentors and answer questions about life at Yale, and Howard said the people that participants meet during FSY can serve as a community once the semester begins.
Nineteen students participated in the pilot program of ONEXYS in 2014.