After an especially turbulent year on campus, fraught with widely publicized controversies over race, the yield rate for the class of 2020 increased over last year’s, despite expectations that the debates would discourage students from attending Yale.
This year’s yield rate was 70.5 percent, a one-point increase over last year’s yield, which ties for third highest since the University abolished its binding early-admission program in the 2003–04 application cycle. While some speculated that Yale could seem less attractive to applicants — minority students in particular — following last year’s protests, the class of 2020 enrolls a higher percentage of minorities and a higher percentage of African-American students than any other class in Yale history, with 43 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
The freshman class also includes the largest portion of first-generation students, at 15 percent; international citizens, at 12 percent; and students planning to major in science or engineering, at 46 percent. These increases mirror changes in the applicant pool, as the Admissions Office hones its outreach efforts to students from underrepresented groups.
“We knew that many of our admitted students were following the conversations about campus climate and the administration’s responses closely,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said, “and several admitted students expressed that the discussions were a positive factor in their decision to choose Yale.”
In April, some admitted students who had yet to commit to any college told the News that the Yale Corporation’s decision not to rename Calhoun College was a factor that they weighed in their decisions.
However, while some freshmen interviewed were surprised at the increase in yield, all echoed Quinlan’s point that the controversies could have been a positive factor for the school’s yield rate.
Lexi Hopkins ’20, a student of color, said Yale students’ engagement in trying to bring about change appealed to her, as it would to other students of color. She said she was not surprised that the percentage of freshmen identifying as minorities had hit a record high.
“I think that people can appreciate a community that can recognize that something needs to change,” Hopkins said. “The idea that they can have an opportunity to be a part of that change is something that would appeal to a lot of people.”
Krista Chen ’20 said she would have expected the yield rate to drop, but added that Yale students’ response to events last year, including November’s March of Resilience which attracted over 1,000 student protesters, could have overshadowed controversial administrative actions.
The campus unrest was a positive factor for Sarah Young ’20, who said conversations about race were lacking in her high school. She appreciated that dialogue was conducted in the open, though she acknowledged that the choice to attend Yale over another school might have been hard for some.
“I feel like the decision to go somewhere that is experiencing difficult attempts at change is kind of a hard one,” Young said.
While Mark Dunn ’07, director of outreach and communications for the Admissions Office, said it is impossible to attribute changes in yield in a given year to a particular factor, he noted that the yield for students who attended Bulldog Days was nearly 80 percent. Last year, the Admissions Office incorporated a new event called “At Home at Yale: An Exploration of Community and Diversity” into the Bulldog Days schedule.
However, in explaining Yale’s rise in yield, Parke Muth, former associate dean of admissions at the University of Virginia and an independent college counselor, invoked the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad press.”
“It may well be that all the press surrounding Yale last year simply raised awareness of Yale and of what the students and faculty are thinking about,” Muth said. “Compared to some of the things that have happened at other schools, Yale’s appearance on viral videos is not that bad.”
Campus protests over issues of race also broke out last year at Princeton University, the University of Missouri, Claremont McKenna College and Oberlin College, among others. Princeton, which in November saw protests over the use of former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s name on its school of public policy, had its yield increase by 0.8 percent points.