This year marks the 10th anniversary of Yale’s STEM forums, an outreach program run by the Admissions Office aimed at showcasing the University’s scientific offerings to prospective applicants.
The forums allow high school students to learn about both life at Yale and the application process from admissions officers and hear about the University’s STEM programs from faculty members. The University launched this Yale-specific outreach strategy in 2008, at a time when Yale’s applicant pool was not as STEM-heavy as it is now, in order to attract students interested in the field, according to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan.
Today, the number of students majoring in STEM fields at Yale is notably higher than it was a decade ago — around 18 percent of students in the class of 2008 majored in a STEM field, compared to around 31 percent of undergraduates in the class of 2017, according to the Office of Institutional Research.
“We want to be able to highlight the incredible opportunities for undergrad scientists at Yale, show that we offer the best in terms of classes, research facilities and faculty,” Quinlan said. “The best way to do that is to showcase the faculty and research undergrads are doing.”
The Admissions Office hosts the forums around the country in places ranging from the Bay Area, Chicago and New Jersey. Quinlan said the forums remain “really successful” in attracting students.
The forums are led by admissions officers and STEM faculty members. The officers talk about the Yale experience in general — explaining how Yale’s need-based financial aid works, for example — and then cede the floor to the faculty members, who discuss their research, the classes they teach and the opportunities available to STEM students at Yale.
Yale astronomy professor Debra Fischer, one of the faculty members who travels to the STEM forums alongside admissions officers, said she believes the forums give students and their parents an insider’s tour of science and engineering at Yale.
“Among the Ivy League schools, Yale has traditionally been best known for education in the humanities,” Fischer said. “We want students and their parents to know that this hasn’t changed, but that there are also exciting research opportunities in science and engineering. Students don’t have to choose science or humanities — they can combine their interests and passions.”
She added that some of the undergraduates who have worked on research in her lab told her that the STEM forums marked the moment they decided that Yale “would be a good match for them.”
Center for Engineering Innovation & Design Director and Deputy Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science Vincent Wilczynski, who has appeared at the forums, said that the typical Yale engineer or applied scientist is a person who “has depth in their technical discipline, breadth in the social studies and humanities and uses their skills to solve problems of purpose.”
During the forums, Wilczynski said, he speaks about three or four Yale students who embody that description.
Physics professor Sarah Demers, who also presented at the forums, said that as a research university without “Institute of Technology” in its name, Yale may not be the first place that students interested in STEM think to apply, but that the forums allow faculty members and admissions officers to share “what makes Yale STEM special.”
As part of its recruitment process, the Admissions Office also hosts an annual admitted students weekend geared toward admittees who are interested in STEM.
Anastasiia Posnova | firstname.lastname@example.org