As the early action deadline looms large for high school seniors and Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions gears up to review thousands of applications, the office is also adjusting to changes in both its outreach strategies and its selection of admissions officers involved in each applicant.
In the past, Yale often sent single representatives across cities to promote the college and to pique students’ interest. This year, Yale has partnered with other universities to gain more traction in historically underrepresented areas. This “group visit” approach is being called DiscoveringU.
“We’re always looking for ways to expand our outreach and efficiently reach populations that don’t often hear from schools in our peer group, and I think that DiscoveringU is a great way to try to do that,” said Reed Srere, assistant director in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
These trips comprise a range of schools — varying in specialization, geography and selectivity. According to Director of Outreach and Recruitment Mark Dunn, they are taken by representatives from the Office of Admissions and often last five days, usually involving five cities. They consist of counselor meetings in the mornings regarding what colleges are looking for and information sessions with high school students in the evenings.
According to Dunn, these trips allow the University to cover more ground in an efficient manner. Oftentimes, trips that feature only Yale attract students who would have applied to the school regardless, whereas these trips help attract a larger and more diverse crowd, Dunn said.
One of the trips this fall included the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the University of Michigan and UT Austin. According to Dunn, travelling with UT Austin in smaller cities throughout Texas allowed Yale to reach places that otherwise would be hard to justify sending one single representative.
Some new trips also consist of other universities that partner with QuestBridge, a non-profit program that links students with educational and scholarship opportunities in U.S. colleges and universities.
According to Dunn, these QuestBridge partner school trips are a part of Yale’s growing effort to advertise its affordability and reach out to high-achieving low-income students.
“Being a QuestBridge partner really helps us in lending some authority and credibility in those messages,” Dunn said. “It’s not just Yale saying, believe us. We’re part of a larger national movement. We see our role as being not just about driving change and enrollment at Yale, but also successful institutions across the country.”
These new trips have proven to be an effective method of outreach, Dunn said. Although he was originally against group trips, arguing that each school would have less time to speak to students, he has shifted his opinion after seeing the data.
After surveying those who went to Yale-only sessions as well as group sessions, Dunn found that the student impact was similar among the two. However, the crowds at these group sessions were often less “gung-ho” about Yale and more socially and economically diverse, he said.
“Objectively, the number of attendees was higher than solo events we’ve done in some of these areas in the past,” Srere said. “From a more subjective standpoint, I personally talked with a number of students who admitted that they had originally come to the information session just to hear the University of Texas speak, but found that Yale seemed more accessible than they thought.”
In addition to new outreach initiatives, the admissions office has also updated its way of pairing admissions officers with applications.
In the past, each admissions officer was responsible for a geographic region. Now, admissions officers with nearby regions will be present in the room during the evaluations of applicants that don’t normally fall under their geographic area.
According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan, this team-based approach will allow for “greater consistency across state regions” and allows for “more work to be done in a day.”
Early action applications are due Nov. 1.
Kelly Wei | firstname.lastname@example.org