Daniel Zhao

An email circulated among department heads reported that about a fifth of all Yale College students have chosen not to enroll for the upcoming semester.

According to the email, which shared preliminary estimates for undergraduates’ fall plans, more than half of the student body will be living in Yale’s dorms or the surrounding area. The remainder, some 25 percent of students, will enroll remotely. Marvin Chun, Yale College Dean and author of the email, wrote that close to 1,100 sophomores — about 70 percent of original matriculants to the Class of 2023 — would complete classes online, after having been barred from campus for the fall semester.

Chun wrote the News in an email that the current numbers are subject to change but fall within the University’s predicted ranges. 

“Enrollments will be larger when students on leave return to campus, and meeting the needs of the larger student body will require creative solutions,” Chun wrote. “One of those solutions, originally scheduled for next year but going into effect in the fall, is the new pre-registration period, which will make much more efficient use of students’ schedules, classroom spaces, and allocation of teaching fellows.”

In his email to faculty, Chun noted that it is too soon to make projections for the spring semester, and that even fall term numbers may change. 

When asked if the University expects its projections for the fall to remain roughly the same as the fall semester nears, Chun noted that students can continue to alter their plans even after classes begin. 

“It’s hard to say, but the options available to students are designed to give them flexibility: they can cancel a leave as late as the first day of classes, or request one as late as the fifteenth day as long as they are in good academic standing,” Chun said. “Students who have opted to enroll in residence can change their minds and enroll remotely at any point in the term, without incurring the usual fee for relinquishing housing.”

Chun added that he will directly share exact breakdowns of in-residence students — by class year, on campus or off — when his office has those numbers available. 

The latest enrollment numbers suggest that many students have changed their minds regarding the fall semester since the News’ survey in late May.

At that time, more than half of the 2,129 student respondents said that they were at least “likely” to postpone enrollment should classes go online. 

On Monday morning, juniors enrolled in-residence received updates regarding their housing situation for the fall semester.

Typically used for first-year students and their counselors, Old Campus will now be used to house much of the junior class, Chun said. That’s because first-year students wouldn’t all be able to fit in the single-bedroom dorms. Still, not all housing groups made in the spring will be honored.

“By junior year, students will have made many friends in other colleges,” Chun said, “and we hope that by living close together, they will build a strong sense of community  – with appropriate physical distancing.”

Those in the dorms this fall will be required to undergo routine testing and adhere to stringent social distancing guidelines meant to cage the spread of the coronavirus. Students must also agree to a community compact that warns of serious penalties if residents leave the state, come within six feet of others or host gatherings that exceed state limits on group size. 

And in a Tuesday email to the Yale community, University COVID-19 Coordinator Stephanie Spangler said Yale students considered “in-residence” would be tested twice per week.

The exact number of students who will ultimately enroll for the semester is not the only factor that remains unclear. According to the frequently asked questions page on the Yale College Dean’s Office website, spikes in national cases could lead to a rollback in reopening plans. 

“If the public health situation worsens considerably in the next few weeks, the return to campus will be delayed,” the website states. “In that case, all courses – undergraduate, graduate, and professional – will be conducted exclusively through on-line delivery until the public health situation changes.”

Even with an ever-changing situation, the University continues to update students regarding both academics and housing. On July 24, Chun, Dean of the Graduate School Lynn Cooley and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler wrote to  students about preregistration and pre-term advising. 


Valerie Pavilonis | valerie.pavilonis@yale.edu

Matthew Kristoffersen | matthew.kristoffersen@yale.edu