Zoe Berg

Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions released the latest installation of its podcast last month in an effort to meet calls for more transparency into the system notoriously shrouded in secrecy.

The podcast — originally developed by the Director of Outreach and Recruitment Mark Dunn —  aims to demystify Yale’s admissions process and help prospective students get a better understanding of how the application cycle works. 

“Part of the inspiration for starting a podcast was to give our office another platform to be more open and transparent about the work that we do. And podcasting is such a popular medium at the moment; we’re hoping it will give high school students, their parents and their counselors another opportunity to learn more about the work that goes in to reviewing applications and putting together a Yale class,” said Associate Director of Admissions Hannah Mendlowitz. 

According to Dunn, this podcast is a response to the calls for clarity on the admissions process, “especially in light of the Varsity Blues investigation.” The podcast is also intended to spread accurate information, especially as “unscrupulous educational consultants” claim that they have special access to insider information, Dunn said.

The episodes move chronologically through the admissions office’s yearly schedule, tackling a range of topics from how officers evaluate applications to how COVID-19 has impacted admissions

“I’ve loved getting to hear my colleagues talk about the admissions process in such a chill environment because I think this is what we all hope to convey to prospective students and their families: that we’re all pretty chill, open people and this is a human process,” Carerra wrote in an email to the News. “It also means we get to go really in-depth with different topics. Usually, with a normal information session, we only have about an hour to talk about EVERYTHING.” 

Members of the admissions office develop the podcast, with Assistant Director of Admissions Jill Carerra serving as the podcast’s sound engineer and editor and former admissions officer Andrew Johnson composing music for the podcast.

The six episodes have garnered nearly 41,000 downloads, with an average of about 6,800 downloads or listens per episode. The most listened to episode, the fourth installation, has about 11,000 listens and is part one of a three-part series that discusses college application essays.

According to Dunn, the podcast makes sure to be “really careful” to ensure that prospective applicants do not use the episodes as a guidebook for topics they should or should not include in their statements.

The office will release the next episode next week and will discuss QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that has paired low-income applicants with Yale for 13 years. QuestBridge CEO and co-founder Ana McCullough and Senior Assistant Director of Admissions Corinne Smith will be guests on the upcoming episode. 

“The real value in my mind is listeners hopefully picking up on the fact that Admissions Officers are real people,” Smith said. “We like to laugh along with our [applicants’] stories; we genuinely care about our students’ successes and failures; and we truly advocate for our areas and the files we read. In some ways I’d rather students listen to the podcast than pretty much any other content we are producing right now because it’s immediately applicable rather than theoretical advice.”

The Office is planning on maintaining the podcast as a long-term project, lasting over a year, Mendlowitz said. 

The podcast is available on Spotify, iTunes and Soundcloud.