Madelyn Kumar, Senior Photographer

Yale College is considering expanding the number of Eli Whitney students — non-traditional students who want a more flexible Yale undergraduate education — as well as the number of community college transfer students.

The proposed expansion was first announced in a community-wide email from University President Peter Salovey in early October.  Although the timeline and size of the expansion has not yet been finalized, the Yale Admissions Office confirmed to the News that such an expansion is in the works. Through the transfer program and Eli Whitney Students Program, 34 students were admitted to the class of 2023 and 29 students were admitted to the class of 2024.

“The Eli Whitney Students Program and transfer programs have, for many years, been valuable pathways for students from diverse backgrounds – including community colleges and the workforce,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan wrote in an email to the News. “I believe the programs are well-positioned to make an even greater contribution to the diversity of the Yale College student body, and I believe Yale College is better with these students as members of our community.”

The expansion comes as part of the next phase of the Belonging at Yale initiative, which is meant to “increase diversity, ensure equity, and enhance a sense of inclusion and belonging for everyone,” according to the Belonging at Yale website. The expansion of the Eli Whitney Program and the transfer program is meant to ensure that both programs are “fully accessible and maximally effective,” according to Salovey’s email.

The admissions office will work in conjunction with the Yale College Dean’s Office to develop strategies for expanding the programs, according to Quinlan.

“We have one of the world’s best admissions offices, that is very good at outreach and at finding students who would be a good fit for Yale, and getting Yale in front of students who wouldn’t otherwise consider Yale because it wouldn’t be affordable or accessible to them,” Yale College Dean Marvin Chun told the News. “That’s where the resources would go: to increase the diversity and number of Eli Whitney students and transfer students from community colleges.”

Patricia Wei, the associate director of undergraduate admissions and director of admissions for the Eli Whitney Program, told the News that in-person recruitment for applicants from community college or other non-traditional backgrounds is difficult in a normal year, as it is hard to seek out physical spaces to recruit. However, now that recruitment is virtual, Yale has been able to reach more non-traditional applicants.

Wei said that this fall, she has held six joint webinars with other colleges specifically targeting community college transfer students and student veterans. In November, she is holding two Yale-specific webinars — one for student veterans to talk about the ways in which to apply to Yale and one specifically about the Eli Whitney Program. There are seven student veterans each in the classes of 2023 and 2024.

“I strongly believe that it is important for our student body to really reflect diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” Wei said. “And I do think that community college students and non-traditional students and student veterans all bring a very different perspective to campus and can really add to the discussions both inside and outside of the classroom. … It’s really a tiny percentage of Yale students that have gone to community colleges or have taken time off or are older, and we want to make sure that that community college students see that there are opportunities to pursue higher education at colleges like Yale.”

Eli Whitney students may enroll full-time or part-time, and have up to seven years to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Amelia Davidson |

Amelia Davidson was the University Editor for the Yale Daily News. Before that, she covered admissions, financial aid and alumni as a staff reporter. Originally from the Washington D.C. area, she is a junior in Pauli Murray College majoring in American studies.