Yale Daily News

As the pandemic continues and most of Yale’s programs remain online, admissions officers and student volunteers are expanding their efforts to reach out to admitted students.

Yale’s Prefrosh Advisors Program is one of the admissions office’s programs that welcome admitted students and is especially important this year due to the cancellation of in-person welcome events. For example, Bulldog Days is a Yale tradition — historically a three-day event held on campus — that presents an opportunity for accepted students to familiarize themselves with Yale and for current Yalies to show off their extracurriculars and school spirit. 

But because the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled in-person Bulldog Days this upcoming spring for the second consecutive year, the Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions has expanded the Prefrosh Advisors program, in part by offering personalized calls and Zooms in multiple instances. The new additions aim to make Yale more accessible and welcoming to admitted students.

“Our biggest priority has been to maintain and expand real human connection as brave high school students navigate a largely virtual college search process,” Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions Julian Tamayo said. “We want admitted students to know that there is already a whole community of caring folks who are eager to connect and help in any way they can.”

Michaela Markels ’24, a recruitment coordinator working with the admissions office on the Prefrosh Advisors program, said that many students ultimately choose Yale because the University is “community-oriented.” Markels said the Prefrosh Advisors program plays a major role in giving admitted students information on all aspects of the Yale community, allowing them to choose Yale for the “right reasons.”

Sheryl Ofwona ’23, who also works as a recruitment coordinator, expressed that in response to COVID-19, this year’s Prefrosh Advisors program is far more “deliberate” with the interactions established between advisors and admitted students. Tamayo told the News that in past years, the admissions office has hosted phone-a-thons where advisors would call prefrosh to congratulate them on their acceptance, welcome them to Yale and answer any immediate questions they may have about the University and life on campus. 

However, these calls only occurred for around a week, according to Markels, who said the office has been able to reach more prefrosh so far this year due to the program’s reorganization and expansion — including a more official system of tracking the program’s metrics and an increase in volunteer numbers.

In this year’s Early Action application cycle, the Prefrosh Advisors program paired around 300 current Yale student volunteer advisors with over 800 admitted students. This marks an increase from last year’s 237 advisors who made 528 calls and texts to admitted students.

The Prefrosh Advisors team this year made a special effort to try to match Yale student advisors and prefrosh with similar academic interests, extracurriculars and backgrounds — allowing admitted students more personalized insight into how they could fit into Yale. This year, student volunteers first contacted admitted students on Feb. 7.

Ofwona said that due to this year’s expanded offerings, the office is able to include international students in their congratulatory calls, something that is not possible in a normal year. As an international student herself, Ofwona recalled that she did not have a chance to visit the schools she was admitted to and, since she received no congratulatory call, she instead took to the Internet to find and talk to current Yale students. 

According to Ofwona, this year’s changes to the Prefrosh Advisors program are important because they enable equal access to information about Yale for all admitted students. 

“What made the difference to me [in choosing Yale] was getting to speak with Yale students,” Ofwona said.

In addition, starting this week, prefrosh now have the option of scheduling follow-up individual Zooms with their advisors to get to know at least one person at Yale comfortably, Markels said. And between Feb. 15 and March 1, advisors will come together to host group Zooms with their prefrosh for icebreakers and conversations with their potential future classmates.

According to multiple organizers, one of the best parts of the program is that despite the need for a virtual format, Yalies are as eager and invested as ever in meeting their future peers and shaping their communities. Ofwona described how the organizers of the Prefrosh Advisors program have received numerous emails from advisors telling them how much they enjoy getting to connect with their prefrosh.

“The Prefrosh Advisors program gives Yalies the chance to reflect on their time here and share some of the magic they feel makes Yale special with the next generation of Yale students,” Tamayo said. “I’m a firm believer in the importance of first impressions, so I’ve been very proud to support a program that introduces admitted students to this ‘company of scholars’ and ‘society of friends,’ as President George Pierson famously wrote.”

In the next few weeks, Yale students will receive email invitations to join the program as volunteer advisors for students admitted through the regular decision round.

Eda Aker  |  eda.aker@yale.edu