Logan Howard, Contributing Photographer

On Saturday, Yale kicked off the virtual recruitment season by hosting 118 admitted students for the annual Yale Engineering and Science Weekend.

For the past 10 years, Yale has admitted between 100 and 125 prospective science and engineering students via likely letter and hosted them at Yale for an all-expenses-paid Engineering and Science Weekend. This year, the weekend took place virtually, and had an attendance rate of nearly 100 percent according to Associate Director of Admissions Hannah Mendlowitz. The weekend featured Zoom meetings with Yale professors, information sessions about research opportunities and a virtual scavenger hunt where high school seniors were tasked with solving STEM and Yale-related questions.

“Yale has some of the most impressive and expansive opportunities for STEM research at the undergraduate level, with world-renowned faculty, state-of-the-art facilities and impressive funding resources for independent research,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan wrote in an email to the News. “The [weekend] is designed to showcase the full breadth of Yale’s undergraduate STEM opportunities for these students to ensure they have a complete understanding of what makes the prospect of pursuing STEM at Yale an especially appealing option among the excellent universities they will consider.”

According to Mendlowitz, who directs STEM outreach and recruitment at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Yale has long held the YES weekend as a way to attract top STEM students who Yale admissions officials have predicted will likely have many college options. The YES weekend gives Yale the chance to showcase its STEM resources and opportunities to students before the standard recruitment period for many other colleges begins. 

Typically, the University covers the cost of travel so that invited students can attend the event in person and see Yale’s campus. Without the travel compensation given the event’s virtual nature, Mendlowitz said there was some worry that attendance would be lower, but attendance ended up on par with in-person years. 

“Our goal is for students to leave with a better sense of what they can accomplish at Yale and a strong sense of Yale’s collaborative and open community,” Mendlowitz said. “I would say at this point that the program was a success given the high attendance rate and positive feedback we’ve heard so far from students who attended as well as faculty and staff who were involved in the events.”

According to Renita Heng, a senior assistant director at the admissions office and the director of this year’s YES weekend, the logistics of planning the program virtually proved to be easier than planning it in a typical year. However, Heng said it was a challenge to find ways to adequately capture the Yale community via Zoom.

Heng credited a group of student recruitment coordinators for brainstorming creative ways to plan engaging activities online. Throughout the weekend, admissions officials used breakout rooms to allow admitted students to connect on a more personal level with faculty, current students and each other. Heng said that the breakout room activities were able to “evoke the spirit of Yale” even though admitted students were not physically present on campus.

The YES weekend marked the beginning of this year’s virtual recruitment cycle, which will be centered around virtual Bulldog Days. Quinlan told the News that although the admissions office would prefer to hold in-person events, he is “delighted” with the way that the office has been able to adapt recruitment and outreach efforts to online spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although there is no true substitute for visiting campus, countless members of our community have found creative and compelling ways to showcase their research, their laboratory spaces, and their diverse Yale experiences,” Quinlan wrote. “I am absolutely confident that students can get a thorough sense of what makes Yale special through our virtual programming.”

Yale College will release admissions decisions for the class of 2025 on April 6 and plans to begin virtual Bulldog Days on April 7.

Amelia Davidson | amelia.davidson@yale.edu

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.