In virtual admissions programming, Yale students play starring role

Even as campus remains closed to visitors amid the pandemic, tens of thousands of high school students around the world are getting an inside view of the student experience directly from Yale undergraduates.

Since April, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has been offering daily hour-long virtual information sessions with admissions officers and current students, as well as informal virtual student forums that give participants direct, real-time access to Yale students. 

Given the turmoil of the pandemic, the admissions office initially expected summer registrations for the new virtual events to fall short of the more than 20,000 visitors who attended on-campus events in summer 2019. But the opposite has been true: total registrations were up nearly 40%. 

Virtual events really make our reach global,” said Debra Johns, associate director of admissions, who coordinates the office’s visitor programming. “In a single virtual session in June, we had prospective students participating from 23 different countries.”

The new sessions are offered at various times throughout the week to make attendance convenient irrespective of time zones.

Yale’s undergraduate admissions office has hosted nearly 100 virtual information sessions since April, plus 50 virtual student forums and 50 virtual events with other colleges and universities. The number of people exploring Yale’s popular virtual tour also has increased significantly between April and August — by nearly 300%­.

Before public health considerations ruled out in-person admissions events, the admissions office had never offered virtual events to the public. 

We’ve learned a lot in a very short amount of time,” said Mark Dunn, the office’s director of outreach and communications. “One of the most obvious lessons is that there’s no going back. I expect we will continue to offer virtual events even after campus opens to visitors again.”

The pandemic has also led Yale’s corps of admissions officers