Bulldog Days goes online: Undergraduate Admissions Office turns three-day program into 30 days of virtual experiences

Handsome Dan on a bench with a statue of Handsome Dan
(Illustration by Eri Griffin)

When Associate Director of Admissions Hannah Mendlowitz ’12 got the news that the response to the COVID-19 outbreak meant that Yale would not be able to host Bulldog Days, the three-day on-campus program for admitted students held each April, her first concern was scale: “Bulldog Days typically packs more than 200 events into a 48-hour period,” she explained. “We needed to find a way to virtually recreate as many events as possible for our admitted students who live all around the world.”

The answer was to multiply the Bulldog Days calendar by a factor of ten: The Office of Undergraduate Admissions is hosting one or more virtual events every day throughout April, and inviting all 2,304 recently admitted students to participate in “30 Bulldog Days of April.”

On April 1, students participated in live online Master Classes hosted by Yale’s Francis Writer in Residence Anne Fadiman and by Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science Akhil Reed Amar. Each class drew hundreds of live viewers who asked questions via Zoom and YouTube. The classes were recorded and will be available to the admitted student community throughout April.

The Calendar of Events features additional Master Classes with a half-dozen other Yale professors, including psychologist and Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun, physics professor Ramamurti Shankar, and psychology professor Laurie Santos, whose online course The Science of Well-Being has exploded in popularity over the past several weeks. Admitted students will also be able to join live online student forums with current Yale undergraduates, connect with the team of student bloggers, participate in an “Ask Me Anything” session with Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan, and watch presentations and panels covering a wide range of campus resource centers.

The response from the Yale community has been extraordinary, but not at all surprising,” said Mendlowitz. “Many students, faculty, and staff scheduled to participate in a Bulldog Days event this spring have responded enthusiastically to the invitation to transform their event into a virtual experience. It’s exciting to see that, while about 60% of admitted students typically make it to campus for Bulldog Days, this new virtual programming will be available to 100% of our admitted students, wherever they live. ”

Many current undergraduates are involved in the programming, and student organizations will have the opportunity to create and share video content with admitted students. The calendar of events includes virtual offerings from some of Yale’s most beloved student performance groups to replicate the Bulldog Days Welcome Showcase that typically dazzles students and their families at the Shubert Theater on the program’s first night. Admitted students will have the opportunity to share their own talents for the first time through an online talent show at the end of the month.

Admitted students are connecting with each other and with more than 100 student employees from the admissions office and cultural centers on a new Admitted Students Network. This online hub allows students to chat with one another, join communities around shared interests, watch live and archived content, and ask questions. Less than one week after launching, the network has nearly 2,000 members.

Bulldog Days is a highlight of the year for many in the Yale community, and the admissions office staff take great joy in planning an unforgettable experience for admitted students,” said Dean Quinlan. “While there’s no substitute for seeing Yale’s spectacular campus or bonding with the supportive and diverse community in-person, we are doing our best to deliver all the excitement of Bulldog Days in a new way.”

Admitted students will have until May 1 to reply to their offers of admission. The Class of 2024 will complete the expansion of Yale College that began three years ago with the opening of Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges. The Undergraduate Admissions Office has also updated its guidance to incoming students in light of the challenges secondary schools are facing during the outbreak.

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