Admissions Office pivots to provide virtual information sessions and tours

Ezra Stiles College
Ezra Stiles College (Photo credit: Michael Marsland)

The Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions has created a new way for prospective students and families to learn about the Yale student experience from afar: twice-weekly virtual information session webinars, held every Tuesday and Thursday.

The inaugural session on April 16 drew more than 200 prospective students from more than a dozen countries.

There is no true substitute for visiting campus,” said admission’s office Director of Outreach and Communications Mark Dunn. “But we are excited to meet students and families where they are — and right now, that’s at home. The new virtual sessions capture what makes the Yale experience special, and I hope they will reach new audiences who cannot travel to New Haven.”

Prospective students who register join a live presentation and may submit questions in real time to admissions officers and a current Yale student.

More than 20 additional sessions are scheduled through the end of June. They complement five existing virtual campus tours, which more than 100,000 people have explored.

As university leaders moved quickly in March to prepare Yale’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Yale Visitor Center were among the many offices immediately affected by decisions to minimize the number of people on campus. Normally, a dedicated group of Yale College student tour guides provides free walking tours of central campus originating from the two campus sites, and admissions officers and Yale seniors lead two public information sessions for prospective students and families every weekday. Because these tours and sessions regularly draw hundreds of daily participants, they were among the first university programs to be canceled for public health reasons.

We typically welcome between 1,000 and 6,000 visitors every week in March and April,” said Debra Johns, associate director of admissions. “For high school juniors and sophomores, March and April are among the most popular times to visit college campuses. The admissions office prides itself on always providing a warm welcome to as many students and families as possible.”

Johns said the office frequently hosts sessions in the large auditorium in Woolsey Hall to accommodate the hundreds of daily visitors in the spring months. More than two dozen tour guides lead groups through residential colleges, libraries, and Old Campus every day.

The thousands of visitors who had registered for now-canceled campus visits were the first to receive invitations to participate in a virtual session, although all sessions are open to the public.

Information on the virtual sessions is available to the public at the Yale Admissions website. The Yale virtual campus tour, with 360 panoramas of dozens of spaces is available online here.

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Part of the In Focus Collection: Yale responds to COVID-19