In new podcast series, Yale takes listeners inside the admissions office
Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions has introduced a podcast series offering an inside look at the work that goes into building a Yale College class.
The new series, “Inside the Yale Admissions Office,” grew out of a desire among admissions officers to increase transparency about Yale’s whole-person review process and to help prospective students, parents, and college counselors understand how the office works.
“Believe it or not, the admissions process isn’t shrouded in secrecy,” said Associate Director of Admissions and podcast co-host Mark Dunn ‘07. “But it is endlessly fascinating and often very fun. Over the years, we’ve found that the more people understand about how officers review applications and discuss them in the admissions committee, the less anxiety they feel. We created the podcast to share the sorts of detailed explanations and reflections that can’t be captured on a website.”
In each episode — there are three so far — Dunn and Associate Director of Admissions Hannah Mendlowitz ’12 provide firsthand accounts of the selection process and debunk persistent myths — for example, that applications are scored with a rubric or formula (there’s no scoring and no formula), or that applicants are ranked (decisions are made one at a time, independent of one another), or that admissions offers read only parts of each application (they read everything front to back, in every application). The goal is to increase access to accurate information about the admissions process. The first episode was recorded in February, at the height of “reading season” — when a team of 25 admissions officers evaluates more than 35,000 applications, one by one. New episodes are expected to publish about once a month.
“There are, sadly, some educational consultants who sell their services with false promises of insider information about a process they claim is filled with hidden secrets,” Dunn said. “Although knowledgeable college counselors play a very important role in helping students, we want to send a clear message to families: We’ll tell you everything you need to know, and we’ll do it for free.”
In the first two episodes, admissions officers share insights about reading applications, presenting files to the admissions committee, and reaching decisions. The most recent episode covers the office’s response to COVID-19, including an interview with Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan in which he advises high school students about preparing college applications during the pandemic.
Mendlowitz said the series tries to follow a bit of advice she often gives applicants: “A classic tip for writing a college essay is ‘show; don’t tell.’ The podcast is our way of showing the world what we do and how we do it.”
The series includes candid discussions of admissions work, but does not use anecdotes from individual applications, out of respect for student privacy.
Future episodes will cover more in-depth topics related to the application, such as essays and letters of recommendation, and other projects, including admissions officers’ global travel in search of promising students and how Yale welcomes tens of thousands of campus visitors each year.
“I’d encourage high school students, parents, educators, and anyone who’s ever wondered how we make our decisions to listen in,” said Mendlowitz. “I think admissions officers have one of Yale’s most fascinating and rewarding jobs, and I’m excited to share more of our work with the public.”