Students of Yale College ’24 — from 50 states, 53 nations — hit the books

The Yale College Class of 2024 has 1,267 students starting this week. An additional 344 students accepted admission but have postponed enrolling until 2021.
Exterior of Branford College.

Branford College courtyard. (Photo credit: Jack Devlin)

This week, 1,267 new first-year students begin their coursework as members of the Yale College Class of 2024. An additional 344 students accepted Yale’s offer of admission but elected to postpone their matriculation and will enroll in the Fall 2021 term.

Most first-year students have moved to New Haven and will receive the bulk of their instruction online while living in their residential colleges. Others have enrolled remotely from homes across the country and around the world. Also joining the new first-years are 29 students admitted through the transfer program and Eli Whitney program for nontraditional students. On Saturday, all incoming students were warmly welcomed by the president of Yale and the dean of Yale College in the Opening Assembly, newly reimagined as a video.

Yale’s newest undergraduates represent all 50 states and 53 countries. Fourteen of the new transfer and Eli Whitney students began their undergraduate education at a community college. Twenty-two students earned ROTC scholarships and will join Yale’s Air Force and Navy ROTC units, and seven new students are U.S. military veterans.

Although the number of students choosing to postpone matriculation makes the Class of 2024 smaller than recent Yale classes, its members embody a diverse range of academic interests and experiences. As applicants, students were invited to list up to three Yale majors that fit their academic interests. More than 97% listed multiple majors, and 84% listed majors that spanned two or more of the following academic categories: humanities & arts, life sciences, physical sciences & engineering, and social sciences. Incoming students selected 75 of Yale’s 80 undergraduate majors as a first choice on their applications.

The new first-years graduated from more than 950 high schools, and more than two-thirds of U.S. students attended a public high school. Nearly half of the new students (49%) speak a language other than English at home or as their first language. (See the Class of 2024 profile.)

Choosing Yale — remotely

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan expressed admiration for Yale’s newest students, many of whom were not able to visit campus prior to last week. “The members of the Class of 2024 are exceptionally impressive along all the dimensions the Admissions Committee considered. They are brilliant, accomplished, curious, dedicated, and committed to important causes and communities.”

Quinlan also said that he believes the class’s most impressive characteristics are their resilience and positive attitude.

Even when their senior year of high school was upended and their plans for visiting Yale in April abandoned for public health reasons, our admitted students found ways to create community with each other and current Yalies,” he said. “They learned that the Yale experience transcends New Haven, while still looking forward to the magic of being on campus.”

In place of Bulldog Days, the admissions office’s beloved three-day event for admitted students, members of the Class of 2024 experienced a new virtual program dubbed the 30 Bulldog Days of April. The calendar of virtual experiences included online master classes hosted by Yale faculty, including Dean Marvin Chun, physics professor Ramamurti Shankar, psychology professor Laurie Santos, and professor of law and political science Akhil Reed Amar. Students logged onto live online student forums with current Yale undergraduates, participated in “Ask Me Anything” sessions, and watched presentations and panels covering a wide range of campus resource centers. Associate Director of Admissions Hannah Mendlowitz, who directed the 30 Bulldog Days of April, said the program has served as a model for other Yale virtual events throughout the spring and summer.

Commitment to affordability

Despite the countless disruptions caused by the pandemic, Yale’s commitment to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students has not changed. Dean Quinlan shared that 19% of incoming students will be the first in their families to receive a four-year degree, and the class includes more than 100 QuestBridge finalists for a third consecutive year.

Scott Wallace-Juedes, director of undergraduate financial aid, explained that financial aid officers have worked tirelessly to connect with students and families experiencing financial hardships to ensure that Yale’s need-based aid would meet their full need. When the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid was forced to close its doors in March, officers began scheduling hundreds of meetings with students and families over Zoom.

Financial aid officers have also adjusted hundreds of financial aid awards to accommodate students’ shift to remote enrollment. For those who enroll remotely, Yale is waiving the student share portion of the financial aid award and providing additional funds to help cover the cost of internet service. Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun also announced that first-year students and sophomores who enroll for both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 terms with at least one term of remote enrollment will receive tuition credits to take two Yale Summer Session courses in any summer up to their senior year. Eligible students receiving financial aid can also get support for on-campus room and board if they choose to take both courses in the same summer session in New Haven.

Last year Yale increased the annual income threshold for families who qualify for the most generous financial aid award — a zero parent share award — from $65,000 to $75,000 and reduced the expected student share for these awards by more than $4,000 over four years. These policy changes remain in place. Wallace-Juedes reported that 59% of incoming first-year students are receiving a need-based Yale scholarship.

The mission of the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid is to enable extraordinary students to attend Yale, regardless of financial circumstances,” said Wallace-Juedes. “The pandemic has complicated life for many students and families, making our careful and individualized work as important as ever.”

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

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