A message to prospective students, their families, and educators:
The COVID-19 outbreak is changing how schools teach and students learn all around the world. The staff at Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions recognizes that the outbreak will have lasting effects on school communities and on students’ academic records, standardized testing opportunities, extracurricular activities, and learning experiences outside of school.
We hope to reassure all future college applicants that your community’s response to the outbreak—and your personal circumstances associated with it—will not negatively affect your chances of admission to Yale.
Yale’s whole-person review process relies on a committee of admissions officers, faculty members, and college deans to make admissions decisions through discussion and deliberation. This system allows for maximum flexibility when considering applicants from all backgrounds and experiences.
Below are insights from our Admissions Committee for prospective students about some common areas of concern:
Just as secondary schools take a diverse set of approaches to curricula and assessment during normal times, schools are taking a diverse set of approaches when responding to the outbreak. We expect that many transcripts will look different for at least the spring and fall 2020 semesters. Regardless of your school’s decisions, we will work to understand your school’s unique context and will not penalize students whose transcripts lack letter grades. It may be helpful to know that Yale does not re-calculate or re-weight grade point averages to a uniform scale.
We also recognize that many students’ personal circumstances may make it especially difficult to achieve at their typical academic level during this time. These considerations will also be part of our committee’s whole-person review.
Fall 2021 Class Size
Although more than 300 students admitted during the 2019-2020 admissions cycle opted to postpone their Yale matriculation for a year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions plans to make the same number of offers of admission in the 2020-2021 admissions cycle as in previous years. Students applying for first-year admission in 2020-2021 will not be negatively affected in the review process because of students taking gap years.
The staff at the admissions office understands that students will have many priorities when schools reopen; completing standardized tests before the application deadline should not be among them.
Yale has temporarily suspended its requirement that first-year and transfer applicants submit results from the ACT or SAT. The change is in effect during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 admissions cycles. Applicants who are unable to complete an exam or who choose not to report exam scores will not be disadvantaged in the selection process. Review Yale’s standardized testing policies.
The Committee expects that some applicants will have completed one or more exams and received scores they feel reflect their academic strengths and college preparedness. Others may be disappointed in their performance but face barriers to registering or preparing for an additional exam date. And some students will simply be unable to complete any exam prior to the application deadline. Yale’s policy is designed to accommodate all high school seniors during this unprecedented moment with a straightforward option: report ACT or SAT scores if you wish.
For applicants who choose to send scores, the Admissions Committee will continue to view the scores within the context of the student’s entire file; to focus on the highest individual section scores for students who have completed the exam more than once; to accept self-reported scores for the purposes of evaluation; and to take context into account if a student has had limited or no opportunities to complete an exam.
Whether an applicant chooses to report standardized test results or not, the Committee will pay close attention to a student’s high school transcript, letters of recommendation, and demonstrated academic drive and commitment. As always, the Committee will make decisions with the best information available and with as much flexibility as possible to consider applicants from all backgrounds and experiences.
Extracurricular Activities and Experiences
The outbreak has caused the cancellation of innumerable events, activities, and programs. It has caused disruptions to family lives and livelihoods with wide-ranging effects on students’ schedules. It has changed nearly everyone’s priorities and opportunities with remarkable speed. We expect that most students’ extracurricular activities and learning opportunities outside of school have been, or will be, affected.
We share your disappointment about canceled performances and sporting events, service projects and mission trips, school activities and conferences. While we wish that all students could continue pursuing their interests and commitments as they did before the outbreak, for most students this will not be possible. We also recognize that many students will need to take on additional responsibilities at home or at a family business during this time.
Yale’s application platforms provide ample space to provide contextual information that can help the Committee understand the factors that shaped students’ opportunities and commitments. Rest assured that Yale will take each student’s unique context into account when reviewing applications. No student will be penalized because of a change in commitments or a change to plans because of the outbreak. Our advice to candidates during this time remains the same: demonstrate a deep commitment to and genuine appreciation for whatever you spend your time doing.
Yale’s commitment to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students remains firm. Yale has made no changes to its financial aid policies, and recent enhancements to Yale’s generous policies remain in effect. The Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid will continue to award Yale Scholarship aid solely on the basis of financial need with the goal of making the entire Yale undergraduate experience affordable to all students and their families. Yale’s Quick Cost Calculator provides prospective families a personalized estimate in three minutes.
The Admissions Office staff was disappointed that the outbreak caused many thousands of prospective students and families to miss an opportunity to visit New Haven. Although we believe there is no true substitute for visiting a campus, we are happy offer live virtual information sessions, student forums, and five spectacular virtual-tour experiences.
It may be helpful to know that Yale does not track campus visits or any form of demonstrated interest when evaluating applications. We hope prospective students will be able to visit Yale at a later date, but those who are unable to visit will not be at any disadvantage in the admissions process.
The current circumstances are unprecedented in our lifetimes, but the Office of Undergraduate Admissions is responding by remaining committed to the thoughtful, human-centered principles and practices that have guided our work for decades. The entire staff at the Admissions Office wish you good health and peace of mind during this challenging time.