Yale Bulletin and Calendar

April 14, 2006|Volume 34, Number 26















University will review its
Special Student Program

On April 17, President Richard C. Levin issued the following statement regarding a review of the Special Student Program:

Yale's non-degree Special Student Program was introduced in 1977 to permit a small number of individuals, typically local residents not of traditional college age, to take courses without earning credit toward a Yale degree. The program was intended to offer educational opportunities to older students who wished to earn credit toward degrees at other institutions, who contemplated career changes, or who wanted to enrich their personal lives. About 50 to 60 students are admitted each year. These students do not live on campus, do not receive financial aid, and do not compete for admission with the 1,300 members of the freshman class in Yale College.

Yale College also sponsors a bachelor's degree-granting Special Student Program, recently renamed the Eli Whitney Program. This program, started in 1982, also serves students who are not of traditional college age. The 8 to 12 individuals admitted each year enroll part-time; they, too, do not live on campus, do not receive financial aid, and do not compete for admission with the 1,300 members of the freshman class in Yale College.

When media attention began to focus on the non-degree Special Student Program in February of this year, I asked Dorothy Robinson, vice president and general counsel of the University, and Jeffrey Brenzel, the newly appointed dean of undergraduate admissions, to review the program's admissions process. In the paragraphs that follow, I summarize their findings and draw my own conclusions.

The criteria for admission to both the non-degree and degree-granting special programs, as published on the Web, is: "Yale seeks applicants whose academic background, work experience and community involvement are particularly suited to study at Yale. All candidates must present evidence of high academic potential, maturity and clear motivation for their proposed course of study." It is also noted that "Candidates should have a compelling educational reason to attend as a non-degree student."

The published criteria are adequate in some respects, but they fall short of the standard that we should require for admission to Yale College. In the process of admitting a regular undergraduate for four years of study in Yale College, we look for character and achievement sufficient to predict that the candidate will make substantial and meaningful contributions to the betterment of society. We seek to admit not simply candidates who can do the academic work required for graduation, but rather those with the capacity to lead and to serve society with distinction. Evidence of an applicant's character, as well as his or her academic potential, is always given substantial weight.

Our review has raised questions whether the admissions practices of the non-degree Special Student Program have been consistent with the published criteria, let alone the standard that should prevail. In recent years, while fewer than 10% of the applicants to the regular undergraduate program have received offers of admission, more than three-quarters of the applicants to the non-degree program have been admitted.

The procedures for admitting students to the degree-granting Eli Whitney Program have been more rigorous and have resulted in somewhat greater selectivity. Yet, here too, the rate of admission seems high when compared with regular admission to Yale College; almost 30% of recent applicants have been admitted. It is difficult to understand why the standard for this program should be any lower than that used to judge the qualifications for regular admission to Yale College, since the same degree is granted in both cases.

Over the years, both the non-degree Special Student Program and the degree-granting Eli Whitney Program have served many students of whom the University is justly proud. But, the initial review I requested concluded that both the programs suffer from lack of clarity about mission, purpose and standards. As a next step, the dean of Yale College and I, as co-chairs of the standing Committee on Yale College Admissions Policy, will convene a subcommittee to consider the appropriate size of these programs, give their mission and purpose clear articulation, and define admissions criteria consistent with the high standards and moral purposes of a leading institution of higher learning.

Pending the outcome of this further review, decisions on admission to the non-degree program for 2006-07 will adhere to the published standard, and the standard for admission to the degree-granting Eli Whitney program will be equivalent to that applied to candidates for regular admission to Yale College, recognizing that in assessing more mature candidates, relatively more weight should be given to achievement than potential.


It's Official. President of China to speak April 21

As HHMI Professor, Strobel will take students 'bioprospecting'

Scientists find gene linked to drug dependence

Program puts FOCUS on communication

Joan Steitz, Thomas Pollard win prestigious international prize spirit

Renowned poet W.S. Merwin to read from and discuss his work

A heroine's determination prevails in 'All's Well That Ends Well'

Event will examine how to preserve access to knowledge

Performances and workshops will explore 'theatrical bodies' . . .

Symposium on human rights will focus on memorializing atrocities

Talk, exhibit explore lessons learned from past flu outbreaks

SOM conference will examine globalization and technology

India's road to independence is topic of film, panel discussion

Dwight Hall fundraiser to include inaugural social justice award

Symposium to look at 'Success with Learning Differences'

Impact of bird-borne infections on wildlife conservation is topic of forum

Panel discussion will focus on 'Class, Race and Inequality in South Africa'

Trainer describes biker Lance Armstrong's winning ways

Tsunami Awareness Week raised funds and refocused humanitarian efforts

Campus Notes

Wangari Maathai lecture cancelled

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