Club holds Symposium on College Admissions

Level of difficulty: Intermediate
Cost to attend: Nominal

Event: A regional Yale Club provided a forum for Club members and the general public to learn about the college admissions process from independent professional college counselors in an historic setting. The event was held in the winter of 2009.

Lead time: 30 days
Date of event: Winter 2009

1 lead volunteer – 5 hours
2 volunteers – 6 hours (2 each) helping at event
Club paid staff – 1 hour
3+ speakers – 3 hours each (preparation plus event)

Results: 45 attendees (most were alumni and their high school children)

(Background: In the United States, the college application and admissions process is a competitive process by which universities select students based not merely on national test scores, but also on high school records, extra-curricular activities, written essays, and personal interviews. Because the government does not subsidize tuition for private universities, university decisions on financial aid and scholarships are also increasingly important for many applicants. Different universities weigh the applicable factors using different criteria. For many, the application process does not seem transparent or predicable. For many, it is a multi-year effort. Consequently parents and students need as much information about the process as is available including obtaining the insight of professionals knowledgeable in the process.)

Why a success? The event was successful based on the level of attendance and engaged comments of the audience. It also helped foster a relationship with the venue (the Charles Sumner School) through the generation of a charitable contribution.

Details: The Yale Club of Washington, DC presented a forum for several independent professional college counselors to discuss aspects of the college admissions process with students and families of high school students. The discussion and subsequent question and answer period lasted 2 hours.

The event was held at the historic Charles Sumner School now a museum ( The event was announced on the Yale Club website and through email to Yale alumni in the Washington, DC area, however the event was not limited to alums. It was not focused in any way on admissions to Yale.

There was a nominal charge for the event of less than $10, with both online pre-payment as well as and payment at the door. All proceeds were donated to the Charles Sumner School.

Resources needed: One alumni volunteer was lead organizer — a director of the Club. This volunteer spent 3 hours organizing and 2 hours running the event. Two additional volunteers (Club directors) each spent 2 hours helping with the event. Paid staff (the Club’s executive director) also assisted.

The key to the event was knowledge of independent college counselors to solicit as panel members. This was accomplished by the contacts of one board member with that counselor community. After obtaining the commitment of one counselor, that counselor was asked to enlist 2-3 other counselors. Each counselor spent about an hour or so in prep time, plus the event itself.

The venue was an historic school/museum that allows other charitable institutions such as the Yale Club to use its facilities at no charge. The Yale Club uses the facility frequently. The event was completely a local event with no role or participation of the AYA or Yale University.

Metrics: About 45 people attended. Most were alumni and their high school children. (Although the announcement was made on the Club website and invitations were sent to Yale alumni, the event was open to the general public.) For comparison, it is estimated that the target audience was 100 to 200 alumni families who had children or grandchildren applying to college.

A total of 11,000 Yale alumni (with all manner of affiliation) live in the greater Washington, DC area. The Yale Club of Washington, DC has valid email addresses for about 7,000 of these.

Possible improvements: Generation of a wider and larger audience would have been nice. The event was held in downtown Washington DC as a central venue for Maryland and Virginia alums. But, this required travel from the suburbs to downtown during the early evening. An early time was necessary in order to allow students to attend on a school night and to give sufficient time for the event consistent with the closing times of the historical site.