he first Chinese citizen to earn a bachelor’s degree from a Western college graduated from Yale in 1854. Yale’s first African American undergraduate earned his B.A. in 1874. Today about 32 percent of Yale’s undergraduates identify themselves as members of minority groups. Another nine percent are international students from outside the U.S., making the student body truly “multicultural.” If you are someone who believes that cultural difference is as basic to the liberal arts experience as it is to good citizenship in today’s world, then by all means read on.
Whether from the Midwest or the Middle East, from a small town or a big city — there is no single “type” of Yale student. Most went to public high schools. For some, attending college is a family tradition; other students are the first family members to continue their educations beyond high school. They hail from all fifty states and from seventy-four countries. All are interested in learning and eager to make use of Yale’s extraordinary educational resources, to be sure. But it is also safe to say they learn as much about themselves and the world from each other as from the distinguished faculty at Yale.
Yale’s educational resources really are extraordinary: the second largest university library in the United States, superb science facilities, internationally acclaimed professors (all of whom teach undergraduates), and over 70 programs of study. Several undergraduate concentrations are bound to be of special interest to students with multicultural concerns. Ethnicity, Race and Migration, an interdisciplinary major, examines the forces that have created our many cultured, multiethnic and multiracial world. African American Studies, one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country, explores the historical, cultural, political, economic, and social development of Black Atlantic societies. There are also majors in East Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, and courses in such fields as African, Asian American, Caribbean, and Native American studies.
Yale offers students a variety of academic enrichment programs designed to encourage women and members of historically underrepresented ethnic groups to pursue academic careers. The Edward A. Bouchet Fellowship Program and the Mellon Undergraduate Fellowship Program match students interested in pursuing doctoral degrees with faculty who act as the students’ mentors. (The Bouchet Program is named after the first African American graduate of Yale College and the nation’s first African American recipient of a Ph.D., Edward Bouchet.) Both programs enable students to work on paid research projects during the academic year and to pursue full-time research during the summers after sophomore and junior year. The Science, Technology and Research Scholars (STARS) Program promotes the academic achievement of freshman and sophomores interested in careers in the sciences and engineering.
All Yale undergraduates are affiliated with one of twelve residential colleges from the day they first arrive on campus. The residential colleges are not just “dorms,” but rather active and supportive communities, each of which reflects the diversity of the larger student population. Each college is home to approximately 400 undergraduate men and women who are members of that college throughout their four years at Yale. It is therefore possible to experience at Yale the friendly community life that only a very small liberal arts college could afford, while at the same time enjoying the reach and power and range of opportunities available at one of the country’s foremost research universities.
George Pierson, an old historian of the University, is known for describing Yale as “at once a tradition, a company of scholars, and a society of friends.” Today it is a distinctly multicultural “society of friends.” The Office of Undergraduate Admissions employs its own corps of current Yale students who are actively involved in outreach to students of many different backgrounds. They are eager to answer questions about the admissions process or about life at Yale College. You can reach them by mail during the school year at Student Recruitment Coordinators, Yale University, Office of Undergraduate Admission, PO Box 208234, New Haven, CT 06520-8234 or by phone at 203-432-9316. Their e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.