Admissions Materials Go Bilingual

Baobao Zhang, Yale Daily News, February 19, 2010

The admissions office’s efforts to reach out to Spanish speakers might soon have some singing, “Por eso escogĂ­ Yale!”

In addition to providing subtitles for the hit admissions video, “That’s Why I Chose Yale,” in several languages including Spanish, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions’ new Web site, set to launch this summer, will include both English and Spanish versions of key pages and possibly downloadable documents of admissions materials in Spanish. These efforts are part of a national trend among colleges and universities to provide admissions information to prospective Latino students whose parents are not fluent in English.

Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel noted that prospective students must be proficient enough in English to understand admissions material without translation; these new efforts are instead aimed at parents, he said.

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Indeed, on top of the pressure of filling out applications, writing essays and attending interviews, some Latino students said they have the added task of explaining the college admissions process to their parents who are not fluent in English.

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Zepeda said having admissions material that Spanish-speaking parents could better understand will help future admitted students to navigate their college decisions more easily.

Nelson Mendoza ’13, who is from Houston, said an admitted student Web site featuring information in Spanish would help parents. Still, he said when he applied to college, other schools, such as MIT, did a better job of reaching out by providing information sessions at community centers rather than in far-off suburbs.

To address some of these concerns, Yale has student recruiters and admissions officers who can speak to parents in several languages, including Spanish. The admissions office also plans to launch a series of videos on its admitted students Web site in which first generation college students at Yale speak in their native languages.

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Yale also uses Spanish-speaking alumni to answer questions at host receptions in several cities, Brenzel said.

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