story | Jasmine Su, Kanako Sugawara

photo | Rachel Juay

As admissions season approaches, many applicants around the globe look to statistics to estimate their chances of getting admitted into universities. However, this year, Yale-NUS College’s Admissions & Financial Aid office has not released admission statistics for the class of 2020.

Beginning from the class of 2019, Yale-NUS admissions office has stopped releasing admitted students’ Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores at 25th and 75th percentiles, a yardstick used by many applicants to gauge the academic level of US universities. In the past few years, the admissions office released acceptance rates that ranged from 3 to 5 percent. This year, however, the admissions office stopped releasing the admissions rate and the number of applicants.

President Pericles Lewis, the founding president at Yale-NUS College, explained the admissions office’s reluctance to publish admissions statistics. He said that admissions rate has remained constant at about 5 percent in recent years but, because it is difficult to calculate, the admissions office does not always release it. President Lewis said, “because it depends on how you count the national servicemen. We have a large number of [national servicemen] apply in one year to be admitted two years later, and some of them don’t end up coming…how do you count [them]?”

Still, the admissions office appears to have the admissions statistics but choose not to release it publicly. A student associate currently working in the admissions office told The Octant that admissions statistics for the Class of 2020 was shared when the Raffles’ Parents Association visited Yale-NUS College a few weeks ago.

The admissions office also said that student diversity in the College explained the lack of admissions statistics online. In an interview with The Octant, Laura Severin, Deputy Director for the admissions office, said that “since SATs or ACTs (American College Testing) are not required of all applicants to Yale-NUS, presenting average scores would not be indicative of our entire student body.”

Nonetheless, some students remained skeptical about the admissions office’s lack of transparency. Ahmed Elsayed ’20 said that New York University Abu Dhabi, for example, has an equally diverse student body but still releases a detailed admissions rate, yield rate (measurement for the number of admits who matriculate), and examination data for SAT, ACT, and International Baccalaureate (IB).

Other students expressed that the admissions office must have an overwhelming reason to not release the admissions rate. Jeremy Yew ’20 said that it is critical for the College to provide admissions statistics especially at its experimental and beginning stage. This is because “from the outside, it is obvious to students researching for Yale-NUS College that statistics for the class of 2020 is missing. The lack of information might affect their application choices and draw suspicion.”

Some students, however, speculated that the admissions statistics was withheld to avoid dissuading prospective applicants. Ng Ning ’20 said that the admissions office might have grown reluctant to provide statistics because the College’s low admissions rate discouraged students from applying.

The acceptance rate, nonetheless, has likely gone up rather than down. According to data released on the Yale-NUS College website, the number of applicants has decreased from 11,400 students in 2013 to 8,500 in 2015. The number of admitted students has also certainly increased as the College expands its student body. Both of these projections suggest that acceptance rate for the class of 2020 likely exceeded 5% unless, as President Lewis suggested, the number of applicants increased in 2016.

Without official admissions statistics, it is difficult for prospective applicants to decide whether to apply. Typically, UK universities state explicitly, on their website, the minimum standardized test score required of applicants. NUS does the same. US universities, on the other hand, provide average standardized test scores of admitted students to narrow down applicants.

Yale-NUS College adopts neither policy. It provides no statistical data for prospective student to gauge its academic caliber. Indeed, Willis Wang, a prospective applicant currently studying in Hsinchu, Taiwan, said that acceptance rate heavily influences his decision when applying to universities. He said that due to the lack of information officially released by Yale-NUS College, his only source of information about the College’s competitiveness is Quora, an online forum that “may entail biased opinions”.

Notably, before the admissions office stopped releasing admissions statistics, the College’s low admissions rate had already attracted attention online. Last year, an article from Yale Daily News said that the option to share Yale University applications with Yale-NUS College inflates Yale-NUS’s application pool.

President Lewis also commented on the College’s application pool. He said that more applicants now apply directly to Yale-NUS rather than through the Yale application portal’s sharing option. President Lewis said, “we changed some of the language on the Yale Application, and then [the number of students applying to Yale-NUS through Yale Application] went down a little bit.”

With the College’s application pool in question, the admissions office’s decision further obscures the meaning behind the low acceptance rate. Conflicting accounts and conjectures about the number of applicants make it unclear whether the low acceptance rate accurately reflects the College’s competitiveness.