What are we looking for in an Yleana applicant?

We field many questions about what we’re looking for in an Yleana applicant. You can find an example of the application/recommendation here (link forthcoming).

  • We prefer looking at applicants as holistically as possible; therefore, we do not have hard cutoffs for income, GPA, or SAT scores.
    • Instead, we rely on student and partner org answers to our specific application/recommendation questions to get a well-rounded picture of the applicant.
  • Please note that we are not a creaming organization; we believe that students all over the ability/achievement spectrum need and deserve SAT prep to get to the college which is right for them.
  • We accept students regardless of immigration status. We are committed to access for everyone.

While we believe that our comprehensive approach enables us to get a more complete picture of a student’s living situation, school life, and future goals, we understand that it can be difficult as a partner organization to know whom to encourage to apply. To aid you in this process, we put together this profile of our “ideal” applicant.  These are the specific qualities we’ve found in our most successful Yleana students and those we look for when reading student applications. It is important to note that we cannot guarantee that a student will be accepted to Yleana even if they meet all of the criteria below.

Minimum required applicant criteria:

  • Be a current high school junior at time of application
  • Be low-SES (we ask a range of questions to verify this information)
  • Be a member of one of our registered partner organizations
    • If you know of an organization that you think should partner with us, please let us know!
  • Have a desire to go to college and a need to take the SAT to get there

Qualities we look for in a successful applicant:

  • Hard-working and willing to put in the effort needed to succeed at a three-week-long rigorous SAT camp
  • Willing to try new things generally, flexible, hard-working, open-minded, and willing to try new SAT strategies specifically
  • Students on a cusp, for whom an SAT score increase would have a provable positive impact – eg. unlock more selective universities, open doors to bigger scholarships, make it possible to go to college for free
  • Students who do not need severe remediation or English support
    • We have found that students who have severe learning challenges or are newly learning English do not benefit from Yleana as much as we (and they!) would like. Our strategies are predicated on a basic foundation/fundament of reading and math
    • Please see our policies page for more information
  • Ready to be away from home for three weeks
  • Dependable communication skills – responsible and responsive
    • Much of our communication with students before and after camp is through email/phone since we are not with the students in person. As a result, we look for students with a proven track record of responsiveness who frequently check email/texts and respond to them in a timely manner
  • Proven track record of good attendance and commitment to academic endeavors

Applicants do NOT need to:

  • Have taken the SAT before attending camp
    • Since the College Board gives ONLY two fee waivers, we encourage partner orgs to have their students save these for August and October of their senior year (after they’ve attended Yleana)
      • Since the 2016 redesign, many cities and schools are doing bulk registration for the SAT, in which individual students’ fee waivers are not used. In this case, students are lucky – but should still be judicious about how they plan to take the tests. Taking more tests AFTER Yleana is better.
    • Many partner orgs feel their students need a baseline SAT score to start thinking about college. Students take a diagnostic when they come to Yleana; we are happy to share this data. Also, we offer the option of proctoring a College Board SAT exam in your city that students can attend, which we will score and whose results we will share with you and your students.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or registered green card holder
    • We are committed to accepting and supporting students regardless of their immigration status

How partner orgs can help us

The following guidelines will help us best help your students, so that students, parents, and partner orgs know what to expect from camp, and we can best prepare for the cohort.

  • Be thoughtful about whom you recommend for Yleana
    • A three-week sleepaway SAT camp is not for everyone. Please consider the above qualities carefully in encouraging your students to apply
  • Be honest in the application and recommendation process
    • Please don’t overestimate a student’s capabilities; students who are not ready/willing to attend Yleana with an open mind will not achieve the benefit that you want for them, and also bring down the atmosphere/culture of the program as a whole
  • Minimize editing students’ personal statements/short answer questions
    • We read applications carefully to assess basic foundational and English readiness skills
    • Applicants will not be penalized for grammatical/spelling errors – we truly want to get a sense of how they actually write
  • Talk to us!
    • We know that each student’s situation is unique
    • If you have any questions about what we’re looking for, or if a particular student fits our criteria, please don’t hesitate to let us know
    • Open communication helps us and ultimately helps your students – we welcome any information and/or feedback you have

Frequently asked questions: application requirements

Why do you ask for GPA and transcript if you’re not creaming the applicant pool?

  • It helps us to get a better picture of who we’re helping the most and helps us measure college outcomes better. It’s more for our statistical computations than anything else (we want to make sure we are helping our students at every part of the GPA spectrum), and for our statistics after camp – to see whom we helped the most and make sure that we’re consistently improving our targeting so that we’re selecting the right students for Yleana
  • It helps us provide college access support in the fall, which can be anything from providing a mentor through our mentoring program to sending out texts when we hear about a great scholarship

Why do you ask for family income if you don’t have hard cutoffs?

  • It’s one of a cocktail of factors that we use to decide if the student has certain “low-SES” indicators
  • We understand that SES is something that’s expressed differently in different cities and families. We try to ask enough questions that we can paint a picture of each family’s situation, rather than to just look at a single number and use it as a cutoff