12 January 2018: New Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid: Getting the right fit for Yale-NUS

By Melissa Wang

After admitting four classes since she joined the College in October 2013, Ms Laura Severin will welcome the Class of 2022 this August, in her new role as the Yale-NUS College Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid.

Formerly the Director of the department, Ms Severin possesses a deep understanding of the needs and challenges facing the Admissions and Financial Aid team. It is this understanding and strong foundation that comes from knowing the role, Yale-NUS College and her staff well that will enable her to excel as Dean as she takes on the new role.

“As I move into the Dean role, I am looking forward to working with faculty, current students and staff to develop a stronger sense of how Admissions & Financial Aid can support the College,” Ms Severin shared.

Going forward, Ms Severin has charted out a clear direction for her team and herself, to ensure that the overall admissions and financial aid strategy and goals align with the development of the College. This is particularly timely as the College enrolled 250 students in 2017, moving it closer to steady-state where the total expected student population will be 1,000 students.

“As the front door of the College, Admissions & Financial Aid must be nimble in our approach in order to keep up with the growth of the College,” she noted.

At the core of the Admissions & Financial Aid strategy, she aims to continue enrolling top students who will bring with them a diversity of experiences and perspectives, a high level of intellectual curiosity, global awareness and desire to give back to their communities after benefitting from the unique offerings of Yale-NUS College as Asia’s leading and Singapore’s first liberal arts college.

“In order to do this, we will continue to focus on global exposure for the College, as well as increasing the public’s understanding of what defines a liberal arts education. We have made strong headway in these endeavours and will continue to emphasise understanding and appreciation for the unique offerings of Yale-NUS,” Ms Severin explained.

She also highlighted the importance of financial aid to achieve this.

“In order to reach our goals for diverse perspectives, it is essential that our student body is culturally and socio-economically diverse. My goal is to broaden students and parents’ understanding of our robust financial aid offerings, to support those students who need financial assistance in order to attend the College,” Ms Severin said.

Ms Severin also shared some of the challenges her team faces, as a result of enrolling one of the most geographically and nationally diverse undergraduate student bodies in the world.

“The challenges range from recruiting students, educating teachers about Yale-NUS, ensuring our team is accurately trained on global educational systems, assessing financial aid applications from countless countries, among others. We are also educating the Singaporean community about liberal arts and science education, the space for our graduates in a modern workforce, and the impact of a residential campus. As a young college, students and parents look to us with enthusiasm but also caution.”

With over 17 years of experience in the education sector under her belt, Ms Severin is well-positioned to capitalise on those experiences to show prospective students that Yale-NUS rivals other established and long-standing institutions in terms of opportunity.

As the inaugural cohort of students has just graduated in 2017, Ms Severin is looking forward to working with faculty and other administrators to assess the success of our first few classes. Besides graduate employment outcomes, they are intending to look into areas like academic success, involvement in the Yale-NUS community, understanding of Asia and personal growth in students.

She explained the importance of this for future admissions cycles and the commitment to a holistic admissions process, “As we assess these mile markers, the Admissions & Financial Aid team will have a more nuanced understanding of applicants who present the greatest fit for Yale-NUS. While we will continue to seek students who demonstrate academic strength, we must continuously assess which students will help develop Yale-NUS into a more mature institution.”

Ms Severin pursued a role in international recruitment after her own experience studying in London and discovering the personal impact of international education and exposure. Since starting out in her career, Ms Severin has travelled to over 70 countries to recruit students.

In addition to her role as Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid at Yale-NUS College, Ms Severin serves on the International Association for College Admission Counseling’s Inclusion, Access and Success Committee. She also served as member and chair of the Council of International School’s (CIS) Committee on Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In this role, she has led group recruitment trips in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey. She currently serves on the CIS Forum Planning Committee.