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Yale says 'yes' to family of quadruplets


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POSTED: Saturday, December 19, 2009

DANBURY, Conn. » Ray Crouch, a senior at Danbury High School, logged onto the computer in his family's living room just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday and entered the Web site of the Yale admissions office.

Suddenly the screen turned blue — Yale blue — and an image of a bulldog, the university mascot, appeared, followed by “;Welcome to the Class of 2014.”; Ray, 18, had been offered a spot in the next freshman class, under its early-admission program. Standing behind him, his mother, Caroline, screamed.

But that was only the beginning. Moments later, Ray's brother, Kenny, also 18, went to the Yale site and got an identical message. He was followed by their sister Carol. Same news. Then the room fell silent. Ray, Kenny and Carol are quadruplets, and their sister Martina had applied to Yale, too.

“;I was thinking, it's going to be really awkward when I don't get in,”; Martina recalled Friday.

But the computer turned blue for her as well, which prompted such an outpouring of joy from their mother that she wrestled their father, Steven, to the floor in a hug.

The Crouches' perfect batting average represents a first for Yale — the first time in anyone's memory that it has offered admission to quadruplets. It is also, of course, no small milestone for the siblings, who were born more than two months premature. (Ray was the last to be released from the neonatal unit, more than four months later.)

They made up for that rough start. Their class rankings range from 13 out of a class of 632 (Kenny) to 46 (Martina) — as well as sky-high SAT scores (including Carol's perfect 800 on the verbal portion of that exam.)

But whether any one of them, let alone all four, winds up at Yale remains an open question. Under Yale's early-admission program, accepted applicants can apply to other colleges and need not make up their minds until May 1.

For one thing, money is still an issue. With a father who works for the state of Connecticut as a case manager in the Department of Mental Health, and a stay-at-home mother who is studying for her master's degree in social work, the quadruplets say their decision will be heavily influenced by financial aid.

“;We have to be practical,”; Kenny said.

While the family has some savings, the four say they do not want their parents to have to pay much of anything for their education.

As a so-called need-blind institution, Yale commits in advance to meet any admitted applicant's financial need. But it is the university — and not the student — that defines what that need is. For the Crouches, such calculations will be made further down the road. They have yet to complete their financial aid paperwork.

What they have done, though, is submit applications to other colleges — more than 30 applications, collectively. In fact, Kenny received a phone call last week confirming a Harvard interview.

While all four have also applied to the University of Connecticut — only Martina has received a response, and it was positive — each has also submitted applications to colleges that the others have not. Kenny, a standout sprinter regarded by his siblings as “;the brain,”; has also applied to Princeton, Williams, Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania, among other institutions.

Martina, an obvious free spirit — she wears a smudge of bright red makeup under each eye, to promote eye contact — is intrigued by Wesleyan, as well as New York University. Ray, a long-distance runner, has applied to Duke and Brown. And Carol, the family's acknowledged social conscience who wears her brown hair in an oversize Afro, is interested in Boston College, as well as Wesleyan and NYU.

In an e-mail message Friday, Jeffrey Brenzel, the dean of admission at Yale, said, “;Their applications were terrific, and we simply hope that they will all decide to come!”;

Asked if Yale had any policy on admitting members of the same family as a package, Brenzel said, “;We don't feel an obligation to render the same decision on siblings in the same year.”;

But Brenzel said the enormous financial burden facing their parents — four children starting four years of college in the same year — would be a factor in assessing their financial need. He wrote: “;All financial aid offices, ours included, always take into account the number of other children in the family in determining an aid award.”;