Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Yield" in college admissions

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a thoughtful article: What Yield Says About a College:

"As usual, some colleges had to do much more than others to fill their classes, a fact that complicates interpretations of yield.
For instance, two colleges may have ended up with identical yield rates. College A did not admit a single applicant early, but College B enrolled a third of its class through early decision, which guarantees a yield of virtually 100 percent for students in that pool.
“Any meaning that yield ever had is now gone, because the number can be manipulated,” says Daniel M. Lundquist, vice president for marketing and enrollment management at the Sage Colleges, in New York. “It’s a circus, and colleges all do admissions differently.”
How many applicants did a college have? How many did it admit? Did it use a waiting list? How big was its tuition-discount rate? And did its football team win the conference title last year?
The answers to such questions are necessary to put yield in context. Some universities, such as large flagships in the Midwest, have high yields because they face relatively little competition for students.
Other colleges see their yield rates drop as their appeal rises and they become more competitive with higher-ranked institutions. Take Dickinson College, whose yield was 26 percent this year, much lower than some of its highly selective competitors. “We could have a higher yield if we competed against lower-tier institutions,” says Robert J. Massa, vice president for enrollment and college relations. “I would rather have a lower yield and compete against top-tier institutions.”

"In some circles, yield is entangled with measures of prestige. U.S. News & World Report once factored yield rates into its rankings of colleges, but it stopped doing so in 2004 amid the debate over the growth of early decision. The magazine now publishes a list of the “most popular colleges,” based solely on yield rates. In the most recent list, Harvard was first, followed by Brigham Young University and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln."

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