Average Admissions Yield Stabilizes

on October 12, 2016

A report by NACAC, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, finds that the average admissions yield has stabilized, after dropping for more than a decade. Yield is the percentage of students admitted by a college who enroll in the college. Admissions yield peaked at 48.7 percent in 2002 and dropped steadily until reaching 35.7 percent in fall 2013. Yield rose slightly in fall 2014, to 36.2 percent.

Admissions yield is difficult to predict. Yield is affected not just by the college’s acceptance rate, but also the number of colleges to which students apply. As the number of applications for admission and the number of acceptances increases, the yield decreases.

Colleges can also influence their yield by continuing their recruiting efforts after they notify students that they have been admitted. Colleges often hold special campus visit weekends for admitted students, along with receptions in the students’ home towns to congratulate them and answer their questions. Telephone calls from current students and faculty also help convince students to enroll.

Changes in the demographics of admitted students also have an impact. Certain populations are more likely to enroll if admitted, such as transfer students, international students, early decision students and wait-listed students. For example, 55 percent of admitted transfer students and 52 percent of admitted international students enroll, compared with only 29 percent of admitted first-year freshmen.

The average acceptance rate, known as a college’s selectivity, reached 65.8 percent in fall 2014, compared with 64.7 percment in fall 2013 and 63.9 percent in fall 2012. On average, colleges accept almost two-thirds of the students who apply for admission.

NACAC’s State of College Admissions report also found that academic performance in high school remains the top criterion in college admissions for first-time freshmen, followed by admissions test scores, essays, demonstrated interest, counselor and teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities and class rank. Academic performance combines the student’s high school grade point average (GPA) in college prep classes with curriculum quality and the student’s overall high school GPA. For international students, the top criteria are scores on English language proficiency tests like the TOEFL and IELTS and the quality of the essays, followed by the same criteria as for domestic applicants. For transfer students, college grades were the most important criterion, especially in transferrable classes. The top criteria have remained unchanged for decades.

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