Understanding Yield in College Admissions Decisions

Understanding Yield in College Admissions Decisions

The statistics for the incoming college class of 2022 are wild. Colleges all over the country reported record-low admissions rates, and many simultaneously reported record-high application numbers. However, with the increase in college applications over the past few years, college admissions counselors have another number on their minds: yield. This is the percentage of students that, when accepted to a school, actually decide to attend it.

Think of it this way… you're throwing a party, and you need 100 people to come to fill up the venue and eat all the food. Would you be more likely to invite 100 people who seem super excited and enthusiastic about your party, or people who don't seem to know (or care) much about it? You'd probably invite the first group – assuming they were as qualified as the second – because... why invite a bunch of people who probably have 10 other social events to choose from?

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That's the dilemma of an admissions counselors, especially now that they're getting so many college applications. If a school sends out acceptance letters to 100 students, but only 25 decide to actually attend… it’s a problem – especially considering they’ve already sent out rejection letters to other applicants. They’ve got a freshman class to fill up! Because so many high school seniors are applying to tons of schools, colleges have a harder time figuring out who is serious about attending, and who is casting a wide net.

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But how does this affect you? Just like every other year in history, college admissions counselors want to see great test scores, high grades, and rigorous course loads. However, they also want to see how badly you want to attend their university. After all, they want to know that, if they accept you, you’ll actually take them up on their offer. You’ve got an opportunity to show real, demonstrated interest with your college applications, so take advantage.

I’ll give you a little example. When I was a senior in high school, my college list looked a little bit like this: Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt. I had my heart set on one school, and one school only. While I don’t advise this (because it can set you up for heartbreak!), it was my reality. So, what did I do? I toured the campus, I met professors, and I even did a summer program there. I wore my Vandy gear for good luck during my SAT, ACT, and AP exams (and I mentioned that in my application). I told them what dorm I dreamed of living in and my insane love of Nashville. There was no doubt that if accepted, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

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This is a good thing! You might not be as gung-ho about a specific school as I was, but you get the idea. If you’re sending out 15+ college applications, you find a way to be as passionate in each and every one. College admissions people are far more likely to accept those who show that they really want it.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Visit the campus, read about them, scour their website, check out the statistucs of admitted students, watch YouTube videos from current students, follow their Instagram, search their hashtags, learn about their organizations, and so on. Commit to learning and understanding everything you can about each school, and then show it on your application!

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