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Yes, your yield rate is still falling



In 2015, I wrote this post on falling yield rates.  It was pretty obvious to many of us in the profession that this trend was widespread, and largely driven by a dramatic increase in applications against a more modest increase in actual students who could or would enroll.

It apparently wasn't so obvious to everyone.  Response was much stronger than I thought it would be, and I never had seen so many requests from people who wanted to share it with their trustees (btw, this is public; you never have to ask permission to share).

So I redid it, using trend data from 2005 to 2018.  First a couple of definitions:


  • Admit rate is the percentage of applicants who were offered admission (admits/applicants).
  • Yield rate is the percentage of admitted students who enroll (enrollers/admits).
  • Draw rate is not commonly known, and I wish I remember who first mentioned it to me in the 1980's.  It stuck with me and is a valuable metric, I think, as we attempt to measure market position.  It's Yield Rate/Admit Rate, and it sorts out the super-selective places even within the category.  For example, The Average Draw Rate is about .46; Stanford's is 18, and Dartmouth's is about 7.  It's intended to punish institutions who artificially inflate application numbers to appear to be more selective, as yield usually drops when you do that.  Of course, now many colleges manipulate this (even if they don't know it) by using ED, ED2, EA, etc. to drive yield higher.
  • The universe is about 2,000 four-year public and private, not-for-profit institutions that report admissions data to IPEDS.  Open admissions institutions are not required to do so.
There are just two views on this.  The first shows two charts.  On the top, you see the total applications, admits, and enrolling students over time.  Use the control at top right (purple box) to change the value on the blue line to show admit, yield, or draw, as you like.  The bottom chart shows the percentage increase since 2005 of those same numbers.

If you don't want to look at the whole universe, use the filters (orange boxes).  You can choose any subset of institutions you wish: Public institutions in the Southeast, for instance; or Doctoral institutions; or even a single institution if that's what you want.

The second tab (across the top) is for Enrollment people or anyone who wants to compare one institution to another.  Choose your focus institution on the top chart (Boston University is the starting value, but you can choose any institution); then create a comparison group on the bottom chart.  For instance, Michigan State might want to compare itself to Land Grant Universities in the Great Lakes Region.  Three clicks is all it takes.  Highlight the year to, well, highlight a specific year.

Let me know what you think, and, of course feel free to share with others at your institution.  This may answer a lot of "what" questions, and maybe a few "why" questions, but the answers don't always provide insight.

That's what they pay you for.







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