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Understanding Yield Management Systems In College Admissions

Updated: Aug 25

With better colleges seeing ever more applications while having a limited number of 'seats' yield has become an increasingly important factor for schools looking to figure out which of their applicants are more likely to attend.

Many believe yield rates give a purer sense of an institutions stature and because of this many elite schools quietly compete on yield . Yield however is more fundamentally important than rankings and status as fluctuating class sizes impact tuition revenues which play a role in financing the day to day operations of most schools.Yield rates can also impact decisions around staffing and housing which can have a longer term impact on a school. For some colleges, yield data can impact their bond ratings.

To get a feel for the differences in yield amongst elite colleges it is useful to look at the yield rates of three schools with 12% type acceptance rates for their 2026 class, Colgate, USC and Notre Dame. While all three schools are clearly popular, their yield rates vary widely with a yield rate of 32% at Colgate, 41% at USC and 60% at Notre Dame. While there are sensible reasons for the differences in yield at the three schools , the different yield levels and year to year yield volatility has resulted in a desire for an increasing amount of yield protection . Colleges find yield protection through the use of ever more complex predictive models which attempt to determine which of their applicants are most likely to attend. While very few will talk about it, it is logical to assume that the quality applicants most likely to accept a schools offer may be more likely to get one.

The use of predictive models is another challenge applicants now face in the college admissions process. Applying early decision is one way students can look good in predictive models but at a time when early decision rates are increasingly low we would suggest additional ways of influencing predictive models to improve admissions odds.

While there are clear differences in the models used by different schools a student can generally help themself by spending time on college websites ,visiting university social media accounts , opening college emails and interacting with regional admissions representatives. In an ultra competitive environment getting credit in the admissions process for 'showing up' and interacting shouldn't be overlooked as a way that students can get an edge. Knowing the different enrollment management software vendors, where to spend time on certain colleges websites and how the candidate should position themself with specific regional representatives can also be factors. Different software has different features that allow schools to capture more or less information. Some schools will save all emails an applicant sends to their admissions file while others will not. Developing an understanding of the material that can be in applicant files is important when considering how one should communicate with a school. We have a detailed understanding of the vendors many schools work with, what many schools specifically value, how to interact with them and what they look for in their models. For those who want help in this process we are available.

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