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Yield Management and Admissions

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

The increasing use and sophistication of technology in admissions as well as generally pressured yield rates and concerns about them make yield an increasing focus at many top colleges and universities. A focus on better yield rates leads some colleges to focus on what is known as yield protection. Yield protection is a practice of admitting slightly less qualified applicants because a college believes they are more likely to attend while rejecting or waitlisting candidates a school thinks are more likely to choose another institution.

In brief, while many individuals tend to look at colleges on the basis of acceptance rates, colleges tend to view yield as a measure of desirability and compete on it. Ultimately, no college wants to be seen as a ’safety school’ as they believe it will negatively impact the quality of their applicant pool which can in turn lead to weaker school financials.

Yield protection, which is often called the ‘Tuft’s syndrome’, is something no college publicly admits to and most say is not a reality. That said, a number of colleges are likely to have practiced it, most notably Franklin and Marshall whose Head of Admissions was quoted in a 2001 Wall Street Journal article discussing it. In addition to articles on the subject, conversations we have had with a number of regional representatives reinforce our belief that yield protection is currently a factor in the admissions practices of many schools (although not as many that are accused of it). In brief, colleges that encourage significant communication or have websites that track visitors strike us as being the most logical candidates.

While neither we nor anyone else knows all the schools that practice yield protection ,a number of schools are mentioned more frequently in the many articles that talk about it. If one believes the old axiom ‘where there is smoke there is fire’ the more likely practitioners would be American University, Boston University, Case Western Reserve, Clemson University, George Washington University, Lehigh University, University of Michigan (OOS), Northeastern University, Tufts University, Tulane University and Washington of St. Louis. While we only mention these names ,others provide far larger lists of schools although they lack detail and evidence explaining why the schools are highlighted.

Regardless of which universities may or may not practice yield protection in the current environment we believe it makes sense to assume all schools do. The reason why this makes sense is because most schools are contending with yield pressure and technology makes it easy for them to practice yield protection . If one assumes a school is practicing yield protection, more frequent and intelligent communication with regional representatives would matter more as would logging time on websites as well as attending virtual events. With applicant interactions of all types collected on most regional representative and school enrollment management dashboards we believe they have the potential to matter, especially if you have a feel for how a school examines applicants. We believe applicants should spend time on school websites to get a feel for school attitudes on interacting with applicants as well as how they evaluate candidates. For those who need help with this and thinking about the issue as well as the broader universe of schools that may practice yield protection, we are available.


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