Yield rate up, reversing decline

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Photo by Andrew Giambrone.

After Yale admitted the lowest percentage of applicants in its history this year, the yield rate for the class of 2016 jumped by more than three percentage points — reversing a five-year decline in the rate.

The University posted a 68.4 percent yield rate with 1,356 students accepting the University’s offer to matriculate this fall and 61 postponing their entry until next year, of 2,043 total admits. While those tallies pushed up the yield, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel cautioned against attributing too much significance to small yearly fluctuations in the rate.

“This year’s results were close to last year’s in most areas,” Brenzel said Tuesday. “We expected our yield to rise this year after Harvard and Princeton restored their early admissions programs, meaning that more students with those schools as clear first choices were accepted early and did not go on to apply to other colleges, including Yale.”

Brenzel said this year’s freshman class includes the largest proportion of students who indicated an interest in science, math and engineering that Yale has ever seen. The University has made a conscious effort to up its STEM recruiting in recent years, notably introducing the Yale Engineering and Science Weekend (YES-W) for prospective students in spring 2011.

The class of 2016 includes a slightly greater percentage of students of color and students from public schools than in past years, Brenzel said, and a roughly comparable percentage of international students. Fifty percent of incoming students are receiving financial aid, compared to 53 percent of last year’s freshman class, though the average grant increased by $3,000.

Yale was not the only school to see an increase in yield rate this year. Among its peers, both Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported record yield rates — 81 percent and 70 percent, respectively — for the class of 2016. Meanwhile, Princeton’s rate jumped more than 10 points to 66.7 percent.

Four admissions experts and college guidance counselors interviewed said they were not surprised by Yale’s higher yield rate. Still, they said the early action policies now in place at most of the country’s top schools make it difficult to project future trends.

“I have no idea about the future, but I think it is unlikely that the yields will go up consistently, unless [these schools] take more early action kids,” Jon Reider, a college guidance counselor at San Francisco University High School. “But I don’t think they want to do that for all kinds of reasons, mostly having to do with the perception of fairness. The yield is as high as it needs to be to demonstrate that Yale is among the most highly regarded schools in the country and world.”

Sarah Beyreis ’85 GRD ’94, director of college guidance counseling at the private Cincinnati Country Day School, attributed the increase in Yale’s yield rate to the University’s all-time low acceptance rate and need-blind financial aid policy. She said Yale has the resources to make it possible for most accepted students to attend, whatever their background.

“As long as Yale is one of the most highly valued and, for a family with financial need, often the least expensive option, it’s going to have high yields,” Beyreis said.

The yield rate takes into account all students beginning their freshmen year, but not those who postpone their arrivals.

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