Though the U.S. News & World Report ranks Yale the No. 3 university in the nation, Yale’s 2011 admission yield placed ninth overall — below Harvard and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

The Jan. 28 report ranks national universities by percent yield, the percentage of accepted students who choose to enroll at a given college. According to the report, Yale had a yield rate of 64.1 percent during the 2011 admissions cycle, while Brigham Young University, which came in at No. 1, had a yield rate of 79.7 percent. Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said in an email to the News that yield rates can vary from year to year, and the University’s yield rates jumped by nearly 5 percentage points in the past year.

“Yield rates bounce around from year to year,” Brenzel said. “Our yield this past year of 68.4 percent would have put us fifth on this [report].”

He said only two of the four schools with 2011 percent yields higher than 68.4 percent — Harvard and Stanford — are peer institutions, or schools to which Yale compares itself. As the University has offered admission to more applicants interested in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, Brenzel said, the school’s yield rate has declined by “a percentage point or two.” He added that the Admissions Office does not favor students who seem more likely to enroll and never turns down deserving applicants in order to optimize yield.

Admission yield rates say more about students’ personal tastes than a university’s quality, said Julia Husen, a counseling coordinator at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. Students are often admitted to two top-tier schools but must end up choosing one, which accounts for lower yield rates.

Jerome Lucido, director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice, said Yale risks having a lower yield because the Admissions Office recruits students from a broad range of disciplines so applicants may end up choosing more specialized universities. In addition, the University targets students from countries around the world who may apply to a greater number of international institutions, he added.

Lloyd Thacker, director of The Education Conservancy, an organization that combats commercial interference in college admissions, said he thinks ranking universities numerically is “silly” because the aim of publications such as U.S. News & World Report is not to identify the best school but to make money.

“Rankings say more about the need for a news magazine to generate revenue than anything else,” Thacker said.

Tiffany Truong, a high school senior from New York who applied to Yale, said she thinks students may decline to matriculate to Yale because they hope to pursue a certain subject that has a stronger department at another school. She added that some students “don’t think Yale is as science-focused,” so students particularly interested in the sciences may choose to attend another university with a reputation for better science departments, such as MIT.

Another high school student from New York, Daniela Czemerinski, said the yield rate rankings do not affect her perception of Yale.

“They’re just about students who apply to every Ivy and choose Harvard just because it’s Harvard,” she said.

The most recent overall college rankings by U.S. News came out on Sept. 12, 2012.