No doubt you’re already familiar with acceptance rate, which is the percentage of applicants that a college accepts. This can vary even at one college — by early decision versus regular decision applications, for example — but always reveals the percentage of total applicants accepted within each particular category.
You’ve probably heard much less about the yield rate. No, this isn’t another name for the same thing; it’s not what percentage of applications yield an acceptance letter. However, a college’s yield rate may still impact your chance of admissions.
A college’s yield rate is the percentage of people who accepted their offers of acceptance. In other words, the percentage of people who chose to enroll in that particular school after having been accepted there.
For example, if a college had 5,000 applicants and accepted 1,000, its acceptance rate would be 20%. If 500 of those 1,000 accepted students chose to enroll there, the school’s yield rate would be 50% — because half of the accepted students selected that college.
Why Does This Matter to You?
It’s in a college’s interest to keep its yield rate high, as this suggests that it’s a desirable school. Think of it this way: if you heard 95% of accepted students enrolled in a particular school, that would suggest that it’s a lot of people’s first choice, right? On the other hand, if only 10% of admitted students enrolled, you might think that that just about everyone would rather go somewhere else, and only choose that college as a last resort.
Because a college wants to keep its yield rate high, it’s more likely to offer admission to people who it thinks are likely to accept. If a school thinks you’re more likely to go somewhere else, it may be less inclined to accept you, in an attempt to keep its yield rate high.
Your best bet for avoiding being rejected for this reason is to demonstrate interest in the college. If you go out of your way to show a college that you’re really interested in attending, the admissions officers will understand that you’re likely to boost (rather than lower) that school’s yield rate. The “why this college?” essay is a particularly good way to explain that you know all about the school and have compelling reasons to want to go there.