Based on research by Shari Gnolek of Scannell & Kurz
NACAC’s latest State of College Admission Report noted the continuing trend of declining yield rates in college admissions. This trend goes on just as many colleges continue to see increases in application numbers. In 2013, we published a chart showing changes in application numbers relative to changes in yield, noting that institutions that increased applications were three times more likely to see a decline in yield than to see an increase in yield.
We recently updated these statistics from the Integrated Postsecondary Educations Data System (IPEDS) to show changes from 2012 to 2013. The latest data reflect a pattern similar to last year’s, showing that schools that experienced an increase in applications from 2012 to 2013 were 2.3 times more likely to see a decline in yield than an increase in yield.
In the chart below, the lower right quadrant displays schools with an increase in the applicant pool from 2012 to 2013 and a decrease in yield. It is of course possible that these schools may still have managed to enroll a larger freshman class than the year before. However, as we noted last year, a full cost/benefit analysis may show that, factoring in all of the expenses of a larger applicant pool, bigger may not necessarily be better. Wherever new applications are coming from, the key in planning for an increased pool is to understand how the yield from the new source of applicants will differ from what you’re used to seeing.
The latest IPEDS data are shown above, based on 872 public and private four-year institutions with 1,000 or more enrolled undergraduates and at least 1,000 applicants in 2013. (Note: separate analyses of public and private institutions show similar patterns, though the risk of decreased yield was slightly higher for publics.)