What are College Yield Rates? | College Made Simple

Applicants would do well to pay attention to more than just acceptance rates.

When college-bound seniors are pondering their fate, they usually are concerned with average GPAs and SAT scores at colleges…worrying about acceptance rates (which are under 10% at some top schools)… and the makeup of incoming classes – and where an applicant might fit.

That’s all fine and good – but there’s another important statistic that most seniors have never even heard of. But it’s one they’d be wise to pay close attention to.

It’s the College Yield Rate.

College yield rates are, simply put, the number of accepted applicants that ultimately decide to attend a college.

It’s something that’s rarely looked at by students – because its very much insider baseball – but the college yield rate can tell you a lot about your chances… and the quality of a school.

Let’s take a quick look at what you can learn by looking at yield rates.

Desirability. At its barest, a higher yield rate means a more desirable school.

It doesn’t, however, necessarily reflect the quality of a school.

For instance – Harvard consistently leads the way in yield rates, sometimes flirting with 80% yields. Why is obvious – it is one of the best schools in the world, and also has sliding tuition scales.

Indeed, most Ivies are above 50% yields; some are well above.

However, a second-tier school might have very relatively low yields. Why? Because it’s the safety school for a number of students. While still a top-notch college, its competing in an elite pool of applicants.

A third or fourth tier state school could easily have a higher yield rate – because it’s the top choice for every non-elite applicant in its state.

Likewise, schools that offer affordable tuition or generous aid packages can see a higher yield rates than equivalent or better schools.


The higher a yield rate, the fewer applicants a school needs to accept. This is pretty self-explanatory – the more desirable a school, the worse your chances – and vice versa. When deciding how many schools to apply to, it’s extremely helpful to look at yield rates as well as acceptance rates.

Deltas and Wait Lists.

If you’re trying to decide whether to declare for a school that has accepted you, or delay your decision and see if you get in to one of your wait-list schools, you want to know about the yield rate.

More specifically, you want to know the change in the yield rate, compared with past years. If a school has a higher yield rate compared to previous classes, your odds are getting in off the wait list aren’t good. If, however, the yield rate has dropped, your odds are significantly higher. It’s worth giving the school a chance to contact you.

While yield rates aren’t a defining statistic when applying to colleges, knowing what they are – and what they are doing – can only help you better understand what’s going on. It won’t make a difference for the majority of applicants – but, in individual cases, it just might.

To your successful college pursuits,

Scott Weingold
Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com

Related Articles:

College Admission Strategies

College Admission Strategies, Part 2

College Admission Trends for 2011

How College Admissions Has Changed

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.