yield 2

It’s easy to get lost among all the different kinds of data surrounding university admissions.  But here’s one number universities pay quite a bit of attention to — and so perhaps you should, too:  admissions yield. A school’s yield percentage is the number of accepted students who end up actually enrolling; think of it as a kind of proxy for a university’s popularity. First-choice schools have high yields; fall-backs do less well. While top universities often have high yield numbers (this year, 82 percent of those accepted by Harvard ended up enrolling), the highest-yielding schools aren’t always the highest-ranked. Case in point:  Utah’s Brigham Young University often beats out Harvard in the yield game.

It’s been interesting watching Johns Hopkins’ yield percentage go up in recent years as the university puts increasing emphasis on its undergraduate population. For many years, Hopkins was stereotyped as a second-choice school for bright students whose Ivy League dreams didn’t quite work out, and its yield (hovering in the 20-30 percent range) reflected that. But recent years have seen the university’s yield percentage creep toward a respectable 40 percent, meaning that students are getting more excited about a Johns Hopkins education.


But change has been slow in coming; another smart school with a traditionally low-ish yield, the University of Chicago, has put similar effort toward wooing undergraduates. Two years ago, its undergrad yield was 39.88 percent –not that different from Hopkins’ figure of 36.76 percent. But this year, more than half of those accepted by U of C picked that school to enroll in — while Johns Hopkins snagged 38.67 percent. There’s plenty more fun data where that came from (over at the New York Times college admissions blog, The Choice) — like how Hopkins only admitted around 25 students from its waitlist of 2000+ names. Go poke around the data and let us know if you see anything interesting!