What’s Happening with Admissions Yield in 2013?

higher ed admissions yield trends The power dynamic of the college search process has shifted into students’ hands.  Literally.  With accessibility tomobile devices, virtual tours, and social media over the past 10 years, students are able to gather more information about college than ever before.

Don’t get me wrong — access to information is a great thing, and students are able to make a more educated decision when considering where to enroll.  But there is a revolution happening, and enrollment managers must adapt.

Students are knowledgeable.  They have access to tools like the Common App, allowing them to easily and automatically apply to a greater number of schools.  As students become more savvy, predicting their every move becomes a greater challenge.

These were some of the major themes stated in the NACAC 2012 State of College Admissions Report. For those of you who may have missed it, below I’ll summarize the key findings as well as introduce our survey of admissions leaders on how they are planning to improve admissions yield for the class of 2017.

The Changing Tide of the Applicant Pool

Over the past 20 years, the number of students submitting three or more college applications increased from 61 percent to 79 percent, and the number of students submitting seven or more applications increased from 9 percent to 29 percent.

Applicants have options.  The more applications a single student submits, the less likely they are to enroll at your institution, making it very hard to pinpoint their intentions.  Most admissions teams look to historical data or a student’s behavior to determine their likelihood of enrolling, but this doesn’t give the whole picture.

Application numbers have significantly increased the institution’s workload.  Public institutions have seen an average increase of 1,900 applications, and private institutions have seen a 1,547 increase over the past ten years.  This comes with little increase in enrollment — on average, there were only an additional 100 students enrolled over the past decade.

As Applications Rise, Yield Continues to Go Down

An influx of applications paired with minimal enrollment growth causes a natural decrease in yield rates.  Average yield has decreased from 48.7 percent in 2002 to 38 percent in 2011.  Schools are being forced to accept more students to fill the same number of seats, and this is costing time and money.

What does this mean for admissions?  Increasing yield and improving student mix are priorities for most institutions, but the current trends pose roadblocks for admissions teams.  VPs and Directors are left to strategize on how to make the most of their team’s efforts, and schools turn to predictive data to allocate yield resources.

Many schools that I’ve talked with use predictive scoring based on historical/ behavioral trends to develop high-touch, personalized communication plans.  We were interested in the specific tactics that schools use to reach students, and surveyed 98 admissions directors and enrollment managers to learn more about how they maximize yield spend.

Key Takeaways from our Survey

While you can find the full 2013 Admissions Yield Trend Report here, below are some of the key takeaways we found in the report.

  • 85% of public and private universities said improving student yield for the class of 2017 was very or extremely important
  • 74% of admissions offices said sending personalized yield communications as a top priority for this year
  • 70% of admissions offices would like to allocate their resources and yield spend more efficiently

What strategies are you utilizing to maximize admissions efforts this yield season? Share with us in the comments below!