What Is Yield Protection and What Does it Have to Do With College Admissions?
It’s not just your child who has to worry about a college’s acceptance rate. While it may provide little comfort during the application process, colleges are also worried about the rate at which accepted students decide to attend, also called the yield rate.
Understanding yield protection, or “Tufts Syndrome,” can help prepare your student for the best possible admissions outcome.
Why Is it Called “Tufts Syndrome?”
This phenomenon of schools rejecting highly qualified applicants is often called Tufts Syndrome because of how often this particular university is thought to have to protect itself against accepted students declining to enroll.
Tufts is a highly regarded university in the Boston area, but it is not the most renowned in the area. Instead, that honor goes to Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Still, plenty of students want to study in Boston, so they apply to Tufts as well as Harvard or MIT. When they get into Harvard or MIT they reject Tufts.
Because of this, Tufts gets thousands of applications, but some of those students will not attend, even if they’re accepted.
What Does Yield Mean in College Admissions?
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to yield protection and your child’s college admissions strategy.
First, this should reinforce why it is to your child’s advantage to apply to a number of colleges. Make sure that they have selected a good mix of safety schools, match schools, and reach schools.
Second, yield protection is one of the reasons that your child should not automatically apply to every university that offers them an application waiver.
In some instances, the school may be simply trying to artificially decrease its acceptance rate, making the yield rate higher.
Understanding acceptance rates does provide an opportunity for your child to stand apart, especially if they are considering a university that has a reputation for yield protection.
Admissions officers read thousands of applications, so anything that your child can do to stand out will be noted. Through it all, if a school is your child’s first choice, encourage your child to let the college know that.
If everything else is a good fit, knowing that your child will enroll if accepted could encourage the school to accept your child and offer more aid.
Which Schools Do Yield Protection?
You might think that it’s only second-tier universities that practice yield protection, but in reality, many do.
Bear in mind that Tufts is still a great school, and it’s not alone.
Here are some colleges that have been especially noted for the practice; notice that a number of top-50 schools are represented:
- Boston College
- Boston University
- George Washington University
- Johns Hopkins University
- New York University
- Rice University
- Tulane University
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of Chicago
- University of Michigan
- University of Southern California
As you can see, yield protection is especially the case among top universities that aren’t in the Ivy League.
Competition in the rankings is so fierce that even a few percentage points can make the difference between a spot in the top 20.
Why Do Colleges Care About Yield?
There are two different reasons that colleges practice yield protection. First, if they are likely to have a vast majority of admitted students attend, they can better predict tuition revenues.
This makes college administration much easier.
Second, yield rates matter when it comes to rankings. Colleges that have higher yield rates are regarded as more prestigious in rankings like US News and World Report, and colleges know that advancing in those rankings helps guarantee benefits including more on-campus recruiters to more applications in the future.
What Is a Good Yield Rate?
The short answer is that universities will always want a higher yield rate. Harvard’s yield rate is typically above 80 percent, which means that most students who are offered admission end up accepting.
From there, the number drops off quickly. Tufts, for example, has a yield rate of about 48 percent (while being ranked 30th by US News and World Report).
Regardless of your child’s chosen university’s yield rate, a proactive strategy can easily set admissions officers at ease.
By encouraging your child to be vocal about the reasons that they want to attend a given university, admissions offices can be confident of an enrollment, and thereby assess your child’s application without worrying about yield protection.
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