NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

College Report to Drop "Yield Rate"

July 10, 2003

U.S. News & World Report is changing the way it ranks the nation's top colleges and universities, dropping from its ratings a statistic that many institutions had sought to manipulate in hopes of raising their ranking in the survey.

The survey will no longer use the yield rate. That figure is the percentage of applicants accepted by a university who later enroll at that institution.

  • U.S. News had placed little weight on the yield rate; the figure represented less than 2 percent of a college's overall score, the magazine said.
  • But the institutions, eager to do anything that might raise their scores, had considered the rate, and its potential impact on rankings, important enough to admit more students under "binding early decision" programs than they have in the past.
  • Students who are accepted under such programs commit in advance to enroll at a college, so the practice automatically improves an institution's yield rate.
  • Recently, some Ivy League and other highly selective colleges have admitted more than 40 percent of their freshman classes through such programs, before most applicants have even applied.

Some guidance counselors and others have criticized such programs for pressuring students to decide on a college before they may have done enough research to know if that institution is right for them.

Source: Jacques Steinberg, "College Rating by U.S. News Will Now Skip a Key Factor," New York Times, July 10, 2003.

For U.S. News & World Report college rankings


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