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Not All Applications Are Created Equal - Monday Musings

By Mary Piccioli on Jun 18, 2012

How do prospective students apply to your institution?
What method has been a success? Have there been unexpected challenges?

Tags: administrative, admissions, data


Tracking yield rates by various subpopulations is a standard procedure for most admissions offices. In-state and out-of-state; male and female; minority and non-minority; aid filers and non-filers; early action and regular decision; high school GPA levels; SAT/ACT levels. You get the picture. Yields vary by subpopulation, therefore as the application cycle progresses and admissions/enrollment is being asked for projections, it is important to understand how changes in the admit pool in certain categories may affect yield.

When an institution embarks on a new application-generating approach, such as a pre-populated application from the search pool, membership in the Common Application, or other methods, it is with the expectation that the number of applications will increase. That does generally occur. Anticipating the increase in workload for the back office operation is key, since most institutions cannot afford a slowdown in application processing, reviewing, and time-to-admissions-decision. My S&K colleague Bill Berg recently wrote a blog providing application completion advice, which certainly applies here as new application sources are added. 

Not all college applications are created equalCritical to the new application generation tactics is the understanding that not all applications are created equal. In other words, yields are likely to differ, often dramatically, based on source of application. When working with clients who have multiple application sources, e.g., the Common App, Fast App, etc., our analysis of their institution-specific data often reflects this fact. We have seen institutions with a yield rate for one source of application that is 15 to 20 percentage points higher than yield on a different application source.

If your institution is implementing a new way to apply for admission, don’t assume your overall yield rate will be the same as in previous years. Prepare for the fact that your projections on yield and other key metrics will be disrupted for a year or two until you establish a new baseline.

How do prospective students apply to your institution? What method has been a success? Have there been unexpected challenges?

Image © iStockphoto.


Mary PiccioliAbout the author: Enrollment Management Consultant Mary Piccioli joined Scannell & Kurz in April of 2009. She consults on a variety of enrollment management topics, both strategic and operational in nature – from strategic financial aid analysis and strategic enrollment planning to financial and admissions operations reviews. She previously served as Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research and Planning as well as the Dean of Enrollment at St. Bonaventure University, where her responsibilities included undergraduate and graduate admissions, financial aid and institutional research. Prior to that position she served 14 years as the Director of Financial Aid.

Mary holds a B.S. degree in mathematics and an M.B.A, both from St. Bonaventure University.

Connect with Mary on LinkedIn and Twitter @marypiccioli.


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