Class of 2021’s yield rate falls short of 2020’s record-high numbers

Harry Trustman

August 23, 2017

The admissions process for the Class of 2021 was the most selective in Penn’s history. But after a record-breaking 68 to 69 percent for last year’s freshman class, the Class of 2021’s yield rate fell short.

The yield rate measures the percentage of students who come to Penn after they have been offered a position. This year, the yield rate for the Class of 2021 dipped to just over 67 percent of students. Assuming that all students in the early decision pool accepted their binding offer of admission, the regular decision yield rate would be approximately 48 percent.

When compared to the yield rates of the rest of the Ivy League, Penn is around the middle of the pack.

Penn’s overall yield rate is lower than Harvard University’s 84 percent and Yale University’s 71.4 percent, but higher than Princeton University’s 66.6 percent and Dartmouth College’s 61 percent. Brown University, Columbia University and Cornell University have not yet released their yield rates.

Some of Penn’s other peer institutions recorded high yield rates as well. These included Stanford University at 82 percent and Georgetown University at 49 percent.

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Georgetown all have non-binding Early Action policies as opposed to Penn’s Early Decision program. Brian Taylor, the managing director of the college counseling service Ivy Coach, said he believes that Penn uses the Early Decision program to inflate its yield rate, but that “they have every right to do so.”

“That’s why Early Decision exists,” Taylor said. “To admit students who 100 percent will come, who love that school.”

Taylor added that Penn, like many of its peer institutions, is highly skilled at manipulating the yield rate. 

“Every school is trying to manipulate the yield rate,” Taylor said. “Penn does it better than most.” 

Taylor also noted that Penn’s application is particularly conducive to producing a higher yield rate, citing Penn’s supplemental application essay asking students to explain why they chose Penn. Taylor said this question is designed to increase Penn’s yield rate.

“They want to see that you’re not going to write, ‘I want to go to Penn because Ben Franklin founded it, and they offer a great liberal arts education,'” Taylor said. “They want to see that every sentence of that essay is specific to Penn.”

There are, however, some cases where universities with higher acceptance rates also produce higher yield rates. Brigham Young University, a private Mormon school in Utah, accepts roughly half of their applicants each year, yet regularly has a yield rate rivaling Harvard’s. Taylor explained that this is because the yield rate doesn’t necessarily measure the selectivity of an institution, but to what degree applicants would choose one school over any other to which they were accepted.

In an emailed statement, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said the “admissions data is not finalized until after the start of classes,” so the figure of 67 percent may change in the fall.