The Ivy Coach Daily

March 11, 2021

Waitlists Will Be Long This Spring

A piece in The Wall Street Journal focuses on college waitlists — and how long they will be this spring.

Will college waitlists be longer than usual this year at our nation’s top universities? Without question. Applications are up big time at America’s elite universities. Students, stuck at home due to the pandemic and with time on their hands, seemed to apply to more universities than in a typical year. And students weren’t able to visit college campuses this year, which means it will be a bit more difficult for colleges to predict their yields or the percentage of admits who will ultimately choose to matriculate. So what will our nation’s elite colleges do in this scenario? Well, that’s obvious: keep more students in waitlist limbo.

Some Argue the Models Colleges Use to Predict Yield Are “Useless” This Year

As Melissa Korn reports for The Wall Street Journal in a piece entitled “Expect College Wait Lists to Be Obnoxiously Long This Year,” “Many college admissions officers are stumped this spring over how many applicants to admit. Their mathematical models to predict which admitted students might accept their offers and enroll as freshmen are proving useless because the coronavirus pandemic threw most traditional elements of the admissions process —campus visits, standardized tests, essays about busy extracurricular schedules—into disarray. Accepting the right number of students is critical. If too many say yes, dorms may be overcrowded. If too many spurn the offers, the school could face a revenue shortfall. Applications submitted via the Common App, which is used by more than 900 schools, rose by 11% nationwide through March 1. But the number of applicants increased by just 2.4%, meaning nearly the same number of students are casting a wider net.”

We Believe These Models Will Still Help Colleges Predict Yield

But allow us to slightly disagree. The mathematical models used to predict which admitted students might ultimately matriculate haven’t proven “useless.” Yes, whether or not a prospective students actually took the time to visit a school in person is a good predictor of yield since it’s demonstrative of interest. But it’s not the only predictor of yield. As an example, how students go about answering Why College essays is still a good predictor of yield. If a student, say, cuts and pastes sentence after sentence from one Why College essay to the next, it’s a good indication the student has little intention of matriculating since the student hasn’t properly demonstrated interest. And while campuses were closed for tours and information sessions this past year, virtual tours and information sessions were held, which will also be a factor in the mathematical models of colleges to predict yield.

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