Harvard’s Yield Rate

Harvard Yield, Yield at Harvard, Harvard Matriculation

Harvard isn’t worried about its yield.

One of the objectives of our college admissions blog is to correct commonly held misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process, misconceptions often perpetuated by college admissions officers, college counselors, students, parents, reporters, and more. Today, we came across a funny misconception in a “Forbes” article by Christopher Rim entitled “Can You Buy Your Way Into Harvard?” Rim apparently is a college counselor, the CEO of a college counseling firm we haven’t heard of, which says something since, well, we’re in the college counseling space.

Harvard Isn’t Worried About Its Yield

In his piece, Rim writes, “Legacy admissions is a somewhat misleading term for the type of ‘boost’ outlined in the Harvard lawsuit. There is a large difference between the kind of boost you get when your grandfather went to Harvard and buys homecoming tickets and when your grandfather recently donated a library. Both help, but the first scenario is more of a boost because of yield rate—Harvard has a vested interest in making sure admitted students choose to attend, and alumni children are more likely to do so.”

Rim is not incorrect when he alludes to two different types of donors: (1) the loyal donor who gives a little every year since their graduation and (2) the major donor who gifts a library, athletic field, etc. However, the suggestion that Harvard admits legacy applicants because legacy applicants are more likely to matriculate, because it’ll serve the school’s yield rate is laughable. Many colleges, including several Ivy League colleges, are concerned about their yield. A school’s yield rate indirectly impacts the school’s “US News & World Report” college ranking. And every college — in spite of what admissions officers may tell you to the contrary — cares about its “US News” ranking. But Harvard is not like most colleges, not even like most Ivy League colleges. You see, Harvard isn’t worried about its yield. And the school’s certainly not admitting legacies in an effort to boost the annual yield figure.

Harvard Admits Overwhelmingly Choose To Go

Students who are admitted to Harvard tend, overwhelmingly, to attend Harvard. 82% of students admitted to Harvard’s Class of 2022 chose to matriculate. 82.8% (84% originally) of students admitted to Harvard’s Class of 2021 chose to matriculate. In our many years of experience, students who are admitted to Harvard and Yale tend to attend Harvard. Students who are admitted to Harvard and Princeton tend to attend Harvard. And, yes, students who are admitted to Harvard and Stanford tend to attend Harvard.

Many colleges admit students who they believe will matriculate and deny students they believe won’t come. It’s why many schools ask Why College essays, to gauge if students have done their homework on the school — or if they’re just phoning in another college application. Harvard is not among those schools. Harvard doesn’t ask Why Harvard. And any suggestion that the school admits legacies so as to improve its yield is, in our view, reflective of a poor understanding of Harvard’s admissions process.


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