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A high yield at Harvard

The 2,110 students offered admission to Harvard this fall have responded "so favorably," spokesman Jeff Neal told me today, that the final yield will probably exceed last year's 76 percent.

The release from Harvard attributes the strong response both to the school's reputation and to its financial aid policies. Roughly two-thirds of incoming freshmen will receive need-based scholarships, averaging $40,000 a year.

Harvard, as every admission officer knows, has one of the highest yields in higher education. Even with applications topping 30,000 this year, for the first time, admission officials knew that nearly anyone they accepted would attend. Such is life at the top of the heap.

Yield is an odd statistic. There are minimally selective colleges where half or two-thirds of admitted students choose to attend, essentially because they apply knowing they plan to matriculate. There are highly selective colleges with yields of 25 percent or less, because they are competing for the same applicants with several like schools.

Within the industry, a yield of 30 percent or better seems to be deemed solid. Yield has slipped over the past several years as the number of applications has risen, for the simple reason that each admitted student is choosing among more colleges. Average yield nationwide dipped from 49 percent in 2001 to 45 percent in 2007, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Harvard's yield has ranged as high as the low 80s in recent years, according to data from the national admissions group. Perhaps it is headed in that direction again.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  May 10, 2010; 4:58 PM ET
Categories:  Admissions , Aid , Rankings  | Tags: Harvard admissions, Harvard yield, class of 2014 admissions, college admissions yield  
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