Admissions yield hits one of highest rates in history

Williams seems to be getting more popular. The percentage of admitted students who have decided to attend, called the “yield” is 48% this year, 3% higher than last year and the highest since the class of 1986 was admitted. The extraordinarily high yield has created a class of 550 students, 24 more than the target of 526 for the class of 2003.

According to Director of Admissions Thomas Parker, “we expect to lose 10 to12 students for various reasons and expect to enroll 538/540 in the fall. Partly as a consequence, we will accept virtually no transfers.”

Associate Director of Admissions for Operations Connie Sheehy predicts that some students who have agreed to attend Williams will “melt” over the summer, deciding to attend other schools as they get off wait-lists. “That should bring the class closer to the target size,” says Sheehy.

The wait-list at Williams will probably not become active this year, since about 24 students would have to decide not to attend in order for spots to open up in the class.

“I’d really like to see an active wait-list,” said Sheehy. “We have some really great kids on the list, who I would love to see get in.”

Sheehy attributes the high yield, up three percent from last year, to factors in the nation’s admissions climate. The number of college applicants is still rising as the children of the baby-boomer generation reach college age.

In addition, the Ivy League’s trend towards accepting high percentages of their classes early means that there are fewer students inclined to attend schools like Harvard and Yale once accepted in Williams’ regular applicant pool.

“The competitive schools have all filled their classes,” she commented. “Even the group of schools a group below Williams [in admissions percentages] are doing well.”

High numbers of applicants makes admissions to all schools more competitive, and a trend towards accepting students early could continue to affect the yield at Williams.

“Harvard took 60% of its students early this year,” said Sheehy. “We usually lose students to Harvard and Princeton, but those schools are filling their classes early. There are more students in the mix now.”

Williams had 5,006 applicants this year, a figure up 11% from last year’s pool. Of those applicants, 2,577 were male and 2,429 female.

The class of 2003 will have 283 men and 267 women, 33 African Americans, 39 Latino students, 56 Asian Americans, one Native American, and 36 non-US-citizens (twelve of whom are Jamaican).

Currently, the largest class is the class of 2000, with 554 students. The yield for 1996, the year the class of 2000 was admitted, was 5% higher than that for 1995, which partly explains the large class size.

The newly remodeled first-year quad may have been a factor in the increasing yield that year. Classes have been steadily smaller since then, with 545 in the class of 2001 and 537 in the class of 2002. A class of 520 students for next year’s first-years would have reduced housing tensions and brought the school closer to its target size.

The last yield comparable to this year’s was the 49.5% yield of the class of 1986. According to Sheehy, a dorm renovation only allowed the school to accept 1,004 students that year, because there was less living space available. 497 students matriculated. “We had to have a smaller class,” said Sheehy.

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