Admission yield down to 42.4%, 521 deposits received thus far

As of yesterday afternoon the College had received 521 confirmations from students for the Class of 2012, up from 441 last year, but had seen a 42.4 percent yield, down from 43.9 percent last year. Of these 521 deposits, which were due May 1, 224 were admitted early decision and 10 are students who deferred admission last year. The targeted class size is 538.

“This year is the most difficult I’ve known in terms of trying to predict yield,” said Dick Nesbitt, director of admission. With the elimination of early admission at Harvard and Princeton, the College received more regular decision applications, but expected to lose more admitted students to those institutions. “We anticipated that we would have more overlap with Harvard and Princeton in the regular decision pool, and we had to build this into our model,” Nesbitt said.

Other factors making yield unpredictable were markedly different financial aid packages offered to a single student by various schools.
In order to create a buffer, 1229 students were admitted, roughly 100 more than last year at this time.

“We’ve heard from all but about 85 students,” Nesbitt said. “On the whole, it looks like the yield is in the way we planned for.”

Nesbitt stressed that the class will not be set until late May, largely because students get accepted off the waitlist at other schools. “We may lose some students after May. We really want about 545 to 550 students, and then we wait for what we call the summer melt,” he said.

According to Nesbitt, the Admission Office will assess the situation in the next few days to determine whether to go to the waitlist. “There is a good chance we’ll go to the wait list, but only for a small number initially,” Nesbitt said. “We’ll probably wait until the end of the week to assess our numbers.”

At this time last year, 25 of the 516 students on the waitlist had been offered admission. Usually, roughly 1000 students are waitlisted, and half decide to stay on the waitlist, which has no ranking. “We look at the assembled class and see if there are areas we can bolster given the special interests of students,” Nesbitt said. “We try to balance the class as best we can.”

Within the group of 521 confirmed students, there are 285 females and 236 males. This marks a change from the Class of 2011, in which there are more males than females. Nesbitt noted that gender balancing from the waitlist is a possibility.

Those accepted include 58 Asian Americans, 55 African Americans, 47 Latinos, three Native Americans and 46 international students. These numbers are very consistent with those of last year, give or take a few. “We’re very pleased with the diversity of the class,” Nesbitt said.

Nesbitt predicts that the Class of 2012 will be about 8.6 percent international, consistent with last year’s 9 percent. Slightly over 30 percent of the class is American students of color, and roughly 50 percent will be on financial aid, similar to both the classes of 2010 and 2011. In addition, there are 94 first-generation college students.

The percentage of legacies this year is tentatively 11 percent, which marks a decrease from the 14 percent last year. Sixty-five athlete tips have accepted admission.

As with the last few years, the top three states represented are New York, California and Massachusetts. Yield is traditionally low from California, but nice weather at this year’s Previews, in contrast with last year’s downpour, may have helped according to Nesbitt. “We had a great Previews this year,” Nesbitt said. “The weather certainly cooperated. I thought that the students and hosts were both terrific. I think that Previews was a very positive aspect in terms of our yield.”

Despite widespread interest in how the early decision policies of Harvard and Princeton have affected other schools, peer institutions are keeping mum about their respective yields. According to Nesbitt, however, Harvard admitted 100 fewer students than last year, expecting a higher yield from their new financial aid policies.

At the College, applications went up as expected: Williams received 1100 more applications than last year, leading to a 16 percent admit rate, the most selective in the College’s history. “We also saw more international applicants,” Nesbitt said. “For the class of 2006, there were 450 international applications. This year we had 1500 international applicants, with the most from China and Korea.”

The decrease in acceptance rates was seen across the board: Harvard’s admit rate dropped to 7.1 percent from 9 percent, while its applicant pool soared to a record 27,462 applicants. Amherst accepted 14.2 percent of applicants, a significant decrease from last year’s 18 percent. Yale, which retains its single-choice early action program, accepted 8.3 percent, and Princeton, 9.3 percent. Both Brown and Dartmouth had acceptance rates of roughly 13 percent, while Bowdoin and Middlebury accepted 18.4 and 18.3 percent, respectively.

According to Nesbitt, the College has no plans to eliminate early decision. “One criticism about early decision is that it creates a lot of anxiety, but Harvard and Princeton’s elimination of early decision just resulted in more anxiety,” he said, adding that the College has taken substantial efforts to diversify the early decision pool economically, thus addressing the early decision disadvantage for low-income students, for whom comparing financial packages is paramount.