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What is yield protection in college admissions?

Yield protection is the process of college admissions officers from a college denying admission to an overqualified high schooler for that college, believing that that high schooler will be accepted to a more prestigious school and subsequently would probably not attend their less prestigious institution. In other words, they rejected that entirely fit high schooler a spot in the class so the school can safeguard their yield rate, which is the percentage of people who are accepted who commit to that college. Admission officers yield protect in order to increase their yield (the number of people who will commit and attend their university).

Yield exists because universities like to accept high schoolers who will attend their university once they’ve received their acceptance at that institution. Let’s say a school offers admission to 100 high schoolers, and just 20 of them acknowledge the proposition and select they want to go to that school. That is a 20% “yield.” Another school offers admission to 100 high schoolers, and 87 of them acknowledge the proposition and enlist. That is a yield of 87%, which is about what you’d see at schools like Harvard and Stanford. Universities like to have a high return because it can improve their position in U.S. News and World Report. A higher yield is also seen as an indicator of the desirability of a school and no college wants to be viewed as a safety school.

The relationship between students and institutions is reciprocal in college application process. Colleges strive to be attractive to potential students by making applicants stand out. Today’s highly competitive environment means that students are applying to many schools. One of the most important characteristics colleges look for is willingness to attend.


yield protection

Why is yield protection called Tufts syndrome?

Yield protection is also called called “Tufts syndrome,” because of the many times Tufts University has been accused of doing yield protection. There is a debate over whether yield protection exists, and no school actually confesses to doing it, and some argue that Tufts Syndrome is just made up by students who were mad about being waitlisted or rejected by a school they figured they would be accepted to. 

What colleges do yield protection?

How might high schoolers prevent themselves from getting denied due to yield protection? That is where demonstrated interest comes in. Colleges that track demonstrated interest are generally the colleges that care about yield protection.

Below are schools that are associated with doing yield protection:

  • American University
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Franklin and Marshall
  • George Washington University
  • Grinnell College
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kenyon College
  • Lehigh University
  • New York University
  • Northeastern University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tulane University
  • Tufts University
  • University of California Davis
  • University of California Los Angeles
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Southern California
  • Washington University in St. Louis

Note: The Ivy League and other super selective schools don’t practice yield protection, but they like their early decision applicants and admit early decision students at a higher rate than their early action and regular decision applicants. These top schools’ yields are high to the point that they don’t care about demonstrated interest in light of the fact that basically every one of the high schoolers who apply would select them if they were accepted. Nor do public schools, as a rule, track exhibited interest. Yet, private schools sandwiched (concerning selectivity) between the Ivy League and the state universities are the ones probably going to focus on demonstrated interest.

Avoid getting yield protected by showing demonstrated interest

The student could visit the campus to demonstrate interest. You can also stop by the booth of that university if your high school is having a college fair. You should also talk to an admission offer from the university who comes to your school, and follow up after your interaction. You can also reach out to an admission officer or faculty at that university. Colleges can also see if you open their emails and how long you open them for. Colleges can also see if you’re following and interacting with their social media. Definitely like some of their photos. Also, participate in any internet-based tours the school has facilitated. Applying early action or early decision is also how you can demonstrate interest. Students who apply early decision ensure a 100% yield for the school, unless your financial aid offer from that school makes it difficult to pay for that school. You can read more about getting out of an early decision offer here.

Note: If you are going through the college process right now and you are using Common App, you can read my guide on how to connect College App and Naviance here!




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