I have gathered from the Tulane website and various threads here that the yield at Tulane has been higher than anticipated the last couple of years. Has there been any official information from Admissions about changes to the admissions process or requirements?
I don't know anything about any official changes but I thought I'd share some info that the yield had risen 10 points since 2006. I think that was said in an email from President Cowen about the class of 2016 a few months back. Not sure what the yield was in 2006, but still, that's pretty impressive. I can only guess that the admissions process will become even more competitive as Tulane has underestimated their projected class sizes two years in a row now. I'm just speculating now but maybe Tulane will start to shy away from their traditional rolling-style admissions and turn to a more traditional style with the set dates that most colleges around Tulane's ranking use.
This year was more of a spike than a trend, in that the previous few years it barely inched up since Katrina but this year was BAM!, a 10 point jump. Tulane has been trying to make it a more comprehensive application the last couple of years, adding questions (especially a "Why Tulane" question) that was an attempt to cut down on the number of "safety" apps while also giving admissions more insight into which students were truly the best candidates, all while maintaining the free application. The number of applicants did go down some, and they were able to waitlist a number of otherwise highly qualified students that didn't take the time to show real interest in Tulane, i.e. most likely using Tulane as a safety.
However, they either underestimated the effect it would have on creating more truly interested students or this year was just statistically unusual. I could paint a scenario that some students, in researching the "Why Tulane" question, actually acquired a much higher interest in the school that they never would have gotten had they not been forced to look into it more. Obviously that is just speculation also, but a plausible cause and effect relationship.
I have heard there has been discussion of starting to charge for the application again, but nothing definitive as far as I know. I have not heard any talk of going to hard notification dates rather than the rolling notifications, but that would also potentially make sense given the very high level of interest in Tulane the last 6 years or so.
I don't put much stock in yield for Tulane, because post-Katrina they took such a different approach to marketing themselves for the application process. Which is totally understandable because while it is hard for current high school seniors to imagine, people were very tentative about sending their kids to New Orleans right after Katrina. That's a very long discussion about misguided perceptions, but that was the case.
Anyway, here is number who applied, number that were accepted (% admitted) and number that enrolled (% yield) by year. Year is the Fall Semester of the entering freshmen.
2006 20,756 7824 (37.7%) 882 (11.3%)
2007 16,967 7526 (44.4%) 1328 (17.6%)
2008 34,125 9026 (26.4%) 1360 (15.1%)
2009 39,887 10,563 (26.5%) 1502 (14.2%)
2010 43,815 11,384 (26.0%) 1625 (14.3%)
2011 37,767 9422 (24.9%) 1642 (17.4%)
Since we really won't have the official numbers for 2012 until after classes start (there are always no-shows) there is no reason to claim the yield is 27% or whatever yet, but IF it actually stayed at 1750 students or so like it is now (which it won't), then I think (and I don't have the official numbers so these may be a bit off) that there were about 38,000 apps, about 6,500 were accepted (17% admit rate, which if I am right is very low, making Tulane really hard to get into this year), and the 1750 would mean a 27% yield). Now if the yield was really 22%, for example, that would mean about 7,950 were accepted for a 20.9% admit rate, still very low. But that all assumes that the 38,000 number is correct, which I am not sure it is. In other words, we will have to wait for more official numbers in the fall to see where it all really came out.
Sure thing. Just to clarify my "forecasting", which really is meaningless since the numbers will shift plus we don't have exact raw data, I also realized some of what I said is a bit off. For example, President Cowen did say, as was correctly pointed out by jph, that yield was up 10% from 2006. So that would imply this year it is around 21-22%. Also he said the class was 1650 as of May 11, but someone else (Tulane Jeff from admissions, maybe?) said 1750. Could be a typo on either side, but 1650 seems more likely. So....If the 38,000 is correct, then that means that about 7,675 students were accepted for about a 20% admission rate. Again, that would be a very very selective rate. It will be interesting to see how close those numbers are to reality.
At orientation a few weeks ago, Tulane said the incoming class stood at 1760 but they expected it to summer melt down to 1650.
You would think that Tulane would want to be moving towards a new normal of fewer apps/higher yield. Crazy for a school of its size to have such huge app numbers. You get a low admit rate (good for rankings) but then also a low yield (bad for rankings).
The free/personalized app that they heavily market definitely helps the number of applications go up, but in return the yield rate is low. Then again 21% is right among the ranks of U Miami, Boston U, UCSD and is not too far away from Boston College.
It isn't as simple as all that. Things were very different post-Katrina and innovative steps had to be taken. Then, perhaps as part of the plan or perhaps as a fortuitous unintended consequence, not only did the number of apps skyrocket, but so did the quality of the incoming classes and the overall reputation of Tulane. Of course there were many other factors all working in concert with this strategy such as the emphasis on community service. In any case, it was a strategy that has worked very well for the 6 years since Katrina, but like any business strategy has to be tweaked, reassessed, overhauled, or abandoned at some point depending on circumstances. That is precisely what is happening. I do understand that for those of you who were 12 years old or younger when Katrina happened it is really hard to fully appreciate the totality of the circumstances.
Also, at least as of last year, yield was not used in the USNWR rankings, and admit rate was only 1.5% of the weighting. There was talk about using yield again, but I think that would be absurd. Yield in and of itself means little. On the surface, one can argue that if more students pick school A vs school B as an overall percentage, then A must have a better reputation. But that fails further scrutiny on several accounts. First, there are many other factors that lead to a student picking one school over another besides reputation and overall quality (whatever that last even means), such as financial packages including merit scholarships. Many students that attend Tulane were accepted at the most competitive Ivies and other top 20 schools, but got more generous packages from Tulane. There are just too many other factors besides reputation that come into play. Another factor is precisely that marketing strategy chosen by a university. Tulane purposely made its app free, heavily marketed itself to a certain type of student and therefore got a lot of "casual" apps. They knew this would lower yield, but they thought, and time has proved this strategy (which was more than just the free app and mailings, but also involved the merit scholarships, getting students to visit campus in greater numbers, and more) was successful beyond (I suspect) their own expectations. Frankly it is one of the more brilliant marketing strategies I have seen in academia or business. Anyway, agree or disagree with the strategy, it did work.
Third, who applies to a school and decides to go there is a self selective process. So for example, The University of Nebraska had 9768 apps, accepted 6089 (62.3%), and 4039 enrolled full time (66.3% yield). Does that make Nebraska a better school than Tulane, or for that matter Duke (44.3%) or WUSTL (about 30%)? This shows quite clearly that looking at yield strictly as a number, without taking into account which students cross applied to the schools it is being compared to, financial packages, etc. is an idiotic measure. Sorry to be so blunt, but really!
And thanks northwesty, you reminded me that I did see that 1750 size number from a report on the orientation sessions, not on Tulane Jeff's blog. We will just have to see how much it melts.
As far as the other schools and their acceptance rates, I think (again) that it is misleading to look at these as indicators of anything other than how difficult it is to get into that particular school that year. There are so many factors between schools that are not being taken into account, such as the marketing strategies, that it really doesn't tell one much of anything.
Bottom line, IMHO, is that we get way too caught up in the whole measurement and prestige issues, rather than just focusing on what each particular school has to offer. Those who have been reading this forum for a while know that I think the USNWR rankings are probably the worst thing to happen to college admissions ever.