CSU yield rate dropping due to influx of applications

Over the past 10 years, CSU has seen a drop in its incoming student yield rate. However, according to many faculty members, it does not mean that the university is losing students.

The Colorado State admissions office sits empty last week. The first-time freshmen yield rate at CSU went from a high of 43.6 percent in 2007 to the current low of 34 percent in 2012. While the university has been admitting more students, the number of people who have accepted the offers has flatlined for the past nine years.
The Colorado State admissions office sits empty last week. The first-time freshmen yield rate at CSU went from a high of 43.6 percent in 2007 to the current low of 34 percent in 2012. While the university has been admitting more students, the number of people who have accepted the offers has flatlined for the past nine years.

According to Robin Brown, vice president for enrollment and access, universities from all across the nation are seeing a drop in their yield rates too.

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“Since 2002, yields from public universities have dropped from 51.4% to 42.8%,” Brown said. “Privates have dropped from 47.8% down to 36.4%.”

According to Jim Rawlins, executive director of admissions, there are many reasons why universities are seeing declines in their yield rates.

“The economic changes are impacting all colleges across the nation,” Rawlins said. “Also, more out-of-state students are using the common application, and many of them tend to apply to more schools using the common application system.”

The number of non-resident applications is the primary reason why CSU’s yield rate has declined, sources said. CSU is seeing more non-resident applications, but the university might just be one on the list of many potential choices for students.

“More students are making multiple apps than ever before,” Brown said. “The number of applications is going up faster than the numbers of students,”

Brown stated that almost 80 percent of freshmen apply to 3 or more colleges and nearly 30 percent apply to 7 or more colleges.

“If 30 percent of students have 7-12 applications out there, only one college is going to get those kids,” she said. “Everyone else’s yield is going to drop.”

Another big factor affecting university yield rates is a decreasing number of high school graduates. According to the Western Instate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), the number of high school graduates, both nationally and statewide, is predicted to drop significantly within the next ten years.

Despite the large obstacles CSU faces while trying to enroll more students, the university has been quite successful in attracting more residential and non-residential students.

According to Brown, in 2008 non-residents made up 23 percent of the pool of applications. This year, non-residents made up 49 percent of the pool. Furthermore, last year non-residents made up 23 percent of the freshman class, while this year they make up 25.5 percent of the freshman class. As a whole, enrollment for non-residents increased by 11 percent from last year to this year.

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“When you look at the university’s goal, in terms of ‘we want more non-residents for net push and revenue,’ we are accomplishing that goal,” Brown said.

Rawlins emphasized the university’s growing attraction to not only non-residents but also in-state students.

“In-state students pick CSU nearly half the time when they apply to in-state universities,” Rawlins said.

Brown emphasized that as a part of the university’s “yield efforts” to bring in students once they’ve been admitted, majors are the most important factor for students to hear from when determining their university of choice. She mentioned that differential tuition costs could play a big factor in a student’s decision.

Lynn Johnson, chief financial officer and associate vice president for finance, stated that the College of Business is conscious of student’s financial conditions when determining differential tuition.

“When a residential student is admitted to CSU but does not enroll here, they usually go to CU or Arizona,” Johnson said. “However, if you look at base tuition, we are cheaper than both CU and Arizona. We are sensitive to price when we set our tuition fees.”

Rawlins reiterated the importance of price in a student’s decision to enroll at CSU.

“Cost is more competitive to an out-of-state student,” he said. “If we want to keep attracting more students, we’ve got to think differently about how to get them interested in the university.”

Both Rawlins and Brown talked about an initiative to reach out to students before they enter high school. Brown wants to start contacting students as soon as middle school, which she feels will help motivate students who come from low-income communities to start thinking about the prospect of higher education.