Though prospective college students are increasingly applying to more schools, each applicant can ultimately enroll in just one. For fall 2011, some of the most popular choices among students were U.S. service academies.
Colleges refer to the percentage of their accepted first year students who choose to enroll as "yield" and report the statistic to U.S. News in annual surveys. Yield is an important indicator of what students think about their college choice. While a high yield shows students greatly value being admitted to a particular institution, a low yield may mean that the school was considered a "safety" and may not have been those students' first choice.
In a 2012 U.S. News survey, 233 ranked National Liberal Arts Colleges, generally small schools that emphasize undergraduate education, reported yield rates for fall 2011.
The United States Naval Academy reported the highest yield rate that year, enrolling 86.2 percent of admitted undergraduates. Following closely behind, the United States Military Academy enrolled 83.6 percent of admitted applicants for fall 2011, while 82.1 percent of students accepted to the United States Air Force Academy chose to attend.
On average, the ranked National Liberal Arts Colleges that reported yield rates to U.S. News enrolled close to 30 percent of accepted undergraduates for fall 2011. That's not as high as the average among National Universities: about 36 percent, according to school reports.
[See the yield rates at National Universities.]
High yield rates do not necessarily correspond with the overall Best Colleges rankings. Though Harvard University is the No. 1 ranked National University and has the second-highest yield rate amongst similar schools for fall 2011, Williams College, ranked No. 1 overall in the U.S. News Best National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings, reported a yield rate of 44.9 percent for fall 2011—the 25th highest on the list below.
The yield rates could be affected by any early decision or early action options offered by schools. Since students accepted through those programs are generally expected to enroll, overall yield rates may increase as a result.
Below are the fall 2011 yield rates for every National Liberal Arts College that reported the statistic to U.S. News.
The yield data above are correct as of Jan. 28, 2013. For additional admissions data, complete rankings, and much more, access the U.S. News College Compass.