UVa admissions critique fails to consider important context - The Daily Progress: News

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UVa admissions critique fails to consider important context

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Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2012 1:36 am | Updated: 11:27 am, Wed Jan 23, 2013.

The comments about undergraduate admission and yield at the University of Virginia expressed by Paul Tudor Jones II — however well intended — were misleading, and need to be placed in context.

Of undergraduate admission at UVa, Mr. Jones wrote (“Aspiring to achieve greatness,” The Daily Progress, June 17):

“UVa’s most recent reported admissions yield is just 43 percent, which means the rate at which students accept a place at UVa after receiving an acceptance letter from Peabody Hall is well under half … and falling. Harvard’s yield rate is more than 80 percent, Yale’s is 68 percent and Stanford’s is 73 percent. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reports a 56 percent yield rate, 13 points higher than that of UVa.”

Our No. 1 priority is enrolling an academically strong and diverse class. The academic caliber of enrolling students at the University of Virginia has increased every year for the past five years, breaking records each year for SAT mean (1351 in 2012) and percent ranked in the top 10 percent of the class (93 percent in 2012).

At 43 percent, our yield rate this year is the same as it was in 2011, although it has declined since the elimination of our binding early-decision program in 2008. Students admitted under early-decision plans commit to enroll if admitted, resulting in a higher yield for those schools compared to those without early-decision plans.

We eliminated our early-decision program in 2007 due to the lack of socioeconomic diversity in that application pool. Nationally, many of our peers have experienced a similar decline as application volume has exploded at selective colleges and universities. At UVa for example, we have seen a 52 percent increase in applications since 2008, with more than 28,200 students vying for 3,360 places in the first-year class this year. Our admissions offer rate was 29 percent, also a record low.

Our current yield rate ranks No. 12 in the U.S. News Top 25 National Research University rankings, ahead of Johns Hop-kins, Duke, Chicago, Georgetown and Northwestern, all ranked higher overall in the U.S. News rankings. Harvard, Yale and Stanford are private institutions with admission budgets four to five times larger than ours at UVa. These and other Ivy-caliber private schools also have massive financial-aid budgets com-pared to their public peers like Virginia; therefore, the net price of attendance at these schools can be much lower for students and their families. Research shows that cost of attendance is the second biggest factor in a student’s college choice, after academic reputation.

UNC-Chapel Hill also has an admission budget that dwarfs ours at UVa, and it should be noted that 82 percent of the enrolling students at Chapel Hill are North Carolinians. State residents yield at a much higher rate than non-residents in part because of the lower total cost for tuition and fees. At UVa, 67 percent of our enrolling students are Virginians, which means we have a higher percentage of non-residents enrolling each year. Comparing yields between UNC and UVa, therefore, is misleading unless one understands these important details of context.

Given the confusion and misinformation about the role of yield in college admission, I felt it was important to provide this clarification. The Office of Undergraduate Admission is committed to excellence, integrity and the enrollment of a class the university community can be proud of.

The object of our aim, as Jefferson might say, is indeed “to make this Establishment the most eminent in the United States,” but it is also to follow Jefferson’s vision of an institution “based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind.” We look for and find students who are academic stars but who also exhibit outstanding personal qualities and character. With the help of our alumni, faculty, current students and friends, we have been highly successful in enrolling talented scholars who continue to shape the university and the world around them.