Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What About Yield?

It's well known that applications to a school increase following major athletic success, at least among economists and reporters who follow college sports. This story in the NY Times (focused on waiting lists, and not sports) suggests a trickier, but perhaps equally interesting question: what about yield?

Duke University has an excellent basketball program, but has taken some knocks in recent years. Will this year's championship, coming well after most serious applications have been paid, increase the number of students who accept their offer to take classes at Duke? The figures mentioned in the story -- Duke has 856 more students on its waiting list relative to a year ago, on top of a pool of about 4000 accepted applications -- suggest that uncertainty regarding the premium for higher education at elite schools trumps the impact from a national championship in major college athletics. At least in the minds of administrators.

In a normal year, I'd expect the pool of wait-listed students to decrease in the wake of athletic success, and the rate of students accepting their offer of admission to increase.

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