In an economic time when many universities across the nation saw accepted students opting not to enroll, Kansas University was able to hold its rate steady.
According to a recent study conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, about 46 percent of universities surveyed saw dips in their enrollment yield rates this fall. That figure represents the number of accepted freshmen that actually chose to enroll at a given university.
At KU, that number was 45 percent in fall 2008, up 2 percent from the year before, said Lisa Pinamonti Kress, admissions director.
Many of the universities in the Chronicle survey cited economic conditions, such as changes in financial situations, decisions to attend cheaper community colleges and a decline in home values.
It’s a problem that KU may be facing in the future, Kress said.
“We need to be sure that we let people know that KU is an affordable option,” she said.
The university already stresses affordability, she said, especially to its in-state students.
It’s a good thing the yield rate at KU has held steady, Kress said, because the university uses the figure for enrollment calculations.
For next fall, KU has a goal of admitting 4,200 freshmen, Kress said. It will use its yield rate, which has historically held relatively steady, in a formula to determine how many applications it would need to accept.
If the rate suddenly were to fall off, the university would likely have to dip further down in its applications to meet its goals.
The figure also is a factor in the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings.
The yield rates across Big 12 Conference universities can vary widely.
The University of Colorado had a rate of 32.7 percent, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln had a rate of 68.6 percent.
Kelly Bartling, a University of Nebraska spokeswoman, said the university ranked high in the measure largely because it is the only large university in its geographic area.
“We’re the flagship university in a state where there’s not a great deal of competition for students who are interested in attending a major research university,” Bartling said.
At KU, Kress attributed the university’s ability to hold steady in difficult economic times to KU’s recruitment of students.
“We hope that it’s due to our successful recruitment efforts and the overall academic reputation of KU,” she said.
With many of the decisions on where to attend school being made later in 2008, after January, Kress said she didn’t think the athletic success of the university played a major role in students wanting to attend.
KU’s football team won the Orange Bowl in January, and its men’s basketball team won the national championship in April.
She played down the impact athletic success had on the enrollment figures.
“What we feel that athletic success does is make the University of Kansas more visible to prospective students,” she said.
In a survey done this summer among students attending KU for the first time, the admissions office found that KU athletics ranked fifth as reasons they chose to attend the university.
It ranked behind the academic reputation, friendly atmosphere, strong program in the desired major field and the overall beauty of the campus, she said.