The Enrollment Yield Matrix: How to determine your enrollment yield for next year

Updated: Feb 8

By Trevor Waddington, Principal, Truth Tree

You did it! You beat last year's application totals. Even better, you did it with sixteen days to go, so there's room for more.


Before you pop the champagne, do you know how many of those applicants will be accepted? Do you have an idea of how many accepted candidates will enroll?


Additionally, and just as important, how many students will leave before graduation? #Attention2Retention


According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the application to newly enrolled student rate is 65% among member schools. On the other side of the coin, the average student attrition rate is 12.02.


In previous blogs, webinars, etc., we have provided insight into how you can demonstrate and build value to prospective families. We also crafted a proven, 3-pronged retention strategy.

Even with your best efforts, some families are very, very unlikely to (re)enroll. On the other hand, some families are close to 100% committed to re-enrolling or enrolling if accepted.

But who are these families, and how do you determine the likelihood that they (re)enroll or not?

When working as a marketing and admission director at my last school, I developed the "Enrollment Yield Matrix." I used it for four years as an unofficial way to predict enrollment for the coming year. In the final year, the matrix proved 91% accurate.


Here's a glimpse into the matrix that worked best that proved highly successful for my previous school.

Enrollment Yield Matrix

Very Likely to (Re)enroll (Grade A)

A current student/family who meets one or more of the following criteria.

  • Receives a scholarship

  • Receives at or near a maximum financial aid grant

  • Is active in student life outside of the classroom (arts, athletics, etc.)

  • Without or with very little need for academic, social, or emotional support

  • Parent(s) are active in the school community (volunteer, board member, etc.)

  • Routinely engage with social media posts

  • Are considered "[Your School Name] Strong" (institutional knowledge to determine this group)

96% retention rate*

*These were my former school's averages over four years

A prospective student/family who meets one or more of the following criteria.

  • Sibling of a current student(s)

  • Do not have siblings at other schools

  • Legacy

  • Parents are not a legacy at another school to which they applied

  • Child of a current employee

  • Received a scholarship

  • Live in "close proximity" to the school

  • Do not have siblings at

  • In need of little or no financial aid

92% conversion rate


Somewhat Likely to (Re)enroll (Grade B)

A current student/family who meet one or more of the following criteria

  • Slightly or moderately behind on tuition payments

  • Will not receive as much financial/same percentage of financial aid as the previous school year

  • Have mild academic, social, or emotional issues

  • Have had one or two "meetings" with school personnel that demonstrates dissatisfaction with an aspect of the family's school experience

  • Rumors of applying out but have not presented your school with any applying out documents to substantiate the rumor

  • Possibly moving out of the area

84% retention rate

A prospective student/family who meet one or more of the following criteria

  • Parents, and in some cases the student, have said your school is their first choice

  • Moved through the admission process promptly

  • Regularly open and engage with emails; respond to phone calls and other forms of outreach

  • Like, follow, etc. your social media platforms

  • Have a close friend, relative, or co-worker who has a child at your school

  • Have asked minor questions in the future tense: When we are here, will I be able to go on field trips?

  • The student has a moderately strong to very strong admission profiles

  • Student of a future employee

68.5% conversion rate


Not Sure to (Re)enroll (Grade C) - This is where most prospective students begin unless they meet A-level criteria

A current student/family who meet one or more of the following criteria

  • Delinquent on payments; unable to pay tuition

  • Directly indicated they would be applying out or have applied out to just one school

  • Their financial situation has deteriorated or will deteriorate (one parent has lost a job, unexpected medical expenses, etc.)

  • The school has recommended academic, social, or emotional supports, but the parents are "not on board"

  • Have had three to four "meetings" with school personnel that demonstrates dissatisfaction with an aspect of the family's school experience

  • Did not attend a fundraising event they regularly participated in the past or reduced their annual donation

  • Have asked teachers or counselors, 'is this the right school for my child?'

  • Have