Yields for the University’s merit scholarship programs continued to see an upward trend for the Class of 2016, with an 18.5 percent overall increase in the number of first-year students who will enter Duke as recipients of one of the seven merit scholarships.
All seven merit scholarships met their expected yield, with three merit scholarships—the Benjamin N. Duke and Reginaldo Howard Scholarships and University Scholars—exceeding the expected yield, said Melissa Malouf, director of the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows. The B.N. enrolled 14 incoming students—four more than the target yield, the Reginaldo Howard Scholarship enrolled seven students—two more than its target and University Scholars program enrolled 10 students, including one international student—two more than its target.
The remaining four programs achieved their target yield. The Angier B. Duke Memoiral scholarship will enroll 15, the Alumni Endowed Scholars will enroll one, the Trinity Scholarships will enroll four and the Robertson Scholars Program—which has students at both Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—will enroll 13 Duke freshmen this Fall.
The Robertson Scholars Program experienced its highest yield for the Class of 2016 with 16 American students accepting to enroll at either Duke or UNC out of 20 offers and nine acceptances from international students out of 14 offers, said Woody Coley, executive director of the Robertson Scholars Program.
This year, the program made offers to less than 2 percent of its applicants, making it more selective than competing institutions like Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities, which had Class of 2016 acceptance rates of 5.9 percent, 6.8 percent and 7.86 percent, respectively.
Coley attributed the increased yield to the caliber of current scholar classes and an improved ability of the selection committee and admissions officers to identify potential leaders.
“In an increasingly competitive world for students admissible to highly selective universities, we were thrilled with the caliber of scholars that applied and the yield on offers made,” he said.
The B.N. scholarship, which awards scholarships to high school seniors from North and South Carolina, experienced a surge in enrollment from eight to 14 students, said Jennifer Crowley, associate director of the B.N. Duke and A.B. Duke scholarships.
The scholarship finalist weekend plays a large part in encouraging A.B. and B.N. recipients to matriculate at Duke, Crowley said.
Malouf noted that the role of faculty and current students enrolled in the scholarship programs is essential to the University’s recruitment efforts.
“Students actively planned and participated in the OUSF Finalist Weekend activities... [while] Duke faculty hosted dinners, participated in interviews and joined the intellectual festivities during the weekend,” Malouf said.
Current A.B. Duke Scholar Lucy Goodson, a senior who served on the A.B. recruitment committee for the Class of 2016, said the March recruitment weekend—when both A.B. and B.N. finalists interview with the committee—not only demonstrates the opportunity the program gives to scholars but also gives recipients a sense of how the Duke community operates as a whole.
“[A.B.] Scholars understand the value for being the select few on campus but are also acutely aware of the value of being a Duke student and that’s what we want to show to the finalists,” Goodson said.
Goodson said the program’s ability to attract and enroll scholars is ultimately dependent on the students. She noted that in light of the generous financial aid packages offered at competing institutions, the financial component of the program does not always turn out to be the deciding factor, adding that most recipients are more keen on knowing about the social and academic aspects of the campus than the financial ones during the recruitment weekend.
“It’s difficult to exactly pinpoint why one finalist will decide to come to Duke over another school, but I think students who do end up coming to the University know that once they enroll at Duke, [it] will praise them for their accomplishments up until now but take an extra step further in making them apply themselves in a tangible way,” she said.
She emphasized that the size of the class does not matter as much as the quality of the scholars that choose to come to Duke.
“Our yield is highly indicative of the program’s prestige, but it’s always hard to rate the success of the recruitment effort solely based on numbers,” Goodson said. “But the quality of this year’s class certainly proves that we are making the right decisions.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly read that only six of the seven merit scholarships met their expected yield. The article has been updated to reflect that all seven met their expected yield. The Chronicle regrets the error.