College admissions officers have a couple of important metrics on which they’re evaluated: selectivity and yield. Selectivity is a concept you’re probably already familiar with: What percent of applicants are admitted? In the admissions officer’s world, the lower, the better. There are two ways to admit a low percentage of applicants: Get a lot of applications, and admit very few of them. Of course, in admitting few students, the college then runs the risk of not enough actually enrolling. That’s where yield comes in. Yield is the percent of accepted students who enroll in the school. If you’re an admissions officer, you want high yield.

Why does this matter for you? Because in a competitive admissions process, schools prefer to accept applicants who are likely to attend and might choose not to offer admission to an applicant who isn’t likely to accept their offer. Other than binding early decision applications, schools aren’t allowed to ask about preferences. But this article shows how they can find out anyway.