The Nation's Most Popular Universities: Harvard, BYU, and Stanford

One metric of determining a particular school's desirability is known as the yield rate, defined as the percentage of admitted students who actually enroll.  Since 2008, U.S. News and World Report has ranked colleges across the country according to the yield rate, and classified those rankings as, "The Nation's Most Popular Universities."  BYU and Harvard have established a respectful rivalry since the advent of these rankings, as one school or the other has finished at the top of U.S. News' annual report.  Here is a link to the 2016 edition of these rankings:

As stated in the article above, the average yield rate for the 265 ranked national universities listed by U.S. News is 32.9%, meaning just over a third of admitted students will end up enrolling at the individual campuses.  As a result, colleges must over-admit and expect a certain amount of "no-shows" in order to assemble the freshman class.  Stanford (80.4% yield rate) and BYU (79.8%) can anticipate roughly four out of five of their admitted students will be present on campus and enroll in classes.

​Finally, the table below shows the Most Popular/Highest Yield Rate rankings by U.S. News and World Report since the category was published:

2017 1- Stanford 2- BYU (tie) 2- Harvard (tie)
2016 1- Harvard 2- BYU (tie) 2- Stanford (tie)
2015 1- Harvard 2- BYU 3- Stanford
2014 1- Harvard 2- BYU 3- Spaulding
2013 1- BYU 2- Harvard 3- Stanford
2012 1- Harvard 2- BYU 3- Stanford
2011 1- BYU 2- Harvard 3- Stanford
2010 1- BYU 2- Harvard 3- Stanford
2009 1- Harvard 2- BYU 3- Nebraska
2008 1- BYU (tie) 1- Harvard (tie) 3- Yale