According to Rajecki, a lot of higher ed institutions calculate the cost of recruiting and enrolling each student at more than $1,000, a number that doesn’t include the loss of revenue from students who subsequently drop out.

“If a school can increase retention by four percent, that could be tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per semester, depending on the number of students,” he said, noting that personalized interaction is often key to retaining at-risk students. “At the moment, millions of dollars annually are being lost for institutions.”

Even so, the survey suggest that few schools have invested in the kind of highly personalized campus experience that these C-level executives feel is needed. While 73 percent of respondents said that the trend toward a highly individualized student experience “is a growing challenge to their ability to compete effectively,” only seven percent graded their school’s efforts in this area as an “A.” Indeed, more than half—57 percent—gave their schools a “C.”

And while university administrators have long recognized the financial upside of personalized retention programs part of campus services, only 50 percent of respondents listed predictive analytics as one of the biggest individualization opportunities at their schools.

Why the disconnect? In some cases, schools may simply be overwhelmed by the challenge of scrubbing their data sets and of developing algorithms to interpret that data. In other cases, schools are struggling to identify the solutions that can resolve the problems highlighted by the data.

“In terms of predictive analytics, universities’ capacity to make informed decisions about what actions are needed is a challenge right now,” said Rajecki. “Institutions want us to provide them not only with the information but also a recommendation about what actions are needed to increase student retention or support better student recruitment.”

(Next page: Mobile personalization vs. analytics in campus services)

About the Author:

Andrew Barbour is a contributing editor for eCampus News.

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