#3: 10 ways colleges use analytics to increase student success


From recruitment to alumni relations, using analytics can be truly transformative

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on August 13th of this year, was our #3 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2018 countdown!]

The success of higher education institutions depends on the ability to excel across the student life cycle. Regardless of the type, size, or focus of a college or university, they all strive to attract and enroll high-quality students, retain and graduate students, and maintain strong relationships with alumni.

One of the keys to realizing these outcomes is using analytics to go beyond reporting on what has happened in the past, to providing a best assessment on what will happen in the future. By applying analytics to student life cycle data, universities can generate deeper insight into students before they arrive, while they are on campus, and after they leave.

Higher-ed institutions that are already using advanced analytics in these areas have successfully transformed their processes, decision making, operations, and funding. Let’s look at how some of these innovative organizations are enhancing the student journey with analytics.

Recruitment and marketing
Universities face fierce competition for students. With increasingly restrictive budgets, recruitment officers need to focus their limited resources on the students most likely to enroll. Having a better understanding of the factors that lead to successful recruitment of a talented student requires analyzing the data of past students.

The University of Oklahoma did just that. It took a data-informed approach and created predictive models to assess the probability that an admitted student would enroll, then determined which actions recruitment officers should take. By narrowing the focus to a smaller list of students, recruitment officers could now pursue better prepared students–and use fewer resources to do it. As a result, the university had its largest and most academically prepared student body ever, including more National Merit students than any other public or private university.

As Oklahoma learned, analytics can help universities answer questions like this and more. Such as, which scholarships and amounts would not only attract select students, but also get them to apply and ultimately enroll? Are students with higher SAT scores more likely to be engaged throughout campus, perform better academically, and graduate? Are first-generation students more likely or less likely to get involved in campus? By answering questions like these, universities can tailor their recruitment and marketing efforts to enroll more successful cohorts of students.

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