Data analytics can help school leaders increase recruitment, enrollment, and educational attainment for disadvantaged students.

Can data analytics provide a path to graduation for disadvantaged students?

Data-informed decisions can help school leaders increase recruitment, enrollment, and educational attainment for disadvantaged students

Key points:

Americans’ confidence in higher education has fallen to 36 percent, a steep decline from 2015, when 57 percent of Americans expressed confidence in colleges and universities. While public trust is declining across the board, the group of Americans with the lowest confidence in higher education are those with no degree.

Higher education institutions are increasingly turning to advanced data analytics to boost enrollment and graduation rates for disadvantaged students and ensure they have a path to graduation. With data analytics, schools can identify patterns and trends in individualized areas like student demographics, academic performance metrics, socioeconomic indicators, and more.

Higher education institutions are now tapping data analytics to best understand challenges faced by disadvantaged students – a group underrepresented in colleges and universities across the nation.

By analyzing data from sources that include school records, socioeconomic levels, and other demographic sources, institutions are gaining tremendous insights into the factors affecting these students’ college recruitment, enrollment, achievement, and completion strategies that have the power to make a difference on an individual level.

Identifying and overcoming barriers

Data analytics empowers colleges and universities to pinpoint factors among these student groups, such as financial constraints, geographical location, and academic preparedness, which may be impacting access, performance, and achievement. Through the identification of individual and specific variables, colleges can better develop strategies to overcome these barriers and encourage greater student enrollment and completion.By meticulously examining data, institutes of higher learning are able to pinpoint obstacles and hurdles in the educational journey of these students. College officials also gain the ability to methodically identify barriers to educational attainment–a process crucial for all learners, but particularly those who are disadvantaged.

Upon identifying these barriers, school officials can further utilize data analytics to recommend appropriate engagement strategies down to the individual level, providing customized plans for each student to develop a customized path to achievement. This part of the process is just as important as identifying the barriers. By making thoughtful, data-informed decisions, we can implement programs and resources designed to increase recruitment, enrollment, and educational attainment for students that reach down to the individual level like never before.

For instance, if data reveals that students in disadvantaged groups fall below the average for acceptance for a particular major or program, interventions could include reviewing the department’s approach to make sure it’s accessible to and inclusive of all students, developing tutoring programs, or the creation of additional classes in that subject.

Data analytics also helps schools effectively allocate financial aid and scholarships to students who will benefit most. Institutions can identify deserving students who may be unable to pursue higher education due to financial constraints and target aid programs specifically for their individual needs. At the same time, data can show the best path to obtain financial support for tuition that fits their individual needs. This not only increases access for these students but also creates a more economically diverse and inclusive campus culture, enhancing the experience of all students, faculty, and staff.

Through data analytics, we can move from general assumptions to targeted, practical strategies that address the unique challenges faced by students from disadvantaged backgrounds, thus boosting their access to higher education enrollment and vastly improving their chances of success.

More than just enrollment

Enrollment is just the first step for students to gain access to learning opportunities and shape their future. However, the real significance lies in completion. It’s the act of graduating that officially confers students with the skills, knowledge, and qualifications they need to thrive in their chosen careers and contribute meaningfully to society.

Paul Nagy, Vice President for Strategic Planning & Analysis at Hillsborough Community College, affirms the vital role data analytics can play: “Utilizing data analytics to boost enrollment for students is tremendous, but the real focus is on completions. If we don’t get students to completion, whether a degree or certificate, all we’re giving them is debt.”

Nagy’s first-hand analysis speaks to the importance of not only opening access for disadvantaged students but ensuring they have all the tools needed to successfully cross the finish line at graduation.

Holistic support geared toward student success

The use of data analytics in higher education is more than just a tool for identifying risk factors and can significantly boost an institution’s advising resources and support for students most in need. Through the integration of analytics with artificial intelligence, colleges can now offer personalized guidance to students that goes beyond traditional advising boundaries. This integration allows the creation of tools like chatbots, capable of guiding students through their unique journey to graduation.

These systems can proactively reach out to students with preemptive warnings–a crucial feature that can help students ward off larger issues relating to attendance or prerequisites. This approach empowers students to tackle potential problems head-on before they develop into significant obstacles.

These technologies support students by creating customized study plans, providing a roadmap tailored specifically to the student’s academic journey, and connecting students with resources that are suitable for their specific needs. This might mean directing students to academic support services, linking them to financial aid resources, or even connecting them with extracurricular activities that align with their interests.

Data analytics is uncovering hidden insights that can readily support disadvantaged students’ success in higher education. It serves as a tool to provide an accurate picture based on real data.

It not only helps identify unforeseen barriers but also paves the way for more effective strategies to increase student success rates. With the right data, we can make educational opportunities more accessible and achievable for all students.

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