The Difference: It’s in the Data

According to The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2016, the cost of higher ed is strongly influencing which schools first-generation students choose. Students who are the first in their immediate family to go to college are nearly as likely to be accepted to their first-choice institution as freshmen with parents who have at least some college experience, but first-generation students are less likely to enroll at their first-choice institution.

The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) noticed this trend in the data they collected for the 2016 report and used it to help higher ed institutions figure out how to address this disparity. The group suggested that institutions innovate financial aid packaging and offer more extensive transitioning support to these students, especially since they represent 1 in 5 first-time, freshmen nationally.

But what if your class is evolving and you don’t have enough data to see how? Take, for example, the state of law school enrollment: admissions are down, acceptance is up and transfers are increasing. According to a recent ABA article, transferring used to play a small part in law school students’ educational plans. Now, more and more law schools are suggesting that those who are waitlisted or denied admission “check back in after first-year grades, sometimes keeping up the communications throughout the applicant’s first year.”

What can be done to address this trend, which may or may not hurt bar passage rates? “We just don’t know because this information is not collected and published,” shared Jerome Organ, a professor at the Minneapolis University of St. Thomas School of Law in the article.

The difference between the first example and the second: data. With an overview of enrollment trends, HERI developed a strategy that helps build better classes, recognizing issues that affect specific populations and knowing what needs to be done to address them. Without clear data about trends and the effects that they have on a school or its students, there’s not a clear enough view to know what needs to be done — or if anything needs to be done at all.

The right technology puts the right data in your hands, leaving decision making up to you. Read more about how the Common App is partnering with Liaison to launch a new visual analytics solution that will give undergraduate admissions officers the tools they need to build better classes.

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