• Beth & Tim Manners

Colleges Use 'Big Data' To Score Applicants

The Washington Post: "Colleges are collecting more data about prospective students than ever before — part of an effort, administrators say, to make better predictions about which students are the most likely to apply, accept an offer and enroll. Records reviewed by The Post show that at least 44 public and private universities in the United States work with outside consulting companies to collect and analyze data on prospective students, by tracking their Web activity or formulating predictive scores to measure each student’s likelihood of enrolling."


"Records and interviews show that colleges are building vast repositories of data on prospective students — scanning test scores, Zip codes, high school transcripts, academic interests, Web browsing histories, ethnic backgrounds and household incomes for clues about which students would make the best candidates for admission. At many schools, this data is used to give students a score from 1 to 100, which determines how much attention colleges pay them in the recruiting process."


"The vast majority of universities reviewed by The Post do not tell students the schools are collecting their information. In a review of the online privacy policies of all 33 schools using Web tracking software, only three disclosed the purpose of the tracking. The other 30 omitted any explanation or did not explain the full extent or purpose of their tracking ... Admissions officers say behavioral tracking helps them serve students in the application process. When a college sees that a qualified student is serious about applying based on the student’s Web behavior, it can dedicate more staffers to follow up."


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