Following the success of the Obama presidential campaign’s approach to micro-targeting voters, increasingly sophisticated data slicing tools are now being used in for college student recruitment.
Inside Higher Ed’s Ry Rivard offers these details:
For years, colleges have sought out applicants who have high test scores or who can throw a football. But increasingly the targets are far more precise, in part because of technology and in part because recruiters are under the gun to meet enrollment goals.
Now, it’s easier for recruiters to use millions of high school students’ personal information to target them for certain traits, including family income or ethnicity, or even to predict which students will apply, enroll and stay in college.
These tactics, which are beginning to resemble the data-driven efforts used by political campaigns, have already prompted internal discussions at the College Board. Advisers to the College Board — which has data on seven million students it sells to about 1,100 institutions each year – met early this summer and talked about doing more to police how colleges can use the board’s student data, but a committee decided not to change the current policies.
The new tools to micro-target students could help some colleges attract tuition-paying students amid a shrinking pool of high school graduates. A scramble — first for students to enroll and second for students who don’t need institutional financial aid – has forced college officials to rethink how they fish for students and put more pressure on them to find students of a certain kind.
“Everybody wants to go to the magic island of full-pay students, but it’s rapidly shrinking real estate,” said Bill Berg, an enrollment management consultant at Scannell & Kurz.
Some consulting firms are promising to help colleges try to get paying students, or students who have other means that don’t require colleges to discount their tuition prices. RightStudent gathers and sells data on students to help colleges find specific types of students, including students with families wealthy enough to pay for college and students who can receive outside scholarships for other characteristics, including specific learning disabilities.
“The pickle the state schools are in is they are not getting paid by the state,” said RightStudent vice president Dan Walowski. “They need to find students to offset the balance who can pay.”
RightStudent is a fairly new entrant into the field of enrollment consulting and gets it data from students who submit information to Scholarships.com, its parent company.
Political campaign-style targeting comes to student search (Inside Higher Ed | News)