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Trust the Data, Not Your Gut: Data-Driven Decision-Making in Higher Ed

Jul 20, 2021 9:39:28 AM

If you have read the book or seen the movie, Moneyball, you know that trusting your gut leads to insanity.  In other words, you make the same poor selections, resulting in the same dismal performance, over and over again, all while hoping for a different outcome.  In a word, insanity.  Data saves us from ourselves, whether it be in baseball, business, or higher education. 

Data-driven decision-making is making an appearance across higher education.  Where in the past, colleges and universities used a student persona to identify their future alumni, today they are looking to “big data” to elevate class profiles, improve the student experience, and increase retention rates. 

Analyzing student performance can assist institutions in targeting enrollment and understanding a student’s likelihood for success prior to their enrollment.  This enables the institutions’ resources to be used most efficiently and results in the best possible outcome for both the institutions, in high rates of student retention and graduation, and for the student, in a positive overall experience.

There are four metrics that are most useful in evaluating the likelihood for student success:

  1. Conversion Rate: Students who are accepted to a college and enroll.
  1. Student Melt: Percent of students who commit to a college but do not show up for classes.
  1. Show Rate: Percent of students who commit to a college and show up for classes.
  1. Retention Rate: Percent of students who continue on from one term to the next. Low retention rates are a warning sign that students are struggling. 

Understanding the trends across these four metrics and the emerging patterns are key to colleges and universities achieving high degrees of success for their students and their institutions, which elevates their reputation in the field, both academically and experientially. 

Vennli works with our clients in higher education to understand how and why both current and potential students make decisions regarding their education so they can differentiate themselves from other institutions. Visit our Higher Education page to read how Vennli helps clients elevate class size and profile while improving the student experience.  

Many thanks to Bob Dowdell, who shared his thoughts on the role of data-driven decision-making in higher education, thereby assisting in the writing of this post.

Amy Coughlin
Written by Amy Coughlin

Senior Leader in Client Experience, Operations, E-Commerce, and Digital Marketing with a demonstrated history of working in service-oriented and people-focused organizations across multiple industries. Strong business development professional skilled in Data Analytics, Strategic Planning, Finance, Higher Education, and Leadership.

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