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Data Analysis in Financial Aid–Need Blind Admissions vs. Need Blind Financial Aid

An article from PR Web demonstrates that colleges are businesses, and that they are becoming increasingly savvy about analyzing sales data.

This article highlights how the College of the Holy Cross is tracking students who receive discounts (a.k.a. “scholarships” or “grants”) from the college, to see how these discounts may or may not influence a student’s decision to enroll.

In a paragraph that could only come from the business world (and NOT from some tweedy academic institution), the software company describes how Holy Cross benefits from this data analysis.

The business intelligence software from Rapid Insight is designed to significantly impact enrollment management. “Our goal is to make predictive modeling and data analysis as simple and straightforward as possible across higher education,” says Michael Laracy, President and CEO of Rapid Insight. “We’re in the business of helping colleges like Holy Cross make optimal use of their historical information for data driven decision making.” The software eliminates the need for programming, quickly and easily allowing users to explore, visualize, and understand their data.

The fact is that colleges and universities are fundamentally businesses.  They may be businesses with a social mission, and they may be subsidized to a greater or lesser degree by taxpayers.  They act like businesses–which does not make them evil.  They use business software, analyze their bottom lines, and they have to manage their sales numbers carefully.  They are using all the latest business tools to help them in managing their budgets.  This is responsible management.

Yet to most consumers of higher education, this business-like aspect of colleges is hidden by the arcane and obscure ways in which the communicate with potential customers.  Pricing policies are purposefully confusing.  Some colleges will not take particular customers–no matter how much they might be willing to pay.  Higher education in America is one of the most confusing businesses in the world.

No wonder about 26% of students with above-average standardized test scores are hiring educational consultants like us.  Families need help in interpreting how the higher education business works.

Mark Montgomery
Educational Consultant

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