Big Data: Colleges Now Using Big Data In College Admissions

By Lisa Nelson and Sally Walsh


Many of us have experienced times when Amazon or Netflix suggest a book or movie based on our past searches. It may feel strange that a huge organization can predict what we might be interested in reading or watching. Complex algorithms, using data points based on our search history, work seamlessly to provide this information. And, yes, we often fall in line and buy based on these suggestions. Colleges are perhaps late to the game, but they are now following similar business methodologies as they search to attract and enroll prospective students who will be good fits for their campus. This and other data mining methods (for example matching data points from College Board and ACT questionnaires with the profiles of their successful students) is the subject of this interesting article in The Atlantic that uncovers how colleges use Big Data to effectively market themselves to students they wish to attract.

We believe students and their parents should be aware of the new ways in which colleges market to and observe students’ online activity as it pertains to the college search. We advise students to open all emails they receive from colleges they are interested in; doing this will leave a digital footprint at those colleges. If a student receives a code in the mail to access a college’s website, they should use it if they are interested in the college. These small steps will help leave a positive data record at colleges that are following you.

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