College enrollment and big data work together to bring more students to campus.

Jul 16 2014

4 Ways Big Data is Giving Students an Edge in the College Hunt

College enrollment and big data work together to bring more students to campus.

For years, colleges have been leveraging big data to help students perform better, keep them on track to graduate and direct them to majors they could excel at.

But that data can work both ways: It's also helping students find the best college for them. Here are just a few examples of how data is driving student enrollment and engagement on campuses across the country.

MyFutureTX is a college shopping website tailor-made for Texas-bound college students. The site gives prospective students unprecedented access to information like their estimated salary after graduation from a particular institution and with a degree in a particular field. After filling out basic information, students can get a personalized report of their ideal college based on their SAT score, household income and location. An Edcetera reporter wrote that if more states offered this level of transparency, colleges would be held more accountable for their graduates' successes.

Bigfuture, a data-driven site hosted by The College Board, helps students plan their college careers, guiding them with a series of questions about what they want out of the experience. After narrowing down career options to a few, students can then use a series of online tools to check their qualifications for application. A bevy of information on colleges aross the country are available with just a few clicks. And the requirements for each institution are shown in a simple grid, which students can quickly compare to their academic achievements so far.

StatFuse, an ed-tech startup that launched in 2012, lets students build personal profiles they can then compare to the requirements of thousands of colleges. A student's profile can include information like GPA, extracurricular activities, ethnicity and criminal history. Students then use the site's "Chanculator" to calculate their chances of being accepted to their dream college. The site's creator, Jeet Banerjee, spoke with EdTech: Focus on Higher Education about the origins of his startup and where he hopes to take it.

Ithaca College’s enrollment team uses experimentation and data to help improve the college experience for students, according to Eric Maguire, of the college's enrollment and communications department. In 2011, the college developed myIthaca, a private social networking site that lets students share their profiles and photos among their peers instead of their extended families. The site has been driving student engagement on campus and has played a large role in driving enrollment efforts, Maguire said.