Mental Folders, Part 2: Asking Questions of Data and Applying it to Admissions

In the first part of this blog, we learned how overcoming “information blindness” saved a struggling elementary school in Cincinnati. Today, let’s examine how “asking questions of data” — referred to as “cognitive disfluency” — can be applied to admissions.

In his book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets to Being Productive in Life and Business, journalist Charles Duhigg explains how a particular Florida office of the Chase Manhattan Bank was proficient at collecting debts. Now, imagine being a debt collector. As you might guess, they didn’t especially like their jobs — and the average debt collector has no more than a high school diploma. But the reason they were so successful is that they collected huge amounts of data and then came up with ideas — not “good ideas,” necessarily, just ideas. Then they’d test them.

But with each experiment, those debt collectors became more and more sensitive to patterns. They listened carefully and tracked the debtors’ responses.

“Each phone call,” Duhigg explains, “contained tons of information that most collectors never registered … because they were looking for clues to prove or disprove theories. They were interacting with the data embodied in each conversation, turning it into something they could use.”

Humans learn. In spite of the sheer amount of information coming at us, if we have a way to organize it and ultimately use it, we learn. Now the debt collectors know that the secret to detecting patterns and learning from them is to have an easily portable series of “mental folders.”

Now apply this to yourself. What is your dilemma? Making your class, for one. What do you need to achieve that? Data, naturally. Who are these students? What are their interests? Where are they in their decision journey anyway?

The job of Capture Higher Ed is to make sense of this data. Our data scientists engage with this data, so they can construct the models — or build the machines that will construct those models — accurately, and with insight.

If you’ve made it this far, through this much information, you’ve done well. Overwhelmed? No problem. Just give us a call and ask questions. We’ve got some ideas to help you build a “mental folder” that will help you understand how Big Data can have a positive impact on your admissions process.

By Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed