The Art and Science of the Data-Driven Search For Students

Movies with military themes always seem to get me.  Maybe it’s just because I am a guy and all the guns and explosions hold my interest, but I don’t think so. I am more inclined to think its because there is always some overarching strategy and tactical advantage to be achieved. In the world of higher ed enrollment management, there is little difference especially when it comes to the Data-Driven Search For Students.

Consider the number of tools that are being used during the average enrollment cycle at the average institution.  There are a smattering of direct mail items, travel, personal interviews and phone interaction, e-mail, texting, IP targeting and on and on and on.  As is the case with the military , if you use the right weapon on the wrong audience, there are always adverse reactions and (I hate this term) collateral damage.

Determining the right market for our partners is one of my greatest joys, but can prove to also be the greatest challenge.  Our team of Data Scientists along with the practitioners that are part of the Advisory Services team at Capture Higher Ed work directly with a school to not only discover and develop markets that may be untapped, but we also help our partner college and universities explore other compatible markets that might be needed to shore up and/or sufficiently grow the incoming class through data-driven search.

In high school, my math teacher, would have agreed that I am not great with permutations (he said I didn’t apply myself), but when I got into higher ed, that seemed to change.  Within the numerous options that are available for data-driven search for students, there are literally hundreds of thousands of combinations that can be optimized to help an institution find particular students.

Capture’s Advisory Services team along with our Data Scientists do some serious ‘geeking out’ when it comes to putting together data and ideas for how to find and foster markets for our partners.  By leveraging technology, history, and practical experience, our teams can efficiently drill into markets that are required to grow and maintain class sizes.  We are data and technology junkies … so as markets and tools change, we think “in front” so as to determine the best tools (including the tried and true tools that history has taught us to use) to help our partners achieve maximum success.

Some individuals maintain that new technology will always replace that which has been historically successful … this is evidenced by the multitude of trends that come and go in higher ed.  I tend to challenge this premise (at least, to a degree).  Heading back to my extended metaphor, the military has certainly not ceased from using the historically successful as the new and shiny has become available.  The same is true in enrollment management.  Our task is to add to what works with other tools that also work.  In doing so, we improve the breadth and depth … and the results of the data-driven search.

By Jamie Gleason, Senior Enrollment Advisor, Capture Higher Ed