Colleges often rely on data in the hunt for students

Ry Rivard:

A trio of senior college enrollment officials gave a peek into how they decide which students to recruit. The process now involves number-crunching students’ demographic and economic information — not just sending chipper ambassadors to every nearby high school, mailing glossy books to students’ homes and relying on gut instincts.

The discussion, during a session at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, was one of many to take place here about how to hunt for students. The search for students involves a web of data points, formulas and consulting firms that perhaps few parents and students are aware of.

Don Munce, the president of the National Research Center for College and University Admissions, or NRCCUA, offers a modeling service meant to predict which high school students are most likely to enroll at a particular institution. The center sells data on students to college admissions officials.

Munce moderated the panel of three college admissions officials who use his predictive modeling service. One of the college officials joked he bought so many student names from NRCCUA that he probably paid for Munce’s yacht.

Munce advocates a “smart approach” — which is the brand name of the modeling service he sells — that would help colleges target the students most likely to enroll.