Designed to deliver a quick shot of helpful, easy-to-digest content related to enrollment management, our new “300 Words or Less” series includes advice, opinions, topical responses to news/events, and beyond. This insight comes from the day-to-day interactions we have with clients and prospects and our own insights and experiences in the higher education industry. 

Common Data Analysis Errors in Enrollment Offices (in 300 Words or Less)

By Clint Chapman

Bad Data In…

Too often we ignore professional development for support and student staff. These critical team members are typically doing much of the data entry and processing. If source data or details are left out or incorrectly entered, it’s rarely noticed at the time. Yet later when analyzing data and making decisions about where to spend precious resources (time and money), we rely on this data to make decisions.

Recommendation: Spend time with your team showing them how the data is used in analysis so they best understand the importance of their work.

Cocktail Party Data

Have you ever found that one nugget of data that was just so interesting you couldn’t help but share it with everyone that would listen? Now, was there anything you could do with that data to positively impact your class? When analyzing data, it’s easy to go down a path of interesting tidbits that amount to nothing more than an interesting story to tell at cocktail parties.

Recommendation: Evaluate if the data story is impactful and actionable by asking the questions: Can I do anything about this? If I can, will it have significant impact on my objectives?

Working in a Vacuum

Busy gets in the way of collaboration. It’s easy to sit in an office, analyze data, and make some determination about what you see. This ignores realities and experiences that may impact the variables you review. Maybe another person on your team knows that a certain county has doubled in applications because of an event at a college fair where every student applied. Many of those applications may be “soft apps.” That impacts analysis.

Recommendation: Make data analysis a team activity. This will help develop new skills across your team and lead to better strategies.