Opening the Black Box: Analytics and Admissions

by on Jan.23, 2013, under general

Today my guest post Opening the Black Box: Analytics and Admissions went live on for Chronicle of Higher Education’s Head Count blog. I’ve been working on this post with Chronicle editor Eric Hoover for a few months. It shares some of the surprising (and, for admissions officers, disturbing) effects that web analytics pose for selective college admissions processes.

Here’s an excerpt:

One morning, shortly before we released admissions decisions for the Class of 2016, I received an e-mail from an applicant.

“No one from MIT checked my link included in the application,” it read. “I just checked my Google Analytics account. No visits from Boston [or] Cambridge. I am sure that I have been rejected. Feeling hopeless and helpless.”

Every year an increasing proportion of our increasing applications contain a link to some digital supplement: a project tumblr, a YouTube video, a Flickr album of artwork. The contents of those supplements often round out the student, adding dimensions that our very flat applications lack. But while we gladly accept the supplements because of the insight they add to the applicant, the analytics that often come embedded in the supplements also add insight into our process.

As admissions officers, we are accustomed to reading applications; now, applications are reading us.

You can read the rest here.

2 comments for this entry:
  1. Greg Norcie

    What if an applicatint put malicious code on their website? It might make sense from a security standpoint to require hard copies of all application materials.

  2. chris

    Yes, but that also really limits the sort of stuff we’re able to get.

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