Could Big Data Help Raise College Grad Rates?


A growing number of colleges are using student data to identify and assist struggling undergrads, according to a recent New York Times report.

Georgia State University, the University of Arizona, and Middle Tennessee State are among institutions using analytics in an effort to boost student retention and graduation rates.

“Different courses at different universities have proved to be predictors of success or failure,” the article notes. “The most significant seem to be foundational courses that prepare students for higher-level work in a particular major.”

Once individual colleges have identified the classes that are key to a student’s future success, institutions can use computer programs that alert advisors “when students go off historically successful pathways.”

“The analytics programs know the paths that successful students have followed,” according to the article. “When a student veers off that path, like getting a low grade in a predictor course or taking a course out of sequence, advisers get an alert.”

Read the full article and learn in the more about this new approach to advising in NACAC’s Journal of College Admission. See pages 36-39 of the magazine’s fall edition to learn how big data is changing higher education.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *