F44 Birds of a Feather: Using Geodemography in Student Search


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What is geodemography and how can it be used in improving student recruitment? How can geodemography be used to improve predictive models? This session will introduce you to Descriptor PLUS, a service providing educationally-relevant geodemographic information
to admission and enrollment managers interested in knowing more about college selection, choice, and persistence. Descriptor PLUS was revised and expanded in 2011 and this session will review these important changes.

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F44 Birds of a Feather: Using Geodemography in Student Search

  1. 1. Birds of a Feather:Using Geodemographyin Student SearchMay 3, 2012IACACMarc GeslaniEducational Manager
  2. 2. Opening Discussion• Introductions• What are your enrollment goals, challenges?• How well does your communication plan help you achieve your enrollment goals?• What do you know about students when you get their information at a college night or when you buy their name from Student Search?
  3. 3. Lurching at Personalization• Current consumer marketing efforts are focused on hyper-targeting of individuals• Some type of learned information or tracked behavior triggers an event• Colleges generally don’t have the type and • frequency of transactional data • the analytical capabilities • or communication budget/flexibilityto achieve commercial levels of hyper-targeting
  4. 4. What If?• What would you want to know about students…• …when they are prospects/suspects?• …when they are juniors, sophomores or younger?• How would you communicate/travel/recruit differently if you knew these things about students?
  5. 5. College Board Enrollment Planning Tools• Descriptor Plus • Geodemographic Segmentation Service • Clusters contain Descriptions of Students and Behaviors • Individual Students are Tagged- • Can use to segment messages and actions• Enrollment Planning Service • Comprehensive Database • Reports on your markets, your position in those markets, and your competition
  6. 6. Geodemography: Birds of a Feather Flock Together In Geodemography, neighborhoods can be defined by a ZIP+4 Code or a Census Tract Code.
  7. 7. Geodemography: People Emulate Their NeighborsGeodemography helps College expectations arecompanies analyze formed in-part by wherecommunities. the neighbors are sending their kids.Thus, different storesappear in different College-going patterns inneighborhoods. different communities-OR- can be analyzed and categorized usingA chain store stocks Geodemography.different items in differentstores.
  8. 8. Definition of Geodemography• Geodemography is the art and science of profiling people based on where they live • Commercial services most often profile consumer behavior• Descriptor PLUS profiles students college choice behavior based upon where they live AND where they go to school. • Factor Analysis and Profiling led by people with extensive experience in Enrollment Management.
  9. 9. YOU are the target of Geodemography• Claritas PRIZM introduced in 1979 the first commercially successful geodemographic service in the United States (incidentally, around the time College Board introduced Student Search and Enrollment Planning Service)• Acxiom PersonicX is another major player in the consumer segmentation space.• Let’s take a look at how these companies look at us!
  10. 10. Is There A Link To What We Do?• Does consumer-based, household geodemographic segmentation services tell us anything about college choice behavior of traditional students?• What critical data is missing from these services?
  11. 11. Educationally-Relevant Geodemography Individual student test Data from College Extrapolated data from the performance results and Questions asked on Board high school and U.S. Census andindividual student test score assessment questionnaires college files American Community Survey sending patterns Attributes 33 Educational 29 High School Neighborhood Clusters (HS) Clusters (EN)
  12. 12. Key Cluster Attributes…Educational Neighborhood Clusters High School Clusters• Mean SAT Critical Reading Score • Mean SAT Critical Reading Score• Mean SAT Math Score • Mean SAT Math Score• Mean SAT Writing Score • Mean SAT Writing Score• % of Students 1st Generation • Avg Number of Advanced Courses Taken• % of Students Likely to Apply Out-of-state • Avg Number of AP Exams per Student• % of Population college-aged • Avg Admit Rate at Targeted Colleges• Avg Cost of Targeted Colleges • Avg Cost of Targeted Colleges• % of Population non-White • % of Students non-White• Median family income • % of Students 1st Generation• % Speaking English only • % of Families below Poverty Level• % of Adults in Professional Jobs • % of Students Likely to Apply Out-of-state• % Interested in Financial Aid • % Interested in Financial Aid
  13. 13. How it works… Prospects • Descriptor PLUS helps you to know more Applicants about your prospects so that you can Admits maneuver them through “the funnel”. Enrolls
  14. 14. How it works… Prospects • But you need to start here… Applicants A historical tagging of students that have moved Admits past the prospect stage is absolutely necessary! Enrolls
  15. 15. Historical ReportTo begin the process of considering or usingDescriptor Plus, we conduct an historical taggingand analysis.Let’s take a look at a sample report.(Sample report only shown at presentation.)
  16. 16. Geodemography and Predictive Modeling• Predictive modeling is the use of past data to predict future results.• Geodemographic Segmentation and Predictive Modeling aren’t the same things.• They are not in contention with one another in regards to their effectiveness for student recruitment.• Schools consistently find that Descriptor PLUS tags are amongst the most predictive factors in their models.
  17. 17. What Is and Isn’t Geodemography• Geodemographic segmentation is based on a rigorous statistical analysis of multiple variables.• But eventually, they are artfully crafted to group people who behave similarly in a particular context for a specific purpose.• Categorizing behavior based on individual variables (zip code, income) may be significant factors in a predictive model, but that shouldn’t be equated to using Descriptor Plus or Geodemography.
  18. 18. What is Delivered with Descriptor PLUS?• A service that enhances student records with descriptive data • The data describes prospective students’ characteristics – milieu, performance, needs, and likely behavior • Extremely useful when you know very little about a student – maybe only an address or high school• Descriptor Plus features • Comprehensive cluster description guide • Data Analysis in the form of Historical Reports • Enhanced Student Search Service ordering capabilities • Unlimited student record tagging
  19. 19. How Can We Use This Data?• Load Tags Into Database • Conduct analyses by school, ethnicity, gender, etc.• Refine Outreach & Messaging • Who are we successful in recruiting and how does our outreach & messaging match to those clusters? • Who AREN’T we recruiting well (but want to) and does our outreach & message hinder or help?• Purchase by EN/HS Cluster in SSS• Staff development, territory orientation
  20. 20. How Else Can We Use This Data?• Admission decisions• Financial aid prioritizing• Admissions tie breaking• Waitlist prioritizing• Profile for campus audiences• Persistence/retention analysis
  21. 21. Use Descriptor PLUS and EPS to:• Find students who have characteristics like those you are enrolling (those sending scores) (EPS)• Find students who have characteristics that you would like to enhance (EPS)• Use D+ descriptions to target content of letters when you know little about a student• Enhance predictive modeling. Then target your efforts where they will likely make the most difference
  22. 22. Next Steps…• Additional questions?• How can we assist?
  23. 23. Contact InformationMarc GeslaniHigher Educational ManagerMidwestern Regional Officemgeslani@collegeboard.org847-653-4507