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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Monday, January 8, 2018
College Admissions and Big Data
This Christmas, my husband bought me a Sonos sound system with Alexa built in. Two days in, my kids have learned how to boss Alexa around, and I've discovered that she's already learned my musical tastes based on my amazon library. Smart homes and robots with feelings will be the signposts in my children's youth, in the way that cassette tapes and VCRs marked mine. Perhaps it will make it easier for them to cope with the growing reality of Big Data's influence on our purchasing tastes.

Even the people who share the most casual relationship with social media probably have some sense of algorithms, and the way they are employed to streamline what we see and search for online. In the business world, data mining is now a standard part of marketing strategy. It is cheaper and more accurate than direct marketing, and colleges, like other businesses, are quickly learning to use it effectively.

The purchasing of student information is nothing new. Law schools purchase the names of students with certain LSAT scores from the test's administrator in order to court high-performing students. Universities looking to perfect demographic mosaics can purchase survey information from the College Board and the ACT. But as data mining becomes more sophisticated, its influence on the shaping of student bodies grows stronger.

The tech-savviness of the younger generation could prove a double-edged sword for colleges. On the one hand, high school students have already been warned to curate and sanitize their social media profiles carefully. On the other hand, it's difficult to cover up your digital footprints, and most people make little effort to try. Weighing privacy against convenience is no easy feat.

One thing is certain, data mining is changing the way all businesses operate, and colleges, who have been name-buying for decades, are quickly morphing with the times.


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