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How Good Is The Data In The Weekly Admission Reports?
by Silence Dogood

Weekly Admission Progress Reports are typically circulated by the Office of Strategy, Planning, & Effectiveness that give a picture about the ongoing admissions of New Entering First-Year Students (NEF) and New Entering Transfer Students (NET). These progress reports contain data about the number of applications (complete and incomplete), some demographic data (numbers of students of color and international students), as well as some information that might give an indication about the numbers that might actually enroll (making an advising appointment or completing a housing application). All of these numbers are compared to the data from the same date the prior year, which allows for a point of comparison.

All of this information gives a partial picture of the potential for enrollment. It’s a partial picture because the numbers of NEF and NET entering in Spring Semester is a very small percentage of the total number of students enrolled. Last spring, the enrollment was 5,294 FYE. The total number of admission offers to NEF (185) and NET (622), totaled 807 students. If all of these students enrolled at SCSU and each took 15 credits this would add 404 FYE, which would represent 7.6% of the total FYE. The average number of credits taken is typically around 12 credits so using the typical pattern of enrollment would add 323 FYE instead of 404 FYE, which reduces to 6.1% of the total FYE contributed by new entering students. However, not all of the students who are offered admission actually attend so the “yield,” which is the percentage of students admitted who actually enroll, is much less than 100%. A good average is in the range of 37% (or less). Using a 37% yield would result in, at most, an additional 120 FYE, corresponding to only 2.3% of the FYE for Spring Semester. Clearly the effect of NEF and NET on Spring semester enrollment is small.

Although small in impact, the data is useful in the sense that it can provide information relating to trends. Over winter break, the weekly reports were not forwarded but resumed on January 6, 2015 with reports for December 19th, December 26th and January 2nd all coming on the same day. Normally, the reports come each week but, in this case, all three came at the same time. As a result, it was very easy to do a simple comparison of the data contained in these reports, which were the three most current reports available at the time.

Upon examination of the reports, I noticed that the number of NEF admission offers decreased from being down 1.1% on December 19th to being down 3.2% on December 26th to finally being down 3.6% on January 2nd. For SCSU, if the goal is to increase enrollment, this trend is going in the wrong direction! However, when looking at the actual numbers, it is the difference of being down 2 students to being down 6 students to being down 7 students. These numbers are so small that the change of only a couple of students can affect the percentages significantly! Again, the data must be put into the proper context. Since the numbers themselves are small, ANY change will not be too significant overall.

A portion of the three reports for the NEF applications are reproduced below:

I don’t know why but in looking at the three reports simultaneously, I happened to notice that the total number of NEF applications for Spring 2015 on December 19th, 2014 was 376 students. On December 26th, 2014 this number decreased to 375 students and on January 2nd, 2015 decreased even further to 374 students. The total number of applications is the sum of the complete plus the incomplete applications. As applications are completed, the number of incomplete applications should decrease and the number of complete applications should increase. However, the total number of applications must remain the same OR increase.

The problem is, it is simply not possible for the total number of applications to actually decrease—unless of course, the applications were written in disappearing ink! The decrease is in the number of applications is certainly small but makes one question the accuracy of the data in the report.

Apparently, there was no Weekly Admission Progress Report for January 9th. On January 20th, the Weekly Admission Progress Report for January 16th was distributed. The good news is that the decline in the number of NEF applications for Spring semester seems to have stabilized at 374. Since this latest report comes one week AFTER the beginning of classes for Spring Semester, there won’t be too many more applications for Spring semester and the number is unlikely to change.

Everyone makes mistakes. However, BEFORE decisions are made which have significant impact, it is important to make sure that data upon which decisions are being made is absolutely the best and most accurate data possible. Anything less is simply unacceptable. Clearly, in this case, there is an error with the collection or reporting of the data. But even assuming the most recent reports have corrected the error, the trend in the number of admission offers remains in a state of decline. The BIG question is when will we finally hit ‘bottom?’

2 Responses to “SCSU Admission Reports”

  • MtkaMoose says:

    How do you like it that Gov. Flint-Smith (oops) Dayton’s budget is not giving any new funds to MNSCU because of the no confidence votes? At least bad behavior isn’t getting rewarded.

  • Gary Gross says:

    That will change the minute the IFO & MnSCU kiss & make up. MnSCU will get some sort of increase.

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