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More Weekly Admission Reports Data Questions
by Silence Dogood

As has been previously mentioned, 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 numbers 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). In order for a fair comparison, you need to compare ‘apples with apples.’ As a result, all of these numbers are compared to the data from the same date the prior year, which allows for a valid point of comparison.

The Final Spring 2015 Weekly Admit Report just came out and it reproduced below:

The Final Spring 2014 Weekly Admit Report, which was distributed last spring, is reproduced to the right of the Final Spring 2015 Weekly Admit Report for ease of comparison:

Specifically, compare the data for the Final Spring 2014 numbers with the Spring 2014 numbers in the Final Spring 2015 report. You will notice that there are 12 comparable items and 7 of the twelve have different numbers. I don’t mean to imply that there is some conspiracy going on but that the data just does not match up!

Look at the number of applications in the Spring 2015 report—the number is listed as 376 for Spring 2014. When you look at the Spring 2014 report, you see 390. The difference is only 14. However, it changes the “% Inc/Dec ’15 vs ’14” from -0.8% to -4.6%, which is nearly six times larger!

Not all of the errors that are made make the data for 2015 look better. The number of transfer applications in the Spring 2014 report is listed as 1,028. In the Spring 2015 report, the number listed is 1,058. Using the number from the Spring 2014 report reduces the decline from being down 29 to being up 1. As a result, the percentage changes from being down -2.7% to being up 0.1%. Again, that’s a significantly larger result! Further, it changes from a decline to an increase.

The values of the numbers in the Weekly Admission Progress Reports are small and the errors are even smaller so it really isn’t going to make a significant difference one way or the other. However, when you see errors in things that should be easy to generate with high degree of reliability, it just makes one wonder about other data.

Consider this example. Last summer, at Meet and Confer in July, the administration announced that the deficit for FY15 was going to be $3,600,000. Later in the fall, the administration ‘revised’ their value to a deficit of $9,542,000. With such large differences between large numbers, I guess we shouldn’t be too concerned about a few small differences in the numbers on the Weekly Admission Progress Reports!

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