This week, the literary and cultural commentary magazine, The Atlantic, published part two in a three-part series on the role of Big Data in the college-search process. Capture Higher Ed’s own Thom Golden was interviewed for the piece, How Colleges Use Big Data to Target the Students They Want, by Jeffrey Selingo.
Here is the section about Capture:
… colleges are beginning to search for alternatives to the traditional route of finding potential students by buying their names. Some have turned to a Louisville, Kentucky,-based company, Capture Higher Ed, that tracks how prospective students use university websites. Using a unique email link sent to prospective students or personal information they provide on a college’s web site, Capture’s software can tell universities what web pages were visited, how often, and what prospective students did before and after.
With that data, admissions can better understand the digital breadcrumbs students follow during the college search process, particularly what they do before they decide to apply or enroll. The data-mining enables schools to deliver personalized content on the web or send e-mails and texts to specific individuals, though critics worry it comes at the expense of student privacy. (Capture Higher Ed for its part says students are only tracked when they supply identifiable information to a school.)
More than 50 colleges and universities now use Capture’s software, including Syracuse University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Colby College. Last year, the company tracked 20 million unique web visitors on its clients’ sites. “Even for small schools,” said Thomas Golden, the vice president of data science at Capture Higher Ed, “we found there is a significant amount of inbound traffic that’s organic,” meaning prospective students search for colleges on the web without ever being contacted by the campuses.