How colleges track prospective students online

Local News

(WSPA) – If someone in your family is doing the college search, make note, those institutions may be checking you out too.

Colleges and universities now have access to technology that allows them to keep tabs on prospective students in a way that was never possible before.

Before a student ever steps foot on campus, colleges can track them digitally.

Wofford Vice President for Enrollment Brand Stille showed us a program that keeps data on each prospective student including how many times they visit the school’s website and what pages they view.

“It kind of sounds creepy when you put it that way, but I guess it helps out the college in the long run so see what they can change and stuff and how they can appeal to more students,” said Wofford senior Hailey Cassedy.

“I don’t really mind it honestly,” said Wofford freshman Everett Lawrence.

He says he’s grown up in a time when he’s used to being digitally tracked and sees the value.

“What Wofford would see is what people were looking at, what people were intersted in. I think it would be really helpful.”

Stille says colleges use the data to gauge what’s called “demonstrated interest” or how likely a student is to choose their school.

“Let’s say a student goes to Wofford’s web page. We capture their IP address when they do that and when they do that we can also track their activity. And so we get more information than just their contact information we may learn more about their interests,” said Stille.

Admissions counselors stress that grades and SAT or ACT scores continue to carry the most weight, but in a day when students face so much competition, showing a lot of interest can only help.

Lawrence was accepted into four Upstate colleges and spent a lot of time on all their websites. He says Wofford did a good job of showing what life would truly be like on campus.

“I thought it was exactly what I thought last year and when I came here it’s been the same experience, still love it,” said Lawrence.

7News reached out to several other higher educations insitutions in the Upstate and most take advantage of a data tracking programs.

Many will also buy student information from the PSAT based on zip code and general scores so that they can market the school to students that are more likely to apply and accept.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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