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Rapid Insight: Higher Education case study

Fairfield University: Enhancing Analytical Capabilities with a Student Characteristic Based “IR Score”

Fairfield University

Most universities are under intense pressure to make accurate and informed enrollment decisions related to their college data.

Fairfield University was looking for a way to enhance their analytical capabilities. With approximately 5,100 students, both undergraduate and graduate, they needed to find the most efficient and effective method of wrangling and utilizing their student information. By implementing Rapid Insight predictive modeling and data blending software, they have not only begun to make data driven decisions, but have done so in an original and creative way. By incorporating high school and admission statistics, Fairfield was able to develop an “IR Score” that is vital to the Fairfield enrollment predictive model. This new and all-encompassing metric has also decluttered the report system. This allows for speedier overall comprehension by non-data-oriented staff members so everyone can make informed enrollment decisions.

What is an IR Score?

Dan Grazynski, Research Analyst at Fairfield University and everyday user of Rapid Insight software, introduced the concept of the IR Score. Using Rapid Insight’s Construct to blend and prepare the data, Grazynski was able to conduct a score that is unique to any institution. The data that makes up the metric is high school and admissions statistics, constituting an all-encompassing figure for each student. The IR Score is broken down into high school GPA, SAT Math and Verbal Comprehension Equivalence, and an admission rating. The admission rating is something distinct to Fairfield University. It is a score from 1 to 9 assigned to each student based on, not only high school data, but admissions information as well. This includes admissions processes like interviews and college essays. Grazynski explained that the score can also include any data that was used to investigate the student’s prior performance. Alternative information would include metrics such as class percentile, AP data and entrance exams.

“With college data, there is a lot of data to give to people in our department. For someone to get a report who really isn’t familiar with data, it can really bog them down,” asserted Grazynski. “This IR Score allows for one column for every student. Those who get the report will have an easier time understanding where the student was at in high school and how that will transfer to Fairfield University.”

How is the IR Score created?

Within Construct, each metric is converted to a percent based on the max a student can achieve for that given metric. Simple calculations, like dividing the HS GPA by four, SAT Math and Verbal by 1600, and the unique admissions rating inverted and divided by 10 are done. Any metric that a student does not have, Grazynski replaces it with the average score of whatever school or department they are enrolling into.

“You can definitely fine tune this,” shared Grazynski. “You can make this score very unique to your own college or university and Rapid Insight allows you to easily do that.”

The Success of the IR Score

Grazynski compared the IR Score performance to the student’s overall performance at Fairfield University, whether it is current or final GPA. When comparing these numbers, he found that there is a strong correlation of approximately .6 between the overall performance and the student’s IR Score. These numbers show that most students who come in as strong high school students are going to do really well at Fairfield. The opposite goes for students who did not perform well in high school. There are also students who have low and high scores, but perform contrary to what they were expected, i.e. under and over achievers at Fairfield.

How does Fairfield use what they find with the score? When Grazynski sees IR Scores that are on the low end, he knows that these are students they need to initially pay attention to. When a student has a score of .5 and the average for that group is .7, the university knows this is someone who’s GPA they may want to keep track of. By paying attention and aiding these students, it can help with retaining them, as well as raising their overall GPA. By assigning every student one single score, the Institutional Research department has begun to see less cluttered reports, making for easy readability and quick comprehension.

By looking at the relationship between overall enrollment and the IR Score Grazynski can see a negative correlation between the two. This means that the higher the score, the less of a chance the student will enroll as Fairfield is a safety school for stronger high school students. A student with a low score may see Fairfield as a reach school. This helps the university to know and understand its students’ capabilities and to execute the most effective means of reaching out to its students. The IR score may have a complex background of information, but it’s simplicity as an indicator for a student’s potential makes it a key player in assisting key decision makers.

“There is a lot more that I can do with this metric, but overall, the first pass showed great results and I definitely have room to enhance it with Rapid Insight software,” concluded Grazynski.