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How high quality data improves higher education

This year’s Common Application Member Summit 2017 brought together almost 300 colleges and universities in Reston, Virginia. A not-for-profit, member-based organization, Common App is “committed to the pursuit of access, equity and integrity in the college admission process.” All college-bound students are encouraged to utilize the Common App to apply to up to 700 colleges and universities that use the format as a standardization for all incoming students. This has simplified the process significantly for students but, of course, data challenges abound.

In 2012, Experian Data Quality partnered with the Common App to provide real-time address validation to users of the system for the college application process. This solved a multitude of data problems that colleges were having with getting acceptance letters to the right students. The original expectation had been that students wanted to get the information right and therefore would update the application address fields appropriately. Before address validation, however, letters were being returned and admission counselors were forced to try and track down students. Something as simple as a missing apartment or unit number were adding additional workload at an increasing rate and creating an extremely difficult time for admission departments. When the Common App integrated Experian Data Quality’s real-time address validation, the letters got out the first time!

This year’s conference featured several higher education learning platform providers that integrate with other school systems, their CRM and SIS (student information system) as well as other proprietary platforms. And following every industry trend we have seen to date – the data is siloed! Having the Common App address validation is helpful for getting acceptance letters in the mail and improving the contact record, but it does not solve how schools market to students. Marketing teams are losing great sums of money in marketing materials that are returned to the school when a prospective student mailing gets a ‘Return to Sender’ stamp. The average mailing is now close to $40 and multiple returns get very expensive, very quickly. Experian Data Quality has multiple options to create a holistic environment of quality data.

Higher Education is no stranger to data quality concerns. Even as processes are seemingly simplified, the backend processing can be messy and complicated from a data quality perspective. Experian Data Quality was the only data quality vendor in attendance to the summit. We understand the value of data quality as it affects our higher education customers and stand at the ready to help them resolve all the quality problems as they arise.

High quality data allows those in higher education to save valuable time and money throughout the applications and admissions process. 

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