Colleges’ Data Disclosure Would Help Prospective and Active Students Alike

Ever wonder what Facebook does with the information it collects about you? Ever wonder what you could do with that same information? Economist Richard Thaler recently raised the notion that consumers could benefit if companies would turn the data they collect over to the public. His mantra is "It’s my data — give it back!"

The University of Chicago economist is onto something here. It makes a lot of sense to expect companies to turn over all the information they collect, though it sounds a bit off the wall. After all, that data about themselves could help consumers make better decisions. But why just Facebook? How about colleges and universities?

Higher learning institutions across our nation collect a tremendous amount of information about students and prospective students for marketing, predicting admissions yield, and increasingly, for compliance with completion goals. Right now, colleges use the information to target their promotions toward particular students, to build their brands, or to change the services they offer to meet demand. But some of that information could also be used to help students understand more about the colleges and more about themselves.

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