Dickinson College turns to Rapid Insight

Dickinson College, a liberal arts school in Carlisle, PA, has started using Rapid Insight software to manage application, enrollment and financial aid data.

Rapid Insight tools help the school aggregate data from a number of systems — such as Banner, Cognos and Recruitment Plus — into one place and then analyze the data, create predictive models and profile. The software also automates a number of operations. Dickinson received 5,282 applications for entry in Fall 2008 and accepted 613 into its class of 2012.

“We’re faced with numbers approaching 6,000 applicants each year, and from those we need to figure out which ones we want to accept and predict which ones are going to enroll, and with those enrolling students come a bunch of other things like how much financial aid we can expect, how to ensure a diverse student population, etc.,” pointed out Mike Johnson, Dickinson’s director of institutional research. “This helps with enrollment management. It’s a real mix of art and science, so anything we can use to help us predict how people are going to respond is very helpful.”

Previously Dickinson had used a number of legacy systems, which had much longer turnaround times for data and analysis. Johnson cited the speed with which he could get Rapid Insight up and running as one reason for choosing the system. Mostly, though, the idea behind working with the new data tools was to improve the accuracy of his office’s enrollment predictions. The school has 2,353 full-time students from 41 states and 40 countries. In Fall 2008, 65% of all students received financial assistance.

“If we miss just by a handful of students, with the cost of tuition and everything, it’s very costly dollar-wise,” Johnson said. “If we want a class of 625, and we end up with a class of 610, we’re hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole with expected tuition revenue.”

Going forward, Dickinson will use Rapid Insight tools to improve alumni annual giving campaigns and to increase student retention.

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