The Year of the Asterisk

Aug 26, 2020

Back in March, we all wondered when things would get back to “normal.” Now, we wonder what “normal” even means. The only thing we know for certain is that the landscape is ever-changing, and the impacts will be felt for years to come. Major economic players including the music and airline industries don’t anticipate being back on track until 2025. What does that mean for higher ed?asterisk.png

During our recent conversation with four clients who are analytic leaders at their institutions, everyone observed that there will likely be several iterations of the “new normal” that will have a tremendous impact on the use of data to inform decision making. This year’s data may be worth more in the short term than the long term, when it will always be accompanied by a giant asterisk. Enrollment managers are struggling to predict incoming classes by comparing this fall to previous years when registration periods opened later, students are hedging their bets longer, and colleges that planned to open are reversing course even at this late date. Additionally, it will be difficult to use this fall as a new baseline moving forward, as the pandemic will have long-lasting effects on student behavior even once the current healthcare concerns have passed.

What can analytic leaders do in the face of these unknowns? While the comparability of data may be compromised, the fundamentals of good data management and dissemination practices remain the same. Consider how the data is delivered, and how it’s interpreted and by whom. It is more critical than ever to have the right people interpreting the right data, turning it into information that leaders can use to set guideposts…and change them as needed!

The video below is the first segment in a series from a conversation ASR's Higher Ed practice had in July 2020 with several of our client analytic leaders, about the impacts of the year's events on their use of analytics. In this segment, you will hear the voice of moderator John Van Weeren, Principal at ASR; followed by Dr. Nicola Richmond, Chief Strategist and Vice Chancellor of Strategy, Analytics and Research at Pima Community College; and Dr. David Kowalski, Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Innovation. Greg Flanik, Chief Information Officer at Baldwin Wallace University; and Dr. Nick Wagner, Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Saginaw Valley State University, also participated in the conversation.