The majority of college students–77 percent–think that schools should be using more of their personal data to improve their college experience, according to a study by the Wakefield Research group.

The study, published by Ellucian on Oct. 26, polled 1,000 college students from Oct. 13-19. Colleges and universities collect large amounts of personal data on their students, from where they live to what financial background they come from to what they like to do for fun. Ellucian’s survey indicates that students want schools to use that information to provide better experiences; 98 percent of respondents said they wanted their colleges to use personal data to improve academic processes, such as tracking credit completion, picking out courses, and scheduling academic advising appointments.

Students want their schools to use personal data to improve their social activities in addition to their academic habits, according to the survey. Ninety-five percent of respondents said they expect their college to use this information to improve social life, including student health care, housing, and student organizations. Forty-two percent of respondents said they are willing to have their data used to obtain offers from local bookstores, retailers, and restaurants.

“Today’s students are savvy users of technology and comfortable sharing their data, but they expect more from colleges and universities when they do,” said Jeff Ray, president and CEO at Ellucian, in a release on the Ellucian website. “They expect institutions to utilize their data to improve their educational/academic experience just like the apps on their phone.”

The study also revealed that 82 percent of students believe the personal information schools collect will transform the college experience in 10 years. Respondents also said they would provide additional information to enhance their college experience. For example, one in four surveyed students said that they would provide their least favorite childhood photos if it improved their chances of getting admitted to an institution.

“With the right data and analytics, colleges and universities can positively impact the experience they have with the student, improve retention, and help them graduate on time,” said James Willey, vice president, product management at Ellucian. “There is a big divide between how colleges and universities are currently using student information and the potential to transform the college experience.”

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Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Big Data, FITARA, Homeland Security, Education, Workforce Issues, and Civilian Agencies.