Case studies

Deloitte Greenhouse: United States

Building a more intelligent college admissions process

A top university tries to look beyond test scores—with analytics

The client’s challenge

Notre Dame University selects students from a vast pool of applicants each year, looking for students who excel in terms of their achievements when compared with their fellow applicants. Having evaluated candidates for decades using the same factors as most universities—high school grades, standardized-test scores, essays, extracurricular achievements, recommendations—the admissions office started to wonder how it might determine an applicant’s potential to become a strong leader at Notre Dame and after graduation. The admissions team wanted to see how advanced technologies and data analytics might be able to help, as well as gain exposure to lessons and proven practices from leading organizations.

Deloitte’s solution

Deloitte U.S. planned a day-long Greenhouse session for Notre Dame’s admissions officers to envision their ideal admissions system and learn about changes they could make to their existing process that would bring them closer to this ideal.

As a starting point, the Deloitte team led Notre Dame through a discussion of their current admissions process; then conducted a design-thinking exercise to determine what their future admissions process should look like. They discussed recruiting and talent practices from organizations outside higher education, including Deloitte’s own practices. By exploring apples-to-oranges comparisons, rather than focusing solely on peer institutions, the Notre Dame team found inspiration and models to consider for their own process. The Greenhouse team also explored the capabilities of advanced analytics using publicly available information to create richer applicant profiles.

Finally, the team explored how using predictive analytics models could potentially gauge the likelihood of each applicant succeeding, both during their time at the university as students, as well as after graduation. By identifying the attributes possessed by graduates who have gone on to become leaders, and examining data from past applications, student transcripts, and records kept by Notre Dame’s career services and alumni relations departments, the admissions team could then look for those attributes when making its selections.

Impact on client’s business

The Notre Dame team left the Greenhouse session with a slate of ideas for re-engineering its admissions process. One was to apply the predictive analytics models to better understand and target the types of applicants who develop into successful students and professionals. Since the Greenhouse session, Notre Dame has gone on to hire a new admissions officer to pilot and test the innovative methods that were introduced in the Greenhouse.

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