About Those Uncounted Students

I recently was interviewed by Scott Jeffe from Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL), a company that I believe is the preeminent enrollment management firm for US higher education, and Scott published two blog posts today based on our interactions. Beyond his work at RNL, I have known of Scott’s work for years, as he was the lead researcher at Aslanian Market Research in support of Carol Aslanian in the creation of the long-running Online College Students annual surveys for Learning House, which I have often referenced in blog posts and keynotes. Read this post for a summary of that history. [full-page audio link]

The topic for our interview and for Scott’s posts was the recent addition of Distance Education survey components for the IPEDS 12-month Unduplicated Headcount data, which I described over the past two years. Scott shares a video interview and abridged transcription in his first post.

I’ve been reading Phil Hill’s excellent blog (PhilOnEdTech) for the last few years, and have wanted to talk with him many times. I finally picked up the phone to talk with him about a set of blogs he wrote about new data from IPEDS that indicate that they’ve been undercounting online students by almost 2 million students. I was so fascinated by the new data that I did some additional analysis myself in another blog, but watch my interview with Phil in this post.

What I particularly enjoyed about this interview is that Scott has spent time doing his own research on the subject, which he shares in his second post.

The fall enrollment snapshot that we have relied on is undercounting online student by 75 percent among undergraduates and 44 percent among graduate students. Below we summarize the topline data and at the end of this blog we present more detailed data by sector of institution using 2019-2020 academic year data (rather than 2020-21 which saw dramatic change due to the pandemic).

Scott then breaks out more details on how much the Fall enrollment data undercount how many students are active in online and face-to-face education, and why this is important to understand market demand and the importance of online education to reach a broader student base.

Head on over, watch (or read) the interview, and see the excellent new analysis on this important topic.