Opening the Black Box: Analytics and Admissions | MIT Center for Civic Media
Chris Peterson is an admissions officer, teaching assistant, and researcher at MIT. He works at the intersection of digital strategy, new media, and social change.
In addition to his research affiliation with Civic, he is on the Board of the National Coalition Against Censorship, a Fellow at the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution, and the founder, owner, and sole-proprietor of BurgerMap.org.
He earned his B.A. in Critical Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he completed his thesis on Facebook privacy and/as contextual integrity advised by Ethan Katsh and Alan Gaitenby. He earned his S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, where he completed his thesis on user-generated censorship advised by Ian Condry, Ethan Zuckerman, and Nancy Baym.
Opening the Black Box: Analytics and Admissions
Today my guest post Opening the Black Box: Analytics and Admissions went live on for Chronicle of Higher Education's Head Count blog. I've been working on this post with Chronicle editor Eric Hoover for a few months. It shares some of the surprising (and, for admissions officers, disturbing) effects that web analytics pose for selective college admissions processes.
Here's an excerpt:
One morning, shortly before we released admissions decisions for the Class of 2016, I received an e-mail from an applicant.
“No one from MIT checked my link included in the application,” it read. “I just checked my Google Analytics account. No visits from Boston [or] Cambridge. I am sure that I have been rejected. Feeling hopeless and helpless.”
Every year an increasing proportion of our increasing applications contain a link to some digital supplement: a project tumblr, a YouTube video, a Flickr album of artwork. The contents of those supplements often round out the student, adding dimensions that our very flat applications lack. But while we gladly accept the supplements because of the insight they add to the applicant, the analytics that often come embedded in the supplements also add insight into our process.
As admissions officers, we are accustomed to reading applications; now, applications are reading us.
You can read the rest here.