For years, colleges have sought out applicants who have high test scores or who can throw a football. But increasingly the targets are far more precise, in part because of technology and in part because recruiters are under the gun to meet enrollment goals.
Now, it’s easier for recruiters to use millions of high school students’ personal information to target them for certain traits, including family income or ethnicity, or even to predict which students will apply, enroll and stay in college.
These tactics, which are beginning to resemble the data-driven efforts used by political campaigns, have already prompted internal discussions at the College Board. Advisers to the College Board — which has data on seven million students it sells to about 1,100 institutions each year – met early this summer and talked about doing more to police how colleges can use the board’s student data, but a committee decided not to change the current policies.