Fact: Every independent college with which we have worked has an institutional research director. This person, or office, is responsible for gathering, analyzing, and parsing out data-driven information to units across the campus. And, they are often to key information link to tying together all of the moving parts of the various information systems on campus. They are super important on college campuses and help the organization make data-driven decisions.
Guess what? We have yet to work with an independent school that actually possesses an institutional research director. Seriously. Lessons Learned #10 is that institutional research is a missing function in most independent schools.
I have come to believe that this is not a limitation of resources but maturity. Most independent schools just don't have the maturity about their information management systems to move toward a data-driven decision process. They have the resources, but not the desire or needed information management maturity to bring about real analytics in their decision-making processes. Some of this is changing, however, There are some excellent providers of school information management systems that are changing the way in which data is integrated and used on campuses. In five to ten years, my guess is that we will be much farther ahead as an industry.
Lessons Learned #10 is about the mission function of research and data-driven decision making at independent schools. Where is your school in terms of making informed, data-driven decisions?