The more data available, it seems, the more challenging it can be to find meaning in it. In spreadsheet form, data can be dulling and tedious. Patterns get hidden in the rows and columns. And after all your searching for key numbers, you may still find that relevance is lost without cross-referencing the results against other data sources such as Google, a customer relationship management system (CRM) or a learning management system (LMS).

Sometimes it’s easiest to start with the top questions you have about your data and build a dashboard to help you keep track. The following are 10 dashboards that we think are helpful for making decisions about student recruitment. Note: We believe that dashboards should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they reflect the most useful questions of the moment. The dashboards below represent the questions that we think are most useful to colleges right now. Additionally, each of these dashboards was created by a new data visualization tool called Collegis Discovery Engine, now available to our higher ed partners.

Dashboard 1: Enrollment Trends
Can you tell whether your inquiries, apps or starts are up? By understanding general year-over-year performance, colleges can start planning for the future. By comparing year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter statistics, admissions teams can monitor their progress and whether they’ve hit previous benchmarks.

Dashboard 2: Marketing Source Trends
What marketing sources are driving leads, apps and starts? By understanding marketing sources, colleges and universities can start to understand what efforts are driving interest in the college.

Dashboard 3: Admissions Pipeline
What does your pipeline look like for prospective students? By understanding the stages that prospective students are in, admissions teams can start to identify bottlenecks and reprioritize resources to help move students through the funnel more efficiently.

Dashboard 4: Geography
Which areas of the state, region and country is interest coming from? Often, prospective student interest can come from pockets around campus. By understanding where interest is coming from, marketing teams can move resources to strategically pinpointed target areas.

Dashboard 5: Distance Groupings
How do yield rates differ based on distance from campus? By grouping interest, applications, etc., by distance, universities can start to understand how yield rates change based on how far prospects are from campus. This can help your marketing team ensure that marketing dollars are allocated to the areas with high potential.

Dashboard 6: Yield Rate
What is your yield rate by marketing channel? Marketing channels can generate a wide range of results. Some channels deliver higher-quality inquiries, others deliver higher quantities. By looking at yield rate by channel, colleges can adjust their marketing investments to maximize their return.

Dashboard 7: Admissions Efficiency
How long is it taking your admissions reps to contact prospective students? By measuring this variable, colleges can assess the relationship of response time to application volume, acceptance rate and likelihood of enrollment. We’ve found that this metric is often overlooked, yet it’s been a critical indicator for us and our partner colleges.

Dashboard 8: Rep Performance
Do you know which of your admissions representatives are driving starts? This can help you ensure that your top performers are free to focus on inquiries rather than paperwork. Alternatively, it can help you identify which admissions reps your staff should look to learn from.

Dashboard 9: Campus Performance
How are different campuses performing relative to each other? Typically, each college, school and program will have different yield rates. By comparing them, colleges are able to help prioritize resources across campuses and identify opportunities to grow enrollment.

Dashboard 10: Performance Against Goal
How is the college performing against its goals? An enrollment dashboard should, ultimately, inform how the college is faring in its pursuit of enrollment goals. By measuring against these goals, colleges can quickly know how they are doing and adjust if needed.

Dashboard reviews are a great way to verify your assumptions with data. By making a practice of reviewing dashboards, you’ll quickly notice when changes occur. That will allow you to be more nimble in your approaches by adjusting as needed as the market fluctuates. Providing data in charts and graphs that tell a story makes it easy for your teams to follow along. There is no shortage of data today but finding meaning in it can be challenging. Identifying key questions and creating dashboards to answer those questions can make data-driven decision making easier for you and your entire higher education management team.