An Ant in a Barrel

As collaborative as those in Higher Education attempt to appear, when most of us get into meetings to discuss headcounts and trends, we usually feel isolated. In that sense, we are like an ant in a barrel. Imagine you can only see the inside of the barrel from an ant's point of view: an opening to the sky that hints at the existence of a wide world above it. But nothing about that world is clear.

Thankfully, there are some tools freely and readily available that can help you plan for the inevitable adjustment to headcount. One such tool is the database provided by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). Your institution reports IPEDS data on an annual yearly basis, which is then loaded into an NCES database, and melded with information about all other elementary, secondary and post-secondary information in the country. 

Curious about what is happening to your enrollment? Search the data set and compare your institution to the data about students entering post-secondary education nationwide. It just a few minutes, you can obtain the answer to that question and many others. 

Here are trends of students entering post-secondary degree institutions from 2001 through 2016. 

(Note: 2017-18 data is available at NCES, but is not considered official until it is vetted.)

(Note: 2017-18 data is available at NCES, but is not considered official until it is vetted.)

What do you see? How can these numbers support your strategy? We can go on and on about what kind of granular information you can get from this database, but it would not be nearly as powerful as inciting you to go play with it. 

We challenge you to visit and get informed. Let us know what you find!


PO Box 16369, Wilmington, NC, 28408, United States