Do You Know Where Your Students Live and Work?
By Rodney Alsup, MBA News Digest

Earlier this year, I shared this article with MBA News Digest subscribers, “Grade Increase – Tracking Distance Education in the United States,” which provides a summary of a Babson Survey Research Group report by the same title.

The report focuses on distance education in the U.S. Graduate management education program managers should consider the following:“52.8% of all students who took at least one distance course also took an on-campus course, and of those who took only distance courses 56.1% reside in the same state as the institution at which they are enrolled. Virtually no distance enrollments are international: only 0.7% of all distance students are located outside of the United States.”

With this in mind, assuming you are managing an online program, do you know where your students live and work?

How Does Knowing These Answers Help?

Knowing these answers can influence a program’s design, choice of delivery methods, and marketing activities.

From a program design standpoint, the number of on-campus classroom meetings can create issues for students that live several hundred miles from campus. If it’s found that few students live several hundred miles from campus, perhaps too many on-campus meetings is the explanation. From a delivery method standpoint, if many students live in rural areas where there may be a lack of high-speed internet services, streaming live classes can be problematic for this group of students. From a marketing standpoint, comparing where students live and work to areas where online ads target can be a measure of the effectiveness of ad campaigns. In addition, geographic gaps can suggest areas where future ad campaigns can target.

How Easy Is It to Get the Answers?

It is easy. You only need each student’s zip code, postcode, Eircode, or PIN code. In most cases, this information is available in either the program’s recruiting and enrollment system (CRM) or from the registrar. Then you export the data from the source into an Excel spreadsheet for analysis and reporting purposes.

Are Pictures Worth s Thousand Words?

Absolutely! Creating a map that pinpoints where the students live and work provides a visual image of data that allows decision makers to see the geographic distribution of students. Mapping software provides an easy way to create the visual image or picture of the data collected.

The following list of mapping applications may offer a starting point:

  • eSpatial Zip Code Mapping Software
  • mapline US Zip Code Maps
  • EasyMapMaker
  • Tableau

I am sure other applications are available for use, so you may want to do your own search. Also, your college or university may have a license for these applications.

Published with permission of Rodney Alsup, MBA News Digest. Visit here for a free subscription to MBA News Digest.