Millions of students enrolling for the first year at the US baccalaureate institutions do not return for their second year. The ripple effect is huge when billions are spent educating these students, draining the institutions of investments made toward allocating scholarships, paid partnerships, and financial aid, all of which could have been beneficial to other students.
When highly experienced data scientist, Ashley Kern collaborated with Michigan Technological University for a consulting project, she saw from close quarters how financial aid budgeting for undergraduate students becomes challenging for institutions, when they don’t know who all will not return the next year. This budgeting challenge ties up hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars per year as a budget ‘cushion’. Ashley developed a budget-friendly, ‘problem-solving’ predictive modeling solution to provide an edge to small and medium-sized institutions, thus laying the cornerstone for SightLine. Ashley’s business model leverages the higher-education consulting projects as funded R&D to develop new and innovative in-house products for a variety of universities.
Well-versed with the nitty-gritty of data science project development and applications, Ashley and her team at Sightline are on a mission to offer an optimum balance between technology and educational institutions’ requirements for favorable results through more personalized interactions. SightLine helps small and medium-sized institutions wedged by limited resources to bridge the technology-education gap with predictive data modeling to deliver results while concentrating on better student outcomes.
“We have seen that university wide student tracking software typically predicts whether a student will finish their current semester or specific courses. This daily or weekly tracking is retroactive and does not provide a long enough lead time for meaningful interventions,” states Ashley. “We also offer comprehensive documentation of the predictive analytics data to help institutions understand what is beneficial for a student, and providing a 1-2 semester lead-time for quality, in-depth intervention.”
Ashley and her team at Sightline are on a mission to offer an optimum balance between technology and educational institutions’ requirements for favorable results through more personalized interactions
This saves institutions significant time and effort to filter through the bulk of data, learn about new software, or grasp the working of predictive analytics behind the scenes to procure the long-term forecast.
As the competition intensifies with universities looking to boost enrollment and retention, SightLine addresses yet another prominent hurdle—underserved students. Ashley goes on to mention, “We have observed a majority of middle and lower-middle-class students around the globe being underserved. We intend to ensure our first-generation students are properly served.” The effectiveness of SightLine’s initiative to obtain results took a more literal form when a university in Michigan approached the company to serve middle-class students adequately. Many rural and middle-class students undertake a significant amount of loans, when they don’t qualify as ‘high need’ students but do not have the financial means to pay out-of-pocket. The team at SightLine effectively identified the areas to improve the yield while providing the middle-class students with an incentive to enroll in this university for higher education. “We made the students feel like a part of a community, and made sure they were not overlooked,” says Ashley. The primary lever universities can leverage is intelligent financial aid allocation, making sure universities do not offer too much in aid to students who are unlikely to enroll and support students who need additional funding to be successful.
While similar stories reflect the company’s unparalleled quality of service, SightLine steps up the game by implementing financial aid allocation strategies for higher education institutions via creative financial aid optimization product. This product combined with predictive modeling and data analytics conveniently positions SightLine as a proven ‘problem-solver’ across the educational sector. “We use a rigorous, scalable, and validated methodology that fits higher education applications,” she adds.
With a primary objective to provide quality predictive analytics for small and medium-sized institutions, SightLine continues to redefine its portfolio, and introduce new products that will best serve individual academic departments.
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