Obsessing About Numbers

This is the time of year when staff and faculty really obsess about numbers. They contact our office multiple times every day requesting the latest update on how many students we have or don’t have. It usually begins with the innocuous little question, “What is our enrollment for fall looking like?”

Ahh, but don’t be fooled, little grasshopper. That innocuous question is just the toe being dipped in the water. Soon, you should expect a full-blown ninja-style cannon-ball leap: “What is the breakdown of the undergraduate headcount, compared to last year’s point-in-time data and comparative FTE, not counting the 5th year B.Ed. students?”


Data and the Registrar: there ought to be a course, and it should include crisis counselling, and maybe a good measure of post-traumatic stress syndrome counselling as well. We could call it Registrar 101: Data and Reporting.

Tracking important data is critical to the success of any college or university. The larger and more complex the institution, the more difficult it is to identify the most important data sets. It helps to tie the data to two things: money and outcomes (which might be the same thing). What numbers affect your bottom line? What numbers affect your reputation? What numbers affect your grant applications? What numbers are important to your supporters (internal and external)?

These are the numbers you need to track. Invest the time and money to research what numbers are critical, then build a dashboard you can update daily. Do yourself a favour – post the numbers somewhere interested parties can check without knocking on (down!) your door.


2 thoughts on “Obsessing About Numbers

  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean


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