A Day in the Life of Data

A Day in the Life of Data

You arrive at your office bright and early on a Spring morning, ready to start your day. Before grabbing any coffee, you sit down to check your calendar. You nearly shudder. Right there, in the middle of your morning, is an important meeting with the Dean and Provost. Even some program directors have RSVP’d. These meetings can get intense and leave you feeling drained—sometimes people just don’t understand the numbers, no matter how hard you try.

But then you remember your new secret weapon: data visualization. Instead of your usual number-heavy reports, this time you create reports that are not only informative and visual but easy to understand and interpret. You’re confident that your visualizations will make your conversations go more smoothly.

10:00 AM

Meeting time. Though you normally get a bit nervous about these meetings, this time you’re excited. You’ve been living in this data since your last recruiting trip, and you’re excited to share it with your colleagues. And with the help of your visualizations, you know they’ll be impressed.

You begin by discussing your admissions goals. Instead of simply stating your progress, you show them. You walk through your admissions dashboard, making sure to note that total enrollment is up.



Using some of your dropdowns, you highlight the enrollment of each college. You also speak to the trends from the past few years. At this point you’re usually bombarded with questions—repeating yourself many times, and the numbers don’t seem to stick. Today, you see everyone in the room nodding. They understand what you’re saying. You field a few clarifying questions, but the conversation goes more smoothly than ever before.

You move on to the next section of your presentation. Earlier in the week you heard the Provost mention that she was curious about which geographic areas your incoming class lived in. Instead of simply telling her how many students came from the East Coast and how many from the South, you want to wow her. You talk through your next visualization, showing which areas of the United States are best represented at your school. You compare this with your travel schedule, showing that you and others in admissions spent the most time in the West region, which is reflected by the growth of application from that region. Instead of the usual conversation about how to interpret the numbers, your visualizations allow you and the Provost to have a strategic conversation about where admissions should visit next year and backs up your idea to increase travel to parts of California and the Pacific Northwest.



You click to the final slide of your presentation. You know that one of the program directors was starting to worry that he would need to hire additional staff to accommodate all the new students. In order to calm his fears, you put together a graphic showing not only the number of admitted students, but melt data as well. This helps him to see that, although many students have already been admitted, he shouldn’t be concerned with staffing since historical data shows the class will melt to his ideal class size by opening day. You also walk him through how many more spots you expect to be filmed, and his fears are calmed.

After a few more questions about strategies and goals, the meeting concludes. The Dean thanks you for helping everyone to understand the data so easily and requests that all your reports be visual from now on. You agree, and walk back to your office. You realize that instead of feeling drained, you feel energized by the meeting. You return to your desk, excited about the next visualizations you want to create.

By using data visualization, you can clear up any confusion and share your data in an easy-to-understand way. To learn more about the all the ways your school can utilize data visualizations, head over to our blog!

Maddie Shepard
Maddie Shepard
July 5, 2017