University of Pittsburgh

THE NEED
Finding best-fit students for Pitt’s freshman class while making optimal use of marketing and budgetary resources

THE CHALLENGE
Finding predictive analytics software that can be used “right out of the box” to drill down to individual student records and prediction scores

THE SOLUTION
Othot’s predictive analytics cloud-based software

THE RESULTS
Othot will help Pitt meet enrollment targets with best-fit students while achieving a better return on resources and dollars, and the enrollment services managers will be able to better focus their time and know what actions to take to increase the likelihood of a student enrolling.

download pitt enrollment case study

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Othot gives our team actionable choices.

Marc Harding, Chief Enrollment Office

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Our enrollment services managers can only make so many calls each day. They can use the Othot tool to decide how to best focus their efforts.

Kellie Kane, OAFA Director of Operations & Strategic Planning

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In a world of limited resources, Othot will help us direct our dollars more efficiently.

Kate Ledger, OAFA Director of Marketing & Communications

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Pitt chooses Othot’s predictive analytics platform for freshman enrollment

The University of Pittsburgh, a selective public AAU institution, has earned its reputation as both an academic powerhouse and an engine of innovation. Its 132-acre Pittsburgh campus serves more than 28,000 students, and the breadth and depth of academic programs combined with an urban setting provides students with a vast array of opportunities.

Like many institutions in today’s competitive market, Pitt strives to enroll students who are the best fit for lifelong success, and is always looking for solutions to enroll the best possible class while making optimal use of marketing and budgetary resources.

Why Othot?

The University of Pittsburgh has earned its reputation as both an academic powerhouse and an engine of innovation. They have used a variety of predictive analytic methods and tools to achieve their goals. Some solutions were developed internally and others came from outside vendors and consultants. While these tools provided acceptable accuracy at the macro level, they didn’t offer a “records-based” view: a way for Pitt’s enrollment team to drill down to an individual student’s profile and view that student’s likelihood to enroll.

That changed when Pitt’s Chief Enrollment Officer Marc Harding met Othot CEO Andy Hannah, an Adjunct Professor of Business Analytics at Pitt with a highly impressive resume in technology and data. Hannah’s passion for data analytics appealed to Harding. “Internally, we were going deeper and deeper into data analytics, and what Othot was doing fit well with what we needed to do and where we needed to be,” observed Harding. And he was intrigued by the opportunity to work with a vendor-partner who understood analytics as well as Hannah.

Creating a solution with “street value” plus prescriptive analytics

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA) previously engaged with vendors whose solutions were highly complex and training was time intensive. Given the chance to shape a new product, Harding was determined to find something with immediate “street value:” a cloud-based real-time platform that would be intuitive and easy for both leadership and enrollment services managers to use.

In addition, Harding liked that the Othot product would offer both predictive analytics (what is the likelihood of a student to enroll) AND prescriptive analytics (which specific actions are likely to increase the probability of a specific student — or a segment of students — to enroll). The prescriptive “What If?” probabilities are based on candidates’ background and behaviors and Pitt’s historical data.

“I wanted a solution that our recruiters could use right out of the box and, based on what they see, take immediate action,” explains Harding. “There’s plenty of predictive modeling out there: you get a score, but what can you do with it? Othot allows our enrollment services managers and staff to look at a score and then run “What If?” scenarios to see what direct actions could increase that score.”

Using Othot to increase counselor efficiency

OAFA’s Director of Operations and Strategic Planning Kellie Kane believes that running “What if?” scores will give enrollment services managers greater independence in choosing where to focus their time to meet University goals at all points in the enrollment cycle. “Given the volume of students we work with and the competitiveness of the market, our enrollment services managers are under a lot of pressure — they can only make so many calls each day,” she says. “With Othot, they can immediately see the need – more inquiries, more applications, or more deposits — and they can use the Othot tool to decide how to best focus their efforts.”

Using Othot to optimize the marketing budget

OAFA’s Director of Marketing & Communications Kate Ledger plans to use the Othot platform to optimize Pitt’s investment in direct marketing and campaigns. “In a world of limited resources, Othot will help us direct our dollars more efficiently,” she explains. “For example, let’s say our alumni magazine publishes an amazing article on innovations in engineering from Pitt graduates. We have thousands of prospects, but we only have the budget to print and mail 1,000 glossy reprints. The Othot platform can show us which 1,000 engineering students are most likely to respond to a mailed print piece. So we’ll mail to that select group, and use email or social media to reach the rest. Othot will enable us to better manage our costs while finding the best students to target.”

Othot as a tool to help shape the class

Kane looks forward to using Othot to help shape the incoming class with best-fit students. “At Pitt, we are interested in streamlining rather than throwing out a giant net. We will use the Othot platform to shape the class in the direction that the University requires. If the University wants more low-income students, we can use Othot to find them. If the University wants more high-quality students, Othot shows us who to target and how to increase the probability of enrollment. If the University wants more geo-diversity, we can use Othot to focus our efforts there, and so forth.” Pitt’s team also recognizes that an increase in best-fit students will have a positive impact on retention and graduation rates.

Using Othot’s “What If’s” to optimize financial aid allocation

Pitt anticipates that the Othot platform will also help them optimize scholarship allocation. Othot builds an institution’s “What If?” scholarship scenarios around its historical data of the effect of scholarships on enrollment decisions. Kane observes, “Especially when we are in the final stages of allocating scholarships and resources become more limited, Othot will help us direct our dollars most effectively.”

A partnership in innovation and evolution

Harding summarizes Pitt’s partnership with Othot as follows: “The Othot platform offers something innovative, and we welcomed the opportunity to be there from its infancy. We like how it’s built and we like the team behind it: there’s a commitment and passion for data analytics, and to delivering something usable and of value. The fact is, data is everywhere and everyone is building predictive tools. Othot is an evolutionary tool that gives our team actionable choices at the street level.”

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We’re happy to answer your questions: call (412) 458-4167 and ask for Mark or Chris. We’ll tell how we’ve helped other institutions better compete for students, shape the class, and improve their ROI on marketing dollars, financial aid, and enrollment resources.

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