Ten Year Freshman Profile: Admission Stats & Admit and Enroll Rates

​Steven White
Data Research Analyst
Enrollment Management and Services
North Carolina State University 

This visual display provides an overview of freshman enrollment trends over the past 10 years on a single handout, which is useful for meetings and presentations. By using the spark line feature of Excel, the reader is provided an easy-to-read visual display in addition to the tabular data. The spark lines allow the reader to quickly identify minimum and maximum values within each trend line, and visualize the relationship among the variables over time. Having the actual data in tabular form attached to each spark line provides the reader with detailed information.

The data presented here is used to demonstrate positive trends in undergraduate enrollment that are consistent with the objectives of the university’s 2020 enrollment plan. That plan calls for reducing the size of the freshman class and increasing out-of-state and international enrollments, as well as the academic profile of the incoming class.

Provide your comments on the Ten Year Freshman Profile, below.



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Total Comments: 14
Sue posted on 8/14/2013 10:23 AM
I can't wait to try this. Our college president is very numbers oriented and I think the addition of the small visual would make it much easier for others who are more visually oriented to absorb the information.
Terry posted on 8/14/2013 10:25 AM
Sparklines are a great way to quickly draw people's attention to the data. Blank stares are usually what accompany plain tables. This way the user can identify particular numbers they want to emphasize.
Nicole posted on 8/14/2013 10:36 AM
Thanks for the post! A nice at-a-glance visual summary is obtained using sparklines. The green color points out the fact that in state enrollment is coming down and international/out of state is on the increase.
Allen posted on 8/14/2013 10:55 AM
The trendline is eye-catching, which is what you want your data to do. The green quickly draws attention to the max. Nice layout.
Indira posted on 8/14/2013 11:21 AM
The addition of spark lines to tabular data is a very effective in telling a story and it works especially well in the first table. In the first table, there are a limited number of discrete variables and thus makes it easier to read and process the information. However, in the second table, there are ten data elements and some of which are derived.Visually the table looks crowded. The arrangement of various data elements also requires the eye to move back and forth between the current and previous rows.
Bob posted on 8/14/2013 11:26 AM
Using sparklines does improve readability and adds a nice visual element. This display is very professionally done. The display could be improved, however, by adding another layer of context besides the trend lines. As Nicole points out, in-state enrollments are declining and out-of-state are increasing. But the viewer has difficulty evaluating if this is a "good" thing or a "bad" thing. So, adding an additional piece of information, such as the campus goal, can add another contextual dimension. This especially allows decion-makers to more easily evaluate the data and trends.
Gary posted on 8/14/2013 1:00 PM
Clean and effective - nice work. The grid is a dominant feature, however; I think it would be even more effective if you removed the vertical lines and quieted-down the horizontal ones to be light grey. Good for you for not falling into the "trap" of highlighting individual cells that correspond with the green bar on each line, or adding other distracting elements. This is nitpicky, but technically those are bars and not lines - perhaps just label as "Trend?"
Steve posted on 8/14/2013 4:17 PM
Very good, very accessible presentation. Haven't used spark lines much, but are you limited to the default scale as you might with a normal Excel chart? I'm thinking particularly of the SAT Writing graph, where the size of the increase seems much larger than it actually is, given the increase.
Daina posted on 8/15/2013 6:31 AM
This is a great summary using both tabular and visual information. However, one of the rules I was taught was that if the title had % - then the numbers in the cells should not have them. It is a duplication and makes the table busier than it needs to be. Daina
Maria posted on 8/15/2013 12:52 PM
I really like this presentation combining the spark lines and the numbers, with spark lines on the left. The Spark line are great to compare information and see the trends. However, they can be misleading while not accompagned by numbers - that's why I like this presentation, merging together graphics and actual data. When I looked on the "SAT" spark lines, my first though was that somewhere in the middle the applicants did not take SAT (spark line is on the floor). Then I though that their SAT was desastrous. Then I looked at the numbers and understood what it was about. From my point of view it's exactly how the spark lines must work: attract the attention at the first moment, and then let the attention being redirected to the numbers.
Rebecca posted on 8/15/2013 12:55 PM
How timely, we just updated Excel and I know this will be a popular feature. Thank you!
Nina posted on 8/15/2013 1:20 PM
The visual is a very effective addition to the EXCEL spreadsheet - will definitely use this tip. Thank you for sharing...
Kevin posted on 8/20/2013 10:20 AM
Very nice, clean, effective and easy to visually grasp the trend. I like the green bar that highlights the highest value. The only suggestion I would make, and I'm not sure if it is possible, would be to bold the #N that matches the green bar. This graph is definitely something that I would like to create in the future.
Gwen posted on 8/30/2013 1:58 PM
I like this display too and the spark lines are a definite enhancement. My only quibble is that a few percentage change makes the bar visually change over dramatically as in "% enrolled" or "% out of state." Would also recommend if possible for comma (,) to separate numbers in the 10,000 as in 'applied' category.