Mapping Admission Data with Google Maps Engine

​By Steven White, Data Research Analyst, and Eric Poirier, Business and Technology Analyst, North Carolina State University

Google Maps Engine is a free mapping tool that can be used to generate accessible maps through the user’s Google account, hyperlinks, or other social networks. We wanted to use Google Maps to create an efficient process to assist admissions officers in planning and preparing for high school visits. In this example, we created a travel route for high schools in San Antonio. With Google Maps, the user can create custom routes from college fairs to targeted high schools, including schools that would be overlooked.

First, create a query to pull total applications by high school. Make sure to include the high school name, street address, city, state, and zip code. This information will be geocoded automatically by Google Maps. You need at least the name of the high school and the state. The school file should be saved as a CSV or spreadsheet file.

Step 1: Create a new map by clicking the Import button. Drag and drop your data file.  

Step 2: After data import, choose a column for Google Map Engine to position your placemarks. For this example, we only used Description (high school name), City, and State. Google Map Engine will be able to geocode by these descriptors. To minimize your chance of errors, provide precise address information (latitude-longitude). 

Step 3: Choose a column to title your markers. In this case, we selected School Name.  
Step 4: Edit Map Features. Create a title for your map.

Step 5:
Change base map to meet the needs of the layers you are trying to present.

Step 6: Change color or choose an icon. You can also symbolize your icons based on attributes listed in your data.
Step 7: View or edit the call-out window for each icon 
Step 8: Create and save directions between high schools and develop your calendar of high school visits.  Change the base map to get a clear picture.

Step 9:
Click Share to invite other users to view the map through a hyperlink. Users also have the ability to make edits to the map.



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Total Comments: 7
Lee posted on 12/11/2013 3:52 PM
Thanks for a great tip! Mapping software is becoming an increasingly useful and powerful tool in institutional research, and Google Maps has the advantage of being free and readily available.
Julia posted on 12/11/2013 4:11 PM
The value in being able to use location data as a tool for institutional research is huge. I had not heard of this tool before and can see, by the example provided, this could have a lot of potential. Thanks for sharing!
Tara posted on 12/11/2013 4:57 PM
This is so very valuable to us. Great tool! we use it to map demographics data from applicants, graduates and residents.
Marlene posted on 12/11/2013 6:07 PM
This tool looks very promising. I would be interested in a follow up Tech Tip that would show how to show intensity on the map, if possible. For example, if you wanted to graphically illustrate your top feeder high schools, could you illustrate this somehow to show which high schools send more students?
David posted on 12/12/2013 5:09 PM
Don't get too excited. Geocode - going from an address (position) to longitude and latitude isn't as easy as it seems. Towns, cities, and large pieces of real estate like that - may be easy, but how about geocoding 10,000 address where your students actually reside (you work in a CC with no dorms)? You will have to have software to do the geocoding for you. That can get expensive. Why would you want to do this. You may want to "look" at enrollment penetration into certain neighborhoods (visually). I've done this before and it can lead to interesting results - and help you target better. The example is good, but there are much better reasons to use the tool, IMHO.
Jeffrey posted on 12/13/2013 9:28 AM
Thanks guys. I've used a variety of geotools for different purposes. Maps engine is limited but great for a quick display of some data, especially for a website.
JR posted on 2/12/2014 6:36 PM
This is a great approach to take advantage of to help with visualization for enrollments, alumni placements, etc. We spent some time this past fall working on how to incorporate Google maps into our Cognos environment, looks promising with some initial setup, this tool along with several other mapping options will likely become more of an expected trade-skill for IR.