The Oct. 15 front-page article “Colleges use Web data to rank students — before they apply” detailed how colleges are building virtual libraries of personal data in the interest of finding the applicants most likely to enroll and pay tuition.

Colleges should disclose their use of tracking software, cookies, analytics and predictive scores. At a bare minimum, potential applicants should be told on admissions materials what information is collected about them, from what sources and how it will be considered in the application process.

Disclosures should be clear. Saying a college uses “publicly available information” or “Internet activity” in its admissions decisions isn’t good enough. Students need to know whether their browsing patterns, email open rates or time spent on a college’s website affect their likelihood of being admitted.

Higher-education leaders should ensure prospective students know what information is collected about them and how it is used to make decisions about their academic future.

Sara Collins, Washington

The writer is a policy counsel for
the Future of Privacy Forum.