Peterson's Data- Education Data

At Peterson’s Data, our comprehensive collegiate data sets date back to 1966. Our researchers started by handwriting letters of inquiry to institutions across the country. From these humble beginnings when print was king, because well, there wasn’t really anything else, our data collection process birthed the start of college guide books. That’s right, before you could search for colleges on Google, there were Peterson’s Guide Books. 


Later, this data fed search engines and powered college search functionality on and for our licensed partners. While the process to collect the information is much more efficient and streamlined than it was in 1966, what hasn’t changed is Peterson’s steadfast approach to collecting the most current, accurate, and expansive data in the education space. Our survey universe includes all accredited institutions in the United States as well as universities in other countries, including Canada and Mexico. 


In 2003, the National Center for Education Statistics created the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). All institutions that participate in federal student aid programs are required to fill out data collection surveys. We are often asked why folks would use Peterson’s dataset when IPEDS is readily available to the public. 


In short, the answers lie in the data and the delivery. 


Timing, Accuracy, & Service

Peterson’s college survey administration window coincides with data submission to IPEDS, so universities provide Peterson’s much of the information they provide to IPEDS, in addition to many other variables.

In fact, we can even accept a school’s IPEDS survey submission and leverage that information in cases that institutions are unable to complete our proprietary survey. This means that we are able to provide this data months in advance of the IPEDS provisional release, backed by a robust team of researchers solely tasked with making sure we stay on top of what you need.


At all stages in the process, comprehensive quality checks are employed in order to mitigate human error and resolve discrepancies. This ranges from simple fixes, like typos, to complex reviews, such as identifying outliers and year over year changes that exist outside an acceptable range. This process is repeated throughout the year to help provide the most accurate view of the higher education landscape at any given time.

In the rare event that one of our clients identifies an issue, our team captures, logs, rectifies, and follows up on every single question, report, or error we come across. Each cycle we build upon our experience, ensuring we revisit lessons learned and minimize repeat issues. We curate this experience so that our clients can rest assured that the information they receive is of the highest caliber.

Peterson’s collects data from March to July, and publishes the first iteration of each annual edition in late July. At that point, our research team continues to recheck the data every month to ensure optimal freshness and accuracy for our clients. This process occurs monthly until the release of the next year’s data. Would an API make things easier for you? Just ask. 


Is there something specific you’re looking for? Our Special Projects Team has years of experience working on customized projects to solve whatever challenges your organization faces. We partner with clients to collect custom data, create unique data sets, consult on data architecture and infrastructure, or even turn unstructured data into usable formats for advanced analytics. We take on custom projects both large and small, and we have the expertise in-house to get started on your needs right away. If you can’t find what you need, we can partner with you to create it.

No matter what you’re looking to do with higher education data, Peterson’s Data can help. Want to learn how to get started? Schedule a 30 minute consultation call with our Business Development Manager, Jack Tynan.

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