Wednesday, Apr. 21, 2021

What is the Common Data Set?

The Common Data Set is an annual survey that is completed voluntarily by colleges and universities to provide accurate and timely data to students and their families. Every year, responding universities provide such data as the number of full-time degree-seeking students, number of degrees awarded, info on applicants' SAT/ACT scores, and financial aid stats. The data provided by each university are used in many publications and rankings, including Peterson's Guide, publications from The College Board, and U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" guide.

There is no one website or single database to view all responses, though individual colleges and universities typically publish their individual responses on their own website. You can see the Common Data Set websites of the University of Michigan and The College of William & Mary for examples. Each has data dating back to 1998. To find a specific college or university's CDS, the easiest way is to enter that college or university's name along with the term "common data set" in your favorite search engine.

To read more about the Common Data Set initiative, you can visit the official website, where you can find a blank survey for the current year, as well as contact info for the CDS team.

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