If you have a child around high school age, odds are you’ve heard of Naviance. “Naviance by Hobsons is a comprehensive K-12 college and career readiness platform that enables self-discovery, career exploration, academic planning, and college preparation,” according to the company’s website. In short, it’s software used to help students with a course of study and the college application process.
The 411 on Naviance
It’s estimated Naviance software is used by approximately seven million students in 8,5000 schools around the world — both public and private institutions — and about 40% of US high schools. It helps students identify their areas of strength to determine a possible career path. It then hones in on colleges and universities that might be a good fit for students and creates an actionable plan as they move through high school and the college admissions process.
Proponents of the award-winning software tout its ability to create individualized plans for each student, something school counselors simply don’t have the time to do. It centralizes the application process for school counselors and tracks data to inform schools and districts of both acceptance and graduation rates. Naviance is only available through schools, so individual families and students aren’t able to use it unless offered by the school they attend. If it is available, the program, which is meant to be used in conjunction with a school counselor, allows students and parents to participate and track the process.
Scattergram = Peer Influence
A recent Harvard study shows Naviance has a great deal of influence over students, specifically in the use of its “scattergram.” The scattergram plots the previous test scores and GPAs of students accepted to colleges from each high school. Students often look at their predecessors’ qualifications to assess their chances of acceptance. The danger of this is that until a significant amount of data is collected for the scattergram, students could resist applying to “reach” schools or may be influenced to apply to schools where their peers were accepted.
Harvard doctoral candidate, Christine Mulhern recently released the preliminary study Changing College Choices with Personalized Admissions Information at Scale: Evidence on Naviance that investigates the software’s influence. In an interview with EdSurge, Mulhern notes, “Students pay a lot of attention to what’s in Naviance because of their peers. Students care a lot about what their peers are doing.”
Naviance allows the districts to control the parameter of their scattergrams. Districts are able to customize the data to allow students to see where every student has been accepted or only highlight schools where a larger concentration of former students have been accepted. The scattergram was influential in applications with students 20 percent more likely to apply to a college that appeared on the scattergram.
Data is the Determining Factor
Naviance believes that this is all positive information. It stresses that the use of the scattergram is only one piece of the process and that overall the statistics show that the use of Naviance increases all students’ likelihood to apply to colleges. It specifically impacts minority students. Mulhern’s research confirms black and Hispanic students were 196% more likely to attend a college where a scattergram was available.
Naviance is a prevalent and robust software that enables students, parents and counselors access to a significant amount of data about college planning and admissions. Recent research confirms its influence. Parents are encouraged to use Naviance as a tool in conjunction with their child’s school counselor to help inform their college search and decision.