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This customized study will inform your understanding of student completion at your institution and assist you in predicting student completion outcomes. It will help you to understand whether some students are at greater risk for not completing and show you how to calculate and monitor this risk among applicants and enrolled students.

You will learn:

  • Which measures are the most useful predictors of completion at your institution.
  • How you might narrow the number of factors you consider without loss of predictive ability.
  • How certain predictors might overlap or co-occur for non-completing students and can be used to consider student risk for not completing.
  • How to construct the optimal equations for predicting the completion outcomes of future students.

Designing Your Study

Get an overview of how to design your study below. For detailed step-by-step instructions, download the ACES Completion Study Guide (.pdf/2.39MB) or see the FAQ at the bottom of this page.

Choosing a Cohort and Completion Outcome

You will select a cohort to examine—an earlier admitted class that is expected to have completion information —and a completion outcome. In ACES completion studies, the completion outcome is whether or not the student completed at your institution by a particular academic year/term.

Choosing Predictors

In ACES completion studies, a predictor refers to a data point that you are using to make your decisions and whose effectiveness you want to analyze. All ACES completion studies analyze SAT score(s) and give you the option to also study high school GPA and college GPA as predictors. You can add up to five additional predictors.

Choosing Additional Subgroups (Optional)

For ACES completion studies, you may request up to three additional subgroups (e.g., college within institution, in-state versus out-of-state) to further analyze your results.

Submitting Your Student Data

Which Students to Include

For a standard completion study, you should include all first-time, first-year students (domestic and international) that entered your institution in the starting academic term of interest. For example, if you are interested in studying four-year completion rates for the fall 2017 entering cohort, you would include all students who began at your institution in fall 2017 and their completion outcome (0, 1) from fall 2021. You would also include their completion date. Please note that the earliest cohort you can analyze in the ACES system is the fall 2017 entering class.

Which Data to Include

You'll need to supply identifying information on the students in your sample, as well as completion data (e.g., 0, 1) and the completion date (e.g. 05/15/2021). If you're supplying any additional predictors or subgroups for your study, these will need to be included in your file. If you expect that not all of your students will have matched SAT score information, we suggest including ACT scores for all students. ACT scores are only used by the ACES system as concorded SAT scores when students do not have official SAT scores on record at the College Board. The ACT scores you provide are concorded to the corresponding SAT scores using the 2018 concordance tables within the ACES system itself.

Submitting Your Data File

You'll be prompted to submit a data file when you design a new study.

Your data file must be in one of the following formats in order to successfully upload: Microsoft Excel; Comma Separated Value (CSV); Tab Delimited (.txt); or SAS Transport (XPORT).

Download an Excel template (.xls/20KB)with the correct data layout for the completion study.

For detailed information on preparing your data file, see the ACES Data Preparation Guidelines (.pdf/1.33MB).

Getting Your Report

When your study is finished—within 20 business days of your completed request (which must include a clean data file)—we will notify you that your report is available on the ACES website and you can sign in to access it. You will get two deliverables:

  • A complete, printable report in PDF format that shows the strength of your chosen predictors of completion with charts, tables, and detailed explanations.
  • A report in HTML format featuring interactive graphs. You can click to display or hide data, compare data, zoom in and out, take a snapshot, sort table columns, and more. You may want to insert these graphs into campus reports or presentations that you are preparing for various constituents.