Release of Enrollment Data to External Sources


Every academic year, Davidson College releases enrollment data both internally and to public sources. The Office of Institutional Research is responsible for calculating and reporting the official enrollment and does not release enrollment data prior to the established census date of October 15th each year.


This policy states and clarifies both the process and timing for the release of official enrollment numbers to outside entities. This policy and related procedures are consistent with the established practice in the higher education community, generally, and among Davidson’s  peer institutions, more specifically, and are in the best interests of the college.


Official Enrollment Numbers: The official enrollment numbers, which are the numbers to be reported to outside entities, are produced by and should be obtained from the Office of Institutional Research.

The numbers calculated in late October by Institutional Research are reported to the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) of the federal government and to all publishers of student college search guides. The data are also used to answer all internal requests and any legitimate external inquiry.

This practice assures there are not multiple versions of our enrollment counts and breakdowns out in the public. Not only would different numbers lead to questions about the accuracy of our reporting, but there are publications — the US News annual ranking of colleges the most visible among them — that take pains to verify the accuracy and consistency of the data we report, and they insist on a reconciliation of contradictory reports as a condition of inclusion.

Enrollment by categories (sex, race/ethnicity, etc.) is calculated based on the federal government’s IPEDS definitions. The official total enrollment and the categorical breakdown of the official enrollment is available on the Institutional Research webpage within the Factfile or CDS. These are updated with the current year’s information by the end of January each year. For official enrollment numbers prior to the publication of the Factfile or CDS, contact the Office of Institutional Research.

Frozen File/Snapshot Date: On October 15th of each year data in the enrollment database of the registrar’s office is “frozen.”

The use of a specific census date for finalizing enrollment counts is standard practice at colleges and universities, enabling us to compare — “apples to apples” — over time and across institutions. The October 15th census date was determined by the Enrollment Management Committee.  As such, it represents the collective judgment of individuals responsible for generating, analyzing, and reporting enrollment data.

In addition to the goal of consistent and comparable reporting of data, there are practical reasons for using the October 15 census date. Federal and state agencies to whom we are required to report data, consortia with whom we share data, and publications that make our data available to prospective students all recognize that there is a certain amount of “settling down” that takes place in the first weeks of a semester and do not ask institutions to report enrollment until it is reasonable to assume the final class(es) are present.

Cohorts: On the frozen file date of October 15th, and using the IPEDS definitions, the initial/entering cohort is defined as all degree-seeking students who enter in the fall term of a given academic year.

For the Graduation Rates component of IPEDS, the initial cohort is only for full-time, first-time students.

For the Retention Rate, the initial cohort is used to calculate the percentage of first-time degree-seeking undergraduates from the previous fall who are again enrolled in the current fall.

Benefits to the College for using the October 15th Freeze Date:

  • The cohort on which to base retention rates and graduation rates may be smaller than what would have been true at the beginning of the semester. This can be particularly important when individuals in smaller sub-groups of the student population leave prior to October 15th. Later, when the Retention and Graduation Rates are analyzed if those one or two students had been included in the initial cohort, that can translate into significantly lower rates for those smaller subgroups. 

  • Calculation of virtually all ratios benefit from smaller cohorts: The most commonly reported include student/faculty ratios, student affairs staff per student, instructional expenditures per student, and endowment per student.

Administration of Policy

The Associate Vice President for Institutional Research shall oversee this policy and review it at least once every two years. Changes to this policy shall be made in accordance with the college’s Policy on Policies.

Last Reviewed: July 2022