The term “student profile” is used in several different senses in the education community. In all cases, a student profile provides information about a student, but the information can be presented and used in different ways. Student profiles can include data submitted by a student, as well as information which is added by staff members at an educational institution to provide a complete picture of the student. Access to many types of student profiles is restricted due to concerns about security and privacy.
In a financial aid office, a student profile is used to determine eligibility for financial aid and to keep track of the student's accounts and history at the college. Several financial aid offices use a specific document known as the PROFILE® designed by the College Board as part of their financial aid applications, with students filling out the document to provide information about themselves and their financial situations. A typical financial aid profile includes demographic information about the student and parents along with financial information and a full account history.
Admissions offices also establish student profiles when students apply to a school. The profile is often electronic so that it can be easily tracked and sent to various members of the admissions office for review. The profile includes information from the student such as basic demographics along with admissions essays, and educational records from previous institutions, along with letters of recommendation. Admissions profiles can also include transcripts of interviews, records of interactions with the applicant, and other relevant data. If the student is accepted, the admissions profile will be used to generate a student profile for recordkeeping purposes, with the profile including records of grades, courses taken, and so forth, and being maintained by the registrar and bursar's offices.
Many universities and college also feature casual profiles of their students in admissions brochures and on their websites to appeal to potential applicants. These student profiles are focused on the interests of the students and their courses of study at the school, providing a snapshot of a typical student at a school which applicants can use to determine whether or not the school is a good fit for them. Because these student profiles are open to the public, they are published only by consent from the student, and they do not contain sensitive information.
Students may also be profiled by the media. Many small town newspapers publish student profiles around graduation time so that members of the community can be introduced to students who are graduating and learn more about their plans for the future. A student profile can also serve as a public interest story, with a journalist profiling a student who is doing something interesting, such as organizing a community group, volunteering overseas, or excelling in sports competitions.