Troubleshooting: Student Data Discrepancies

Tawnya -

This article is intended to help you navigate issues related to inaccurate student data counts. We'll outline the reasoning, and highlight next steps to reconcile what you're seeing in Handshake with the data you find in your student information system.

Why is my data inaccurate?

If your data looks incorrect, this is most likely result of:

  • Out-of-date student data (you should be regularly refreshing your student data, especially at the end of each semester)
  • Inaccurate data coming from your student information system (it's important that you're importing records that are the "source of truth" at your school)
  • Duplicate student accounts (we do not recommend approving "pending" student accounts for students that have an existing, imported account)

Things to keep in mind:

This information is coming from your student information system (SIS) so your IT team, Registrar, or data team must be involved are best equipped to assist. The Handshake Support team can outline the processes, confirm the required formatting, and help you update the data in Handshake - we just can't reconcile the data from the source of truth.

A (throwback!) metaphor to help clarify:

You can think of the process like a VCR - where the Importer is the VCR, Handshake is the TV that displays what the VCR processes, and your data files are the VHS tapes that you feed into the VCR.

The TV (Handshake) will display whatever the VCR (Importer) processes. The VCR will only process the right kind of tapes (student data) to confirm everything is formatted correctly. That said, there's no way for the VCR or the TV to know what exact film should be displayed - it relies on whoever is feeding the tape (student data) into the VCR to make the accurate "film" choice! 

How to check if your student list is accurate in Handshake:

  1. Generate an Insights report of your full student list - including school year name
  2. Download the full report (using little gear icon in upper right hand corner) to an Excel file. Note that if that download is over 5,000 rows, you will need to submit a ticket to support to request that you be granted access to download more than 5,000 rows.
  3. Obtain a correct list of current students from your Registrar office (if the data going through the importer is correct, you may want to just download that importer file)
  4. Compare the lists from your Registrar and from the Insights report to ensure they match up. You may want to use student email as the unique identifier or anchor point. You could also use the username or auth identifier. 
  5. Identify any gaps. If there are students that exist in the Handshake list and NOT in the registrar list they are likely either…
    • Alumni
    • Students who transferred / dropped out 

Next steps to adjust:

For alumni, you will likely just want update their "school year" field to alumni. This article outlines specific instructions here

For students who transferred or who did not complete their degree, you can archive their accounts by following these instructions

For future reference, you can always reactive archive students through these instructions 

For any additional student groups, you might also consider creating and importing a label. You can then use this label to filter on your analytics moving forward.


If you're still running into issues: 

You can connect with our Support team and confirm that you've followed this process above. In the ticket, you will want to include specific details, such as:

  • Student lists/reports you're exploring (Insights URLs or Handshake URLS are especially important)
  • Specific discrepancies you've identified (Exact counts and examples are best)
  • Any additional context, concerns, and details


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