User Guide

Search Criteria

Geographic Origin

You can select geographic markets based on a combination of areas: states, EPS geographic markets, county, and ZIP codes on the same form. If you select areas that overlap, you will only receive the names of students who live in the larger area—you won't receive duplicate names. For example, if you select 08540, a ZIP code in the city of Princeton and the state of New Jersey, SSS will prompt you on the Order Summary Page if there is an overlap and ask you to change and modify your selection. Be careful when you select geographic variables. Do not choose variables if you want the entire population. Address data, except county codes, appear on all Search output so your computer center can sort out any of the selected geographical data as you need it.

Geographic origin allows you to select from the following categories:

  • United States (all 50 states, including Washington, D.C. and U.S. Territories)
  • International (you may now select individual countries, including Canada and its provinces)

You can combine APO/FPO, Canada, and individual countries with specific U.S. states. You can select Canada and specific Canadian provinces. Each province is listed for easy selection if you want to combine areas from both the United States and Canada. If you want all of Canada only on a given form, select Canada under Geographic Area. If you want to distinguish non-citizens from U.S. citizens living abroad, use the citizenship parameter described in the section, "Student Characteristics" above.

As noted above, Canadian provinces are now listed as part of Canada in the International Region section. You will also see a two-letter code before each country in the International Region list, which identifies the geomarket code of that country. US Territories are now part of the US States & Territories section. This alignment is key to integrating SSS and EPS and makes Country selections in SSS easier.

Descriptor PLUS

Subscribers to Descriptor PLUS can search by Neighborhood and High School Clusters. Descriptor PLUS customers who elect not to search by cluster will have their entire Search output tagged with cluster codes, as usual.

A 30 x 30 table of Neighborhood and High School Clusters allow subscribers to select individual clusters and/or cluster combinations. Clusters can be chosen by clicking a cell -or multiple cells- in the table.

Click on row or column headers to select the entire individual Neighborhood or High School Cluster. Note that by selecting the entire row or column, all clusters within that row or column will automatically display as selected, and the search will filter on the individual header cluster independently.

To search by a cluster combination(s), choose the intersecting cell(s) of Neighborhood and High School clusters.

The grid provides you the most versatile form of ordering possible. There are no limits to the number of individual and/or cluster combinations that can be ordered.

Contact your regional representative for additional information about Descriptor PLUS.

States & U.S. Territories

The state variable allows you to select individual states, U.S. Territories, and APO/FPO military. You now have unlimited selections.

Enrollment Planning Service (EPS) Geographic Markets

EPS geographic markets tend to be larger than areas covered by ZIP codes but smaller than states. You do not have to subscribe to EPS to use these selection markets in your Search. You now have unlimited selections. EPS users will find this option extremely helpful to target students who have been identified by markets. (See below for EPS geographic market codes and maps.)

Related Links

Enrollment Planning Service
EPS Market Codes (.xls/480k)
EPS Market Maps (.pdf/3.2 MB)

County Codes

You may select as many county codes as you wish. If you enter a county code within a state you previously checked under the state category, Search will prompt you that there is an overlap, and ask you to change and modify your selection. (See the appendix for county codes.)

ZIP Codes

ZIP codes are used to target markets smaller than states or EPS geographic markets. You are limited to 256 zip codes in a single order unless you use the ZIP Loader tool (see below). Selection by ZIP codes allows you to experiment with developing or maintaining smaller markets within states and eliminates selecting students in areas with less potential. You can expand your geographic options on a single order form by using two-digit ZIP codes. For example, in some states a two-digit ZIP code will cover an entire state (such as North Dakota). To expand the number of ZIP codes per form, try to collapse smaller ZIP codes into codes that cover a larger area. If you enter a ZIP code that is within a state you previously checked under the State category, that state selection will override the ZIP code selection. You can choose two-, three-, and five-digit ZIP codes. One- and four-digit ZIP codes are not available.

ZIP Loader

The ZIP Loader may be used to upload a .txt or .xls file of up to 10,000 two-, three-, or five-digit ZIP codes. Only one file can be uploaded per order; an uploaded file will be overwritten by a subsequently uploaded file. When a ZIP Code file is successfully uploaded, all ZIP Code fields in the order form are grayed out, regardless of the size of the uploaded file.

To upload a ZIP Code file, select Open ZIP Loader; a separate window will appear. From the ZIP Loader screen, choose Browse to find and select the file to upload then click on Submit. When the upload is complete, the abbreviated file path/name will appear to the right of the Open ZIP Loader option. You may click on the file name link to view the ZIP Code file. Any invalid ZIP Codes will automatically be removed from the uploaded file. To completely remove the uploaded file, select the Remove link and confirm.

Important information about the ZIP Loader:
  • The only two recognized formats are .txt or .xls – the ZIP Loader currently does not work with MS Excel 2007 (.xlsx) (we are working to correct this issue) or comma-delimited files (.csv).
  • Make sure the file being uploaded is not open on your computer; this will cause the file to not upload properly.
  • If using Excel, the ZIP codes must be in text format, i.e., put an apostrophe before any ZIP code that has a leading zero in order to retain the zero; the “ZIP Code” cell format cannot  be used.
  • If using Excel, ensure all ZIPs are contained in the first column (column “A”); do not use any additional columns (“B” through “IV”).
  • If using Excel, specific worksheets within a workbook cannot be selected.  If more than one sheet is to be uploaded, each sheet needs to be put in a separate workbook.
  • The file name cannot contain any special characters other than dash or underscore.

Search by Proximity

Search by Proximity allows you to search for students by defining your own geographic area. This capability allows you to select any circular area without being limited by state, county, or zip code boundaries for your geography filtering.  You may enter a specific address, or click on a map, then define a radius between 20 and 500 miles for your search area. Search by Proximity allows you to select up to ten areas to be used in your order.

You must click on the Launch button to use Search by Proximity. It will then open a separate window where you will define geographic areas.

There are two ways to search by proximity:

  • Use the Map

Step 1: Click once on the map to set a starting point, you will see indicators.

Step 2: Use the outer indicator to “pull” a circle by dragging the mouse while holding the left mouse button. Once released, the radius field will update for your reference. Repeat if you wish to re-size the radius. You may also move the entire radius by clicking, holding, and dragging the indicator in the middle of the radius.

Step 3: Once your area is set, click SAVE CURRENT AREA; you will be prompted to provide a unique name for the area.


  • Use the Address Field

Step 1: Manually enter a starting point via the address field. Click on the SET button.

Step 2: Manually enter or select a radius from the drop-list. Click the SET button.

Step 3: Click SAVE CURRENT AREA; you will be prompted to provide a unique name for the area.

Once you are finished, close the map by clicking the SAVE & EXIT button, which will lock your selections and return you to the Geographic Origin section of the Order Form. The Areas Selected will be saved according to the Area Names.

Important information about Search by Proximity:

The CLEAR MAP button will remove all of your saved areas. You may also remove each area one-by-one by clicking on the Remove link next to an area name.

You may specify up to a maximum of ten areas per order. If ten areas are not defined, you will see “not selected” for the remaining, non-defined areas in the Order Form.

Areas displayed in the Order Form are for reference only; you may click on them to see a non-editable “mapplet” for reference purposes. You must click on the Launch button again to edit your selections.

Overlapping proximities in a single order are allowed, but estimates will count students only once.

The Demographic Dashboard will show you how many students are contained in each named area. Total numbers of students shown in each individual area may not match the Total Unique Student numbers if areas overlap. This is because students are counted only once in estimates.

At present, Search by Proximity is limited to students with addresses in the United States and its territories. International students with US-based addresses are also included.