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What do counselors think about test-optional admission?

Last week, we conducted a--well, not a survey, exactly--of high school and independent counselors, asking them what they thought about test-optional and test-free admission policies.  This is more a testing of the waters of those interested enough and motivated enough to respond. So, before the fans of tests (who can do their own testing of the water at any time, of course), point this out, file this under "interesting, but not definitive."  It might drive discussions, but it won't make a decision for us.  And it shouldn't for you, either. We received about 440 responses, mostly responding to an email we sent to high school counselors across the country.  Those responses came from all over, including some from schools that had probably never sent an applicant, let alone an enrolling student to OSU; but we can't be sure because the survey was anonymous.  But we received almost as many responses from Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey as we did from Oregon, int
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Do test-optional policies increase diversity?

If you want a definitive answer, you can stop now.  As Mark Twain allegedly said, "I was gratified to be able to give an answer right away.  I said I didn't know." However, critics of test optional like to trot out this study from 2014 , suggesting test-optional policies do not increase diversity. There are a couple of problems with using that paper to prop up this argument, however: First, the study included about 200 liberal arts colleges, and nowhere does it suggest that the conclusions can be generalized, or even that the results are reflective of reality every where else.  Second, the study explicitly states that the SAT sorts students by social class, not just academic ability.  You can't cite the outcomes without including lines like, "Despite the clear relationship between privilege and standardized test performance..." but somehow test lovers overlook that.  Finally, admissions, opportunity, culture, and policy are complex.  The belief that waving a

Enrollment trends, 2011-2021

Fresh IPEDS data dropped this week, and my evenings have been busy downloading, cleaning, and structuring the data.  Since it's the holiday season, I won't even complain that IPEDS could make this all easy for anyone who wants to get the data, but then I suppose I'd have to shut down the blog. This is pretty easy, I think: Answer almost any important enrollment question you might have about the last eleven years (as long as you don't want information about even-numbered years, of course). There are two types of controls here: The ones in the blue boxes allow you to select only certain elements of the data.  You might want to look at enrollment trends for full-time, female, undergraduate students.  Three clicks in the boxes and you're there. You can also look at individual institutions or a handful of institutions.  That filter is at the very top.  Hover over the Big Question Mark at top left for instructions about how that filter works. Finally, once you've sele

Finding your major

This is a popular post with anyone who works with high school students, and I've just updated it with fresh data from 2021 graduates; it's mainly helpful for two types of cases: Students who are looking for very uncommon majors Students who want to see which colleges have the largest departments in their specific major This is pretty straightforward, and I've put the instructions in tool tips; just hover over the icons in the shape of an I you'll see on the visualization. There are three ways to filter to get just the results your student needs: At top left, you can choose the academic elements, like broad academic category (health care, or business, for instance); academic major; and degree level (it defaults to bachelor's degrees, but you can change that if you want.) To find a major, type any part of the name, and press "Enter."  You'll see a list with all the possible matches.  So if you type "Eng" you'll get Engineering as well as En

Are graduation rates an input or an output? (redux)

This is a refresh of a popular post I've done a few times, asking the important question in the title. People tend to think of graduation rates as an output of the institution, and of course, in some sense, they are; they are certainly measured that way.  But what if I told you that a college's six-year graduation rate (and, to a lesser extent, its four-year graduation rate) can be easily predicted by a single variable that we know before a student ever sets foot on campus? I bet you'd want to see the proof. The variable is the mean SAT (or ACT) score of the incoming class of first-year students.  AHA! some of you are saying.  How can you be test-optional then? Relax.  The SAT and ACT are nice proxies for all the things that help determine who is going to graduate from college in America.  In one nice little number, it encapsulates several of those factors: Academic preparation (remember, the scores are good proxies for high school GPA, the best predictor of student perform

Private colleges and discount, 2020

Note: A reader pointed out that there are two years of data in this set (Fall 2021 enrolling data and Fall 2020 Financial Aid data).  In all probability, this will cause discount rates to be a bit lower on this view than in reality.  As always, don't take or make any important decisions based on information on a free website. Discount rate is a hot topic among private college leaders, and although it's an interesting measure, it's not as helpful as some people might think it is.  And it's a little hard to grasp and hard to explain.  But I'm going to try. Discount rate can be helpful when measuring yourself against yourself over time; and it can be helpful when measuring yourself against similar peers.  But as a thing unto itself?  Pretty worthless, actually.  Here's why. First some definitions: Discount rate measures the amount of institutional aid you award as a function of how much gross tuition you charge.  If you collect $10,000,000 in tuition, and award $4,

Yes, your yield rate is still falling, redux (2021)

I've been creating this data visualization, or some form of it, for several years now .  I think it's most useful for higher education enrollment professionals who have to explain to people at their university why their yield rate is falling.  The short answer is that applications and admits are increasing faster than student populations: If a student today applies to an average of seven colleges, compared to four colleges twenty years ago, yield rate almost has to go down.  I'm sure AI will fix this, and all our problems, very soon. But I've spoken to others who use this other ways: To work with students to talk about chances for admission; to show parents how things have changed in the past twenty years; or to help journalists understand the lay of the land.  Whatever you use this for, I hope it's instructive, and I hope you feel free to share it widely. And if you work in a college or university and save yourself some time by using this, or if you work with clien