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So you think you're going back to the SAT and ACT?

Now that almost every university in the nation has gone test-optional for the 2021 cycle out of necessity, a nagging question remains: How many will go back to requiring tests as soon as it's possible?  No one knows, but some of the announcements some colleges made sounded like the kid who only ate his green beans to get his screen time: They did it, but they sure were not happy about it.  So we have some suspicions about the usual suspects.I don't object to colleges requiring tests, of course, even though I think they're not very helpful, intrinsically biased against certain groups, and a tool of the vain.  You be you, though, and don't let me stop you.However, there is a wild card in all of this: The recent court ruling prohibiting the University of California system from even using--let alone requiring--the SAT or ACT in admissions decisions next fall.  If you remember, the Cal State system had already decided to go test blind, and of course community colleges in th…
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Nobody knows how many colleges there are

If you ask the average person how many colleges there are in the US, the answer you get will depend on who that person is: If they work at the Wall Stree Journal or New York Times, they might say, "No more than 20." If you ask someone who thinks in terms of traditional post-secondary options where there is a campus quad and residence halls, you might hear "about a thousand." 
But how many are there, really? Now you might get close to the answer.  And, of course, the answer will depend on your definition. 
For Fall, 2019, IPEDS lists 6,527 post-secondary institutions in the US. There are more, but not every college in the US has to report to IPEDS. If an institution doesn't administer Title IV aid, it can operate without reporting data to the government. But the vast majority are there and ready for you to explore. 
This visualization is pretty simple: Two charts, one at the bottom which is static and shows the full 6,527 as a constant; and one at the top th…

A multi-dimensional look at diversity in American colleges and universities

I bought another camera, so I had hoped to spend the weekend out and about doing some photography, but this weekend is one of those rare ones in the Pacific Northwest where the temperature is cracking 100° F.  So I decided to stay inside, for the most part, and take a look at a data set I had downloaded for some others at the university.My original intent in doing this was to refresh the visualization I had done on Simpson's Diversity Index.  It's the way an ecologist looks at the diversity of an eco-system, and it puts the question in a new light: If you select two students from the population, what are the chances they'll be different along a specified dimension, in this case, ethnicity?  The first time I did it, I calculated the index at the institution level in Excel, then imported the data into Tableau.  That works, but you can't look at the data in any way other than by institution.  So, if I wanted to look at states, or regions, or public or private universities…

Reworking the Chronicle of Higher Education Visualization

This morning, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a story about the University of South Carolina, and its ambitious goal to bring African-American enrollment more in line with the state's population of African-American residents.  Given that the state population is over a quarter African-American, and USC's student population is about 9.5%, and given the timeline (by 2025), this goal is ambitious, to say the least.
The story had a chart, showing the mathematical gap of the states, using a simple measure: Percentage of African-Americans in the state flagship institution, minus the percentage of African-American students in the state population.  In case you can't get to the story (and if you work in education you really should consider supporting our trade paper with a subscription), it looks like this: