Skip to main content


Abortion policy and freshman migration, 2018 and 2020

The recent SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has set off an interesting debate about student college choice.  People who favor legal access to abortion seem convinced that students--especially women--will change their college plans based on the climate in the state of the college(s) they're considering. Will it?  I don't know.  I do know that when everyone seems to be convinced of something related to college admissions and student choice, the reality is often very different than the predictions, after all is said and done.  And on the other hand, this feels different, somehow.  To repeat: I don't know. Of course, the ability of students to migrate across state lines is generally reserved for those with more wealth and privilege, and as I've demonstrated before ( here and here ), educated and wealthier communities tend to vote Democratic, and thus, are more likely to be pro-choice and more likely to be upset by the SCOTUS decision.  And I, like a lot of people, live
Recent posts

Vacation Fun: The

I'm on vacation this week, and didn't plan to do anything on the blogs unless something really pressing came up. Something really pressing came up. It borders on scandalous. By now, you've probably heard that a certain university successfully trademarked the word "The."   How this happens, I have no idea; I'm not a lawyer (and that sound you hear is all the lawyers saying, "no kidding.")  But it happened. And that's not the really pressing thing, nor is it the scandalous thing.  But follow along. The news bothered me and others on Twitter, so I felt compelled to take a look at university names, specifically the first word of their names, using official designations in IPEDS.  I broke this into three categories: Those whose names started with "The," those whose names started with "University," and those whose names started with "College," plus the category of "Other." My thinking was that there are already m

Another look at diversity in public higher ed

 It's been a while since I wrote about diversity using Simpson's Diversity Index, which is an ecologist's way of looking at diversity of a population.  Essentially, Simpson's gives us a number that helps us answer this question: If two members of a population are randomly selected, what is the probability that they will be from different groups?  The formula for Simpson's creates a value between 0 and 1.  If we use it to look at different racial or ethnic groups in colleges, we'd find that a college with a score of .62 is more diverse than one with a score of .51, for instance. This is different than the way we think about diversity in higher education, which often means the percentage of students who are from underrepresented groups (Hispanic, or African-American for instance.)  Using that classic definition, Florida A&M (with 86% African-American enrollment) would be very diverse; using Simpson's, it is the least diverse public institution in Florida. 

What about transfers?

The world of college admission--or at least the discussion of it--is too often focused on freshman admission, and then, too often focused on freshman admission at the highly rejective colleges (h/t to Akil Bello ).  People tend to think most students apply to a college at age 17 or 18, spend four years at that one institution, and then graduate.   But just like the Kardashians aren't reflective of the typical American family even though they get a lot of press, neither is that little sliver of college admissions reflective of the reality of our profession .   Transfers have become a topic of interest to people who cover higher education recently, with stories in all the big, national media outlets.  So I decided to take a look at some data from IPEDS to see what the national trends look like. Even though I limited the view of this data to four-year colleges and universities that offer degrees, that doesn't tell the whole story: A lot of students transfer from a four-year colleg

The Changing Shape of American Higher Ed Enrollment

Much has been made recently of changes in enrollment in US Higher Ed: Fewer males ( is it a crisis or not? ).  Shrinking enrollments .  Changes in admissions due to test optional and COVID . In this recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education , I recently pointed out that one of the ways colleges stayed viable during previous enrollment shifts was to expand both physical campus locations and offerings and degree programs tailored to working adults.  So that got me thinking about the shifts in enrollment by age, something I'd not explicitly looked at before. On the surface it may not seem that exciting, but if you dig down enough and connect the dots, you might find some interesting societal trends.  So follow along. Before we do, if you're using this data in your professional life, either as a college EM staff member or a for-profit consultant, I appreciate your support for my time, webhosting, and software costs.  You can show support by clicking here. Some background: P

Enrollment and Market Share

Yes, it may be that your enrollment is falling.  Or, it may be rising.  That could be bad, or it could be good.  But if you do enrollment management for a living, and you talk to your trustees or alumni or anyone else who's interested, you might be interested in another metric that is perhaps more telling:  Market share. As I've written many times, there are factors outside of our control that influence how many students enroll in our institutions: Demographics, the economy, your appearance in the Final Four (or maybe not ), things that happen on campus, bad media exposure, or even perhaps, the weather.  The amount of the effect, of course is debatable, and it's too easy to get roped into the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. (When I worked in Chicago we once had an admitted student program on St. Patrick's Day, and a few drunk revelers found their way into the Student Center at 10 am and passed out, requiring an ambulance.  The yield on that event was among the high

Comparing Diversity in Higher Education to the Population

I'm going to recommend you read this one closely before you dive into the visualization, as there is a lot of context necessary to understand it.  It's mostly driven by the different ways the US Government counts its own citizens compared to the ways in which the US Government requires colleges to count its students. As you probably know, when a student applies for admission (or any time after they enroll), they have the option of indicating race or ethnicity.  If a student indicates Hispanic origin, regardless of their race, they're counted as Hispanic.  If not, students can indicate a race or ethnicity (Asian, Native American, etc.). In the census, "Hispanic" is not considered a race or ethnicity, but an origin.  People who indicate they are of Hispanic origin are still asked to indicate a race on the census form. Thus, when you want to compare the diversity of education to the diversity of the population, you're faced with comparing apples to oranges.  And