Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2013

More on the Admissions Arms Race

In a recent post, I wrote about the Admissions Arms Race , and who had come out victorious.  The short answer was "almost no one."  I rolled up admission rates (percent of applicants admitted) and yield rates (percent of those offered admission who enroll) and showed them over time.  These variables are pretty common parlance in college admissions; everyone with experience seems to know them.  But I showed them only aggregated by type of institution; averages often mask details contained in them.  To add some detail, I've now plotted them for every four-year, degree-granting institution that enrolls freshmen. In that post I also introduced "Draw Rate," a term few had heard of.  It's a simple calculation: You take the yield rate and divide it by the admit rate.  So, for instance, Harvard, with a yield rate of about 84% and an admit rate of about 6% (2012) has a Draw Rate of about 14.  Given that the industry average is about .6 (not six.... point six), you

Hey, White House, WTF?

I saw an interesting article in Insider Higher Ed yesterday.  The White House invited several college presidents to discuss ways in which we, as a nation, might do more to enroll low-income students in college. Excuse me, selective colleges.  Because how many students a university rejects on its way to prestige is clearly meaningful. Great idea, right?  Yes, but actually no. The presidents they invited tend to be from universities (shown as the red dots) that are a lot less successful in enrolling low-income students than they might be; this is especially true for the private universities invited. You can see for yourself: This interactive visualization plots Percentage of Freshmen with Pell Grants along the x-axis, and Calculated Mean SAT CR+M along the y-axis.  Right away, you notice a relationship: The pursuit of prestige, which means increasing SAT scores, almost assures you of enrolling fewer low-income students, as the relationship between SAT and income is widely known (a

The Winners in the Admissions Arms Race

Short answer: No one. This data is from the Delta Cost Project , a longitudinal study of college and university finance and administration, showing hundreds of institutional variables over time. This particular set shows the years 2000-2010, but there is no admissions data reported until 2003, which is itself interesting. The race for more applications has been successful: Apps are up about 50% over that time, even though the high school population has not grown that much.  Enrollment is up, too, but only by about 16%, which proves the old adage of mine that, "If they weren't born 18 years ago, they aren't going to enroll this fall." You can look at this by region or by Carnegie Type: I clustered the myriad of Carnegie classifications into four groups.  Although there are some variations, for the most part, the trend applies to all types, and all regions.  Of interest is the drop in the Draw Rate, which is yield/admit rate, a proxy for market position.  You can

Is College Tuition Too High? Of Course (not)

You can't open a newspaper these days--at least those of you who still read newspapers--without reading something about college tuition.  Usually, the takeaway from the article is something like: It's out of control No one can afford college any more Most colleges charge $40,000 just for tuition And, as is often the case, actual data can help dispel these myths.  It is true, of course, that college tuition has been increasing rapidly for some time.  Not 500%, as MSN suggests , especially not when adjusted for inflation.  But it's gone up fast, nonetheless.   The thing most people forget is that about 78% of all full-time, undergraduate college enrollment in the not-for-profit sector attends public institutions; in fact, about 9% of all college enrollment in the U.S. is in California Community Colleges. (If you want to re-create these findings, download the spreadsheet from that link and do it yourself.  The visualization is not very clear.) Here's the da

Tuition, Net Price, and Aid

Here's one that's a little more complicated, so I'll give you a head start on how to look at this data. This shows a lot of data from IPEDS 2011: Sticker costs, and net cost by parental income (3 groups) on the top, and information about financial aid on the bottom, including the percentage of students on Pell Grants, the percentage of students with any aid, loans, or grants. I've started with the view of the universe: About 1,450 Colleges and Universities that are at the Carnegie Classification of Baccalaureate or above. Your first move is to look at the data as a pattern, noticing the red squares on top, and the blue and gold squares on the bottom.  They show sticker tuition, the percentage of students with Pell Grants, and the percentage of students with any financial aid.  Got it? Now, under "Selectivity" choose "Most Selective" and watch what happens.  Maybe the opposite of what you think might: As costs go up, net prices go down for poo

Looking at Ivy League Tax Returns

The Government Shutdown of October, 2013 has left many of us in the cold: No access to much of the data we use from places like NCES , or IPEDS , or . As I wrote in the post below about the age distribution of college students, can get you some of the information you want, provided it's in existing tables or spreadsheets on government websites. But you still can't get to the databases that generate custom reports. One alternative where you can go looking is Guidestar . From there, I downloaded the FY 2011 Tax Returns (IRS Form 990) for all eight of the Ivy League institutions, and manually put the data into a database. While the most interesting stories are not always on the front page of the return, you can look at the high-level breakouts of revenue sources and allocation of expenses. On this visualization there are three tabs across the top: The first is the total revenue (orange bar) and expenses for FY 2010 and FY 2011. Beneath that is the dif

How old are college students?

We have a crisis on our hands.  The Government Shutdown of October, 2013 has left us without access to Higher Education data from IPEDS or NCES. This morning at 4:10 (I wasn't awake) my colleague at Johnson and Wales University, Jim Olick, was trying to help out Politico reporter Libby Nelson figure out the average age of college students in the US, in light of the data vacuum.  I tried to help, but couldn't find anything, but then tried the Internet Wayback Machine , where you can get archived snapshots of websites as they used to be.  It's a great resource. Anyway, I found table 200, showing age of college students over time.  And here you go: Learn About Tableau