Skip to main content

The President's Agenda for College Completion and One Little Problem

Many of you know about President Obama's call for the US to lead the world by 2020 in the percentage of citizens with college degrees.  It's a noble challenge to the country: We were first as recently as 1990, but we currently rank 12th.

And of course, it's not just a challenge to students: It's one to colleges and universities to improve access and to improve college completion among enrolled students via a wide ranging series of measures.

I had earlier tweeted that there was one small problem with this: That if we want to improve that rate by 2020, we're going to have to invent a time machine, go back 10 years, and spend more on pre-K and elementary education, which have frequently (but admittedly not definitively, for those who want to argue everything) to be the best investment in education.  Kids who don't do well in school early have greater struggles farther on, and the dream of college is even less likely. (Of course, doing well in early grade school does not ensure college readiness, either.)

And then we have the issue of paying for college, once a student qualifies for admission.  We know that Pell Grants have not kept pace with college costs, and we also know that college costs have risen too fast.  (Note: I include this Pell Grant chart for its information only; the visual suggests just the opposite of reality, in what can only be called one of the worst charts ever.)

One problem: We're pretty much going backwards on something as simple as free and reduced lunches. Take a look at the map below, and pull the slider from 2000 to 2011.  If we have more students from families who can't afford school lunch; rising college costs; and decreased federal support, it's going to be tough to get more kids to college.

Note: The qualifications for reduced for free lunches are not perfectly static, of course.  Here is the data over time.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Highly Rejective Colleges

If you're not following Akil Bello on Twitter, you should be.  His timeline is filled with great insights about standardized testing, and he takes great effort to point out racism (both subtle and not-so-subtle) in higher education, all while throwing in references to the Knicks and his daughter Enid, making the experience interesting, compelling, and sometimes, fun. Recently, he created the term " highly rejective colleges " as a more apt description for what are otherwise called "highly selective colleges."  As I've said before, a college that admits 15% of applicants really has a rejections office, not an admissions office.  The term appears to have taken off on Twitter, and I hope it will stick. So I took a look at the highly rejectives (really, that's all I'm going to call them from now on) and found some interesting patterns in the data. Take a look:  The 1,132 four-year, private colleges and universities with admissions data in IPEDS are incl

On Rankings, 1911, and Economic Mobility

If you're alive today, you have lived your whole life with college rankings.  Yes, even you.  You may not have knows you were living in the time of college rankings, but indeed, you have been, unless you were born before 1911 (or maybe earlier.)  If you're interested, you can read this Twitter thread from 2020 where I discuss them and include snippets of those 1911 rankings as well as those from 1957, written by Chesley Manly. You can read for yourself, or you can trust me, that in fact the rankings as we know them have been surprisingly consistent over time, and most people would have only minor quibbles with the ratings from 1911.  Perhaps that's because they have always tended to measure the same thing. But what if we did different rankings?  No, not like the Princeton Review where they make an attempt to measure best party school, or best cafeteria food, or worst social life.  Something more quantifiable and concrete, although still, admittedly, a hard thing to get rig

Freshman Migration, 1986 to 2020

(Note: I discovered that in IPEDS, Penn State Main Campus now reports with "The Pennsylvania State University" as one system.  So when you'd look at things over time, Penn State would have data until 2018, and then The Penn....etc would show up in 2020.  I found out Penn State main campus still reports its own data on the website, so I went there, and edited the IPEDS data by hand.  So if you noticed that error, it should be corrected now, but I'm not sure what I'll do in years going forward.) Freshman migration to and from the states is always a favorite visualization of mine, both because I find it a compelling and interesting topic, and because I had a few breakthroughs with calculated variables the first time I tried to do it. If you're a loyal reader, you know what this shows: The number of freshman and their movement between the states.  And if you're a loyal viewer and you use this for your work in your business, please consider supporting the costs