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Showing posts from January, 2015

A (better) look at the NACUBO Data

Last night, I gave a little demo of Tableau Software to graduate class, and tried to make the point that big, long, detailed spreadsheet reports are like a teenage daughter: The information you get sometimes seems like it's only given to meet the minimum requirement of reporting, not to allow you to extract any insight.

This seems to be true with the people at NACUBO, too, who each year release a study of endowment values and one-year performance.  I'd encourage you to click on that link to see exactly what they provide.  Not only is the document lacking any insight about trends of the shape of the market, it's boring.  Most people will look at the top 15 or 20, and then go down the list to find institutions they know and make some comparisons.

Extracting the data is difficult, and even when you do, it's laden with characters that should be stripped off or cleaned up due to footnotes and other caveats. Moreover, there is no ID number attached to the colleges (like an I…

Colleges or Investment Firms?

I've worked at a wide range of colleges and universities in my career: From a tiny little college with lots of adults and transfers and commuters, to a classic liberal arts college, to one of the country's best known and wealthiest colleges, to a place just coming out of financial exigency, to one of the largest private universities in the country.  Money, in case you didn't know, makes a difference.

At one of those places, I was docked 18 cents on my first expense report reimbursement, because I had rounded up a tip, making it more than the 15% allowed by college policy.  But it was at one of the most heavily endowed colleges in the nation, at least on a per student basis.  I remember telling this to my mother, who only remarked, "Well, I guess now you know how they got it."

So today's Chronicle of Higher Education article about the "Huge Explosion of Wealth" and the resultant $37.5 Billion in contributions to colleges and universities last year.  …

Which Colleges Graduate the Most Students of Color?

This is a quick and easy little visualization to digest, I hope.

Using IPEDS data, I wanted to look at which colleges graduated the most and the highest percentage students of color.  So here it is.

Use the blue control boxes at right to choose a State, Carnegie Classification(s) and Control, whether public, private, and/or for-profit.  You can use the sliders if you want to look at schools with a certain size range, or only schools that award a certain percentage of degrees to students of color.  The bars are color coded by control.

The left hand column is fixed to show total Bachelor's degrees awarded in 2013.  Use the top right box to control what displays in the center and right-hand column, for instance Asian students, or Hispanic Students, or, the default, All Underrepresented Students of Color (Hispanic, African-American, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Two or More Races.)  The center column shows the number; the right hand column divides the center by the left to g…

The Hemingway Version of a Faulkner Story

Note: Tableau Guru Jeffrey Shaffer suggested I change from a red/green palette to one that's better for people who cannot distinguish between those two colors.  I changed it to include one view with orange/purple, but kept the original as well.

My undergraduate degree is in English Literature, and so I've read a lot of things I didn't like. In one American literature class I remember, the two heavyweights of the course were William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway, and the difference in their literary styles made an impression on me.  I'm reminder of this exchange of criticisms:

Faulkner: "Hemingway has never been known to use a word that might send the reader to a dictionary." Hemingway: "Poor Faulkner.  Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"
And so it goes with Story Telling With Data.  I downloaded an interesting data table from the Digest of Education Statistics, and worked for a long time, trying to find some interesting way to di…

Freshman Migration by State

One of the more popular and interesting (IMHO) posts on this blog was the one on freshman migration.  It's interesting to see, I think, where colleges and universities draw their freshman from.

Normally, I think it's best to start at a high level and drill down, but this time, I'm going in reverse. This is a much higher-level view of the data, by state, and it includes only recent high school graduates who go to a four-year college (you might call them traditional freshmen, even though they're actually in the minority.)  But there is still a lot of interesting stuff here, I think.

You've seen how to manipulate a Tableau visualization (or if you haven't click here), so use those skills to see how many interesting tidbits you can find in this visualization.  Hover over the top or bottom of the column to sort the column, using the little icons there.  Here's a factoid to start: The percentage of freshmen who stay in state is the highest in Utah.

What else can …

Looking at Catholic Colleges and Access

It's the kind of headline that grabs attention: Catholic colleges tell poor students: Go somewhere else.  And it certainly generated some discussion on Twitter and within my own university.  The article was written by Paul Moses, who is a Journalism Professor at Brooklyn College, and who seems to have a strong interest in social justice and Catholic topics, based on his tweets.

When you work at a Catholic college or university, service to the poor is something you talk about all the time.  At my own institution, where about 28% of freshmen receive the Pell Grant, we pride ourselves that the commitment is in our mission statement.  So I thought the topic deserved something more than the one-dimensional, high-level examination the article offered.

I went to IPEDS and downloaded some data, which is presented here.  To start with, I've included only private institutions, filtering to those with admission rates below 70%, as these institutions have some flexibility in shaping the f…