Skip to main content

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 freshman class, which leads to conscious choices about trade-offs other non-selective institutions don't have to make.  If you want to change that, just slide the control on the top right to suit your taste. There are 1,283 private institutions in this data set, but not all have complete data; the top view currently shows 658 after filtering, colored by religious affiliation. Hover over a dot for details. Click on the pencil in the legend to highlight one group.

Additionally, I've allowed you to filter by broad geographic region, and I think you'll find this instructive as you dive deeper into the data.

The top scatter gram arrays the institutions on two scales: The x-axis is set to the net price for students with family incomes of $30,000 or less.  Using the control in the pink box, you can change that.  The y-axis shows the percent of freshmen with Pell Grants, the grant for the neediest students in the country (usually with family incomes below $50,000.)

The bottom chart shows three views, and uses the same filters as the top view, but aggregates them to show the data by religious affiliation.  Note that because the data are limited, it's impossible to weight these statistics by enrollment, as you'd normally want to do, so this is an average of the averages, and far from perfect.  Still, the three values displayed--average net costs, average percent on Pell, and average endowment assets per FTE (full-time equivalent student)--can be instructive.

While I'd never accuse anyone from the Eastern Time Zone has having a particular bias about the rest of the country, it does appear that things vary by region; moreover, the results vary by the income band selected too. Note the differences between net price for very low income bands and other groups.  What you see across the board, and not just at Catholic colleges, is that low income students pay a lot more as a percent of family income than wealthier students.

While it's easy to select a hypothesis and cherry pick some data to support it, it's a little harder to go deeper and understand that Catholic Colleges look a lot like other private colleges when it comes to this issue.  Yes, Catholic colleges should do more.  No, they are not the only ones who should be singled out.

What's not always obvious are the resources available to do more of the lifting.  In that regard, look at the last column: Endowment assets.  What you see is that Catholic colleges are doing a lot with a little, and as I've said before, the wealthiest, most prestigious universities in the nation are not doing their fair share of the lifting.

What do you think? What do you see?



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Another 1000 Words and Ten Charts on First-generation, Low-income, and Minority Students

I have always enjoyed writing, and I consider this and my other blog like a hobby.  Usually, I spend no more than 45 minutes on any post, as I don't make my living by writing, and my blogs are not "monetized." But once in a while, an opportunity presents itself to write for a wider audience, and that's when I see what it takes to make a living putting words to paper. That happened this week.

You may have seen my opinion piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education. If not, you can read it first, read it last, or not at all; I think both this and that stand alone, despite their relationship.  In the end, we ended up with about 40% of my first draft, which is what happens when you write for a print publication. And of course, a print publication makes interactive charts, well, difficult.

I think there is more to say on the topic, because the similarities in recruitment challenges for first-generation, low-income, and minority students tend to look a lot alike, and the mo…

2018 Admissions Data

This is always a popular post, it seems, and I've had a couple of people already ask when it was going to be out.  Wait no more.

This is IPEDS 2018 admissions data, visualized for you in two different ways.  You can switch using the tabs across the top.

The first view is the universe of colleges and universities that report data; not every college is required to, and a few leave data out, and test optional colleges are not supposed to report test scores.  But IPEDS is not perfect, so if you find any problems, contact the college.

On the first view, you'll see 1,359 four-year private and public, not-for-profit institutions displayed.  In order to make this as clean as possible, I've taken out some specialty schools (nursing, business, engineering, etc.) as many of those don't have complete data.  But you can put them back in using the filter at top right.

Hover over any bar, and a little chart pops up showing undergraduate enrollment by ethnicity.

You can also choose to…

Changes in Bachelor's Degrees, 2011-2017

This will probably be the final post in Higher Ed Data Stories for a while.  As you may already know, I'm leaving DePaul for the "best coast" to take the position of Vice Provost of Enrollment at Oregon State University, effective July 1.  Thus, I'll be in personal and professional transition for a while, and once I arrive, I'll be busy learning a new institution and working on new challenges that should keep me occupied for a while. (Additionally, I'm not sure what my Tableau situation will be like...)

As you may already know, HEDS got its start when I decided to revise and share work I was already doing in my job at DePaul. Much of it, I presumed, would be of interest to university colleagues and high school and independent counselors.  But I had no idea how many people craved information like this.

So, for now, here is information about bachelor's degrees earned in 2011, 2014, and 2017, the most recent available in the IPEDS data center.  It's pres…