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Showing posts from March, 2015

How Admissions Has Changed, in One Chart

I frequently hear that the interactive charts I publish are too confusing or time-consuming, and that it's hard to get the story out of them without some work. So today, I'm making it easier for you, for two reasons: First, this is real student data, not summaries: Each dot represents a student who applied for financial aid, so I'd never publish that data on the web; this is just a good, old-fashioned picture of a chart.  Second, in this case, one chart tells the whole story.
The population here is all freshman financial aid applicants who completed a FAFSA but did not have need.

Each column is one year, and each dot in that column represents a student; higher positions in the column show higher income, from zero to one million dollars in parental AGI (adjusted gross income).  This is arrayed in a box-and-whiskers, or box plot.  The yellow boxes show the limits of the middle 50% of the distribution (the "box") with the color break representing the median.  The to…

Application Fees

Ever since my first day in admissions, I've had a big problem with the concept of college application fees.  They just seem odd to me: You pay some amount of money for the privilege of being considered for admission, often not certain you'll attend if you are.  And if you're not admitted, you're out of luck.

I understand those who support the concept, in concept: Students shouldn't apply to a lot of colleges, and they should be somewhat serious about the colleges they apply to.  Except we know that doesn't happen.  The counselor at my kids' school said a few years ago one student applied to 46, and the Fast Apps, Snap Apps, and VIP apps all encourage students to apply to places just because they can.

I also realize that there are costs associated with processing applications, although those costs have dropped pretty dramatically in the past several years, especially when all the documents come in electronically. But all the costs of doing business are paid …

Another Way of Looking at Graduation Rates

Another article appeared in my Facebook feed about college ROI, although it was called the 50 Best Private Colleges for Earning Your Degree on Time.   As is often the case, there is nothing really wrong with the facts of the article: You see a nice little table showing the 50 Colleges with the highest graduation rate.

But it got me to thinking: What if high graduation rate wasn't enough?  What if a considerable portion of your freshman class that graduates takes longer than four years to do so? Is that a good deal?  Let's take some hypotheticals:

College A: 1000 freshmen, 800 who graduate within four years, 900 who graduate in five, and 950 who graduate in six.  So the four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates are 80%, 90%, and 95%.  But of the 950 who eventually graduate, only 84.2% do so in four years.

College B: 1000 freshmen, 750 who graduate within four years, 775 who graduate in five, and 800 who graduate in six.  So the four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates are 75…

Are we all doomed?

If you follow media following higher education, you know that for a while, many have been (somewhat gleefully) predicting the demise of the whole industry.  High costs, MOOCs, a weak job market, and shrinking confidence in the value of a college degree are all conspiring, they would say, to create a perfect storm that will be the end of us all.

I'm not saying these people are wrong;  you can get in trouble arguing with self-proclaimed prophets, and until something either comes to fruition or it doesn't, all you have is a lot of heated discussion. Personally, I take exception to the smugness of some who seem to revel in their predictions.

But that is, as they say, why they make chocolate and vanilla.

The heat (if not the light) increased this week when Sweet Briar College in Virginia announced it was closing.  The pundits came out of the woodwork, proclaiming that this was just the first domino to fall, all the time apparently reveling in this presumptive proof of their collect…