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Showing posts from March, 2019

Looking at Discount, 2016

If you want to strike fear into the hearts of enrollment managers everywhere, just say, "The trustees want to talk about the discount rate."

If you don't know, the discount rate is a simple calculation: Institutional financial aid as a percentage of tuition (or tuition and fees) revenue.  If your university billed $100 million in tuition and fees, and awarded $45 million in aid, your discount is 45%.  In that instance, you'd have $55 million in hard cash to run the organization.

Discount used to be a reporting function, something you would look at when the year was over to see where you stood.  Now, it's become a management target. And that's a problem.  If you want to know why, read this quick little explanation of Campbell's Law. The short explanation is this: If you want to lower discount--if that's really the thing you are after--you can do it very easily.  Just shrink your enrollment.  Or lower your quality, as measured by things like GPA and tes…

Varsity Blues and The Real Admissions Data

If you are at all interested in college admissions, you are perhaps already sick of the coverage of the Varsity Blues Scandal, in which some parents allegedly conspired to break the law to get unfair advantages for their children in the admissions process.

Almost no one thinks this behavior is appropriate.  Almost no one.

There have been calls for reform in college admissions, and it's clear that this scandal has exposed some weak spots in the process.

At some institutions.  OK, a handful of institutions.  If you had your thumb removed.

And even then, it's a coach or two at those institutions who gave into greed and decided to take the money in exchange for a greased path to admission and a fake spot on the team for these students, some of whom apparently had no idea about the machinations behind the scenes on their behalf.

Admittedly, as we get deeper into discovery on this, we may find that the cheating on the SAT and ACT scandal goes far deeper than we would have anticipate…

Looking at "Discrepant Scores"

Several years ago, The College Board produced a study of "discrepant performance," after studying about 150,000 students and their freshman-year grades in college.  If you want to see the study, you can get a pdf of it here. The title, of course, is interesting. (And before we get too deep, it's important to note that these are old SAT scores, in case you think the new test is better and want to argue that point, nice tight concordance between the old and the new notwithstanding.)

Discrepant performance is defined as standardized test scores that are inconsistent with a student's academic performance in high school.  The distributions of scores and grades were normalized, and then each student's z-score on tests was compared to their z-score on grades.  Just under two-thirds of students had scores and grades that were consistent, and we don't need to talk too much more about them.

The most interesting thing is the other one third of students: Those whose grad…