Recent Blogs

Are college grad rates “bad data?”

Speadsheet with college data/
What data are you supposed to use?

There is a guest post on College Inc by Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, arguing that college graduation rates are bad data.

No, they aren’t.

To crib from the gun rights advocates, the information isn’t bad, it’s how it’s being used that is bad. For some reason, Ms. McGuire seems to think that people are using graduation rates to decide if Harvard or Trinity Washington is a better school. Continue reading

Free College Baseball Conference Profile

Improve you chances of getting recruited to play college baseball.

There are over 1,100 colleges that offer baseball programs. If you’re serious about playing baseball at the college level, you need to start finding the ones that best fit your athletic and academic abilities as well as your wallet.

Sign up for these free profiles and each week receive a college baseball conference profile that includes:

  • College Size
  • Operating Expenses per Baseball Team
  • Graduation Rates
  • Percent Admitted
  • Average Test Scores
  • Average Net Price
  • Recent Conference Standings

A coach can’t recruit you to play college baseball if he doesn’t know you exist. And you can’t let the coach know you exist if you don’t know his college exists.

What easier way is there to learn about college baseball possibilities than an email with a college baseball conference profile delivered weekly to your inbox? And it’s free.

50-50 College Profile Email

Primate scratching his head.
Where do I even start?

Starting the college search can be bewildering. Where do even start looking? Harvard’s supposed to be good, right? Or maybe you’ve heard good stuff about your state flagship university. And then there are those college rankings by magazines.

Any of those places is an acceptable starting place. The important thing is to make sure you start comparing those schools with other schools so you can decide which characteristics are important to you. But there are over 1,400 four year colleges in the United States, which schools do you compare?

As you start the process, you may not even be sure what size college you’re looking for, much less what majors it should have. And if you’re like most families, the parents are more interested in starting the process than the student.

So here’s an easy way to get started. Sign up for my free 50-50 College Profile email. Each weekday you’ll receive a profile of a college that has a minimum of a 50% graduation rate and accepts at least 50% of it’s applicants.

As I’ve discussed in other posts, I think it’s very reasonable to start with graduation rates–that is the point of going to college right? I use the four year graduation rate for private schools and the five year rate for public schools.

A 50% admissions rate means that any student that is serious about college has a reasonably good chance of being admitted. It also means that stronger students may find more merit aid available to them.

Also, I actually use 49% since rates can vary by several percentage points each year and I wanted to make sure to include as many colleges as possible.

These schools range in size and location. In each profile, I include a few items that distinguish the school which may give you reason to investigate further.

Sign up for the email and you’ll start building your knowledge of the various options for colleges in just 30 seconds a day. Save the ones that might be interesting to you, delete the rest.

It’s easy and it’s free. Just use the form below and start receiving the profiles.

It must be the Tiger Mother’s fault

Armadillo playing piano
Typical tiger parenting?

In her essay, “The Ivy Delusion,” Caitlin Flanagan has an interesting perspective on “the real reason the good mothers are so rattled by Amy Chua.” Amy Chua is the author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” which I haven’t read. It seems that many have taken the book as being about how Chinese parents are better at raising their kids than Western ones which is why so many Asians get into Ivy League Schools. Chau says that is what it was supposed to be about but “instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.” That part doesn’t seem to make it into the book reviews.

So what does this have to do with picking a college? Well, according to Flanagan, “good mothers” (as opposed to Tiger Mothers) are finding their children are losing their spots at the Ivy’s to children of Tiger Mothers. And they’re not happy about it. After all, the colleges their children attend are a reflection on their parenting abilities and they would never subject their children to such harsh Tiger parenting.
Continue reading

Sarah Lawrence Education-Priceless?

Stuffed animal holding credit card
A "Priceless" Education

Forbes has listed Sarah Lawrence College as the most expensive in the country and its president, Karen Lawrence, just wants to explain:

Views: Why We’re No. 1 – Inside Higher Ed

One of the problems with “most expensive” lists of any kind is that they assume a uniformity of product or service. In fact, though, Sarah Lawrence differs from other institutions, even liberal arts colleges, in fundamental ways. For example, our faculty have twice the one-on-one contact time with individual students as faculty at other prestigious institutions, including liberal arts colleges.

She doesn’t really give any specifics except stating that the average financial aid award is over $34,000. She talks more about the “handcrafted” education and the “transformative” experience.

Look, I’m all for Liberal Arts Colleges and am a big believer in their purpose. My husband and I will soon be shelling out serious money so our son can go to a private liberal arts school.

But I believe that numbers have some meaning. Let’s take a quick look at and the 25 schools in the “Similar Colleges” group for Sarah Lawrence. This data is from 2008 but I doubt the general rankings and magnitudes have changed much. Ultimately Lawrence is less than $2,000 more than five other colleges in the group. Of these six schools, Lawrence doesn’t offer the most institutional grant aid at $25,827; Trinity College is on top with $28,525. Lawrence’s four year graduation rate of 63.5% beats two of the schools but is lower than Trinity College’s 81.2% and Skidmore’s 77.9%.
Continue reading

Return on College Investment via BusinessWeek

Stuffed animal reading the business section
Is the investment worth it?

Businessweek has an interesting article on the return on investment for college. The short answer is “yes,” a college degree is worth the investment. This year’s ranking is a little different because it takes into account graduation rates and actual cost of attendance given financial aid, grants, and merit aid. Of course, there are all sorts of issues with the methodology which you should be aware of such as lack of distinction between an engineering degree and an English degree and what percentage of the various types of graduates end up looking for job on the PayScale website. It probably shouldn’t be considered the last word in your college search.

But there is a cool little interactive graph called “Visualizing College ROI” that is worth playing with. I set the “Search by State” field to Texas and started looking at some of the combinations. Some schools are left off presumably because they didn’t have enough entries on the PayScale site to be included. These include St. Edwards, St. Marys, Our Lady of the Lake, Texas Lutheran, McMurry, and Austin College among others.
Continue reading

FAQ: What are the different college calendar types?

Post-it note asking What are the different college calendar types?The most common calendar type for colleges is the semester system. The school year is divided into a Fall and Spring term of approximately 15 weeks each. Students usually take four or five classes each semester. The summer session may be split into shorter terms with longer hours. The vast majority of colleges and universities use the semester calendar system. Continue reading

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