Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hey, White House, WTF?

I saw an interesting article in Insider Higher Ed yesterday.  The White House invited several college presidents to discuss ways in which we, as a nation, might do more to enroll low-income students in college. Excuse me, selective colleges.  Because how many students a university rejects on its way to prestige is clearly meaningful.

Great idea, right?  Yes, but actually no.

The presidents they invited tend to be from universities (shown as the red dots) that are a lot less successful in enrolling low-income students than they might be; this is especially true for the private universities invited.

You can see for yourself: This interactive visualization plots Percentage of Freshmen with Pell Grants along the x-axis, and Calculated Mean SAT CR+M along the y-axis.  Right away, you notice a relationship: The pursuit of prestige, which means increasing SAT scores, almost assures you of enrolling fewer low-income students, as the relationship between SAT and income is widely known (and of course, correlation is not the same as cause-and-effect.)

I look forward to future White House discussions: Bernie Madoff on wise investing, The Fox on chicken coop safety, and George W. Bush on Mission Accomplishment.