Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Interactive graphic shows transformation of Ole Miss, Alabama into regional, national universities

Click to enlarge
   The Chronicle of Higher Education  has an interesting interactive graphic that allows one to see the geographic origin of the freshman class of almost any university in the United State from 1998 to 2014.
    As a parent with two kids doing college searches, it’s good to be able to see the makeup of the student body of various colleges. I also found it interesting to view the changes at two of the fastest-growing flagships in the country, Ole Miss and Alabama.
    Both Ole Miss and Alabama have exploded in size over the past 20 years, fueled in large part by out-of-state enrollment. These out-of-state students pay a large supplement, almost paying private-school rates to attend a public college. In other words, these students are a real profit center for the schools and subsidize the in-state students
    In 1998 Ole Miss was already attracting a fair number of out-of-state students, with 985 in-state and 824 non-resident freshmen, for an out-of-state percentage of 46 percent of a freshman class of 1,809. Almost a third of these were from Tennessee, and from my experience most were from Memphis or the Southwest part of the state; in some ways these Tennessee students weren't really from out of state, since Ole Miss was their closest flagship.
    By 2014 the freshman class size had more than doubled, to 3,809, with 1,688 in-state and 2,121 non-residents, or 56 percent out-of-state.
    One of the biggest changes in the composition of the Ole Miss freshman class is the increase in the number of students from Texas and Georgia. In Texas, the 10-Percent Rule (or Seven-Percent Rule, depending on the mood of the moment) has made admission to that state’s top schools almost impossible for good students from top school districts. In Georgia, the Hope Scholarship has encouraged the state’s best students to attend the University of Georgia or Georgia Tech, and made admission highly competitive (the average freshman ACT at Georgia is 29).
    The Texas and Georgia numbers are plain to see. In 1998, Texas sent 84 and Georgia 78 freshmen to Ole Miss. In 2014 those numbers were 353 and 295. In 1998 California sent four students; in 2014, 84. Connecticut went from three to 19. Massachusetts, one to 15. New Jersey, zero to 21. Pennsylvania, 3 to 23. Florida 23 to 99. And so on.
    Over at Alabama, the growth has been even more explosive and transformative. In 1998 Alabama had 2,616 freshmen with only 26 percent coming from out of state. So in 1998 Ole Miss was much more of a regional school than Alabama. By 2014 Alabama had 6,824 freshmen, 2,462 in-state and 4,362, or 64 percent, out of state. The growth in the number of Northeastern and far West students attending Alabama far exceeds the growth at Ole Miss. Connecticut went from five to 67 from 1998 to 2014. Massachusetts, two to 85. New Jersey, nine to 142. Pennsylvania, five to 123. Florida 71 to 386.
    Both Ole Miss and Alabama are using generous merit scholarships to attract top students from around the country. Students with a 32 on the ACT can attend tuition-free; at Alabama, if a student finishes in fewer than eight semesters he can use the scholarship towards graduate school.
    Alabama gets a lot more buzz over its Presidential Scholarship than Ole Miss does for its Academic Excellence Award, and the graduate school rollover certainly makes it a better deal. On the other hand, top students have a far greater chance of being able to stack scholarships and perhaps even get a full ride at Ole Miss.
    Of course, most out-of-state students don’t get scholarships; they pay their own way. Part of what attracts them to Ole Miss or Alabama is the desire to attend a relatively small, traditional Southern school.
    There can be too much of a good thing, though. If these schools keep going on their current trajectory, neither will be small nor Southern 20 years from now. And that’s not a good thing, in my view.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It’s complex and regional. Many southern or rural state universities are providing generous merit-based scholarship packages to lure high-achieving students. This increases enrollment, ranking and prestige. Other state schools, like UCLA (90,000 freshman applications) or UC Berkeley (82,000 freshman applications), are getting swamped by applicants without providing merit scholarships. Many talented in-state students are getting shut out of the UC system so they’re going elsewhere.

California isn’t unique. A significant number of students from states like Illinois or New Jersey are finding it easier to get accepted at an out-of-state flagship school and if they pick the right one, less expensive. For example, the University of Alabama charges $27,750 for tuition for out-of-state students. With a merit scholarship, if a student has a 29 on her ACT, the total tuition cost is only $14,750. Get a 32 and tuition is free. By contrast, University of Illinois in-state tuition is $20,702 for business, science and engineering students with very few merit scholarships. 75% of enrolled engineering students have ACT scores of 31 or better and 50% of business students have a 30 or better. That leaves a number of students who get turned away or simply can’t afford to go to their state flagship. For those students, it make sense to go to Ole Miss, Alabama, South Carolina or Auburn, save money and see some good football!