Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Students who pick Mississippi College as top choice do well on ACT; Ole Miss tops public university list

    Sometimes I stumble on a statistic that surprises me.
    I was looking at the 2011 ACT score report for Mississippi and noted that students who list Mississippi College in Clinton as their first college choice seem to have the highest ACT scores in the state (apparently not enough people list Millsaps for it to be listed as a separate school, but more on this later). Thirty-five percent of the 270 students who listed Mississippi College as their first choice scored a 24 or higher. I guess it's a backhanded compliment, but I didn't think the Mississippi College scores would be so high.
    Ole Miss does outshine other public universities. Twenty-seven percent of the 1,988 test takers who listed Ole Miss as their first choice scored 24 or higher. For State and Southern the percentages were 22 and 18, respectively.
    Another interesting fact is that a substantial number of good students are choosing community colleges as their "first choice" schools. I'm defining "good" here as a student with a 24 or higher on the ACT. With the exception of East Mississippi and Mississippi Delta Community Colleges, most community colleges had about 10 percent of the students who selected them as their first choice score 24 or higher. When compared to Southern at 18 percent, Delta State at 11 percent or the University of Memphis at 15 percent, I say that's not bad. (Note that there are several colleges that I am just not going to pick on. You can read the report to see what students the various schools are attracting).
    I mentioned that Millsaps didn't make the list. Apparently not enough students picked them as first choice so it is mixed in the "All Other Institutions." I'm fairly certain that had it been listed separately it would be able to claim the highest percentage of high scorers. But since it wasn't, that honor goes to Mississippi College. I do wonder how a college can operate if so few students select it as their first choice. I'm sure a friend of mine will enlighten me.
    Another interesting statistic is that Ole Miss is the second most popular school in the state. Roughly 3,000 students chose Mississippi State as their first-choice school versus 2,000 who selected Ole Miss. However, Ole Miss tends to draw its students from around the nation. Although the school reports that 66 percent of students are Mississippi residents, last year a majority of the Ole Miss freshman class was from out of state. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next year or two. I'm actually surprised that State only beats out Ole Miss by a 3:2 ratio among in-state residents.
    Ole Miss is considered one of the "best buys" in the world of respected-but-not-highly-selective colleges (See also Forbes ranks Ole Miss top 20 Best Buy). Back in my day the Texas kids were given a choice between SMU or Ole Miss and a BMW. A lot of kids went for the car; I think they still do!

I was able to find Millsaps listed in the 2009 ACT resport. In 2009 95 students listed Millsaps as their first choice and 34 percent had ACT scores of 24 or higher. For the same year 276 students listed Mississippi College as their first choice and 32 percent had ACT scores of 24 or above. While this suggests that Millsaps might edge out Mississippi College if enough students were to select it so that it could be listed, it's likely a horse race.


Anderson said...

I suspect a lot of Millsaps applicants take the SAT, not the ACT.

Col. Reb Sez said...

Anderson, do you really think very many Mississippi students take the SAT without also taking the ACT? I would think even those who see themselves and top-tier bound would take the ACT, given that this is the South. And if Millsaps is one's FIRST choice, why take the SAT?

I'm not picking on the school, I just thought more people would have set out to go there. Perhaps they had their sights set elsewhere and couldn't get in, or in a lot of cases perhaps Millsaps just proved to be the more affordable option through some scholarship opportunities.