Sunday, May 25, 2014

More fun with maps

Following on from an earlier post, I've found a couple more maps that make for interesting reading. Of immediate interest to me are these maps by eCollegeFinder that highlight the most selective and most desirable college by state -- and there isn't as much overlap as you might think.

The map of most desirable schools is fairly straightforward. Big state schools dominate the list, ranked by which four-year colleges receive the most undergraduate applications, with a handful of notable exceptions for private schools. UCLA is by some distance the overall winner (72,676 applications in Fall 2013), followed by New York University, Penn State, Northeastern and Michigan. Of the 50 schools on the map, Alaska-Anchorage received the fewest applications (3,062), with Wyoming, South Dakota State, North Dakota State and Hawaii-Manoa next on the list.

Some of the exceptions to the big state school rule include Tulane (30,122 applications received, 8,357 total undergrads), Washington University in St. Louis (30,117 applicants, 7,259 undergrads), Vanderbilt (31,099 applicants, 6,796 undergrads) and Marquette (23,432 applicants, 8,293 undergrads). The presence of Ivy League schools and BYU on the list is hardly a surprise.

If the law of supply and demand always held true, one might think that desirable schools and selective schools would be a 1:1 ratio. Looking at which school in each state has the lowest acceptance rate, though, some different names pop up on the list.

An obvious limitation of this approach is that only one school can be its state's most selective -- the presence of Harvard, for example, nudges out MIT, which is also incredibly selective. Also, it's worth noting that selectivity rates vary wildly. Harvard accepts just 6 percent of applicants, while the University of Wyoming takes in 96 percent of those who apply.

America's most selective college? The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (125 total undergrads), accepting a miserly 5 percent of its 289 applicants in Fall 2013. The rest of the top 10 includes familiar names such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Julliard, Brown and Dartmouth. The University of Chicago (5,618 undergrads), which the sports-industrial complex would like you to forget exists, accepted 9 percent of 30,304 applicants. Looks like they're doing just fine without a big football team.

Curiously, the most selective school in Arizona is Grand Canyon University, a for-profit institution. Their acceptance rate is 55 percent, which -- if your raison d'etre is to generate profit -- seems like quite an awful lot of potential customers being turned away. Having Division I athletics can only bring in so much.

One class of schools that might initially be overlooked is the service academies. Navy (4,536 undergrads) is the fifth-most selective at 7 percent of 19,146 applicants, while the Air Force Academy (4,120 undergrads) took in 15 percent of 9,634 applicants. Army has a fairly low acceptance rate of 9 percent, but it misses out by virtue of being in the same state as Julliard and Columbia.

And that overlap? Turns out just 10 schools are both their state's most desirable and most selective. Most are no-brainers -- Tulane, Michigan, Dartmouth, Duke, Brown, Vanderbilt, BYU and the University of Washington. Then there's Wyoming (10,194 undergrads, 4,181 applicants) and Nevada (15,082 undergrads, 7,857 applicants, 88 percent acceptance rate). The folks in Reno just edge out UNLV, which has an 88.2 percent acceptance rate. No sense turning students away if they really want to come to Big, Rectangular State, right?

There's also this post on Slate about each state's most prevalent language other than English and Spanish. Obviously Spanish is the most widely spoken language other than English in the United States -- only Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota, Louisiana, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine buck the trend -- but take Spanish out of the mix and things get much more interesting.

Vietnamese is the third-most spoken language in Nebraska? I can believe it. Even in my whitebread high school, we had a decent-sized group of Vietnamese students. The Slate link also includes maps of the most common Native American, Scandinavian, Indo-Aryan and African languages. There's also one about each state's most common country of origin other than Mexico for legal immigrants. Who knew Nebraska was such a draw for the Burmese?

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