We all encounter important life choices that require us to make decisions like selecting a college to attend, a degree to complete or a career to pursue where we just don’t have the experience to make an informed decision. We usually rely on those around us to help in evaluating options. Since we don’t make these decisions often, our friends and family often have limited knowledge themselves. Fortunately, there is usually a lot of information (data) available that can help us make informed decisions and we here at Ididio provide an easier way to find and review it.
For example, imagine that you’re looking for a college and find one you think may suit your needs or desires. Whether a school helps their students complete a degree is an important measure of success, and you notice that the school you selected has a graduation rate of 65%. Is that good, or should you keep looking? One way to determine whether this school will help you succeed is to compare it’s graduation rates to other schools. There are almost 2,400 schools offering bachelor’s degrees so comparing each school manually would be difficult and tedious. However, there is a visual shortcut that can be used to accomplish this comparison quickly: the box plot.
There are three main parts to how we build a box plot. The first is the dark color line which represents the middle (median) value. Half of the schools have a graduation rate above this value and half are below.
Just beyond that, the next highest and lowest 25% of schools are represented by slightly lighter version of the color. Combined, this area represents the middle half of all schools – in this case showing that half of the schools in the country have a graduation rate between about 38% and 67%.
Finally, we show all but the highest and lowest 10% of results in an even lighter color. This chart now shows the values for most of the schools.
The shaded area now accounts for 80% of all schools, meaning we can get a good idea of how individual schools compare by simply lining them up against the group.
Returning to our initial choice of school, how does it compare to schools across the nation?
We can quickly see that it is in the upper half, but not in the upper quarter of all schools for graduation rate. Whether this school is right for you is really up to you, but now you understand how the graduation rate compares to all other schools. But what if you got excellent grades in high school and did really well on the SAT or ACT and have set your sights a little higher than better than half? All we have to do is change our context, or comparison group, to schools that are a little more distinct, like all of the in-state flagship universities which usually have high research budgets and extensive graduate programs.
Here we can see that the school’s graduation rate is lower than half but above the lowest 25%. The school doesn’t perform as well against this list. We can push a little further and compare it to schools that are typically near the top of the top 50 lists.
Compared to top colleges and universities the school doesn’t look that great as we can see it’s in the bottom 10%, and likely lower than any of them.
At Ididio we want you have control in choosing school qualities for comparison. You can do this by selecting the gear at the top of any of the school pages.
When viewing degree programs the comparison (context) is always all other degree programs. Likewise, with careers the context is all other careers. Explore schools below to find which ones meet your needs, and remember to set the context so you can gain the understanding to make the best decisions for you.