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Ididio Explains
Why context matters
At Ididio we want to make information accessible through the use of visual portrayal of data. We feel that being able to see the data, especially when presented with context, allows for a deeper understanding.

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.

Median50% above50% below0%20%40%60%80%100%Graduation Rate

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%.

Middle Half25% below25% above0%20%40%60%80%100%Graduation Rate

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.

Most Schools10% below10% above0%20%40%60%80%100%Graduation Rate

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?

0%20%40%60%80%100%Graduation RateAll Colleges/Universities offering a bachelor degree

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.

0%20%40%60%80%100%Graduation RateState Flagship Universities

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.

0%20%40%60%80%100%Graduation RateTop Colleges and Universities

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.

Setting context for comparing schools.

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.

Schools in context
Use the selection to restrict the schools to specific classifications and the US cartogram to filter by state.
Selecting a school will take you to the detailed school page.
Restrict the types of schools to these
Restrict the schools to these states
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The scatter chart and table includes schools where 60% or more of their undergraduate awards are at the bachelor level, and they provided the information necessary to compute our selectivity rating.
Ididio calculates a selectivity rating using the relative performance of each college or university’s students’ SAT/ACS scores and/or high school grade point averages along with the percentage of applicants who are accepted for admission. A selectivity rating of 0 corresponds to open admission institutions. The data that informs our choices is from IPEDs, Peterson’s Databases copyright 2018 Peterson’s All rights reserved, and Common Data Set. Schools to the left are not selective, and schools to the right have rigorous admissions standards.
We averaged any of the percentiles available (some schools do not report on all of these measures) with the percentage of rejected applications to arrive at a selectivity rating.
The eight-year graduation rate is taken from the outcomes data reported in the2017 IPEDS data, and applies to all students seeking an undergraduate degree. Although standings could change for individual schools, the overall trend we see here is preserved if we only consider first-time full-time freshmen and/or six- or four-year graduation rates.
The federal loan repayment rate is from College Scorecard. This and the three-year default rate are available in our school explorer. The three-year rate is more sensitive to recent changes in quality and would result in a similar analysis.
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