Say What?

I can’t figure out if this is the worst statistic I’ve read this week, or just the most poorly phrased good statistic.  I’m leaning towards that first one:

“….more than half of students earning bachelor’s degrees at public colleges – 56 percent – are graduating with $22,000 of debt, on average.”  –Nancy Zimpher on CNN.com

If I’m reading this correctly, they tossed out everyone at private college, then anyone who didn’t graduate, then (most disturbingly) 44% of who was left?  Why did they get the boot?  I mean, if we’re just tossing out arbitrary numbers of students, can’t we get any average we want?

Nancy Zimpher, what are you up to??? 

5 thoughts on “Say What?

  1. Well, 56% is over half. Give them credit for that, at least.

    The worst I have seen was a Scientology graph on mental health, in which only one axis was even labeled, never mind marked in any way, and the other was unmarked by labeled “Schizophrenia.” There was an uneven but consistent upward trend, proving something-or-other.

    Very well-done printing and graphics, though. Nice quality paper and inks.

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  2. I think it's deliberately obscured, because when she is citing the supposedly better NY program, she claims that 40% of students are graduating without loans. That implies that 60% are graduating with loans, and if the general public university stats are that 56% of students are graduating with debt, deliberate obfuscation might be necessary to make her case.

    This article conflates public/private data, but 56% or 60% is definitely in the ballpark, and the 22K looks right also. If you go to the Project on Student Debt and select NY, you'll see that SUNY doesn't look that good. So I think she's playing a few games to paper over an uncomfortable truth.

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