April 21, 2005

Statistics Fun for You

It's time to have more fun with Messiah College Statistics.

First, let's talk about the College Honors Program. This used to be prestigious, and membership was difficult to attain. Back in the day, when Janet and I were in the second ever Honors Program class, there were only 30 people per class in the program. For our freshman class, that worked out to 1 out of every 24 freshmen in the program. We were some hot stuff, I tell you what. Since then, it's gradually declined in selectivity while increasing the scholarship level for its members. This means that it's much easier to get it, and they reward you more greatly for it. I occasionally think about this as the Department of Education takes $183 out of my checking account each month for the next ten years. Anyhow, back to the numbers. This year, the Honors Program features 90 freshmen out of 690 enrolled freshmen. Around 13% of freshmen are in the program, compared to 4% of my freshman class. Each of these 90 students is receiving a 60% scholarship, in addition to any sort of the other scholarships that are automatically awarded for test scores/GPA, the minimum of which is an additional $6000 automatically awarded to students meeting certain requirements, all of which a student must meet to be in the Program in the first place. I can say Janet and I were in the Honors Program, but it doesn't have the same cachet as it once did, so I'd have to explain myself to the whippersnappers skating by in the program right now.

Perusing the Messiah College scholarships page shows me that I went to college too early. Under the current conditions, assuming I was still in the Honors Program, I would have been on the hook for less than five grand a year, and that includes tuition, room, and board. That's down in southern state school territory right there, and a bargain and a half considering the quality of my college experience. Heck, it was worth it even though I still owe a lot of money for it, but I still wish they'd upped that aid while I was still on campus.

Enough with that, let's talk about girls. Well, boys and girls to be more precise. The trend in colleges these days is that more girls are going to college than boys. Messiah College is no exception. This year, 63% of the students are female. In other words, there are 1.7 girls for every boy. Not bad odds for a young gentleman, but that's beside the point. The point is the trend. I have data going back to 1997, and this year is the year with the highest disparity in the ratio of females to males. Not only that, it's been getting worse (or better, depending on your point of view) every year. Back in 1997 there was only a 60:40 ratio. Then it was 61:39 until 2002 which was 62:38 and then 2003 and 2004 were both the current 63:37. Something tells me the school should say no to a few more girls and yes to a few more boys, though Christian colleges across the country experience the same disparities.

There are likely numerous reasons for this, but I have a theory. It's not that there are more Christian girls than guys, at least not to this level of disparity. I think that Christian parents are more likely to want their daughters to go to a Christian school, which is generally a much safer environment. They aren't as concerned for their male children, as they are seen as better able to fend for themselves. Like I said, it's just a theory that is perhaps supported by the fact that 57% of undergraduates at NC State are male.

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