Wonk Alert: Cool New Interactive Map

University of Virginia acceptance rate, 2017-18. Source: Virginia Public Access Project based on SCHEV data.

If you were a high school graduate from Dickenson County applying for admittance to the University of Virginia, the odds of getting accepted in 2017 and 2018 were 100%. If you were a high school graduate from Fairfax County, the odds were only a little better than one in three (37.7%). Sounds pretty unfair, huh?

But, then, you’ve got to consider that only three high school grads from Dickenson County even applied to UVa. Some 6,300 grads from Fairfax County applied.

Those data points and many, many more can be found in an informational graphic published on the Virginia Public Access Project. The interactive map is based on State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) data.

The data might be useful if you’re a parent helping your kid figure out where to apply to college, but it may be even more useful to public policy wonks. It is interesting to see how many high school grads in each locality are applying to four-year college of any kind. All told, 47,000 Fairfax County kids applied to public four-year Virginia universities; 31,000 were accepted. In sparsely populated Highland County, only 10 were college-bound and eight were accepted.

As interesting as the absolute numbers are, I would like to see the numbers expressed as a percentage of the total population, the school-age population, or the number of high school graduates.

A close examination of the data also might give us a peak into the black box known as the college acceptance process. We could see, for instance, how much weight UVa, the College of William & Mary, and other institutions place on geographic diversity.

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