Fun with Statistics!

So, according to the NY Times, today’s graduates ought to be statisticians…Hmmm, well, libraries already seem to place a large focus on statistics as metrics to evaluate the utility and value of libraries in our communities; some of the common sets of stats range from usage stats, return on investment figures, and program attendance.  Admittedly, statistics aren’t that much fun, but I wanted to learn more about my patron community and figured some government system must have some information on the web about it.  California’s Community College Data Mart is one prime source for basic info on gender, race, and enrollment types.  Expanding on Data Mart’s basic information, RAND California provides a more user-friendly, content rich set of statistics, including percentages and figures of students based on the number of units taken, but at a cost.  For a brief, pre-digested overview, you can also look at the Community College League’s Fast Facts. Taking a general look at community college statistics on the web, I came across a few surprises:

  1. Women in the 50+ crowd, regardless of ethnicity, were almost double the amount of men from the same age range and ethnic group enrolled.  This trend also appeared to be consistent across the other colleges I surveyed in Santa Barbara, Compton, and San Francisco.
  2. As of Spring 2009, the hardest hit areas by the recession did not see the greatest enrollment increases, as Cuesta College presents as both a graphic and a spreadsheet.
  3. The University of Phoenix, online campus had a total enrollment of 165,373 students, making it the largest degree granting university of college in the entire US.
  4. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, in 2003,  state appropriations make up approximately 38% and tutition and fees 20% of the average community college’s revenue.  In California, I found that the current appropriation of $3.114 billion is actual lower than the 2002-2003 amount of $3.685 billion and a significant decrease from the 2007-2008 amount of $5.135 billion.  No wonder everyone is in a state of shock.  I’m almost afraid to look at the impact on individual campuses.

While I still keep the thought in the back of my mind that 60% of statistics are made up on the spot, these sources of information provide some interesting starting points to develop queries and analyses about the who, the what, and the revenue source for our library and education centers and how things like budget cuts, economic recessions, and my patron base will impact our future careers.

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