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Economic Diversity Across Cornell's Colleges

Do Cornell's contract colleges add to its socio-economic diversity?

I recently got into an interesting discussion with a friend on the subject of economic diversity in higher education. This is something that I wrote about when I was an undergraduate, and I find the subject perennially interesting.

In particularly, we were discussing the fact that not only does Cornell have more socioeconomic diversity than the Harvard's and Princeton's of the world, but it also (somewhat bizarrely) has more socioeconomic diversity than some state schools, like the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia.

But the question was asked, how much does Cornell's "contract colleges" contribute to this statistic?. Seeing as how the contract colleges are much cheaper to attend for in-state students, one would imagine that they bring a fair amount of economic diversity to East Hill. This was a question I could not answer immediately though.

But by using the Survey of the Class of 2001 I was able to pull up some really quick statistics on this issue. The survey conveniently asked income freshman to estimate their parent's combined income and reports the findings by college. This is detailed below (click on the chart to obtain a larger version):


Obviously, the statistics are subject to some bias, seeing as how family incomes levels are being self-reported, but even so, the results are surprising. After weighting each college by the number of enrolled students, there is virtually no difference between the percentage of students with family incomes greater than 100,000 in both the contract colleges and the endowed colleges (roughly 53 percent for each). In this light, all of Cornell looks to be socioeconomically diverse relative to its peer institutions!

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on March 07, 2006 (#)

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