Northwestern Is The Most Desirable College In Illinois?

Business Insider

A questionable study may not have done all its legwork.

By now, I'm pretty sure you've seen the map and article listing the "most desirable" university in each state of our lovely and wonderful nation. And since you're the type to frequent this site, I'm pretty sure I know which state your eyes went straight towards.

But it's ... purple. That can't be right. Sure, Northwestern is an incredibly prestigious university and known worldwide. Can't argue those facts at all. And if you want to go the nebulous route of attempting to quantify "desirability", go for it. Most applications seems an odd way to try and do so, but it's at least a readily available number that kind of makes sense. But there's one major flaw with the author's map: it doesn't even match his created standards.

As our astute reader Timothy P pointed out to me in an email, things aren't exactly what they seem. Peter Jacobs used the National Center for Education Statistics' website to find his numbers. The NCES page for Northwestern lists the total amount of applicants as 32,060. Pretty big number. But you know what's a bigger number? 33,203.

Now those of you with eagle eyes might notice that the figures for Illinois say 2013, yet 2012 for Northwestern. I noticed that as well. But in his explanation, he lists that same 32,060 figure so if that's all we get to work with, that's all we have. Northwestern is a very desirable university and no one can (or should attempt to) take that away from them. But if you're going to make up a statistical parameter, you should at least follow your own odd guidelines.

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