I am helping a rising high school senior (family member) evaluate colleges. She had Tech number one on her list for a long time, but realized she does not want any of the majors offered. So, we compiled a list of schools that interested her. I was surprised at the colleges on her first cut list, so I asked her what she wanted in a school. Number one: a good football team! She goes to her high school games, but is not a football fan. I bet she has never watched a single down of college football. So, why is that so important?
First, it represents to her the idea of a real university. Second, college football creates loyalty, and that is something she values. Third, the tailgating looks like it would be fun. I did not quiz her further.
Well, her list is not surprising: UGA, FSU, Ga Southern, Southern Cal, Colorado, Duke, and College of Charleston (she wants to race sailboats in college). I reminded her that Duke does not have a good team, but she reminded me of the basketball team. OK.
This discussion stimulated some research on our part. Here is some of what I found. We expanded our search to include all the ACC and SEC schools. The primary source is the College Board website, but not exclusively. First, Southern Cal and Duke do not fit this list for a lot of reasons, and UGA comes closer to fitting with Duke than with FSU.
I culled out most of the data, but here is the part of interest to FTRS readers. I hope. For each conference, the first number is the percentage of incoming students in the top 10% of their HS class, next is the percentage in the top 25.
|NC State||42||81||Miss State||26||28*|
My first thought when I read these data is that anyone who can read must be able get into some colleges. Let’s assume, for a moment, that Mississippi does not have the best schools in the South. That means 72% of the incoming freshmen at Miss State did not finish in the top 25% of their HS class in a state where the standards are not tough. Is this an accredited university? We played them in Starkville two years ago in what must have been the largest IQ infusion in Mississippi history.
When I look at the teams in the ACC, four schools stand out as SEC-like in academics. One is surprising – VPI. I erroneously thought they were similar to Ga Tech. Maybe it’s because they insist on not being called VPI any longer and have attached the "Tech" to their name. I think we should sue for harming the value of our brand.
Why does this matter? Well, we are currently reading about 2012 commits for the football team and hoops commits will start rolling in this summer. If we are recruiting a player who is also on the list at Miss State or FSU, I wonder about his judgment. Or ours. Also, is it no wonder why we have so much difficulty recruiting kids to play for us and also keeping them in school? If 89% of your classmates finished in the top 10% of their HS class, you had better be smart or willing to work your butt off, or both. It ain’t gonna be easy staying eligible. This is no complaint about our academics. They are the reason for our existence, but the playing field is just not level.
I am not sure where my rising senior will attend college, but she said it won’t be Mississippi State. I also think she pulled FSU from the list.
* Update 6/8/2011 10:52 PM: I marked the Top 25% number for Mississippi State in the table above with an asterisk. Commenter 00Dawg questioned the accuracy of 28% and I cannot find another source to confirm the data entered on the College Board website. I did find a second source for 2008 that indicates the correct figure may be 58%, as he suggested. Assuming 00Dawg is correct, the data change improves the position of Mississippi State in the "academic standings" of the SEC. This would mean they are slightly better than LSU and about the same as Arkansas. Not a ringing endorsement of the university by any means.
Update #2 6/9/2011 1:52 PM: Here is the link to the Mississippi State site that shows 26% in the Top 10%, and 28% in the Top 25%. Look on page 12 of 41. I suspect the 28% is a typo, but the College Board website pulled the data from this form.