IPEDS Peer Comparison

For my first blog post, I decided to take a look at a data extract from the Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS) data made available to Cochise College by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). All colleges and universities in the United States submit a huge amount of data to the IPEDS database every year so this is a vast repository of data about the entire higher education community. As part of their regular processing, NCES selected peer institution groupings and Cochise College is in a group of 29 colleges. They then created a single-file extract of the most commonly used data elements for each of those colleges. This dataset provides an unparalleled analysis potential as I compare Cochise College to our peers, and that is a fine project for this first blog post. I cannot possibly do a full analysis of the data in this one blog post (there are 29 colleges and 113 attributes for each college), so I will likely return to this dataset frequently over the next few months as I explore different R analysis techniques.

Peer Institution Listing

Here is an alphabetical list of their names and locations of the peer group, by state.

Comparing Tuition

For a simple comparison, I created a graph that shows the annual tuition for a full-time, in-state student at each college. Notice that Cochise College is the second smallest tuition, making us an affordable option for students when compared to our peers.


I next statistically compared Cochise College to our peers in a number of different ways. (Note: all ranks are calculated such that the smallest value is ranked number one and the largest is number twenty-nine.) Here are the areas where Cochise College was in the top or bottom four colleges in the peer group.

The first point of interest is that out of more than 100 measured factors Cochise College was at the extreme in only these 17 cases. This seems to indicate that when compared to our peers for most measured items we are ranked somewhere “in the pack” and that would be a comfortable location.

Many of the items where we are at the low end, like tuition and fees, are a reflection of our board’s desire to make Cochise as affordable as possible. Of note, though, is the fact that we do not seem to award many short certificates when compared to our peers. This may be a potential area of growth for the college.

On the other end of the spectrum, we were very high in our use of distance education technology. Also of note is our very high ranking for the number of Associate’s degrees and the number of students who earned Associate’s degrees. This, again, speaks to the board’s desire to ensure that our students are successfully completing their programs.