Demographic Comparison Tool for Higher Education

A reporter’s guide to using this interactive spreadsheet developed by Othot


Data scientists at Othot have created this State Demographics Comparison Tool to validate demographic data from two different data sets: WICHE dataset and Nathan Grawe research data set, and provide a way to easily compare state and regional demographic data against national trends.

What it does

Allows reporters and researchers to manipulate the comparison of state data against national data to note disparities in the two data sets AND/OR to identify trends in that data that might validate and/or inform stories.

What this solves

  • Helps give a more accurate read on demographic and racial data since it allows comparisons from the Grawe and WICHE data sets, which are slightly different from each other

  • Helps to anchor stories and makes it easier to recognize data shifts by state or compared to US data

  • May drive articles in and of themselves by exploring the trends in different states and regions

How to use the spreadsheet and manipulate the data

  • Only the first three worksheets (the RED tab and the BLUE tabs) are of interest. The remaining tabs are raw data and cannot be manipulated.

  • Select a state of interest in B1 on the State Comparison worksheet

  • Then, compare data on both worksheets to see state versus national trends or the drill downs on demographic data

  • Of special note: You can alter the emphasis of Grawe versus WICHE data sets and see how these yield differences in racial identity trends.

How to use it to inform your stories

Use this to raise your confidence in the demographic trends you report. It may also be possible to find significant discrepancies between the two data sets and then investigate why those discrepancies exist.

Examples of where it might be useful

  • If you are reporting on demographic or racial disparities in a region or state, this spreadsheet can quickly anchor your reporting to national trends or trends in other states. 

  • Manipulate the data on this comparison tool to discover significant changes that the data forecasts, then build your reporting around the noted variation.

  • Use the comparison tool to validate any story you are working on about how changing demographics will impact higher education enrollments, admissions, colleges facing severely declining enrollment and those expected to see growth.

What to watch for

  • Watch for significant differences in the trend line in the State Comparison worksheet.

  • Notice the significant decline in available freshmen students after 2025. 

  • Notice that the downward trend in some regions is very significant. While this may not be a surprise, this is a clear visualization of trouble ahead.

Stories we should be covering

  • Are colleges in the most affected regions ready for these declines?

  • How will large colleges fare compared to private or small colleges?

  • What programs are colleges engaged in to increase enrollment?

  • Is adequate attention being paid to recruiting in historically underrepresented populations? 

  • Are the WICHE and Grawe data sets reliable? Do they report the same trends?

  • What changes in identity have been overlooked?


EWA Reporter’s Guide for Inclusive Coverage 

Futureproofing Institutions Against the Demographic Cliff  produced by Othot

Contact us to meet with or submit questions to the data analysts at Othot:

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