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– November 23, 2015
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AIER College Destinations Index 2015-16

Model Documentation

AIER’s College Destinations Index (CDI) defines a college destination as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with at least 10,000 enrolled undergraduate and graduate students residing in the MSA in 2013. An MSA is a group of counties with a high degree of economic integration centered on an urban core. In 2013 there were 269 MSAs with at least 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

The CDI categorizes the 269 MSAs based on total population in 2013 as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau. Below is a table of the delineations.

Table 1: MSA Size     
Classification    Total population
Major Metros    More than 2.5 million
Midsize Metros    1 million to 2.5 million
Small Metros    250,000 to 999,999
College Towns    Less than 250,000

The MSAs are ranked within their respective size category and across all MSAs based on an index of seven quality-of-student-life variables and four preparation-for-work variables. Each variable receives the same weight in the index.

Quality-of-Student-Life Variables

1. Cost of rent: Market rent for a two-bedroom apartment.  
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fair Market Rent Documentation System. 2014.
 
2. City accessibility: Percentage of commuters who walk, bike, and use public transportation. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-year Estimate. 2013.

3. Arts and entertainment: Arts and entertainments establishments per 1,000 residents. Arts and entertainment establishments are defined as performing arts and spectator sports venues. NAICS code 711.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses. 2011.

4. Culture: Employees in cultural establishments per 1,000 residents. A cultural establishment is a museum, historical sight, or similar institution. NAICS code 712.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses. 2011.

5. Bars and restaurants: Food and drinking establishments per 1,000 residents. NAICS code 722.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses. 2011.

6. Diversity: The average percentage of foreign students and non-white students. Non-white is defined as American Indian or Alaska native, Asian, African American, Hispanic, native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, two or more races. The MSA with the highest percentage receives a score of 100, while the lowest percentage receives a score of 0.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. 2013.

7. Cost of living minus rent: Price index of goods and services excluding rent.  
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Real Personal Income for States and Metropolitan Areas, Regional Price Parities. 2013.

Preparation-for-Work Variables
8. Youth unemployment: Unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-year Estimate. 2013.

9. College educated: Percentage of the population 25- to 64-years-old with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-year Estimate. 2013.

10. Economic activity: Four-year average percent change in the number of employed people.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics. 2010-14.

11. Science, technology, engineering, and math workers (STEM): Number of workers per 1,000 residents. Occupation codes

11-3021    Computer and Information Systems Managers
11-9041    Architectural and Engineering Managers
11-9121    Natural Sciences Managers
15-0000    Computer and Mathematical Occupations
17-2011    Aerospace Engineers
17-2021    Agricultural Engineers
17-2031    Biomedical Engineers
17-2041    Chemical Engineers
17-2051    Civil Engineers
17-2061    Computer Hardware Engineers
17-2071    Electrical Engineers
17-2072    Electronics Engineers, Except Computer
17-2081    Environmental Engineers
17-2111    Health and Safety Engineers, Ex. Mining Safety Engineers and Inspectors
17-2112    Industrial Engineers
17-2121    Marine Engineers and Naval Architects
17-2131    Materials Engineers
17-2141    Mechanical Engineers
17-2151    Mining and Geological Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers
17-2161    Nuclear Engineers
17-2171    Petroleum Engineers
17-2199    Engineers, All Other
17-3011    Architectural and Civil Drafters
17-3012    Electrical and Electronics Drafters
17-3013    Mechanical Drafters
17-3019    Drafters, All Other
17-3021    Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
17-3022    Civil Engineering Technicians
17-3023    Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians
17-3024    Electro-Mechanical Technicians
17-3025    Environmental Engineering Technicians
17-3026    Industrial Engineering Technicians
17-3027    Mechanical Engineering Technicians
17-3029    Engineering Technicians, Except Drafters, All Other
17-3031    Surveying and Mapping Technicians
19-1011    Animal Scientists
19-1012    Food Scientists and Technologists
19-1013    Soil and Plant Scientists
19-1021    Biochemists and Biophysicists
19-1022    Microbiologists
19-1023    Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
19-1029    Biological Scientists, All Other
19-1031    Conservation Scientists
19-1032    Foresters
19-1041    Epidemiologists
19-1042    Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists
19-1099    Life Scientists, All Other
19-2011    Astronomers
19-2012    Physicists
19-2021    Atmospheric and Space Scientists
19-2031    Chemists
19-2032    Materials Scientists
19-2041    Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health
19-2042    Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers
19-2043    Hydrologists
19-2099    Physical Scientists, All Other
19-4011    Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
19-4021    Biological Technicians
19-4031    Chemical Technicians
19-4041    Geological and Petroleum Technicians
19-4051    Nuclear Technicians
19-4061    Social Science Research Assistants
19-4091    Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Including Health
19-4092    Forensic Science Technicians
19-4093    Forest and Conservation Technicians
19-4099    Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians, All Other

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics. 2014.

Index Construction

For each variable we calculate the standardized score (z-score) for all 269 MSAs and then again within the four city-size classifications.  Cost of rent, cost of living excluding rent, and youth unemployment are inverted to reflect that high costs and high unemployment contribute negatively to the quality of student life and preparation for work. We calculate a separate standardized score for quality of student life and for preparation for work as the average of their respective variable scores.

The calculations are as follows:

For the quality-of-student-life variables X1,..,X7

For the four preparation-for-work variables X8,..,X11

Z-score Xn = (Xi-μi )/σi                     Where Xi is the ith value of the variable Xn; μi is the mean value of Xn; σi is the standard deviation of Xn.

For the variables cost of rent, cost of living excluding rent, and youth unemployment

Z-score Xn = (Xi-μi )/σi * -1

We calculate a separate standardized score for quality of student life and for preparation for work as the average of their respective variable scores.

Z-score quality of student life    =    1/7× ∑_(i=7)^n▒((Xi-μi ))/σi
Z-score preparation for work =     1/4×∑_(i=4)^n▒((Xi-μi ))/σi

CDI score = Z-score quality of student life + Z-score preparation for work
CDI rank, overall = Ordinal rank of CDI score for 269 MSAs
CDI rank, within city = Ordinal rank of CDI score for all MSAs within city classification classifications                          

 


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