In my work as a commercial property appraiser, I do an awful lot of comparing. I compare one property with another property, compare neighborhoods, income levels, home values, levels of education, and tons of other stuff. One of the primary approaches to value in the appraisal profession is called the “sales comparison approach.” In fact, the need to make these kinds of comparisons on a daily basis is what drove me to develop the Wyattopia Charting Engine, which is free (for now) and available for the public to use.
To illustrate how demographic analysis can be quickly applied to gain insight about locational differences, I generated the following chart comparing the Bachelor degree majors of the populations of the three major college towns in Mississippi: Starkville, where Mississippi State University is located; Oxford, where the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) is located; and Hattiesburg, where the University of Southern Mississippi is located.
As you can see from the chart, based on the proportion of Bachelor majors in their respective towns/cities, all of the three major colleges in Mississippi would appear to have strong education and business programs (although MSU would be slightly higher in education, USM in business) . There are also some areas of emphasis:
- Mississippi State University
- Biological, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
- Computers, Mathematics, and Statistics
- Ole Miss
- Literature and Languages
- Liberal Arts and History
- Visual and Performing Arts
- Social Sciences
- University of Southern Mississippi
- Science and Engineering Related Fields
How strong is the correlation between the bachelor degree majors for an entire town and the most popular programs of study for the university that’s located there? It depends. I suspect it’s stronger for small(ish) places like Oxford and Starkville — more of what I would say are true “college towns” — than it is for larger towns or cities like Hattiesburg, which is significantly larger with a much more diversified economy.
There does appear to be a correlation between a university’s most popular fields of studies and the bachelor majors for the town in which the university is located. The demographics presented in the first chart appear to be relatively supportive of the information I collected from StartClass.Com, which allows you to compare multiple universities.
I’ll be writing more about the differences between the major college towns in Mississippi. In the meantime, check out other demographic differences between Starkville, Oxford, and Hattiesburg — or if you prefer, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and University of Southern Mississippi. (Interactive versions are available by clicking on the charts).
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