Launch, grow, and unlock your career in data

July 28, 2016

Bowdoin vs. Vassar: An Analysis of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History Podcast

1 comment

Malcolm Gladwell, one of my all-time favorite authors, recently started the Revisionist History podcast. In his typical style, it is absolutely amazing!

"Each week for 10 weeks, Revisionist History will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood."

In the middle is a three-episode series about education in the United States. One story in particular caught my attention and, coincidentally, I happened to listen to this podcast on the same day that The Data School was working on their dashboards based on the College Scorecard data.

Here’s Gladwell’s summary of episode 5: Food Fight!

Bowdoin College in Maine and Vassar College in upstate New York are roughly the same size. They compete for the same students. Both have long traditions of academic excellence. But one of those schools is trying hard to close the gap between rich and poor in American society—and paying a high price for its effort. The other is making that problem worse—and reaping rewards as a result.

In the spirit of not accepting statements as fact, I decided to create this visualisation comparing the two colleges. In every section I start with a similarity then next to it I point out a difference. This really helped me compare the schools and confirm much of what Gladwell spoke about in the podcast.

1 comment :

  1. Nicely done. How did you choose the scale of the Y axis for these? At first, I thought you could be framing each chart around the lowest/highest values, but then there's the topmost right chart. It doesn't appear that you had a mathematical approach. Was this mostly laid out by the high/low values?