# What are the Odds of Succeeding with a College Degree?

I came across this incidentally and feel obligated to make a few comments.

Odds are a more intuitive way to communicate information, but it is not at all correct to say that statistics lie. In fact, it is that we do not understand what the value means that leads us to the problem. We assume things that are inaccurate about their meaning, and that is OUR fault, not the fault of the statistic. It would be the equivalent of an uncle being younger than his neice and saying that it is a lie that he is the uncle. He IS the uncle. It is our fault that we assumed he must be older than his niece in order to be her uncle. While usually the case, we assumed something that is incorrect. We were wrong, not his status as an uncle. The fact that we think a mathematical average might be expected for an average person is our own misunderstanding of what an average is.

The idea with central park is also a problem. Finding central park as the "middle" of New York would be the equivalent of finding the median of unranked values. You first must arrange the numbers in ascending order before you take the median (the median of 3, 80, and 5 is 5, not 80). This would probably set us in an apartment building, not central park.

I know this is not at all the point, but using statistics to effectively communicate science is my job so... When the data is normally distributed, the mean does exactly what we expect it to do. When we have extremely large or extremely small scores, the mean will be "misleading," in the sense that extreme scores will lead the mean far away from the rest of the values. In these cases, the median is a useful alternative. But no measure of central tendency alone tells us everything and this is why we use measures of variability such as standard deviation.

It could be the case that everyone who graduates from college earns EXACTLY \$1053 per week OR that half of earn \$0 and half earn \$2106. The mean and the median would be the same in both cases (\$1053), but in the former, the standard deviation would be 0, and in the latter, it would be huge (\$1053, in fact, assuming population values).

I appreciate your effort to point-out some of the places where people make errors and the attempt to correct these errors in our logic, but to say "statistics lie" causes people to mistrust them, when really they need to be educated about them.

The sentence: "What were your odds of earning a median salary or more before college?" should actually read "What [is the probability] of earning a median salary [of a college graduate] or more before college?" The "or more" means that this should be a probability, not "odds."

You also gave an average for debt from college. Inconsistent given your point AND something you have control over. Going to a cheaper school is easier than earning more.

(Also, I was hoping for a table or something that shows the earning rates for college graduates and non-graduates for let's say the top and bottom 5%, 10%, 25%...). Thanks!

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