College Insights

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Catholic College National Markets

A combination of three factors will provide information about the best target location for a women's only Catholic college. These factors are a high Catholic population, a large population of girls aged 13-14 and income of the household – in this instance the household income had to be above the US median of $59,039. Using the twin factors of number of girls and percentage of persons identifying a Catholic, the top two cities to target is New York and Boston. When the third criteria is factored in, the best city to target is San Diego with an almost 8,000 population of girls aged 13-14; 28 percent of the population identifying as Catholic and an above median household income of $71,481. Please find below a more detailed account of our finding including how the figures were triangulated to arrive the top three cities.


First, the percentage of Catholics in each city was identified. With this statistic, it was possible to identify the number of girls aged 13-14 in each city. It was assumed that girls within this age group make up 2 percent of the entire population based on US population demographics. Next, the median household income in these cities was calculated. All of this information was then entered into the spreadsheet provided here.
It was then possible to extrapolate the top three cities by combining the three factors and checking which of the cities score highest in each of the categories. Based on the population of girls aged 13-14, New York comes out tops; based on the population of persons identifying as Catholic, Boston comes out tops. Based on household income, the city that has the best other factors is San Diego.


The top 20 US cities that stand a chance of being identified as targets for a women’s-only Catholic College are presented in the attached spreadsheet. When all factors are combined, San Diego, New York, and Boston stand out as the top three cities as a likely location. If the median income is a factor that can absolutely not be dispensed on, then San Diego comes out as the top city to target.

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Catholic College Midwest US Markets

The top 20 Midwest U.S. markets for a women's-only Catholic college to target—based on select criteria—have been identified and provided in the “Mid-West Markets” tab of the attached spreadsheet. The research methodology of this response consisted of finding and ranking Midwest cities according to population size, triangulating data to identify the number of 13-14-year-old girls in each city, using city economic data, and identifying the proportion of Catholics in each city. While these actions are presented simply within the requested table, there are some notes about the research that should be discussed. To that end, the criteria are presented below in separate sections.


The “Midwest” market was determined by the Census-defined region and includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

I started by understanding that there were many markets within the Midwest and in order to find the top markets for 13-14-year-old girls, from above-average income communities that have large populations of Catholics, I’d need to rank demographic data from the latest U.S. Census Bureau surveys and reports. This is because there were no pre-compiled top-lists that noted such specific criteria (which was expected); and because the data available on the Census sites I used (American FactFinder and Census Reporter) was not ranked by city population size. Instead, each individual city was plugged into the Census databases to view their results. So, I needed a rich source of Midwest cities in order to be able to rank them by population.

I used several population-size ranking lists of U.S. Midwest markets to begin identifying a potential pool of Midwest cities that had large numbers of people. Examples of these lists include reviews on “largest cities,” local news reports, and “best Midwest cities” lists. My assumption, in this regard, is that the larger, more populated cities are also going to house the larger concentrations of adolescent girls and high-earning parents.


Census gender and age data is typically provided per state, not city, and exact city gender/age data for 13-14 year-olds would take additional triangulations and assumptions that would be beyond the scope of this request. In trying to locate pre-compiled figures for this group of girls, I found many resources that clumped children together in large age ranges, like 0-18. Additional data did not reveal the exact age ranges as related to gender. However, American FactFinder shows gender-specific age-ranges for 10-14-year-old children by gender. This was the best data with which to triangulate estimates for each city’s population of 13-14-year-old girls. In order to do this, I made the assumption that the five ages within the cluster (10, 11, 12, 13, and 14) were distributed equally with each representing a 20% share of the age range. Taking this assumption further shows that 13-14-year-old girls make up 40% (20% + 20%) of the age cohort in question. I triangulated the American FactFinder 10-14-year-old age-cohort data by multiplying each figure by 40% (each exact triangulation is presented as a formula within each cell of the attached spreadsheet).


Data tables compiled by the Census Bureau to make extrapolation of their ginormous catalog more efficient does not link income level by age of children. Instead, the Census links income by the number of children. Furthermore, even after an extensive search through available reports and additional databases, I was unable to locate city-specific data for “average household income.” However, the Census does provide city-specific data on “median household incomes.” These were the income figures used for this report.


The Census did not have data broken down by religious affiliation that was accessible per city. In order to locate the proportion of Catholics in each market, I used a resource sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) called the “U.S. Religion Census 1952-2010.” Because this source gave the number of religious adherents to Catholicism and the research criteria specified that a percentage was desired, it should be noted that the triangulations to deliver the requested figures are located within each cell of the Midwest markets table. It should also be noted that the results of the ASARB data were only offered in a downloaded report. I’ve created a spreadsheet that imported the data which can be viewed here. The metropolitan areas used in the research are highlighted yellow. Please note that because these metropolitan-area data are compared to actual Census data, in some cases the number of Catholics identified for the area exceed the population totals noted for that city. In these cases, I have maintained the exaggerated resulting percentage in order to showcase that the area is, indeed, holding a large Catholic population. The scope of this request prevents further analysis; however, if a deeper dive is desired, we would be happy to fulfill another request.


Each market listed below is based on having the highest populations of girls 13-14 years-old (ranking factor), a large Catholic population size, and above-average income.

1. Chicago, IL
2. Indianapolis, IN
3. Detroit, MI
4. Columbus, OH
5. Milwaukee, WS
6. Kansas City, MO
7. Omaha, NE
8. Cleveland, OH
9. Wichita, KS
10. Madison, WS
11. Minneapolis, MN
12. St. Paul, MN
13. Fort Wayne, IN
14. Toledo, OH
15. Aurora, IL
16. Cincinnati, OH
17. St. Louis, MO
18. Lincoln, NE
19. Akron, OH
20. Des Moines, IA


The requested top 20 Midwest U.S. markets are provided in the attached spreadsheet.
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US Women's Only Colleges

I have provided a list of the top 20 women's only colleges in the US. The definition of top is based on the number of students enrolled. The women's colleges with the highest enrollment are St. Catherine's University in Saint Paul, Minnesota; Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California; and Notre Dame of Maryland University. You can find an extended version of this list in this spreadsheet.


St. Catherine University: 3,176
Saint Mary’s College: 2,802
Notre Dame of Maryland University: 2,612
Smith College: 2,514 students
Barnard College: 2,500+ students
Wellesley: 2,350 students
Mount Holyoke College: 2,199
Simmons College: 1,801 students
Meredith College: 1,685 students
Converse College: 1,455
Bryn Mawr College: 1,381 students
Ursuline College: 1,175
Scripps College: 1,039
Brenau University: 1,653
Columbia College: 1,456
Cedar Crest College: 1,428
Alverno College: 1,413
Agnes Scott College: 927
Mills College: 808
Mount Mary University: 807


To conclude, I have provided a spreadsheet with the top 20 women's only colleges in the US. The definition of top is based on the number of students enrolled.

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US Catholic Colleges

The top 20 U.S. Catholic colleges/universities have been identified and provided in the “Catholic Colleges” tab of the attached spreadsheet. The top five are DePaul University, Saint John’s University, Georgetown University, Saint Louis University, and Loyola University Chicago. Additional information about the methodology and findings is presented below.


There were no recent pre-compiled top-lists by enrollment for Catholic colleges/university in the United States. So, in order to determine top Catholic colleges, it became necessary to create a list from scratch. The first element required was a listing of all Catholic colleges/universities in the United States. I located such a list on the People’s Alliance for Continuing Education (PACE) website.

Then, I used the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to determine each school’s enrollment numbers. I selected all student enrollments which included undergraduate and graduate students. I also selected to see the latest enrollment numbers which were from Fall 2016. The IPEDS system provided grand total enrollments for each of the Catholic colleges/universities listed by PACE. I’ve compiled that full list of Catholic colleges/universities with enrollment data here.



The top 20 U.S. Catholic colleges/universities have been identified and provided in the “Catholic Colleges” tab of the attached spreadsheet.
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US Mid-West Colleges

The top 20 colleges with student populations under 2,000 in the Midwestern region of the U.S. have been identified and provided in the “Mid-West Colleges” tab of the attached spreadsheet. Details about the research methodology and findings are presented below.


There were no pre-compiled lists that noted the top Midwestern schools in the U.S. with student populations under 2,000. However, I was able to use data available within the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to create an original list of the requested information. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the exact states located in the Midwest are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. These were the states I plugged into the IPEDS special characteristics field; additional variables used include all students (undergraduate and graduate) and Fall 2016 enrollment data for U.S. schools. I evaluated each on academic success rate as well as reviews on the college. The resulting summary table was a downloaded report from IPEDS that listed Midwestern small- to medium-sized colleges by enrollment. I imported the IPEDS report here in order to share its full results.



The top 20 colleges in the Midwest with student populations under 2,000 are compiled in the attached spreadsheet.