College Life

It’s 10:18 pm on a monday night, finally recovering from a week-long cold, trying not to flip on the monday night football game, putting off an english paper till the last second, this is the typical night of a college student wondering, “Is crippling debt really worth it?” the answer according to an infographic by the bachelor’s degree center is yes (maybe). The graphic presents various images and statistics highlighting the benefit of a college degree in the modern world, citing higher wages, better quality of life, longer marriage, all shown through a pictorial medium. The graph made buckets of data from dozens of sources palatable. The benefit of having an infographic is its ability to break down statistics in big quantities effectively, without boring the reader. Typical articles, including the pew research article used as a source for the infographic, struggle with captivating a reader while at the same time providing various statistics.

When faced with volumes of statistics regarding the subject of college value, I cringed when I saw some of the actual raw data found within the sources of my infographic. It included various spreadsheets over time about the changes of value for a college degree. When faced with the infographic itself I found the information much more tolerable. For me a major benefit of an infographic is its ability to display statistics in a format that lies somewhere in the happy medium between a raw data spreadsheet and a lengthy report that references multiple statistics. The Infographic displayed statistics in a simple format with the use of eye-catching graphics and bullet points to help explain the numbers in a straightforward manner. An article referenced by the infographic as a source comes from Pew Research, an unbiased research firm whose purpose is to conduct surveys and research into American issues. The article, “6 key findings about going to college” focused on the 6 takeaways from a cost benefit analysis of attending college. The article differs from the infographic greatly, despite the fact that they contain the same information. In the article the graphs and statistics were rather straightforward and scientific, classic line graphs, and simple side by side comparisons. The infographic however was trying to reach a more specific audience with its message, the average college student. The infographic used references that might play well with a college aged audience, such as displaying job satisfaction percentages as a corny, “smartphone horizontal bar graph”  phrased as, “It’s not just a job to pay the bills”. The pew article was intended for a broader audience than the infographic with its dinky graphics. Pew used crisp clear graphs as a way to showcase their statistical findings to a broader audience than the infographic with its college kid focus. I found that while it was much more pleasant to look at an infographic from an aesthetic standpoint, the pew article was a bit clearer. The article took the 6 findings and had graphs for each finding under a tiny paragraph discussing each finding. This setup made it easier to go from statistic to statistic without getting lost or confused. The Infographic surprisingly dense, being able to include much more information than a standard passage with a similar word count. However things were more scattered with an infographic. The visual plane was chalk full of side blurbs and boxes making points that often distracted from the central statistic. In terms of an infographic as a medium for statistical information, it is effective at attracting the attention of a specific audience while at the same time presenting a large amount of data in a tightly packed image. While useful, infographics can be considered amateurish, they cluster boxes, graphs and images across the page making it hard at times to follow along and process all the information given. Where an infographic lacks, a standard article is able to fill the void. Articles provide data in an organized simplified format that can appeal to a wide range of people. By providing contextual information surrounding the statistics, written articles help to explain the numbers in-depth, significantly more so than a blurb of an infographic. Overall the medium’s effectiveness depends on the situation. Infographics are effective in outlining an issue, while written articles are able to go in depth on an issue helping to better state the points made. On the whole I feel like a written article about statistics is better than an infographic because of its ability to meticulously outline and explain the issue being discussed. If one were to take the time, sit down, and read an article it’s more effective than simply reading stats off an image. Papers are more practical for framing the way one should view the statistics, it could outline how outside factors affect data and show more in depth why something is an important issue.      dbiwlej

6 key findings about going to college



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