Wednesday, February 1, 2012

College rankings scandal

There have been several articles this week reporting an admissions dean's efforts to inflate the SAT scores of incoming students, apparently in order to influence the US News and World Report rankings.
The main details: the school is Claremont McKenna College in California; the collective scores were apparently inflated by 10-20 points, and the admissions dean has admitted his actions and resigned.

Here is a roundup of some of the articles from the NY Times, the LA Times, and Bloomberg.

I know that lots of questions remain, but in my view, the real scandal is the too great weight given to those rankings, and I intend to make them the subject of one of my posts in the series about college admissions (yes, I'm really working on it). Here's a link to a great article in the Washington Monthly about the pernicious effect of the rankings. It was published nearly 12 years ago, and what has changed? Very little (though the USN&WR does disclose more of the methodology of its ranking system). Click here for the Washington Monthly's "different kind of" college ranking.

Oh, and if you really want to know what's going with a college? If your child is applying, visit! Talk to students and faculty, and let your child spend the night in a dorm. And take a look at the college's common data set, usually available on the website. Here's a link to Claremont McKenna's.

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