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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Cracks in the College Ratings System
The last year has witnessed a massive shake-down in the law school ranking system, with allegations that some schools falsified post-graduate job prospects and test scores. At the University of Illinois, the law admissions dean falsified grade and test score data in an effort to bolster the school's appearance in the U.S News & World Report rankings, which rank schools, in part, based on median LSAT scores. Last month, a similar scandal emerged at the prestigious Claremont McKenna College, where a prominent official was proven to have falsified SAT scores since 2005.

The uncovering of such unabashed fraud at well-known institutions begs the question of whether or not we are merely scratching the surface of systemic dishonesty. At the heart of the problem seems to be a single issue-the purportedly objective rankings system.

The fabled U.S. News & World Report, which ranks institutions' prestige based on test scores, GPA, and admissions percentage is generally the standard-setter. The gist of the rankings formula is somewhat narrowly formulated around the idea that the most coveted universities are the best. (Harvard accepts just 7% of its undergraduate applications, and is currently ranked #1). The ranking system isn't totally flawed, but may serve a limited function for the other 93% of students trying to make the right decision. Moreover, it is a powerful machine that is driving some admissions deans into deeply unethical waters.

Education reformers have long been proponents of encouraging students to find the right fit with a given college, rather than universally aspiring to the unattainable. Adjusting our perspective about what makes a quality school may just be the first step in recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to making the important decision of where to go and why.


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