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Monday, February 4, 2013
Doping in College Admissions
Well, ok, I'm speaking metaphorically.
Over the past several years, law schools have taken a lot of heat for falsifying student records in an effort to bolster their rankings. Unfortunately, the rankings-fraud trend (if we must give it a name), has been rapidly leaking into other arenas of higher education.
Last year, Claremont McKenna College, Emory University and George Washington University all admitted to submitting falsified student data to the US News & World Report-the publication considered to be the preeminent source for relevant ranking information. These are all undergraduate institutions. They are (or were, in the case of GWU, ranked somewhere in the top 20 nationally).
This month, Bucknell, a private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, ranked in the top 35, has also admitted to falsifying data.
Experts are crying out for a revamping of the rankings system. It is based in large part upon selectivity. The lower the acceptance rate, the higher the ranking. Naturally, acceptance rate doesn't tell the whole story. For students looking to find the right fit, it isn't a very scientific approach.
If we continue to insist on selecting colleges based on rankings, then we must start fleshing out the manner in which rankings are determined. At present, a single publication pretty much has a monopoly on rankings. Though US News tries to base rankings on a broad range of data, they are still merely pollsters. Factors like student satisfaction and quality of the college environment cannot be mathematically quantified.
If all universities are falsifying data in order to keep pace with the rankings of their competition, does that make it ok? Of course not. Just ask Lance Armstrong how it worked out for him. The other shoe is eventually going to drop.
Labels: Doping in College Admissions
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