There was an article in “USA Today” that discusses the lengths colleges will go to in order to boost their standing in the “US News & World Report” university rankings. We all by now know what happened at Claremont McKenna College when the former Dean of Admissions falsely reported SAT scores of incoming CMC students. Presumably, Claremont McKenna will be removed from the “US News & World Report” rankings next year…as they should be! It’s like when the NCAA realizes that a college athlete should have been ineligible to participate because he received large sums of money from a booster. That college must then vacate any titles earned with that player and the university is often ineligible to compete in bowl games or the NCAA Tourney because of the indiscretions.
But what about lesser offenses? Like when Baylor University paid admitted students to retake their SATs in order to boost the university’s standing in the “US News” university rankings? That was within the confines of the rules…but was it ethical? Should Baylor have been reprimanded or removed from the “US News” rankings for their antics? We don’t happen to think so. At least they’re playing within the rules. And the university rankings are a game so why not try and win? Baylor offered students incentive to take the SAT again. It’s a free market economy. They didn’t have to do it if they didn’t want to. Frankly, Baylor was just playing smart!
The “USA Today” article also goes on to mention that students don’t really care about university rankings. The title of the article even includes the words, “students shrug [at the rankings].” That’s ridiculous. The “US News” university rankings matter. Whether or not folks want to admit it, parents care about them. College applicants care about them. Alumni care about them. And colleges care about them. The list goes on and on. They impact the bottom line. They reflect the prestige of a university. And the magazine is seen as the standard on measuring colleges against each other. Even if Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t happen to agree with the “US News” college ranking algorithm.