The Ivy Coach Daily

October 26, 2022

How the US News Formula Change Will Impact Decision-Making

US News & World Report has changed up its college rankings formula.

US News & World Report has, for decades, enjoyed an outsized influence on decision-making in the admissions process at America’s elite universities. Sure, admissions officers may tell you that they don’t care about the rankings but, do remember, these are the same folks who tell you their schools are need-blind as they ask on the applications, which they can see with their own eyes, if students require financial aid. The fact is, admissions decision-making at our nation’s top universities has long been driven by attempts to move up in the US News rankings. So how will the recent changes to the US News college ranking formula impact decision-making in admissions offices?

As Laura Spitalniak reported several weeks back for Higher Ed Dive in a piece entitled “U.S. News rankings don’t ding colleges for lacking SAT and ACT data in nod to test-optional growth,” “This year’s change doesn’t completely remove standardized test scores from the rankings’ equation. They still count for colleges reporting scores for a majority of first-year students. For colleges that reported SAT and ACT scores for less than half of their incoming fall 2021 classes, U.S. News first sought to use standardized test scores from the previous year where available…U.S. News said it made the change in response to the pandemic depressing supply and demand for the SAT and ACT, especially among low-income students. The publication maintains that its rankings are objective and fair.”

Looking for Ivy Coach’s translation of the above? For the dozen or so most highly selective universities in America, they’re likely still going to accept at least 75% of their applicants with SAT or ACT scores that are equal to or higher than the school’s prior year data. Thus, submitting no scores to these schools will hurt these applicants (even though admissions officers at these institutions may well tell you that students applying without test scores face no disadvantage). But for the other highly selective universities — the schools just outside the dozen or so most competitive ones — submitting no SAT or ACT scores may not hurt that applicant if the school’s SAT / ACT mean from applicants who do submit scores is close to that college’s mean from last year. And, in the end, if these schools find that they’re close to the 50% mark, Ivy Coach’s highly accurate crystal ball hereby projects that these schools will manipulate the acceptances based on those with scores or no scores. Yes, some acceptances will switch to deferrals and denials at the last minute, before notifications go out.

Have a question about how the change to the US News college ranking formula will impact admissions decision-making this year? Let us know your question by posting it below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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