While college admissions officers at highly selective colleges are so often quick to point out that they don’t care about college rankings, it’s simply not the case. College admissions officers absolutely care about their school’s ranking — most notably in “US News & World Report.” If a school’s admission rate climbs, if it receives fewer applications than in past years, if its “US News” ranking goes down from year to year, the job security of the university’s dean of admissions may well be in peril. And while the underlings of the dean of admissions — and sometimes the dean of admissions him or herself as well — may tout to parents and prospective students that they don’t care about rankings, deep down they know of the importance of these rankings. And so it was with a keen interest that we read how certain University of Pennsylvania adjunct faculty members are trying to get “US News & World Report” to dock schools in the rankings that underpay adjunct faculty members — because their efforts hang a lantern on the open secret that highly selective colleges care deeply about their rankings.
Rankings Matter to All Highly Selective Colleges
Ivy Coach is cited in a piece in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” today by Harry Trustman entitled “These Penn professors want to lower the rankings of schools that underpay adjunct faculty” which focuses on the efforts of these adjunct faculty to boost their pay. As Trustman writes, “Four Penn professors have signed a petition calling on U.S. News & World Report to alter its rankings by docking points from schools that underpay adjunct faculty members. Adjunct professors differ from standing faculty members because they are not on track to be tenured, and they generally receive significantly lower salaries, fewer benefits and less job security. In some extreme cases, adjunct professors at other colleges are homeless or choose to supplement their income with sex work.”
And while we think these adjunct faculty members are wise indeed to try to motivate UPenn to boost their salaries by lobbying “US News & World Report” to include adjunct faculty pay as a factor in their publication’s rankings, that doesn’t mean we think it should be a factor in the rankings. As Trustman writes and as we are cited, “‘Sometimes you get your best faculty because they’re adjunct faculty,’ said Brian Taylor, the managing director of the college counseling service, Ivy Coach. ‘Maybe they don’t want to be full-time faculty members. Maybe they want to write books; maybe they want to be on MSNBC all day.’ Taylor also said he disagrees with the petition signed by the Penn professors, and does not think factoring in part-time faculty salaries into the USNWR would be useful for prospective applicants. However, he pointed out it was ‘smart’ for professors to use the USNWR rankings to draw attention to an issue they feel passionate about. ”
What do our readers think of these UPenn professors trying to change the “US News” rankings? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.
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