Gaming the College Rankings

Ann McClure's picture
Thursday, February 2, 2012

Any love-hate relationship must have its share of pain, so the academic world, in its obsession with college rankings, is suitably dismayed by news that an elite college, Claremont McKenna, fudged its numbers in an apparent bid to climb the charts. 

Dismayed, but not quite surprised. In fact, several colleges in recent years have been caught gaming the system — in particular, the avidly watched U.S. News & World Report rankings — by twisting the meanings of rules, cherry-picking data or just lying.

In one recent example, Iona College in New Rochelle, north of New York City, acknowledged last fall that its employees had lied for years not only about test scores, but also about graduation rates, freshman retention, student-faculty ratio, acceptance rates and alumni giving.

Other institutions have found ways to manipulate the data without outright dishonesty.

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