More Colleges Caught Falsifying Data

Most people would agree that the college application process is stressful for students. The pressure to get into a top college can be intense, and should a student decide to misrepresent himself on his applications, getting caught would likely mean getting shut out of all colleges. Colleges, however, may not be held to the same standards. Bending to pressures of their own, a growing number of colleges have chosen to falsify data in order to attract more elite applicants. Though they have faced little consequences as a result, news is finally reaching the ears of the public. Here are some of the colleges who have been in the news:

  • Bucknell University admitted increasing students' SAT and ACT scores when reporting to magazines
  • Claremont McKenna has falsified SAT scores
  • Dickinson State University lied about the number of students enrolled
  • Emory Univeristy falsified standardized test scores
  • George Washington University admitted misrepresenting data
  • Iona College misrepresented data not only to magazines, but also to its accreditor
  • Scripps college lied about the debt its students will carry from loans

While unfortunate that students have another thing to worry about during the admissions process, it does highlight the fact that college rankings are not the best decision-making tool when selecting a college. See this article for a list of tips on how students can make the best decision when selecting a college.

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Do Colleges Live Up to Their Own Standards?

U.S. News Hall of least until next fall.

Colleges demand a lot from their applicants: integrity and hard work, to name a couple. But do they live up to their own standards? This article in The Atlantic Wire brings up another example of how colleges succumb to many of the same pitfalls as their applicants. Every year, U.S. News collects statistics from colleges in order to publish annual college rankings. The temptation is great for colleges to game the system, moving themselves up in the rankings, and unfortunately this has been quite easy to get away with since there is little fact-checking that occurs.

U.S. News has been slowly catching on to this problem, and in a bold move has unranked a university for the first time, temporarily removing George Washington University.  While George Washington is clearly at fault, as are Emory University, Claremont McKenna and others for doing the same, author David Wagner ponders deeper: "...perhaps they should reconsider their policy of publishing unverified figures that come straight from the schools that stand to benefit from inflating them. Or perhaps parents and their college-bound teens should eye these rankings with a healthy dose of skepticism." Definitely something to think about.


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College Entrance Exam Scores Falsified by Claremont McKenna

We've heard about students cheating to increase their scores, but colleges?

Even if students don’t pay that much attention to college rankings, the colleges themselves seem to obsess over them. Especially problematic are colleges that crave to the pressure, using any means necessary to increase ratings. According to this article in the Sentinel Tribune, Claremont McKenna’s senior administrator recently resigned after admitting he falsified college entrance exam scores for years to inflate rankings.

Other colleges spend billions on financial aid in order to entice students with high scores to attend their school or offer bonuses to presidents who increase their school’s rating. Baylor University went as far as to pay students who had already been accepted to retake the SAT exam in order to increase average scores.

Unfortunately, when colleges focus only on increasing their ratings, they are not doing what’s best for students. Some of the consequences include, “recruiting as many students as they can to apply, even if they're not likely to be a good fit, just to boost their selectivity numbers. And they've showered financial aid on high-achieving, and often wealthy, kids with high SAT scores.”

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