Gaming the College Rankings

The growing number of institutions caught gaming the system is a sad commentary on the culture of education today. It doesn't bode well for society when our children see adults and institutions bending the rules to get ahead - from Wall Street to schools tampering with test scores and now colleges.

Another way some colleges boost their rankings is by making the SAT optional in the admissions process. On the one hand this shows a lack of confidence in the test itself, but when only the highest scorers include their results, the colleges' rankings may also be improved.

“The reliance on this is out of hand,” said Jon Boeckenstedt, the associate vice president who oversees admissions at DePaul University in Chicago. “It’s a nebulous thing, comparing the value of a college education at one institution to another, so parents and students and counselors focus on things that give them the illusion of precision.” 

A National Association for College Admissions Counseling report last year indicated "Most college admissions officers and high school counselors have a low opinion of the U.S. News rankings, yet they use the published material, whether to gather information about other schools or to market their own." 

What if high schools and colleges opted out of the rankings system?