Just as international credit ratings agencies have been caught whitewashing their subjects’ records in order to make a profit, colleges are now caught in a scandal because they are inflating the scores of their incoming students in order to obtain higher rankings in the annual U.S. News and World Report issue listing the rankings of colleges.
The scandal makes sense; with the student loan bubble at roughly $1 trillion and about to implode, there’s great pressure on colleges to attract the best and brightest, who often come from more affluent families that will be able to foot the enormous bills associated with college.
Among the schools that have confessed wrongdoing are Tulane University, which found that their business school’s admissions figures had been tinkered with for years, and Bucknell University, Claremont McKenna College in California, Emory University in Atlanta and George Washington University, which all admitted there were incoming students with incorrect test scores or exaggerated high school rankings.
Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, explained, “Rankings have become omnipresent in higher education, and they have enhanced the competition among institutions. And in any highly competitive environment, there is always a temptation to cut corners.”
Gallup conducted a survey in which 576 college admissions officers were asked whether other colleges had falsified scores; 91 percent of those surveyed said yes.