It’s a crazy era. College degrees – and laws school degrees and business school degrees – are worth less and less. A wide swath of America is beginning to experience a slow demographic decline in the number of high school graduates. And, amazingly, colleges continue to defy every law of supply and demand by raising cost more and more.
It can’t possibly be too surprising to anyone that at a bunch of bastions of higher education are also cheating like hell when it comes to the college rankings game.
While the problem of book-cooking may very well be much more widespread, these 10 schools have been cold-busted for inflating various numbers and falsely enhancing their academic reputations, usually in the U.S. news rankings.
10. FLAGLER COLLEGE
Last week, the sun-drenched, Spanish Renaissance campus of Flagler College in North Florida became the latest to get hit by an admissions cheating scandal when an internal investigation revealed that Marc Williar, the vice president for enrollment management, had brazenly exaggerated the grade-point averages, standardized test scores and class rankings of incoming freshmen from 2010 to 2013.
Flagler reported the dishonest information to a bunch of outfits including rankings-crazy U.S. News & World Report, reports The St. Augustine Record. U.S. News then duly accepted the numbers and crowned Flagler the #8 college in its ranking of best regional colleges in the South.
Williar, who has resigned, said he changed the data because he noticed the genuine credentials of first-year students had declined.
“I had a lapse in judgment,” he told the Record. “I would love to go unring the bell, but I can’t.”
9. EMORY UNIVERSITY
Emory’s little sleight of hand was to report the average of all admitted students instead of just the data for students who actually ended up choosing to attend Emory and not, say, some way better school.
8. TULANE UNIVERSITY
For at least two years, Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business provided false data to U.S. News. In December 2012, the New Orleans, La. school fessed up to the sham, which involved misreporting GMAT scores for full-time MBA students. Tulane also gave bad information about its total number of applicants.
“We deeply regret that this occurred,” Freeman School deam Ira Solomon assured the world in an earnest statement, according to The Times-Picayune.
7. CLAREMONT MCKENNA COLLEGE
After an internal investigation, a senior administrator in the Claremont McKenna admissions office resigned. While the school refused to say who the employee was, the Los Angeles Times speculates that it was Richard Vos, a one-time vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid.
Claremont McKenna is currently ranked #9 in the vaunted U.S. News rankings of national liberal arts colleges. U.S. News doesn’t appear to have penalized the school one iota.
6. UNIVERSITY OF MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is a private, Baptist school where chapel attendance is mandatory and where neither drinking alcohol nor sniffing glue is allowed. These godly rules did not stop the small-town Texas school from informing U.S. News in 2011 that its acceptance rate was 27.4%. In fact, the school’s acceptance rate was a substantially more generous 89.1%. U.S. News responded by “unranking” the Christian bastion for at least a year.
5. YORK COLLEGE OF PENNSYLVANIA
For about a decade, unidentified administrators at largely career-oriented York College of Pennsylvania made a habit of removing 20 percent of the school’s applicants’ SAT scores. The result was seemingly higher SAT averages. For example, in 2011, when York finally came clean, the scheme had caused a bump of about a dozen points per SAT section. U.S. News responded by to York’s shenanigans by also “unranking” the school for at least a year.
4. UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
In 2011, the allegedly vaunted University of Illinois College of Law announced that an assistant dean had falsified admissions data over the course of several years. Consequently, the school slid precipitously in the U.S. News rankings. However, the slide wasn’t because of anything U.S. News did. Instead, as Paul L. Caron at TaxProf Blog explains, the slide was primarily caused by a lower “reputation score”—a score tabulated by gauging the collective opinions of professors at other law schools.
The American Bar Association fined the law school $250,000.
3. VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY
In 2011, the dean of the Villanova University School of Law admitted that the administration had knowingly reported false, inflated admissions information to the American Bar Association for several years prior to 2010. The school would not say who was involved in the cheating. However, school officials did say they discovered the fabricated data when a committee was trying to correlate academic performance with admissions statistics of 1L students.
The ABA censured Villanova in 2011 for its misrepresentation but did not impose a fine.
2. BUCKNELL UNIVERSITY
Admissions staffers at Bucknell University, a fancypants liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania, reported falsified average SAT scores to U.S. News over the course of an unspecified number of years. The school left out the scores of certain students, thus causing Bucknell’s SAT average to appear higher (by between 7 and 25 points) than it actually has been.
U.S. News responded to Bucknell’s misrepresentations by doing exactly nothing, according to Inside Higher Ed.
1. GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
For years, George Washington waitlisted some undergraduate students because they sought financial aid—and lied about the policy. In October 2012, administrators finally came clean about the fact that wealthier students were routinely admitted in place of other qualified applicants who would have difficulty paying tuition out of daddy’s pocket. Nevertheless, George Washington proudly, fraudulently touted itself as need-blind. (RELATED: George Washington U. caught in major lie about admissions)
But wait! There’s so much more.
In November 2012, officials admitted that the perennial safety school had been goosing U.S. News data for years concerning the class rank of new students. For the 2012 class of incoming freshmen, for example, the school reported that 78 percent of new students were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. The actual proportion of such students was 58 percent.
In response to this trangression, the wizards of oz rankings gurus at U.S. News relegated George Washington to the purgatory of unranked schools, where it was to remain for at least a whole year. (RELATED: Cut down! U.S. News ‘de-ranks’ George Washington Univ. after cheating flap)
Photo credits: Flagler College: Creative Commons/JanGoldsmith; Emory University: Creative Commons/author unkown; Tulane University: Creative Commons/Tulane Public Relations; Claremont McKenna College: YouTube screenshot/American College Strategies; University of Mary Hardin-Baylor: Creative Commons/Billy Hathorn; York College of Pennsylvania: Creative Commons/Bob Skalkowski; University of Illinois College of Law: public domain/Aafield; Villanova University School of Law: YouTube screenshot/villanovauniversity; Bucknell University: Creative Commons Tomwsulcer; George Washington University: Creative Commons/Benoît Prieur