An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

Claremont McKenna College Inflated SAT Scores to Boost College Rankings

claremont mckenna college

Two days in a row now have shown us that higher education has a long way to come. According to the Associated Press article, a senior administrator at Claremont Mckenna College admitted that he has inflated the SAT ranking for all incoming students by an average of 10 – 20 point, and has been doing so since 2005.

A senior administrator at California’s Claremont McKenna College resigned after admitting that for years he falsified SAT scores to publications such as U.S. News & World Report to inflate the small, prestigious school’s ranking among the nation’s colleges and universities, according to the college’s president.

President Pamela Gann told college staff members and students about the falsified scores in an email Monday, The New York Times reported. Gann wrote that a “senior administrator” had taken sole responsibility for falsifying the scores, admitted doing so since 2005, and resigned his post. Gann wrote that she was first warned of inaccurate reporting earlier this month and asked other administrators to investigate, leading to an administrator’s admission of guilt and Monday’s announcement. Gann said the critical reading and math scores reported to U.S. News and others “were generally inflated by an average of 10-20 points each.”

Robert Franek, the senior vice president of publishing for The Princeton Review, which provides preparation for the SAT and also ranks colleges, said he had never heard of a college intentionally reporting incorrect data. “We want to put out very clear information so that students can make an informed decision about their school,” Franek said. “I feel like so many schools have a very clear obligation to college-bound students to report this information honestly.”

The Princeton Review bases its college rankings on student opinion rather than test data, Franek said, so he was uncertain whether a change as small as that reported would make a difference. The current U.S. News rankings list Claremont McKenna as the ninth-best liberal arts college in the country, a fact noted on Gann’s biography on the college’s website.

The liberal arts school, part of the Claremont colleges cluster east of Los Angeles, has about 1,200 students and places a strong academic focus on political science and economics. The school has not officially identified the administrator who admitted the wrongdoing. ”

At this time, we have no reason to believe that other individuals were involved,” Gann wrote in her message to staff.

College rankings are very important. So important in fact, that many people base their decision on college admissions on the ranking in one category or another. I see the benefit from having inflated rankings. Especially for a small private school that is funded by the tuition their students pay. The more students that enroll at the school, the larger the budget.

As a prospective student it is always a good idea to make sure that you make your college admission decision on what really matters to you. Don’t base your decision on the latest ranking system. Go and visit the college. Talk to the faculty and current students. Immerse yourself in the on-campus culture. Sit in on multiple classes. Visit the dorm rooms. Talk with the staff (not admissions staff who are basically salespeople).

This will give you the best indication of what life at that college is really like. Finding money to go to college is hard enough, but it is made even more difficult, when the college you pay so much to attend is not what they claim to be. Be vigilant!

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4 Comments

  1. This would infuriate me, particularly if I were an alumna of this institution. When you attend a school, you are making an investment in that school’s reputation, linking your good name to its. Those who have graduated from this school have been done an egregious disservice!

    • @Elizabeth — I whole heartedly agree! I would be furious as well if this were my alma mater. I imagine this will have long lasting repercussions in alumni donations as well as the acceptance of new students and recruiting.

  2. Wow! I never knew colleges would try something like this. I suppose this only shows just how competitive it is to get students to attend your school. Great advice on reviewing the “whole package” instead of only rankings….
    AverageJoe recently posted..5 Steps to a Successful College PlanMy Profile

  3. @Average Joe — Thanks! It’s hard to believe that a college would actually do something like this, but then again, I guess I really should not be surprised. In the end,nobody has your best interest in mind except yourself!
    MoneyforCollegePro recently posted..Claremont McKenna College Inflated SAT Scores to Boost College RankingsMy Profile

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