Colleges Cheat on the SAT, Too

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Maybe Sam Eshaghoff, the student accused of running an SAT-cheating ring in  New York, should have gone to Claremont McKenna College? He would’ve fit right in at the school, which announced that it had falsified its average SAT scores for the past six years in order to rise in the rankings.

The school — which claims that Richard Vos, vice president and dean of admissions, was the sole figure responsible for the fraudulent data — inflated its average SAT scores by about 10 or 20 points. Like all good cheaters, they knew not to show extravagant improvements… which is maybe why they got away with it for so long.

Is changing a median SAT score of 1400 to a 1410 really worth it? Well, in our rankings-dominated world, colleges can become obsessed with where they stand relative to other schools. Just like the highly-competitive (and highly pressured) students they’re hoping to admit, schools do everything they can to make sure they stand out from the crowd. For some, this includes bending the rules — or even outright lying.

The New York Times lists a few other instances of schools that have attempted to game the rankings. Iona College in New York lied about pretty much all of its stats, and subsequently rose from 50th to 30th in its region; Baylor University paid students to re-take the SATs, hoping their second scores would be higher, thus bumping up the school’s average. And many schools routinely hold off on admitting students with lower SATs until January, so their scores aren’t included in the university’s average.

Is this a sign that the college rankings obsession has gone too far?



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