There are lies, damn lies, about statistics

Colleges nationwide have been lying about statistics to improve their rankings.

Cassandra Sundaram

Prestige is a powerful thing. The word itself conjures up all sorts of images — success, wealth, fame, authority. But the most interesting connotation it holds is that of conjuring itself. The entomology of the word, according to Merriam-Webster, is of Middle French, with the original meaning of “conjuror’s trick” or “illusion.”

What a strange coincidence that some of the most “prestigious” schools in the nation have been falsifying average test scores of their student bodies in an effort to boost reputations. Claremont McKenna College, in East Los Angeles, had been climbing the rankings year after year, building its standing as a nationally recognized liberal arts school. Two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that the school admitted to submitting false SAT scores to various ranking publications, like the U.S. News and World Report. But they didn’t just report false scores once — they’ve been doing this for the past six years.

Other colleges have been just as corrupt in their attempts to increase ranking. The Times also reported that Baylor University offered financial rewards to admitted students to take the SAT again, in hopes of enhancing school averages. Last year, Villanova Law School even admitted to intentional misreporting of statistics. 

Higher education isn’t a game to be won. It’s an opportunity to encourage a better, stronger society and nation. College is supposed to be a place inspired by integrity and individualism, not engulfed in SAT scores and student rankings. When an administration can’t follow their own code of academic honesty, how can they ever expect their students to live by the same standard?  

Scores and rankings are superficial measures of a person’s capabilities — and an institution’s as well. We should strive and be proud to perpetuate the opening phrase of our school’s mission statement: We are “dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth,” no matter what our ranking.