The World According to Me

The World According to Me is a play on one of my favorite novels, "The World According to Garp," by one of my favorite authors, John Irving. While I am not nearly the writer Irving is, I hope that my musings will offer a unique perspective on life. If nothing else, I have something to look back on when dementia kicks in.

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Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Professional Responsibility

Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle. I spend much of my time attempting to convince students (and their parents) that their value as a person is not measured by how elite the college which they eventually attend is. In my industry one of the evil empires is the annual US News & World Report college rankings edition, which inevitably fuels this fire. When Dad sent me an article from the LA Times last week by an Elon University professor who supports what US News attempts to do I felt a professional duty to respond. I have submitted the following "Letter to the Editor." I thought I'd publish it here first on the theory that my letter will not make it.

(Here is the original article: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-skube8jul08,1,2073427.story)

Aside from the several factual inaccuracies in Michael Skube’s “The No. 1 Reason to Rank Colleges” article in July 8th’s LA Times, Mr. Skube fails to understand the big picture in the hysteria known as college admissions. The annual college rankings edition of US News & World Report is dangerous for two primary reasons which Skube inexplicably supports. First, it attempts to quantify that which is a qualitative process. The magazine’s statisticians capriciously assign relative import to factors such as retention, financial aid, alumni giving, and standardized testing average, to name a few. While one student might deem SAT scores to measure the health of a college, another might be more interested in a college’s endowment. Selecting a college is not, as Skube suggests, akin to buying a car—a spurious comparison to be sure. The services an automobile provides are far more tangible than the benefits of higher education, about which tomes have been written. The second—and more destructive—reason this publication hurts our children is that students actually do make decisions based on US News. Skube writes, “What is almost certain is that few students and their parents choose a college simply because it’s ranked third while another is ranked sixth or 16th.” Mr. Skube should spend some time sitting with impressionable adolescents whose goal in life is to get into the “best” college possible. Perhaps then he will understand how impactful these rankings truly are. If the goal is to compare “apples with academic apples” so that families can make informed decisions, then simply publish the facts without trying to put them in some arbitrary order. Trust that the “consumers” will be able to do that for themselves.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Rebecca said...

Very well-written...they'll never publish it!!!

July 17, 2007 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Lawyerish said...

I absolutely loathe the US News rankings. LOATHE them. For all the reasons you state, and then some. So I am over here waving a banner and applauding in your general direction. I hope the letter makes it into the paper!

July 18, 2007 11:30 AM  

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