Smith's "News You Can Abuse" in the October/01 issue
is rich in information about U.S. News and World Report's
college rankings. The U.S. News articles are very informative,
too. One can read past the newsmagazine's arbitrarily weighted
final rankings and evaluate the constituent statistical data for
oneself. "What are the educational criteria worth weighing?"-a
good U of C-type question-is constantly asked because the newsmagazine's
criteria are open, debatable, and debated. The pity is that the
raw data are sometimes falsified-not by the press, but by the
know this, and can compensate for it, because we have a free and
inquisitive press-including good university magazines like Chicago's.
college officials are seen trying to silence the press, intelligent
and/or trained readers, whether they have a first-tier or fourth-tier
degree or no degree at all, are bound to wonder why. Two statements
from university administrators cited in the article are salient:
"It's unfortunate when you get this hyper-commercialization
and hyper-consumerization of academic life
" and "We
probably feel more injured than some other places because we have
tremendous self-regard." As general expressions of collegiate
self-awareness, I would rank the first statement as third-tier
and the second statement as admirably first-tier.
C. Kinkley, AB'69
Bernardsville, New Jersey
you for a wonderful article on the absurdity of the rankings.
I wrote an article about the rankings scandal when I found (in
my thick files about this) a 1995 article in the New York Times.
There, the Hamilton dean of admissions outright admitted to having
included incomplete applications just so he could deny them and
get back into the first tier. I know some colleges do this, but
too called Robert Morse directly. Amazing: he answered his own
phone. I picture him as short, slightly overweight, dark hair
with lots of gray nowadays, a thin moustache that sits atop a
thin-lipped scowl. Stressed to the max. Laughing all the way to
you again-I shared your article with our cabinet officers.
Hawsey is vice president for enrollment at Albion College in Michigan.-Ed.
Smith's "News You Can Abuse" is a wake-up call for anyone
who cares about our University and its future. Consider the following
case study as an indication of the extent to which Chicago is
U of C and Stanford were both founded the same year, in 1891.
Both are national, liberal-arts universities, making an apples-to-apples
comparison possible. Today Stanford has surpassed Chicago's undergraduate
college ranking, as well as Chicago's professional schools in
almost every important measure. In business, law, and medicine
Stanford generally ranks higher than Chicago not only in U.S.
News and World Report, but also in other popular rankings.
message is consistent, no matter what the source. Stanford's admissions
selectivity for its college and its professional schools is much
higher than Chicago's. Stanford's yield rate (the percentage of
accepted applicants who enroll) is also significantly higher than
Chicago's. A low yield rate means that (1) Chicago is not the
first choice for many accepted applicants, (2) Chicago is probably
a "safety school" for students who really want to go
somewhere else, and therefore (3) many students came to Chicago
because they were not accepted to their first-choice school.
the early 1980s the size of Chicago's college was about 3,000.
Today the college enrollment is over 4,000, a 33% increase. Among
like schools (over the same period) a percentage increase of this
magnitude has not occurred anywhere else in the country. To make
up for a shortfall in alumni contributions and corporate gift
giving, Chicago had no choice but to raise the size of its college.
Last spring Stanford received a $400 million gift from Hewlett-Packard,
the largest corporate gift to any university in the history of
this nation. Stanford is not compelled to increase its size. Chicago
the U of C and Stanford began life in 1891, today Stanford counts
only Harvard, Yale, and Princeton as its true peers. Stanford
does not view Chicago as a peer. Rather than quibble with magazines
that tell us a story we find unsavory, we should instead try to
figure out what Stanford is doing right and start catching up.
Parikh, AB'84, AM'86