After string of reports of colleges submitting false data for rankings, U.S. News may ask each campus to have a senior campus official -- someone at or near presidential level -- affirm the accuracy of data.
The Common Application has released its new essay prompts -- which have been the subject of some concern because of the elimination of a "free choice" essay topic and the announcement that the length limit would be strictly enforced. The new essay prompts do stress that the length limit will be strictly enforced, but the stated limit is now 650 words, not the earlier pledge of 500 words.
Scott Anderson, director of outreach for the Common Application, said that the change to 650 words was based on "feedback from counselors."
While the prompts do not include the completely open option, the first one is quite broad and would appear to give students wide leeway to write about topics of their choice. The new prompts are:
"Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story."
"Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?"
"Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?"
"Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?"
"Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family."
U.S. News & World Reportannounced Monday that it will not change the ranking of Bucknell University even though the institution submitted false data on SAT and ACT averages for several years. When the actual numbers are used, U.S. News says, the changes are so small that they would not change the university's ranking. Bucknell is the fifth college or university to report having submitted false data. U.S. News has moved to "unranked" institutions where the false figures were so different from the real figures that they would have made a difference in the ranking.
For months now signs have suggested that law schools are losing their appeal to applicants. All year long, far fewer people have been taking the Law School Admission Test than were doing so the year before. Now data examined by The New York Times indicate a 20 percent decline in the number of applications to law school, compared to this time last year. The long-term trend is even more dramatic. Currently, there are projected to be 54,000 applicants this admissions cycle, down from 100,000 in 2004.
Could the National Football League offer a model for reforming college admissions? A paper being released today by the Center for American Progress argues that it could. The NFL "establishes rules that temper competitive practices that could harm the game of football," says the paper, by Jerome A. Lucido, executive director of the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice at the University of Southern California. Lucido argues that just as the NFL bans steroids, college admissions (with institutions acting collectively) could ban "hyped facts and figures." Every college could be required to report information such as the extent to which the college considers family ability to pay in admissions decisions, how close to full need colleges' aid packages are, policies that govern the renewal of aid awards, and the admission rates for students with various credentials. And just as the NFL engages in revenue-sharing, colleges could (possibly with some relief from antitrust monitors) work together to increase need-based aid, and agree on common terms so families could better understand the true "price" of a college education.
Colleges and universities in Utah are preparing for enrollment declines (and tuition revenue declines) following a change in the age at which members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go on missionary trips, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Some institutions are imposing hiring freezes and stepping up efforts to recruit out-of-state students as a result. Mormon men can now leave on the missionary trips at age 18 (a year earlier than before) and women at 19 (two years earlier). Up until now, many have enrolled for a few semesters of college before leaving on the trips, and those enrollments are now in danger. Higher education officials still hope to recruit those who have completed their missionary travel, but are concerned about losing the transition from high school to college.