An investment adviser in Texas, who says he has no connection or gripe with Texas Tech University, has asked U.S. News & World Report to investigate discrepancies in the number of applications the university reports. In an email to the rankings operation, Parker Binion said that he compared the number of applications the university reported to the state (15,063) and to the Common Data Set (23,010). The latter figure is used by U.S. News in its rankings and in indicating how difficult it is to get into a college. Based on the number of applications reported to the state, the university's admissions rate is a not terribly competitive 88 percent. Based on the figures used by U.S. News, the figure is 63 percent.
Robert Morse, who leads the rankings division of U.S. News, said via email that he has reached out to Texas Tech about the discrepancy. U.S. News has been criticized in the past for using a loose definition of applications, similar to that of the Common Data Set, which is "completely actionable applications." Some colleges only count an application that has actually been completed. In the era of online applications, many high school students start and never finish applications. So colleges that only count full applications make themselves look less competitive than other institutions.
A spokesman for Texas Tech said that the university believed that it filled out all reports accurately, but that definitions sometimes differ for different agencies. The spokesman also said that the gap between the two figures from Texas Tech was large enough that officials would review it.
UPDATE: On Friday morning, the Texas Tech spokesman said that the university now believed that the number reported to the state was too low, due both to an "overly restrictive" definition of application and errors caused by software. A new number has not been determined yet.
Opinions on Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U
What Others Are Reading