Admissions office compiles own research, avoids national rankings

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Rather than directing effort towards obtaining a top spot on U.S. news ranking lists of top universities, DePauw focuses on obtaining quality.

The recent scandal surrounding nationally ranked liberal arts school Claremont McKenna College spurred dialogue about the truth behind college ranking lists. After the discovery that the college lied about tests scores to climb rankings, other colleges and universities were also caught red-handed.

However, DePauw opts out of the competition, aiming for quality over quantity. The university chooses to ignore judgment cast by U.S. News rankings, eliminating the pressure created by competing with other university’s numbers.

Director of Admissions Danniel Weatherford said DePauw recently joined the Annapolis Group to counter similar incidents. The group is made up of liberal arts colleges that formally made an announcement that they do not promote U.S. News World Report rankings or participate in the U.S. News World Report surveys.

Rather than relying on ranking sources that can provide skewed or inaccurate information, DePauw conducts its own research, which is regulated and then reported by the federal government.

“U.S. News doesn’t use the exact same formula every year. It has been changed over time,” Weatherford said. “Sometimes it’s hard to compare one year to the next, if they have changed their formula.”

The lists often are not based on thorough investigation or research and rarely provide a fully accurate depiction of a university. According to Weatherford, the formula for most ranking lists usually maintains a consistent top 25 universities year after year, then offers small shifts in ranking for universities further down on the list.

“In my personal opinion, the ranking is something that U.S. News does to sell magazines. If the ranking stays exactly same every year, nobody would buy the magazine,” Weatherford said.

To avoid being depicted inaccurately, each year DePauw collects a data set, which includes information about number of applicants, percentage of full-time professors, graduation rates, freshman retention, student-faculty ratio, acceptance rates and alumni involvement. This raw data is used to evaluate a school, without the influence of competition.

“The plan of the Annapolis Group is to work with other schools without making judgments of the schools. It focuses on the raw data but not any outside vendor that try to put into a formula and compare schools. The raw data allows students to make their own comparisons,” Weatherford said.

The university’s decision to ignore U.S. News Rankings coincides with many students’ opinions.

“I did not use the U.S. News Ranking for reference when I applied. Instead I heard from my peers that it was a really good school when I told them I was considering applying to it,” Freshman Dakota Watson said.

too, will stay the same.

“It’s a great meeting place for people,” said Jackie Hopkins. “I think it’s one of the only businesses that has been here for the last 60 years.”