What Hath US News and World Report Wrought?

Surprisingly, the use of application screening rate in the US News and World Report ranking of colleges is not implicated in this Boston Globe article: Student’s résumé was full of errors, unlikely claims [pdf]

In hindsight, there were other red flags that raise questions as to how closely Harvard’s staff scrutinized Wheeler’s application, and whether the failure to catch simple errors and too-good-to-be-true claims played a greater role in Wheeler’s admission than his own ingenuity.

“Not to take responsibility from what he did, but Harvard has to own up to what it did by letting him in,’’ said Steven Sussman, Wheeler’s attorney. “There were substantial irregularities with the Wheeler application that should have raised red flags that were ignored.’’

Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal declined to comment on Wheeler’s application but said the university has taken steps to improve its process for screening applicants.

From their ranking description — How U.S. News Calculates the College Rankings:

Student selectivity (15 percent). A school’s academic atmosphere is determined in part by the abilities and ambitions of the student body. We factor in the admissions test scores for all enrollees who took the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT and the Composite ACT score (50 percent of the selectivity score); the proportion of enrolled freshmen at National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes or in the top quarter at Regional Universities and Regional Colleges (40 percent); and the acceptance rate, or the ratio of students admitted to applicants (10 percent) [emphasis added]. The data are for the fall 2009 entering class. While the ranking calculation takes account of the SAT and ACT admissions test scores of all entering students, the table displays the score range for whichever test most enrolled students took