Harvard, Cornell, NYU … K-State?
A recent Kaplan/Newsweek 2010 ranking of the nation’s most desirable large schools placed K-State in the top 25 due to the university’s exclusivity and selectivity in choosing which undergraduate student applications to accept and which to deny.
The ranking took K-State by storm and at first glance, seemed quite impressive, but was based on flawed data. The school’s planning and analysis office incorrectly reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System that K-State accepted 56 percent of applicants to the university. This number is actually 98 percent.
“It’s certainly unfortunate this error happened, but it was a mistake and we don’t want any recognition that we don’t deserve,” said Cheryl May, associate vice president for communications and marketing.
The original number reported to Newsweek was not the university’s acceptance rate, but the percentage of students that are accepted to the school and decide to attend.
May said a university employee misunderstood which percentage the federal database was requesting, and instead gave the percentage of students who, after acceptance, enrolled in the university.
“The moment we can update and fix it, we will,” May said.
In a statement on the university’s website, May cited the data system as giving out the incorrect data that was later issued to the National Center for Education Statistics to rank K-State.
The guide, “Finding the Right College for You,” ranks K-State 16th among the 25 Most Desirable Large Schools in the nation.
The Lawrence Journal World reported yesterday that researcher Courtney Kennedy ran the data again, using corrected information, and found K-State would have been knocked out of the top 25. Kennedy was a member of the team that helped compile the ranking.
The faulty acceptance rate reported in the Kaplan/Newsweek rankings was based on data issued by the National Center on Education Statistics, which collects data directly from universities.
According to Newsweek’s website, the Kaplan/Newsweek ranking is based on standardized test scores, awards, scholarships for academic achievements, opinion polls and admissions statistics.
Newsweek considered 11 criteria, including campus dining, housing and climate when putting together the list. The most weight was given to admission rates, graduation rates, test scores and endowment.
K-State’s ranking on the list placed it in the company of Ivy League schools like Harvard and Cornell. Harvard boasted an admissions rate of 7.1 percent in 2008.
Katherine Barna, a publicist for Newsweek, said in a statement that the rankings used the most recent data available at the time, which were from 2008. Newsweek plans to review all of its sources for future university evaluations.