Readers React

Busting the myth of low acceptance rates and high college rankings

To the editor: Readers may get the impression that U.S. News & World Report encourages colleges and universities to lower their admissions rates. It is a myth that rejecting more students will improve a school's U.S. News ranking. ("Students lose out in university numbers game," Editorial, Dec. 22)

The acceptance rate counts for 1.25% of a school's ranking, which means that it would take about a 40 percentage-point drop in the acceptance rate to possibly change a college's position in the rankings. This magnitude of percentage point change in any school's acceptance rate is virtually impossible.

Schools that have improved in the U.S. News rankings, such as USC, have focused on improving their academic quality rather than lowering their acceptance rates.

It's important for the higher education community — and especially prospective students — that we clarify this myth. Schools have lowered admissions rates for various reasons; the U.S. News rankings is not one of them.

Brian Kelly, Washington

The writer is editor and chief content officer of U.S. News & World Report.

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