A Crazy SAT Stunt

Baylor University wants to claw its way up the college rankings ladder in the worst way.

The university’s student newspaper, The Lariat, caught the school red handed. In an article last week, the newspaper reported that the university had essentially bribed its incoming freshman to retake the SAT.

Now this is awfully peculiar. After all, these kids had already been accepted and had committed to attending the private Baptist university this fall.

Why were these kids redoing the SAT this summer? Because Baylor offered each of them a $300 bookstore credit for retaking the test. What’s more, any kid who eked out an extra 50 points on the test won a $1,000 merit award.

Still doesn’t make any sense? It would if you knew how desparate Baylor and some other schools are to inch up in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings. A school’s average SAT scores are one of the silly measures that USNWR uses to rank schools through methodology that can only be described as deeply flawed.

As I mention in my book, The College Solution, some schools are so determined to boost their rankings that they even promise college administrators incentives for pulling it off. The president of Arizona State Univeristy, for instance, was promised a bonus of $10,000 if he could improve the school’s rankings. Bayhor’s strategic plan includes its goal of cracking USNWR’s list of the top 50 national universities. ….Yes, it’s sick.

According to a story in today’s New York Times, Baylor’s stunt bumped the average SAT score for the new freshmen class from 1200 to 1210. But who knows what the bad publicity will do to its reputation. Oh….a school’s reputation counts for 25% of USNWR’s rankings.

Here is what the student paper thinks of the stunt.

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