Rick Hess, resident scholar and director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, says that inflated college rankings enable schools to charge exorbitant tuition rates. His investigation of Barron’s Profiles of American Collegeswarns students and parents to take these rankings “with a big grain of salt.”
In an interview with the Free Beacon, Hess explained that “since nobody knows how to judge how good a college is, there’s a casual assumption that price is quality.” As in the case of “fancy restaurants, fancy resorts, and expensive box seats, the price becomes a measure of how good it is.”
“The laws of economics can seem to operate in reverse in higher education,” Hess’ report explained. “Instead of being punished by consumers for high prices, schools frequently attract more students when they raise their tuition.”
Barron’s uses four criteria to determine the selectivity of a school: the incoming students’ average class rank, SAT and ACT scores, acceptance rate, and GPA. Hess explained that while class rank and standardized test scores have remained stable, both the selectivity (measured by the percentage of denied applicants) and the average GPA have increased over the past twenty years.