Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who is College Confidential to be grading U.S. News and World Report top anything schools

This morning I was reading at the OSU Today website about OSU placing in the top twenty of the various categories of U.S. News and World Report. There are so many categories, it would be difficult to not get listed for some reason. So while investigating the reliability of the USNWR rankings, I came across College Confidential--but who are they? At least USNWR has been around in some form since the 1940s (the magazine is now defunct, I believe).

College Confidential gives U.S. News and World Report a B- “for making a big splash at first, with little real, residual value in the final analysis” but an excellent source conveniently arranged for comparing a wealth of data. But who then is College Confidential? Not even Wikipedia seems to know much about it except it was created in 2001. The best information I could find about College Confidential which critiqued U.S. News and World Report was this blog by a Johns Hopkins admissions counselor. He begins with the addiction problem you have with any social networking site, and how he periodically had to withdraw from the forum where he tried to educate students about the process he understood and they didn't. Then he moves on to a frustration we all have who do e-mail, blogging, facebook or twitter.

Information is not knowledge and knowledge is not widsom. At a time when humans have more information available than at any other time in history, never have we been such poor stewards of it. It is a commodity, it is gossip, it is bought, sold, and hyped. There are gatekeepers who want no new studies published lest their own careers are threatened; and there are idiots spewing lies just for the fun of it. There's a Christian newsletter I continue to get (will remain nameless) to see if anyone but their own little group is ever right about anything--theology, politicians, food, diseases, etc. If I Snope, JunkScience or FactCheck something, I'll be criticized by someone who wants desperately to believe there is a plot to kill all Republicans. If I point out a dangerous program by President Obama, others call me racist--even if Bush had the same program and they railed against him. It's the nature of the beast.
"For me the most frustrating part of College Confidential is that for certain students it becomes the only source of information whatsoever. If one can’t find it on College Confidential than it must not be true. Why are people asking about a university’s standardized exam policy on College Confidential rather than going to that school’s Admissions site? Why are people asking what to do if all interview slots are filled on College Confidential rather than calling the Admissions office? Why are students asking about personal parts of their application and what they should do about something linked to them personally rather than sending an e-mail to the Admissions office? For Johns Hopkins, our Admissions site is easy to navigate and there is a ton of information at your fingertips. Our phone staff are polite, helpful, and available during normal business hours to help with any and all inquiries. And our e-mail account is cleared out on a daily basis with thorough responses even over the weekends and holidays. It just makes no sense that one has to turn to “CCFan326” to find out if Hopkins requires SAT scores, or ask “HopingforJHU” what the last date to request an alumni interview is for Hopkins."
Please go directly to the source--on anything--if you can.

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