Vote for the Best of STL!

U.S. News removes George Washington University from Best Colleges 2013 rankings

Washington University students who are upset when they are mistaken for attending George Washington University could become angrier now that GW’s national reputation has taken a hit.

GW was removed from the 51st spot in the U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges of 2013” rankings after it was revealed that the Washington, D.C. university misreported data.

“On November 8, George Washington University…advised U.S. News that it had erroneously reported its high school class standing information for more than a decade,” wrote U.S. News director of data research Robert Morse in a blog post on the U.S. News website. “This misreporting resulted in George Washington submitting to U.S. News a value for the percent of the fall 2011 entering class in the top tenth of their high school class that was inflated by 20 percentage points.”

Morse declined further comment but referred Student Life to his blog posts regarding the issue.

Claremont McKenna College and Emory University were also recently revealed to have fudged their data reporting, but U.S. News concluded that the actual data would not have changed the rankings of those two schools.

“In all three cases, U.S. News did a statistical simulation of what each school’s numerical ranking would have been in their U.S. News ranking category if the corrected data had been used,” wrote Morse. “In the case of George Washington University, the simulation showed that the school’s numerical ranking would have been lower as a result of the large change in the school’s corrected high school class rank data.”

The changes in data have been recorded on GW’s school profile page on the U.S. News website, explained Morse, to ensure that the public stays informed.

“U.S. News believes that consumers should be able to see the new data online. We remove the data that has been reported as incorrect from the school’s entry on and replace it with the newly reported statistical data provided by the school,” Morse wrote. “This has been done for GW.”

The last instance of a school being moved to the category of “Unranked” due to misreporting data occurred in the 2012 edition of Best Colleges, when Iona College was unranked after admitting to falsifying data points.

John Berg, Washington University’s vice chancellor for admissions, expressed regret over the recent news about GW.

“We were sorry to hear the news, but we know both institutions have made adjustments and accepted the consequences and moved on,” Berg said.

Berg insisted that the chances of the University misreporting data are unlikely.

“I think it could happen anywhere, but we do have several additional layers of safety here,” Berg said. “A number of years ago, the university began conducting surprise and random audits of information submitted to U.S. News.”

Some University students said they would feel betrayed if their own university were to misreport data or be removed from the U.S. News rankings.

“I would definitely feel cheated, as I attended Wash. U. based on the assumption that it really is what it claims to be…but I think the worst part would be the realization that I’m not as competitive…a student as my admission to Wash. U made me believe,” sophomore Jeff Otieno said. “I’d definitely expect some huge amount of accountability from [the school’s] higher-ups.”

“I would be upset that an institution that I had invested so much time in and loved so much felt the need to alter their statistics,” senior Anna Beets added.

Despite how some students at the University think they would feel if it were their school that misreported, GW has seen a different response.

“Students at GW do not think it is a big deal. They enjoy their four years at GW and gain a lot of internship and job experience throughout the process,” George Washington University junior Doriel Jacov said. “The rankings are just a perk, but in reality GW offers great programs, and the students appreciate that.”

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.