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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Editorial: Quality over quantity

An internal probe at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) found that the college has been inflating its collective SAT exam scores of incoming freshmen for the last six years, ostensibly to increase its national rankings.

This is a disturbing and uncalled for action that highlights the underlying problem of placing undue emphasis on college rankings, which undoubtedly affects UC Davis.

The UC Davis administration, led by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, has been clear in its ambitions to become a Top 5 public research university. While such aspirations can be a positive motivating force to move our university forward, the incident at CMC demonstrates the problem with placing too much importance on such statistics.

Rankings generally emphasize quantifiable measurements that do not necessarily reflect the quality of a university. The popular rankings provided by U.S. News, for example, are not based on a holistic evaluation of colleges.

Their website states: “Over time, the ranking model has put less emphasis on input measures of quality (which look at characteristics of the students, faculty, and other resources going into the educational process) and more emphasis on output measures (which look at the results of the educational process). This shift was consistent with the increased emphasis that educators, researchers and policymakers have placed on results when comparing and evaluating educational programs.”

This shows that selecting a university based on its ranking is not an effective way to find an education that is right for each individual. When it comes down to it, there is no substantial difference between the 48th and 41st ranked university.

UC Davis has gone up several places in the last few years, and we have yet to notice a significant change in the quality of our education.

If we choose improvements to our university based on categories that boost our rankings, the UC Davis administration would not necessarily be making choices that improve the quality of education for students.

As tuition rises and the university needs to make difficult decisions about how to remain competitive while staying affordable, it is important that UC Davis focuses on the quality of education rather than rankings.

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