College Applications Controversy


A Wall Street Journal article reports that colleges are making few changes to how they review applications despite the recent admissions scandal. University officials say they are overburdened by reading applications, which have increased dramatically in the past few years, shown here.

University leadership also argue that they should not distrust all applicants because of the few who misrepresent themselves. Other than school transcripts and test scores, as a spokesperson at Dartmouth said, “The rest of a student’s file is reviewed on an honor-code assumption that a student’s work is a student’s work. It is not our policy to suspect every student of falsifying records.”

On the other hand, some universities have implemented additional checks, for example, of athletes. Some hire outside firms to verify information, and admissions staff do check for inconsistencies, but the article concludes that “almost none have a formal audit process in which they select a random sample of applications to independently verify.”

Admissions image source.

Line chart source.


  • Should universities do more to verify the accuracy of students’ applications? Why or why not?

  • Analyze the line chart at right. How does the chart skew the data? How could this affect the arguments presented in the WSJ article? What recommendations would you make to the designer?