‘Princeton Review’ again bungles reporting of Stanford’s statistical data

The Princeton Review,publishers of the popular guidebook The Best 373 Colleges,has been flooding the media recently with news of its latest rankings, which purport to identify everything from the happiest college students to the top party schools.

It also claims to judge the admission selectivity of schools – and its methodology certainly sounds legitimate. According to its website, the selectivity ranking is “determined by several institutionally reported factors, including: the class rank, average standardized test scores, and average high school GPA of entering freshmen; the percentage of students who hail from out-of-state; and the percentage of applicants accepted. This rating is given on a scale of 60-99.”

Words like these make RICHARD SHAW, dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid, gnash his teeth. For at least the second time in four years, the Princeton Reviewhas bungled the admissions data for Stanford – with no apparent consequence. For instance, the book claims that Stanford accepted 16 percent of its applicants. Not true, says Shaw. Stanford accepted 7.3 percent this year and 8 percent last year.

Undergraduate Admission pointed out a serious error when asked to review Stanford’s draft profile in April. The error was not corrected, and David Soto, director of content development at the Princeton Review,apologized and promised to work with the editorial and production staff to see “where this issue might have come from.”

Soto also promised a correction to the website and a change in any future printings of the guide. But the damage is done for any prospective students purchasing the printed version, claims Shaw. Shaw says the Princeton Reviewmade similar promises four years ago – and their word of assurance was to no avail.

Shaw says Stanford’s reputation for excellence can endure minor irritants like the Princeton Review.But the mistake in reporting Stanford’s data suggests how sloppy the data gathering of college guidebooks is in general and how misleading the resulting “rankings” are.