Phi Beta Cons

The Campus as Selling Machine

Stephen Budiansky recently wrote zanily about “how colleges prostitute themselves to improve their U.S. News & World Report rankings and keep up a healthy supply of tuition-paying students, while wrapping their craven commercialism in high-minded-sounding academic blather.”

There is more to say about the increasingly frenzied marketing mania on campuses. Slippery (not to mention costly) advertising often papers over academic mediocrity and failure, which is hidden from the public because colleges refuse to measure and report on student learning–and which “evaluators” such as U.S. News gloss over in their rankings. The public must better learn to see through this glitzy and deceptive advertising. Rankings that compare the true academic strength of campuses are badly needed.

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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