English professor Bruce Fleming accuses Naval Academy of inflating its number of applicants to boost rankings
December 14, 2011
The Naval Academy is artificially inflating its number of applicants to boost its status among other colleges, according to an academy professor who based his accusations on the school’s own documents.
Specifically, the academy counts as “applicants” people who have not completed an application but have shown an interest through other means, such as applying to the school’s weeklong Summer Seminar or beginning an online application, the documents show.
An academy admissions official Dec. 5 used this standard to boast that the school had 18,651 applicants so far this year, saying it put the school on track for a record year for the Class of 2016.
The academy’s number of completed applications is much lower. For example, the Class of 2015, which began training during the summer, had 5,720 completed applications; the academy cited its applicant number as 19,145 — more than three times the number of completed applications.
Using the higher numbers puts the academy at odds with other schools, which typically use only completed applications to show their acceptance rate. It’s not enough, a spokesman from another college maintained, to merely start an application.
An official with U.S. News & World Report, which ranks colleges annually, said it’s “very atypical” for schools to use such a benchmark.
Bruce Fleming, an academy English professor and frequent critic of the school’s admissions process, filed a Freedom of Information Act request on how the academy counts applicants and provided the results to Navy Times.