By Patricia Alex, staff writer, The Record

Some of New Jersey’s public colleges and universities are making themselves appear more selective — and more attractive to prospective students — by skirting national standards when reporting data to the federal government and ratings organizations, The Record has found.

Ramapo College and Kean and Rowan universities include both complete and incomplete applications in the numbers they report, bloating the stated applicant pool by hundreds. Inflating the numbers to include students who leave out essential items like test scores or grades allows these schools to appear to be rejecting a substantially higher percentage of students.

A lower acceptance rate provides a reputation boost in the prestige-fueled world of college admissions.

In New Jersey, officials from the three schools acknowledge that incomplete applications are included in the totals they report to the federal government, U.S. News and World Report and other rating organizations and publications. This practice violates state and federal requirements that only completed applications be included, and makes it difficult to compare schools where some play by the rules and others do not.

At Kean, merely starting an online application makes a student part of the admissions pool. At Rowan and Ramapo, prospective applicants are reported in the schools’ totals as long as they’ve paid an application fee, regardless of other missing credentials such as test scores or transcripts that are needed to make an admissions decision, the officials said.


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