Harvard Study: Campus Scandals Devastate Enrollment

Marlo Safi, Campus Reform, July 11, 2016

Contradicting the adage that “all press is good press,” a new study shows that when colleges are shrouded in public scandal they can also expect a decrease in applications.

According to a working paper out of the Harvard Business School, scandals on college campuses that receive extensive media coverage lead to decreases in the number of applications that college receives.

Long-form articles, which are longer articles that can approach the size of novels, have “the same effect as dropping ten rankings in the popular U.S. News and World Report college rankings” when they focus on instances of scandals including cheating, sexual assault, murder, or hazing, the study reports.

The study’s authors identify 124 different public scandals that occurred between 2001 and 2013 at the top 100 U.S. colleges. Scandals with more than five mentions in the The New York Times lead to a 9 percent drop in applications the following year, and scandals covered by long-form magazine articles receive 10 percent fewer applications the following year.

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