I was just reminded of something I’ve heard several times before. One of the statistics US News and World Report uses for its college rankings is the percentage of alumni who donate to the institution. I assume the rationale for its inclusion is that this is considered a roundabout way to measure student satisfaction over the long term. It’s not about measuring the amount given in terms of its impact on the institution’s financial health: you count someone who gives $10 as much as someone who gives $100,000.
Anyway, I’ve now heard several times that a sizeable number of ranked institutions do not count alumni who have not given money for a fixed interval of time in the overall count of non-donating alumni. E.g., if someone hasn’t donated for the past five or ten years, you remove them from the pool of alumni who are measured in this statistic, as if they don’t exist. Part of the argument for doing so is that at least some of the people who have never given, or who have not given for a long period of time, are alumni who did not actually graduate from the institution in question (students who transferred elsewhere, for example). But many of them are simply graduates who have never given, or not given for a long period of time.
I think that’s a pretty good example of gaming the system, and one of many reasons why anyone who is heavily dependent on those kinds of rankings in making their choice should think twice about doing so.