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Marquis Scholar Christopher Reich (New Providence, N.J.), a mathematics-economics major, is studying the effects of U.S. News and World Report’s rankings on university decisions for his senior thesis.

Reich is undertaking the yearlong study in pursuit of departmental honors in economics and business under the guidance of Thomas Bruggink, associate professor of economics and business.

“I will examine the effects of U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings on university pricing policies, allocation of resources, and admissions decisions,” says Reich, who chose this as his thesis topic because the rankings are an issue of great debate. “I will also explore the possible difference between public and private universities and between national universities and liberal arts colleges.”

Reich is compiling information on approximately 150 colleges and universities over a given number of years.

“If rankings go up, colleges have the opportunity to be more selective in their admissions,” explains Bruggink. “If rankings go up, colleges might find that they can raise their tuition more easily. Chris will try to quantify these relationships by assigning numerical content to the theory. In addition, he will see how the numerical relationships change between large and small schools, as well as public and private schools.

“While some people feel that these rankings are very influential to both prospective students and the colleges themselves, others feel that they are quite worthless,” says Reich. “The idea of using econometric analysis to shed some light on this debate is very interesting to me.”

Bruggink says that overcoming simultaneity bias, or identifying which is the cause and which is the effect, is the most challenging aspect of Reich’s project. Increased selectivity by the college will increase rankings, but higher rankings will allow a college to become more selective. The cause and effect runs in both directions. This unavoidable problem will not be overcome, but will be dealt with, he says.

Student-faculty mentoring is an important component of the honors program at Lafayette.

“I think that Lafayette is a good academic environment for projects like my thesis because of the personal relationships that it fosters between the faculty and the students,” says Reich. “I am very pleased to be working with Professor Bruggink. He is very knowledgeable on this subject, has a good deal of experience with the honors thesis procedure and has a very good sense of humor.”

Reich is training for the New York City Marathon in November.

“This will be a great advantage to him since he already knows that a long and arduous task is completed by continually working, even when the finish is nowhere in sight,” says Bruggink.

Reich is a fitness supervisor at Kirby Sports Center and a sportswriter for The Lafayette.

Categorized in: Academic News