Cmdr. John Schofield, an academy spokesman, said the academy this year modified its count, excluding certain Reserve Officers Training Corps candidates who did not indicate a specific interest in attending Annapolis. That helped shrink its applicant pool, to 17,819 from 20,601, and raised its admission rate to 8 percent.
Some colleges solicit applicants so aggressively that they waive all fees and fill out practically everything in an application form except a student’s signature. That practice, known as a “fast app,” also affects admission rates.
For U.S. News, the admission rate is a small factor in its annual college rankings. But it is displayed prominently on U.S. News Web pages, including sortable charts. Washington and Lee has the 13th-lowest admission rate among schools that U.S. News calls “national liberal arts colleges” in rankings published Sept. 10.
Washington and Lee, roughly 150 miles southwest of the District, is named for two famous Virginians. U.S. President George Washington helped endow the school in the 18th century, and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was its president after the Civil War.
The 2,300-student university takes its honor system so seriously that students are allowed to take final exams on their own schedule, without any proctoring. Students found guilty of one instance of lying, cheating or stealing are kicked out.
Hartog, who has led the admissions office since 1978, said there is “no way” the school would fudge its admissions data.
“I’ve been observing this a long time,” Hartog said. “There are places that are making a mockery of the volume of applications they purport to have. In my view, we’re not. The last thing in the world I’m going to be doing is misleading anybody.”