A recent article in the Navy Times, titled "Professor says academy overstates applicants," claimed that the U.S. Naval Academy "is artificially inflating its number of applicants to boost its status among other colleges, according to an academy professor who based his accusations on the school's own documents."
After hearing those allegations, U.S.News & World Report and the other Common Data Set (CDS) publishers contacted the U.S. Naval Academy directly to find out if, when providing its number of applications, the Naval Academy was using the Common Data Set definition standard, which stipulates that only students who complete fully actionable applications (meaning the student has supplied enough information so the school can make an admissions decision) should be included in the calculation of the total number of applications.
It should be noted that U.S. News uses this Common Data Set definition in its data collection and uses the number of applicants to compute the acceptance rate, which counts for 1.5 percent of our Best Colleges rankings.
The U.S. Naval Academy asserts strongly via E-mail on December 9 (see below) that the data submitted to U.S. News for fall 2010 applications was accurate and followed the prescribed definition:
The Naval Academy's definition of applicant for purposes of reporting to rating agencies is consistent with that of the Common Data Set. The Naval Academy considers an individual to be an applicant when they submit information which allows USNA admissions officials to take any of the following actionable steps: offer admission, decline admission, place on a waiting list for further consideration, or acknowledge withdrawal of application by the individual. This is consistent with the Common Data Set definition of an applicant.
All Naval Academy Summer Seminar applicants are advised that their application to Summer Seminar is additionally considered as an official application for admission to the Naval Academy. Summer Seminar applicants can request that they not be considered for admission to the Naval Academy.
The Common Data Set does not equate "fulfilling the requirements to be considered for admission" with completing each and every application step. Like other universities, USNA considers an individual to be an applicant when they have completed enough of the admissions process for USNA to take "actionable steps" as defined by the Common Data Set."
At this point, given the above E-mail response, U.S. News believes the U.S. Naval Academy when it says it's reporting the data consistent with the CDS definition of what constitutes an application.