Northeastern has consistently been in the U.S. News Weekly’s Top 50 Universities for the past five years. How does it maintain this reputable ranking year after year? The unfortunate truth is that Northeastern, along with many Top 50 universities, does a lot of shady shit to protect its name and status on the national level. This involves practices such as capping class sizes, manipulating reported student body data, and gentrifying the nearby neighborhood of Roxbury.
One major malpractice by admin is capping class sizes in the fall semester. Many classes in the fall semester are strictly capped at 19 students in order to maintain a lower average class size. Since college board, U.S. News Weekly, and other college ranking organizations gather statistics based fall semesters, the classes for these semesters matter most. These capped classes are nearly impossible to override. Though classes in spring semesters are allowed to over-enroll, students in the fall semester are unable to do so even with a professor’s permission.
Moreover, Northeastern also uses the N.U.in Program to boost it’s rankings in the Fall semester. Though the program does provide a unique opportunity for incoming freshmen to spend their first semester abroad, diving right into Northeastern’s global mindset, it’s also an opportunity for Northeastern to report a lower number of students, increasing the faculty:student ratio reported.
The N.U.in Program also attempts to postpone the housing crisis Northeastern faces every year, but only makes it worse. By sending a significant number of freshmen abroad, Northeastern doesn’t have to provide housing for them. Northeastern requires all freshmen and second years to dorm and guarantees housing for upperclassmen, despite not having such space available. This results in Northeastern renting out apartments to lease to students as dorms. Many students live in apartment buildings along Columbus Ave, Hemenway Street, even as far as Commonwealth Ave. An additional group of students also live in The Midway Hotel on Huntington Ave. The expansion of dorms and leasing of non-university housing is contributing greatly to the gentrification of Roxbury, which you can read more about here.
Speaking of The Midway Hotel, during the 2018-19 school year, the students housed there were part of a program called ContiNUe. This program is meant for legacy students, a.k.a. students who have relatives who’ve attended Northeastern. These students maintain part time status at the University and will only be allowed to matriculate into the freshman class if they maintain a 3.0. They remain isolated from their class, though, and are not granted the same privileges that full time students are, despite paying a higher rate for tuition, fees, and housing.
Northeastern University routinely controls the size of their classes in order to manipulate their national rankings and keep them towards the top. Furthermore, the institution continues to negatively impact surrounding communities by expanding gentrification and by abdicating their responsibility in addressing the housing issues they’ve helped to create. It is important to call out these shady practices to improve transparency with incoming freshmen and to begin to change the mucky system.