[For a previous post that explains what prompted me to look into the National Dean's List, click here.]
I just followed a link at College Confidential to Form 10-K, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by the American Achievement Group Holding Corp., AAC Group Holding Corp., and American Achievement Corporation, the companies behind the National Dean's List.
I was surprised to learn how big this business is: for fiscal 2005, the American Achievement Group's "achievement publications" (Who's Who Among American High School Students, Who's Who Among American High School Students -- Sports Edition, The National Dean's List, Who's Who Among America’s Teachers, and The Chancellor's List) accounted for sales of $20.1 million.
And I was surprised to see a relatively frank acknowledgement of what it means to be "nominated":
We obtain nominations for our achievement publications from a wide variety of commercial and non-commercial sources, which we continuously update. One company that supplies a significant number of nominees to us for inclusion in our Who’s Who Among American High School Students publication has received an inquiry from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, relating to its supplying names and other personal information of high school students to commercial marketers. We have received a request from the FTC for information relating to this matter and are complying with this request.Also of interest: the letters that "Leddy Fine" and I received state that "Only 1/2 of 1% of our nation's college students" are named to the National Dean's List. Form 10-K states that
The most recent 29th published edition [of The National Dean's List] honors almost 158,000 high-achieving students, representing in excess of 2,800 colleges and universities throughout the country.That number would call for a population of 31.6 million college students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment in degree-granting institutions in 2004 totalled 17.3 million.
Something is rotten in Texas (home of the American Achievement Group).
Update, November 9, 2007: A reader has informed me that the National Dean's List is no more. From the company website:
Educational Communications, Inc. has ceased all operations, including discontinuation of its publications for Who's Who Among American High School Students, Who's Who Among America's Teachers, and The National Dean's List, as well as the Educational Communications Scholarship Foundation.The Internet Archive shows that Educational Communications, Inc. — or at least its website — was still functioning as of August 2007. Some quick Google searching turns up no details on the company's demise.
I feel sorry for the clerical workers, printers, and bindery workers whose lives will be altered by the demise of Educational Communications, Inc. But I'll still say good riddance to this company. It's mail from outfits such as EC, Inc. that can lead a student to mistake, say, a letter of invitation from Phi Beta Kappa for yet another sham honor. And it's the Internet that allows anyone with an online connection to look around and ask questions. (Type "national dean's list" into Google and see what happens.)
Phi Beta What? (Wall Street Journal)
Is this honor society legitimate?
The National Dean's List
The National Dean's List is dead