Two letters came in the mail today from an outfit calling itself The National Dean's List. Putting one and one together allows me to conclude that being on this dean's list is a deeply dubious honor.
The first letter is for me:
It would be nice to think that my college achievements are wowing this organization, almost thirty years after I graduated. But something else is going on. The second letter begins:
There is no one at our house named "Leddy Fine"; that name is simply my last name and my wife Elaine's last name (yes, I kept my name when we married). But we have a magazine subscription for "Leddy Fine" (the result of a clerical error), from a collegiate subscription service, one of those companies offering discounts for students and faculty. We have another subscription, in my name, from the same service. "Leddy Fine," like "Michael Leddy," is simply a name from a mailing list.
The National Dean's List thus seems to be little more than spam-marketing with a letterhead. There's a catch of course: to see your name in print, you need to buy a copy of the book ($69.95, or $84.95 "with my name in gold on the cover").
If I were a genuine high-achieving college student, I might not have reason to doubt the claims on the NDL website. For instance:
Being selected for nomination to The National Dean's List is an honor bestowed on outstanding college students by the professors, coaches and teachers who know their work best.But I'm no longer a high-achieving college student, and "Leddy Fine" never even shows up for classes, so I can only conclude that the National Dean's List is about as selective as a telephone book.
Every year, professors, deans and leaders of civic and community service organizations affiliated with post secondary institutions are invited to nominate outstanding students who have achieved "Dean's List" honors, or comparable academic achievement, have a "B+" average or are in the upper 10% of their classes.
Update, May 5, 2007: There's more on the National Dean's List in this post: The National Dean's List again.
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 again
The National Dean's List is dead