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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘It should not have occurred’: Student ambassadors pressured to post positive reviews of Quinnipiac

A Quinnipiac University admissions official apologized last week after urging student ambassadors to post reviews that would “positively boost” the university’s online ratings.

In a since-retracted Feb. 22 email to the admissions office’s student employees, the Quinnipiac administrator seemed to imply that writing positive reviews on Niche — a leading college search and ranking website — was mandatory.

“If you are not out on tour, on the phone, or working on scanning/completing a project, I expect a review to be completed during your shift,” the employee wrote in bold, highlighted text.

With an overall “B” rating on Niche, Quinnipiac ranks behind most of Connecticut’s big-name schools — Yale University and the University of Connecticut, for instance — but tops out the site’s list of the state’s top 10 colleges.

In the same way a student’s GPA represents the average of their individual class grades, behind every college’s overall Niche grade is a so-called “report card” comprising a dozen specific ratings. Using public data sets and student reviews, the site grades an institution on everything from its academics and dorms to its diversity and party scene.

Quinnipiac earned a “B” in half of Niche’s 12 categories: academics, diversity, professors, dorms, student life and value. And while the university earned an “A” for its athletics and an “A-” for its safety and party scene, Niche gave Quinnipiac a “B-” for its campus, a “C” for its location and a “C-” for its campus food.

The admissions official told student ambassadors in the Feb. 22 email that Quinnipiac was particularly concerned with raising the latter three grades, as well as the university’s value rating.

“Quinnipiac has a strong presence on Niche, but it needs a little bump in ratings,” the employee wrote. “This is an important piece of attracting future students, especially with how much students are online these days.”

The Feb. 22 email asked students working in the admissions office to review the university “from the student perspective, not a student employee.”

But a student ambassador — who agreed to speak with The Chronicle on the condition of anonymity — challenged the ethics behind this request.

“You’re paying us to do it, and it’s during our shifts, so it is as a student employee,” they said. “It just feels a little bit icky.”

The student employee, who has worked in the admissions office for several semesters, said they had never received an email like this in the past.

“I also felt a little shocked that they would put something like that in writing,” they said. “Is this really where our efforts are best being used right now?”

In a statement to The Chronicle the following day, John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, wrote that the incident “should not have occurred.”

“The university does not support the communication and regrets that it was sent to the student ambassadors,” Morgan wrote in the Feb. 23 statement. 

Within hours of the official’s Feb. 22 communication, more than a dozen positive reviews — 11 five-star, four four-star and one three-star — appeared on Quinnipiac University’s online profile page. 

“I couldn’t recommend coming to this school enough,” one of the five-star reviews said.

“If I had to choose where to go to college again, I would choose to come here again,” another said.

Although there is no definitive way to determine whether student ambassadors posted each of these 16 reviews, Quinnipiac’s Niche page often goes weeks or months without receiving a single review. 

“That’s the thing, it looks fraudulent,” the anonymous student ambassador said with a laugh.

This student did not post a review of their own.

“That’s not to say that we’re not a great school, but I don’t want people to have a conflated or overexcited perception of the school when that is not sometimes always the reality,” the student said. “This feels like an icky context to hype it up.”

The admissions administrator, who oversees all of the office’s student employees, followed up with student ambassadors on Feb. 23 to offer their “sincerest apologies” for the initial email.

“While I always hope that you will share your QU experiences with prospective students, I should not have asked you to post those experiences on Niche.com or indicated that it was required in any way,” the official wrote in the follow-up email. 

Morgan reiterated that student ambassadors “are not expected or required to post any reviews to the NICHE site.”

Aidan Sheedy contributed to this report.

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