A few months back, an undergrad (forgive me, I forget who) posted here that he/she was working on creating a packet of information about Williams to distribute to guidance counselors throughout the country, particularly to the (unfortunately, many) schools where knowledge of Williams is very limited. I think this is a fantastic idea. I particularly feel that information that is not generated by Williams, either objective lists or news stories, would tend to be particularly compelling, as many students and guidance counselors rightfully discount college-generated materials as marketing propoganda. Sure, include a prospectus / course catalog, but otherwise, keep it to external sources. So, the Friedman Opp. Ed. made me think, what would you suggest including in such a package?

I would say: definitely the latest U.S. News Rankings, the Wall Street journal list / article on feeder schools, and lists of relative ranking of liberal arts colleges in terms of number of national merit finalists enrolled, number of Rhodes Scholars graduated, number of National Science Fellowship winners over the past ten or fifteen years, endowments of liberal arts schools, and number of CEO alumni. These are all of limited value in terms of painting a realistic picture of Williams, but kids and guidance counselors tend to respond to objective data, and Williams fares incredibly well across nearly all of these criteria.

In terms of selecting news stories about Williams, that is a far more difficult task. Some that come to mind include, for certain, some sort of article on tutorials (I know there was a big Chronicle of Higher Education piece, that would be a good one), the latest Friedman Opp Ed, the New York Times article a year or so back on the basketball team, I’d say an article on Sudan divestment would be interesting (as well as any other interesting community service related stories), I’m sure there have been lots of others. Definitely one of the many stories out there on the trivia contest. Perhaps folks on Ephblog could, with their collective memory, suggest a few others for the folks leading this project, which I think is a really great idea. Also, a list of prominent alums would be good to include. Basically, a combo of articles that emphasize Williams’ academic reputation and the success of its alums (for the “Williams and Mary” crowd) and a group of article that focus more on what makes Williams truly uniqure / the school’s quirks (trivia, tutorials, winter study, athletic / academic combo, art history, mountain day, etc.) for the more educated applicants is what I would suggest. Also definitely something on financial aid to stress need-blind policy for those who would be scared off by sticker price.

Not that Williams is hurting for super-qualified applicants, but I think the school still has trouble drawing many applicants from certain types of schools, geographic backgrounds, and in particular, socio-economic strata. Anything that can help broaden its appeal to a more diverse crowd, I think is a bonus.

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