One way that the College is helping out in the aftermath of Katrina is to accept students from effected schools. As long as those students are of similar academic talent to current Ephs, this is a win-win all around. The obvious match would be with students from Tulane, at least one of whom is attending Williams for the fall.

But the College is going further. Several students from Xavier University are already on campus and more may be on the way.

We are happy to report that special new members of our community began arriving today — five pre-medical students from Xavier University of Louisiana. Another arrives Thursday; still another has expressed interest. Through them, and through the University, Williams is reaching out to other Xavier pre-meds who may be able to join us for the fall. A similar group arrives soon at Amherst, which also is seeking more such students.

We’re still in the process of determining these students’ academic needs, but it looks at this point like those in Williamstown will largely take regular Williams courses. They’ll live in previously empty dorm rooms and be available to take full part in campus life.

A good idea?

The bottom 25th percentile of SAT scores at Williams is around 665. The 75th percentile at Xavier is 555. But given that only 50% of students at Xavier report their test scores, this 555 number is probably closer to the 90th percentile if not higher. In other words, even if the students that Williams accepted from Xavier are in the top 10% of the class there — there’s no word on how Williams selected which students would be invited to attend — we would still have a problem. The SATs of students at Williams do not go down very far below the 25th percentile.

In other words, there is almost certainly a dramatic mismatch between Williams students and the Xavier students who have joined them for the fall. Almost all the Xavier students probably fall in the bottom 5%, if not lower, of the Williams population.

I think that this has trouble written all over it. There is a reason that Williams rarely accepts students with below 1200 SATs. Such students have a lot of trouble at a place like Williams.

Are Morty and the rest of the folks that run Williams really helping out those Xavier students by putting them in a Chemistry class with a bunch of Ephs who are almost all much smarter than they are? Or are they mostly making themselves feel better by doing something, anything, in the face of such a calamity? Time will tell.

Addedum: Note that I could be wrong about these numbers. Perhaps Williams only offered positions to the half dozen Xavier students with 1400 combined SATs. I doubt it. I also suspect that Williams administrators have a sense about the mismatch; see the phrase “academic needs” in the quotation above. On the bright side, putting the Xavier students in a Williams science class will help out the curve for everyone else . . .

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