On page 82, Taylor provides some interesting background on the meaning and distribution of the academic rating (AR) system used at Williams.
The academic rating is a vital number that is gleaned from a student’s application. As seen in Table 6.3.l.a, the greatest percentage of students in this study falls in the “academic 2” category, with 27.1 percent of students qualifying for this rank. There are approximately the same proportions of students in the ranks above and below this one, as 15.7 percent of students are academic 3’s and 15.3 percent earn the distinction of being an academic 1. Again, it is important to remember that the students being studied are those who have applied, been admitted, and matriculated to Williams, thus this information is not indicative of the characteristics of the applicant pool. One of the most interesting findings is that over 16 percent of students were ranked as an academic 6 or below. Academic 6’s and 7’s are so close to the bottom of the scale as to be nearly off the Williams’ admission radar, to say nothing of the academic 8’s.
I think that Williams would be a much better place — and a more academically serious one — if the vast majority of academic 6’s and 7’s were denied admission. I also suspect that those students, though denied admission at Williams, would do quite well at a Hamilton or Connecticut College. Applicants who are academically mismatched at Williams should be careful what they wish for.