A thread on College Confidential comparing Amherst with Williams linked to EphBlog, suckering me into making this comment:

Female applicants hoping to date young men of similar intelligence are wise to consider the gender ratio in the 5 college area. With Smith and Mt, Holyoke, there are probably 3+ smart young women for every smart young men. Those odds lead to the sort of behavior you might expect from young men.

Male applicants (instead of being confused by the above) should consider the difference in common sense demonstrated by female Ephs and female Jeffs in deciding where to go to school. Smart women with common sense make better wives than smart women without it.

Obnoxious, I know, but still. Isn’t there something to this observation? Sounds like a great topic for a senior thesis! I would wager that the typical female Eph is more satisfied with the dating scene at Williams than the typical female Lord Jeff is with the scene at Amherst. But that’s an empirical question. On occasion, I make this same point when interviewing (female) applicants, but only when asked a relevant question.

Of course, the substantive differences between LACs are dwarfed by the commonalities among them. The more important choice that many/most applicants get wrong is between LACs as a group and large universities. Many/most of the applicants who choose Harvard over Williams would be better off the other way.

I continue to be amazed at how poorly informed many applicants to elite schools are, at least those coming from public high schools. I interviewed a freshmen from Harvard last week for an internship. He had been accepted by places like Stanford as well but had not applied to Williams or any school like it. He thought that “liberal arts” college meant a place to study “history.” He had, literally, no idea that the science education you get at Williams is, on the whole, as good as the one he will get at Harvard. (Teaching at Williams is better, but there are, it must be admitted, more research opportunities and advanced classes at Harvard.)

It seems a shame that the Williams Admissions Office does not make better use of committed Ephs across the country to get the message out about what sort of place Williams is. There are scores of alumni (like me) who would be more than willing to talk to top-notch high school juniors in our towns about Williams. Why not make use of us? A topic for another day.

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