A question-and-answer on College Confidential.

I heard Williams College gives admissions “bumps” to local students, from the Berkshire County area. If this is the case, how significant is this bump?

Residents of the Berkshires get a very substantial boost in the admissions process at Williams. The “bump” that you will receive is equivalent to that of a legacy or a recruited athlete.

That answer comes from MikeyD223, a knowledgeable participant at CC. However, I have some doubts.

1) The boost from being a legacy is nowhere near that provided recruited (i.e., “tipped”) athletes. Being a legacy is probably worth about 50 SAT points. Being a tip is worth twice as much and probably even more. In essence, if a coach really wants you, and you meet some (high) academic minimums, you get in. The coach is directly involved in the process, communicating explicitly with he alumni office. Legacy families don’t get nearly this much influence and access.

2) To the extent that there is a boost from being a “Berkshire” resident, I think that much/most/all of the boost comes from a direct Williams connection. Williams accepts many children of faculty and staff, not so much because they grew up in Williamstown as because Williams looks after its own. Do you think that Dick Nesbitt wants to tell Professor X or Administrator Y (cross reference the faculty/staff listings with the student directory for examples) that her little lovely isn’t good enough for Williams? No. Of course, Nesbitt does need to reject some/many applicants from faculty/staff families, but he doesn’t want to do it unless he has to. See Daniel Golden’s The Price of Admission for more details from across the country about this practice.

3) I do not think that a random applicant from, say, Adams gets much of a preference. Does anyone disagree? Why would the College admit such a student while rejecting an applicant from, say, Pennsylvania with a stronger application?

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