An anonymous reader points to this post from Andrew Goldston’s ’09.

Finally, we heard from Morgan, who reported on some ideas the Trustees had been kicking around at their meeting on Mountain Day. Apparently they were discussing removing loans from FinAid packages (thumbs up!), concerns about changing admissions standards, and the possibility of making the student body quite a bit larger.

The reader comments:

I’m wondering how the Trustees propose to change “admissions standards,” and also whether increasing the size of the student body would allow for what Morty expressed in an interview with The Record earlier this school year: an Eph student body in the
not-too-distant future comprised of 50% (or more) non-white undergrads. (I suppose then, with more students, Williams could still support all its varsity sports teams — and at the same time? — promote its commitment to “diversity.”)

What do you think?

1) Williams will stop using loans for the same reason that it admitted women: all its competitors are doing (did) the same and Williams can either follow suit or lose lots of desirable applicants. The merits of the issues are besides the point. Andrew is exactly correct when he notes:

We mostly talked about the loans. There was some discussion of small loans being (a) good for your credit rating and (b) a way to get people to “take ownership” of their education. Eh, I don’t know. It’s four years of your life. If you don’t take ownership of that, what difference does some debt somewhere in the hazy future make?

More realistically, the fact is that while our FinAid calculus (that is, the “need” calculations) is about the same as comparable schools like Amherst, if we meet that need with grants and some loans and Amherst meets it with grants and, uhh, grants, then Amherst has an edge on us in attracting comparable FinAid eligible students who don’t have a peculiar reason to go to Williams over another similar school. Gotta stay competitive.

That, and who wants to graduate with debt?

By the way, I am no expert on FICO scores, but I doubt that having college loans does anything meaningful to help out a graduates borrowing power.

2) When will Williams stop using loans? I think soon, perhaps even before the 2008-2009 school year. Sorry, Morty, but a bazaar is what you are stuck in.

3) Has anyone heard talk of expanding the student body? I hate that idea. If you want a big school, go to Penn State. Williams would not be Williams with 3,000 students. I assume that there were be widespread discussion before anything like this were ever implemented. If anything, I would like to decrease the size of the College, make it a little more intimate, improve the student:faculty ratio, guarantee every student a single and so on.

4) I do not know what a change in “admissions standards” would mean. Perhaps Andrew can clarify?

5) Who cares whether Williams is 10% Ephs of color or 30% or 50%? Not me! We are all Purple first. Let in the best applicants, with whatever coloration the good Lord blessed them with. By the way, one way that we might get to “50%” is widespread genetic testing. You read it at EphBlog first. Another way is via more outlandish claims of Hispanicism. It seems like 20% of the students in my children’s classes will be checking that box even though they are mostly as white as the driven snow. Had a grandfather who lived in Portugal for a few years? Great! You’re Hispanic.

6) The big issue with admissions is international students. Is that what “admissions standards” refers to? The class of 2011 is 8% international, I think, up from its usual quote — Whoops! I mean goal — of 6%. The key issue for Williams admissions over the next decade is where that number goes. I, for one, would like to see 10% starting with the class of 2012 and then, assuming that the world doesn’t end, 15%-20% with the class of 2016.

The mission of Williams is to be the best college in the world, not the best college in America.

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