Tue 17 Jun 2008
Morty answered a question about legacy admissions with all sorts of juicy details. He mentioned the distinction between direct legacies (one or two parents from Williams) and skip legacies (no parents but at least one grandparent). He noted that the former were more of a focus than the latter. He reported that 12%-15% of a typical Williams class was direct legacy. I think he said that the class of 2012 was 15%, but that went up to 17%-18% once you included Eph grandchildren. Morty mentioned that some people (other LAC presidents?) feel that you want to be wary of having “double digit” legacies, that you want to allow for new blood and not be too inbred. Morty thought this was nuts. He saw no reason to penalize an applicant just because her parents went to Williams. How does that make sense? If anything, he felt that such applicants were particularly desirable. They understood Williams, knew its strengths and weaknesses, and were probably making a very informed decision in coming here.
Morty noted that a decade or so ago [or perhaps when he arrived?], the average legacy was a 3.3 on the 1-9 scale of academic ranks while the average non-legacy was 2.3. Morty did not seem to be a huge fan of this gap, or of giving legacies such a preference. He then noted that the latest statistics show that legacy and non-legacy are now equivalent (both at 2.3). Morty confirmed, consistent with all the analysis I have done, that being a legacy is not a meaningful advantage in getting into Williams. Morty noted that the way that some people measure this — by comparing the general admissions rate (16%) with the legacy admission rate (40%?) — was misleading because legacy applicants are often told ahead of time that they have no chance. So, they don’t apply and/or withdraw their applications, thus artificially increasing the legacy acceptance rate. Non-legacies with no chance are not given this inside scoop. They just apply and get rejected.
Of course, being a legacy is still an advantage. Morty pointed out that the acceptance rate for AR 1’s was only about 30%. [I bet this was for all AR 1’s, not just US citizens, which almost all legacies are.] Legacies with AR 1s are “always” accepted. [I bet that AR 1 legacies are some of the best and happiest members of the Willams community, especially the subset that applies early decision. They could have gone elsewhere but chose Williams because they were more than ready to fall in love with it. In other words, even if you did not want to give legacies an advantage qua legacies, you should still admit the AR 1 legacies over other AR 1s because these sons and daughters of Ephs are much more likely to be happy at Williams and contribute to the happiness of others.]
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