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Best of the Record – 06 May 2009

Admission yield increases 5.5% – Read the Whole Article

As of Monday afternoon, the Office of Admission had received 550 confirmations of matriculation from students for the Class of 2013 after the May 1 deadline. This number marks a 5.5 percent increase over last year’s yield of 42.4 percent and represents the College’s target yield for this year – met without having turned to the waitlist. Admission expects to have 560 deposits by the end of the week, the 10 extra deposits providing a “cushion” to make up for students who withdraw over the summer or opt to defer a year.

“Yield on admitted students far exceeded expectations,” said Nesbitt. “We will undoubtedly bypass our target.”

Non-tenured in the classroom: Faculty explore job pressures

You may have heard the joke: it’s the last week of classes, and you see someone walking across campus holding a box of donuts. Who is it? A non-tenured professor on the way to administer course evaluation surveys. Though unfair, the humor holds due to the recognition that tenure-track faculty at the College face a unique set of constraints in the classroom. In furthering the “Culture of a Williams Classroom” discussion sparked by a Claiming Williams forum, the Record this week examined several facets of the working environment for untenured professors at the College.

Neighborhood committee begins systematic review of residential life

The neighborhood evaluation committee, a group formed after spring break of faculty, staff and students, has met three times so far to begin the process of assessing the neighborhood system on campus. Thus far, the committee has been gathering and sharing information about the history of the system.

The committee has not yet reached any conclusions, but co-chairs Dean Merrill and Steve Klass, vice president for Operations, hope to create a baseline report over the summer that will dictate the direction in which the committee will take its work in the fall.

The committee’s research and discussion has focused on looking at the way housing has worked at the College in the past. In particular, the committee has focused on the original goals of the current neighborhood system.

Family matters: Student couple raises littlest Eph

Working under a flurry of papers, tests, practices, rehearsals and meetings, many students may think they have concocted a recipe for sleeplessness. But those who complain about the rigors of Williams would do well to meet Tatiana Fernandez ’11 and Raul Cruz ’09, possibly the busiest people on campus. That’s because the couple has an added responsibility that few other students could even comprehend: a 16-month-old child.

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#1 Comment By frank uible On May 8, 2009 @ 7:46 am

I am shocked (a la Claude Rains) that the Admission Office is significantly better at forecasting the College’s admission yields than the Economics Department is at predicting the performance of the College’s portfolio of investments. This outcome is undoubtedly caused by the fact that Admissions is more scientific (along with being less dismal) than Economics.

#2 Comment By David On May 8, 2009 @ 10:16 am

Highlights from admissions article:

“We had [originally] expected to have 525 members of the class by May 8 and subsequently to add 25 to 35 from the waiting list,” Nesbitt said. “Hitting the number virtually on the button was a lovely surprise.”

No it wasn’t. The College would have much preferred to have the flexibility to go to the waitlist. It does not want to have a class than is 54% female. Biggest losers are men on the waitlist who would have gotten in if only 525 students had accepted.

Are you a female on the waitlist? You have no chance.

In addition to an overall increase in numbers, the College has seen a slight increase in the number of students of color. Next year’s class currently includes 67 Asian Americans, 55 African Americans, 55 Latinos and one Native American.

The increase in the percentage of Asian American students is an interesting story line. The College is much less Asian than many elite schools, but it is getting more so all the time.

One interesting thing is that we have little data on mixed race students. How would my daughters be counted?

As the current figures stand, one group seeing a significant drop in numbers is international students. In next fall’s incoming class, there are currently 36 international students, or roughly six percent of the Class of 2013. This is a 30 percent decrease compared to the 8.6 percent anticipated this time last year for the Class of 2012 and the nine percent two years ago for the Class of 2011.

Horrible news. (Surely even my harshest faculty critics will agree with me on this.)

But the College is replacing around 15 internationals (almost all of whom would have needed a full ride) with much richer, on average, US students. So, perhaps we can get rid of this pay freeze nonsense sooner then expected . . .


A better Record reported would have followed that news up with much more pointed questions. Why are there so many fewer international students? Was the quota lowered?

#3 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On May 8, 2009 @ 10:16 am

That’s a great story about the baby Eph and his parents. Best of luck to them!

#4 Comment By sophmom On May 8, 2009 @ 10:45 am

Thanks for this, Will. It is one of my favorite EB features.

I also love Ronit’s collage posts of Eph Planet. That’s how I found one of my favorite daily drop-by sites, The Barnstorming. I go from that site to The Sartorialist with my morning coffee. Kind of sad, really, as babies and high fashion are all too absent from my daily grind.

Speaking of babies, I also enjoyed the Baby Eph story. What an amazing duo to juggle all that they do. Talk about multi-tasking! Best to them and their precious Raul Jr..

#5 Comment By sophmom On May 8, 2009 @ 11:05 am

And, speaking of The Barnstorming, the baby fix is just part of it’s appeal. Go check out what this talented couple is working on when they aren’t making beautiful books.

#6 Comment By 1980 On May 8, 2009 @ 11:08 am

I could be wrong, but I think the classes over the last few years have been roughly 53-54% female. Many of the selective schools have a slightly higher % of females.

#7 Comment By 1980 On May 8, 2009 @ 11:12 am

The Class of 2012 is 53.08% female (284 out of 535) according to the profile of the class of 2012 on the college website.

#8 Comment By hwc On May 8, 2009 @ 12:22 pm


I don’t think the Asian American percentage is much of a story line. 12.2% for the incoming class compared to current enrollment of 11.3% is well within the statistical year-to-year noise.

Now, the international enrollment is a different kettle of fish. That is a very interesting storyline. My educated guess is that a significant contributor to the 20% decline in applications was a fall-off in international apps. So, it could be just declining demand — a market correction from an artificial bubble following the need-blind marketing pitch. Or, it could be that Williams practiced a variation of “admit-deny” where they accept international students only to give them a de facto denial with the aid package. Who knows? I have no clue and I haven’t seen any data points from around the LAC universe to identify any trends.

The other interesting storyline left without a follow up question is the note that finanacial aid applications were up. The storyline is very different if “up” means a percentage point or two or if “up” means a double-digit percentage increase.

On ethnicity: Your daughter will be classified based on which self-identification boxes they choose to check (or not) on their applications. None of their options are all that advantageous from an admissions standpoint.

#9 Comment By David On May 8, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

The common data sets are your best source. And, your right, that class of 2012 is 285/255 F/M. But class of 2011 was almost the reverse 258/282 F/M. So, I think that all these numbers are within the natural variation.

#10 Comment By hwc On May 8, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

The gender balance numbers may or may not be buried in noise. This is a long-term trend and Williams only recently “crossed the Rubicon” shifting from male majority to female majority.

I’m pretty confident that a 54%/46% split is at the far outer limits of what Williams wants to see. An interesting demographic split tends to emerge as a college actively seeks to balance that number. Minority groups are typically so heavily tilted female that balancing a class means admitting many more white males (“affirmative action”) than white females. This makes “white female” a very, very bad cohort from an admissions odds standpoint

#11 Comment By Larry George On May 8, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

The gender divide for 2011 was more heavily male than had been the case for a few years preceding (Williams had been slightly a female-majority for several years before then). No one seemed to have a cue at the time as to why that was. I seem to remember that Nesbitt has said over the last few years that gender balancing was not one of the things the wait list was used for. It would be interesting to know the genders of those admitted from the list each year.

#12 Comment By ’13 On May 10, 2009 @ 10:31 am

Pardon the poor taste, but I’m sure the males don’t mind being a bit outnumbered… :)