Director of Admissions Dick Nesbitt ’74 writes to the New York Times. (Hat tip to Jeff.)

To the Editor:

“Applications to Elite Colleges Are Up This Year, Despite the Economic Downturn” (news article, March 30) mentions this year’s decline in the number of applications to Williams College and suggests possible explanations related to the economy.

Here are some relevant facts. Last year, the number of applicants to Williams spiked by 17 percent. We decided to add a Williams-specific essay to the common application to better determine who among our applicants would benefit most from a Williams education.

We ended up this year with not only the third-largest applicant pool in our history, but also, and more important, our most talented and diverse. We are therefore more excited than ever about the applicants we admitted this week.

Richard Nesbitt
Director of Admission
Williams College
Williamstown, Mass., March 30, 2009

1) Background and discussion of the Williams-specific essay here.

2) What is the metric by which Williams measures how “diverse” the applicant pool is? I suspect that, in this context, it means “percentage of non-white applicants.” Is that a very useful measure? I have my doubts.

3) New readers may enjoy this post from three years ago. If no one around you perceives you as African-American (or Hispanic), how much diversity do you really bring to Williams?

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