Williams is promoting a simpler financial aid calculator. This article merits three days of discussion. Today is Day 3.

Wellesley is more economically diverse, with close to 20 percent of students receiving Pell grants. Williams has recently been making an effort to become more so, Mr. Dudley said, and about 22 percent of this year’s freshman class receive Pell grants, up from an average of 18 percent in previous years.

What rubbish! Is David Leonhardt stupid or is Will Dudley misleading him or both? Williams has been “making an effort” to become more economically diverse for at least two decades and probably much longer. Where does the “recently” come from? Consider:

Schapiro said that “recent increases in both the number of international students and in the overall socio-economic diversity of our student body are examples of steps in the right direction.”

That is former President Morty Schapiro, Will Dudley’s good friend, opining about economic diversity in 2003. That was 12 years ago! Examples from the 1990s and 1980s would be easy to find. In fact, we can probably go all the way back to the 1930s and quote President Tyler Dennett ’04 on Williams having too many “nice boys.”

Isn’t it weird how the people who run Williams are always claiming (just pretending? actually believing?) that they are doing something new and path-breaking when, in fact, it is the same stuff year after year? It’s like they haven’t been in charge for decades!

Now, in Will’s defense, it might be the case that Williams has changed its focus in admissions, given more preference to students who would receive Pell grants. Has it? Reader comments welcome. For at least the last 15 years, Williams has measured socio-economic diversity by looking at the percentage of first generation students. It would be weird to change this now, without discussion, since doing so makes historical comparisons difficult. But it might also be sensible to do so since more (most?) observers seem to be using percentage-Pell as a standard (and easy to measure/verify) metric for comparing socio-economic diversity acrooss colleges.

Informed commentary welcome.

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