Tue 13 Sep 2016
The last paragraph of the College’s news release about the class of 2020 is so filled with fascinating facts that we need four days to go through it. Today is Day 1.
The class is also incredibly diverse. Thirty-seven percent of students in the incoming class are U.S. students of color, and another 7 percent are international students
Has the percentage of US students of color leveled off? Or even dropped? From Adam Falk, the class of 2016 has 38%. According to the current version of Fast Facts, it was 40% for the class of 2019. According to the 2011-2012 Common Data Set (pdf and only available on EphBlog!), it was 37% ((64 + 44 + 57 + 37)/546) for the class of 2015. Comments:
1) Definitions matter. Are we talking about the percentage of the entire class that is US students of color (I think this is correct) or percentage of US students that are students of color. Does the College (does everyone) use the same definition? For reference, here (pdf) are the definitions used in the Common Data Set for the class of 2019.
Note how this lines up, almost, with the 40% claim in Fast Facts: (67 + 51 + 1 + 76 + 27)/546 = 41% — with rounding. So, perhaps the big story here is that “US Students of color at Williams drop by almost 10% (222 to 204(?)) in class of 2020!”
2) Behavior matters. How honest are applicants in checking these boxes? How have their choices — honest or not — changed over time? Intelligent applicants know that there is a bias against Asian-American applicants, if not at Williams than at places like Harvard and Stanford. So, they have every incentive to check the “white” box if they can. In particular, mixed race (white/Asian) applicants are foolish if they don’t check the “white” box. There is also evidence that more applicants who used to check the “white” box are now making other choices. Background reading here. Note my prediction from a decade (!) ago:
The point is that there are significant preferences given to those who check certain boxes and that cheap genetic testing will provide many people with a plausible excuse to check boxes that, a few years ago, they did not have. How much will the admissions process change as a result? Time will tell. It will be very interesting to look at the time series of application by ethnic group over this decade. I predict that the raw number (and total pool percentage) of African-American and Hispanic applicants will increase sharply.
Has that happened?
The most depressing news about the class of 2020 is the decline in international students back down to the usual quota level of 7%. Sad! I was wrong about Adam Falk. He continues to discriminate against international students in exactly the same way that his predecessors at Harvard discriminated against Jewish students a 100 years ago.
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