abl made these interesting comments on admissions two months ago. Let’s spend a week going through them. Day 1.

Leaving aside, for a second, the question of whether AR scores alone are the optimal available metric for evaluating the best students applying to Williams, why do you think Williams puts too much weight on non-academic factors?

My syllogism is simple. The mission of Williams is (should be) to be the best college in the world. Being the best college requires having the best students. Williams students are, as a group, better than those at places like Wesleyan and Macalester, but worse than those at Yale and Princeton. The easiest way to improve the quality of our students is to put, at least temporarily, less weight on non-academic factors. It is not that I am against “non-academic factors” per se. I have nothing against, say, soccer ability or Hispanic heritage. It is just that, until we improve the academic quality of the student body, we can’t “afford” to devote as much to non-academic factors as we currently do.

By the way, there is no serious debate over the claim that “AR scores alone are the optimal available metric for evaluating the best students applying to Williams.” This is a statement of reality, not a normative judgment. AR does a better job of predicting academic performance at Williams than any other measure. You and I can disagree over how much weight to place on non-academic factors. That is a normative debate. But, when, for example, selecting among African-American applicants, we should use AR, which is why Williams does so.

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