abl made these interesting comments on admissions two months ago. Let’s spend a week going through them. Day 2.

Presumably, the benefit of this sort of non-academic weighting is that the Williams experience, both in and out of the classroom, is better when your classmates come from different backgrounds and experiences than yourself, have exceptional non-academic talents and skills, etc.

True. Again, I am not denying the benefits of diversity. Having a student from a very poor family might make the quality of class discussion in, say, POEC 301 better than it otherwise would have been. It is all a matter of trade-offs.

Consider two classes for POEC 301 (or replace with your favorite class). In one, we have perfect diversity, the maximum range of life experiences, however you define it. But the students have 1,000 math+verbal SAT scores. In the second class, we have the amount of diversity that we would have at a Williams which only admitted AR 1 applicants. (Note that this second class has diversity > 0. There are plenty of poor and non-white AR 1 applicants.) For me, the second class is much “better” than the first, meaning that current Williams students would learn more and enjoy it.

Of course, the actual trade-off we face is more subtle than that. There is no scenario in which Williams is filled with students scoring 1,000 on the SAT. I just want to move from where Williams is today toward a Williams with:

The same academic quality as Yale/Princeton/Harvard, at the cost of having:

  • The same racial diversity at Middlebury.
  • The same socio-ec diversity as Bates.
  • The same athletic success as Hamilton.

Looking at the numbers, I think this is achievable. Do anyone disagree? (I am especially interested in hearing from some of our informed commentators: abl, KSM, hmm and others.) Leave aside, for now, whether such a change is desirable. Could we, in fact, achieve it?

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