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Who would you admit?

In DDF’s post on Monday, he said the following: “We should accept the best students, those who did well academically in high school and are likely to do well academically at Williams. We reject 100s of AR 1s each year. We should never accept an AR 2 (or 3? or 4?) just because she is a veteran or older or has gone to a community college.”

In the comments there was some discussion about whether or not veterans and community college students should be admitted. DDF said, “I just want the same rules for everyone. Call me crazy! If you are AR 1 (and maybe 2), you get in. If not, you don’t.”

I have NO PROBLEM with the admissions team having different standards for different applicants. I trust the professionals on the team to make the nuanced judgment that a veteran who is an AR 2 (or a 3 or 4), would add a lot more to the Williams community (in and out of the classroom) than another AR 1 from a prep school or Shanghai. I also trust the professionals to keep an approrpiate balance among those two groups.

How about you? Would you admit the veteran or the community college student?

I realize that the admission process is complicated and cannot really be boiled down to this simple a question but I STRONGLY belief that Williams is a better place when the admissions team looks beyond the numbers. I do not want the 525 students who will get the highest GPA’s, I want the 525 students who can be successful at Williams individually and together make the Williams community a better place for all its members.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Who would you admit?"

#1 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On August 23, 2019 @ 5:02 pm

> I trust the professionals

This is not about trust. It is about policy.

I/you/Morty all trusted Admissions in 2000. They did an excellent job implementing the then-policy, which was that athletic excellence counted for X in Williams admissions.

I/you/Morty all trusted Admissions in 2005. They did an excellent job implementing the current policy, which was that athletic excellence counted for 80% * X in Williams admissions.

Admissions does not decide how much athletics (or race or citizenship or veteran’s status or anything else) should count in admissions at Williams. The president/trustees make that decision, as a matter of policy. And policy can (and does) change!

If Mandel told Sulgi that US citizenship now counts for 80% * Y (as opposed to the full Y that it did under Falk), then Sulgi would carry out that policy. (And maybe that has in fact happened!) Maud would, of course, seek Sulgi’s input on the decision, but policy is ultimately the president’s call.

What I want is to downweight the current emphasis on athletics/race/income to like 50% of its current level. All else equal, these would still be advantages, just not as great as they are now. And downweight, also, veteran and CC status.

#2 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On August 23, 2019 @ 5:06 pm

A central problem with advantages to groups like CC students is that there is no clear place to stop. (With race, at least, the target is matching the racial breakdown of the US. We stop when we get there. With athletics, the target is the Directors Cup. We don’t need more athletes than that.)

But why 1 or 5 CC students? Why not 10 or 50 or 100? There is no obvious place to draw the line.

It would be one thing if Williams actually studied this issue in a serios way (and, even better, if they were transparent about it). But, they don’t. It is mostly random virtue signaling. Look at us! So sensitive and progressive to let in a student or two from community colleges!

#3 Comment By abl On August 24, 2019 @ 12:32 pm

David –

The process is nowhere near as formulaic as your post implies. Although broad-based admissions policy is set by the College, the actual applicant-by-applicant decisions in question much more closely resemble thegoodson’s description of the process than yours.

#4 Comment By DDF On August 25, 2019 @ 5:16 am

> The process is nowhere near as formulaic as your post implies.

95% (or 98%? or 99%+?) of the applicants who are AR 3 or below (a number in the thousands) are rejected, unless they are in the Big Three of special categories: race (black/Hispanic), low-income or recruited athletes.

That sounds pretty “formulaic” to me!

#5 Comment By abl On August 25, 2019 @ 12:11 pm

The fact that most (and I do not believe that your numbers above are correct) applicants who lack stellar grades/SATs and a strong hook are rejected is not an indication that the admissions process is formulaic in the least.