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11% International Students in the Class of 2023

EphBlog has been banging the drum for increased international admissions for almost 15 years. (Relevant posts here, here, and here.) Recall EphBlog’s demand/request/prediction a year ago.

Brown is at 11% international. Woo-Hoo! If Mandel moves Williams to 11% (from our current 7%, pdf), she will instantly be a better president than Falk.

Emphasis in the original. And EphBlog gets results! The Williams class of 2023 is 11% international. Comments:

1) Yeah, Maud! This change, along with her affirmation of academic freedom at Williams, make President Mandel a most excellent president, at least according to EphBlog.

2) New Director of Admissions Sulgi Lim ’06 reported this news at the Admissions Open House during alumni week-end. Sadly, Sulgi, unlike her boss, Provost Dukes Love, does not believe in sharing her public presentations with Ephs who are too poor or busy to attend events like this one. Boo!

3) Sulgi described the change as being caused by two factors. Her office was allowed to admit more international applicants than before. And the yield was higher than expected. I do not know the relative importance of the two changes.

4) There are 45 international students (pdf) in class of 2022. (Prior few years were 41, 41, 46, 49 and 37.) Eleven percent of approximately 535 — 550 would be about 58 — 60 students.

5) Key question: Has there been an official change in the Williams quota — oops! I mean “goal” — for international enrollment? I hope so! The best college in the world will be 50% non-US by 2050. The sooner that Williams moves in that direction, the more likely we are to retain our status.

6) Sulgi talked the usual nonsense about the diversity of international admissions, bragging about the 29 (?) countries represented. Nothing wrong with diversity (of course!) but, in general, the applicant from poor country X is not really representative of X. Instead, she is the daughter of country X’s ambassador to England, and has been educated in international schools all her life. (Not that there is anything wrong with country X or ambassadors or England or international schools!) As long as she is academically excellent EphBlog does not care.

7) Unstated by Sulgi, but known to her and to everyone with a clue about international applicants, the central issue is Asia, especially China and the Chinese diaspora. Williams could probably admit 100 English-fluent students with academic credentials — and likely academic performance at Williams — in the top 10% of the class. We should not admit all 100 tomorrow. But we do need a faculty committee to look closely at the issue of international admissions.

UPDATE: For weird technical reasons, I may not be able to post comments at EpHblog for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, I can still update this post. Here are further thoughts on this topic:

> Any reason 50% instead of 70%?

1) I am not overly committed to 50% as a prediction. I am completely committed to increasing the current 11% higher.

2) I still think 50% is a good prediction because a (major?) part of what Williams is selling is a US education. Can you really provide a US education with a 70% international student body? I am not sure. And I expect that Chinese parents would be even less sure . . .

3) I think that 30% is less likely than 50% because I think that a) the morality of having an international quota, like the morality of having a Jewish quota, becomes less tenable over time. It wasn’t just me that has caused the doubling of the international student body at Williams over the last decade or so. Was it? ;-)

4) I think that competitive pressures and a herd mentality come into play. Every time school X becomes more international, it becomes easier/necessary for school Y to become more international. But 50% is still a more reasonable stopping point than 70%, because of 2).

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Dick Nesbitt ’74 Retiring?

How else to explain this job posting for a new Director of Admissions?

Our vote for his successor goes to Sulgi Lim ’06, always a fan of EphBlog!

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Turnover in Admissions

How much staff turnover is there in Williams Admissions? Three years ago, we had these 11 folks. Today, we have these 12. Only four of the 12 current admissions staff were at Williams three years ago: Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Liz Creighton ’01 (who was then deputy director of admissions), Director of Admission Dick Nesbitt ’74, Deputy Director of Admission Sulgi Lim ’06 (obviously the leading likely successor to Nesbitt) and Associate Director Barbara Robertson. Comments:

1) Normal turnover or cause for concern? I see this as normal turnover, largely consistent with the past practices of Admissions and similar to what we see at other schools. We can divide staff into two categories: permanent and temporary. The permanent staff run Admissions, determine policy and maintain institutional knowledge. The temporary staff is very young, often in their first job and/or just a year or two removed from their undergraduate years, mostly at Williams. Temporary staff understand that the position is generally held for just two or so years.

2) The main purpose of temporary staff is to help with recruitment. If you want to enroll more students of type X, then it helps (most people think) to have people of type X doing the recruiting. Temporary staff are also often expected to travel more and/or show the flag at less important events.

As we have explained, Williams Admissions, like all elite admissions, is a well-tested, thorough process that does not depend very much on the people reading your recommendations letters. Once the key policies are set, you could replace the current set of readers with an entirely new set and still get 95%+ the same results. And that is OK! I would not want a process that was overly affected by the whims of the specific people who happen to work in admissions this year.

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Sulgi Lim ’06: Wasabi

Sulgi has also kindly helped out EphBlog over the years. Many thanks!

With regards to her story, as my wife explains to my daughters, (Williams) men are (sometimes!) idiots . . .

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