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Tyngs for African-Americans

One of the great problems that Williams faces in admissions is attracting enough/any African-American applicants will Williams-caliber credentials. Partly, this is because Williams, because of its location and size, is less attractive (on average) to African-American applicants than it is to other applicants. (The same is probably true for international students). But, much more important is the intense competition for elite African-American students from schools like Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford. Almost any African-American applicant with the high school grades and standardized test scores which would place her in the normal range for academic admission (AR 1 and 2) will be accepted at one or more of HYPS. (This is not true of, say, Chinese-American applicants.) Since 90% of applicants (and probably a higher percentage of African-American applicants) admitted to the College and one of these 4 choose HYPS over Williams, this means that Williams has little choice but to accept many African-American applicants who we would not accept were they Chinese-American.

The only practical solution to convince such students to choose Williams is to make it worth their while. And the Tyng (money for graduate school and extra money while at Williams) is the best method available. Therefore, the College should award almost all Tyng Scholarships to African-American applicants, thereby luring 4-8 African-American applicants away from HYPS and to Williams each year. (With luck, HYPS won’t feel compelled to match our offers.) For legal reasons, Williams might need to make an occasional offer to someone who was not African-American, but I doubt that the Department of Justice would be making trouble against these sorts of efforts anytime soon.


Tyng Administrator Duties

What do Tyng Administrators do? The College notes:

The Stephen H. Tyng Scholarships were established in 1940 through the bequest of Mrs. Juliet Tyng in memory of her husband and son. The most distinctive financial aid awards the College offers, Tyng Scholarships are granted to a small number of especially talented and deserving candidates chosen from the incoming class by the College’s Admission Committee. Like all Williams aid, Tyng awards are need-based but they include a lower loan expectation; support for one summer of study, research, or internship; and assistance for up to three years of graduate or professional study.

The awards for graduate and professional study are administered by a committee of trustees, alumni, and students. The term for Tyng Administrator is three years. All alumni are eligible to vote each year for one of three alumni nominees. Voting begins online early each year, with a follow up paper ballot sent to those who have not voted electronically. The results of voting are announced at the Society’s Annual Meeting held during Reunion Weekend.


1) Since Williams no longer requires loans for any student, we could probably lose the “lower loan expectation” part of this explanation.

2) The College makes it very hard to find out anything about the Tyng, even for alumni that it has nominated for Tyng Administrator! So, I have gathered all out Tyng-related posts in one handy category.

3) I quizzed a current Tyng Administrator last year. Tyng Scholars are picked by the Admissions Office. It is unclear what criteria they use. If it were me, I would give almost all the awards to highly qualified African-American candidates who the College would otherwise lose to Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford. The only role for the Administrators is to serve on a board that approves funding requests for graduate study (and undergraduate summer study, I think). For the most part, almost all requests are approved.


Newest Questbridge Ephs

Congratulations to these Ephs from the class of 2013, admitted early decision via the Questbridge program.

Claudia Corona Los Angeles, CA
Kelsey Gaetjens Lihue, HI
Maria Galvez Chicago, IL
Ivory Goudy Decatur, GA
Christopher Hikel Fryeburg, ME
Sarai Infante Bronx, NY
Christopher Simmons Los Angeles, CA
Ginette Sims Westminster, CA
Kwan Tang Brooklyn, NY
Carly Valenzuela Bermuda Dunes, CA
Laura Villafranco Jarrell, TX
Jonathan Wosen San Diego, CA

Gaetjens, Galvez and Wosen were awarded Tyngs.

Congratulations to all!

Questbridge provides background on some of the winners, but I couldn’t figure out how to link directly. So, below, are those descriptions. They seem to be written by the students themselves.
Read more


Tyng Details

This Questbridge page provides interesting details on the Tyng Scholarship.

The Stephen H. Tyng Scholarship was established in 1940 through the bequest of Mrs. Juliet Tyng, in memory of both her husband and son. These scholarships are the most distinctive and prestigious awards presented each year to six to eight of the most promising scholars in the first-year class.

Tyng Scholar aid packages are designed to meet a student’s demonstrated need, primarily with scholarship assistance, for each year at Williams. Further assistance is available for up to three years of graduate or professional school or the equivalent of summer study or research at the graduate level. Since all applicants who qualify for aid are considered as candidates for the Tyng, no additional application is required.

Of important note for Tyng Scholars:

* There is no required work-study
* Student loan amounts are always $1,000 less than the standard loan expectation (which is determined by the level of their parent contribution)
* Outside scholarships can be used to reduce the loan expectation. Once the student loan is eliminated, the balance reduces the Tyng Scholarship dollar for dollar. Outside scholarships do not replace the summer income contribution.
* Loan expectations do increase from year to year (although lower income students who bring in some outside scholarships can find themselves with a zero loan debt at graduation).
* Aid applications will be reviewed every year. This means that your financial aid package can vary from year to year, costs can increase, and family contributions can change.
* Students are expected to contribute 25% of their personal savings and investments each year.


1) The College’s continuing refusal to admit that the Tyng is a merit scholarship is dishonest.

2) Given the College’s difficulty in attracting African-American applicants with Williams caliber credentials, the Tyng should be focused on them. Why isn’t it, I wonder?

3) Can anyone explain who chooses Tyng winners and what criteria are used? More transparency, please.


Tyng Winners

As far as I know, the College refuses to reveal the winners of Tyng Scholarships. At the very least, I can’t find any such listing on the College’s website. Is that a good policy? I don’t know. A case might be made either way. But, in the era if Questbridge, the secret is out. Tyng winners in the class of 2010 include:

Eden Amerson
Steven Cheng
Shirish Poudyal
Emily Rockett
Thomas Rubinsky


1) Congratulations to all! We welcome you to the land of the Ephs.

2) Are these the only Tyng winners for the class of 2010?

3) What is the process by which Tyng winners are selected? I am not questioning these choices, I just want to understand the basic mechanics. My understanding is that no one “applies” for the Tyng. You just apply to Williams and, if you are lucky, the College includes a note that you have won a Tyng along with the acceptance letter. But how are Tyngs picked? Do the Tyng Administrators play a role or is this all done by the admissions office? What are the criteria? Why were these 5 picked, instead of, for example, the the other 5 Questbridge students accepted by Williams?

4) I do not like the fact that none of the Tyng winners are African-American (judging by their pictures). If it were me, Tyng Awards would be focused on bringing highly qualified African-American students to Williams. Almost every such applicant with Williams-caliber credentials is accepted by Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford. Historically, Williams often used the Tyng to convince such students to choose Williams instead. Has the policy changed?

6) I learned my lesson last year about connecting Williams policies to specific individuals. So, you will see no commentary from me on the individuals listed above. Reading many of the personal statements (for Williams and non-Williams people), I am struck by how critical a role the love and support of their families plays in the lives of these students.

Yet that leaves a riddle for all of those who, like Anthony Marx, think that the goal of bringing more “low-income” students, especially Questbridge applicants, into Williams should be a very high priority. (For me, it isn’t.) The riddle:

Who is more disadvantaged: a student with parents who love her and each other, but make $50,000 per year or a student with parents who don’t love her (and hate each other) but making $100,000?

For me the answer is obvious. I would much rather my daughters were raised in a loving family than in a rich one. Would any reader disagree? All the people who argue that the lack of socio-economic diversity at Williams is an important problem seem to, paradoxically, place too much emphasis on the importance and effects of family income instead of family support. If you want to worry about anyone, worry about applicants who lack caring parents.

UPDATE: Thanks to Guy for pointing the link errors. Now fixed.


Tyng == Merit Scholarship

I am endlessly annoyed by the College’s claim that the Tyng is not a “merit” scholarship, that all the College is doing is meeting someone’s “demonstrated need” but with a nice, pretty bow on top. See here and here for previous discussion. The College continues to claim that there are no merit scholarships at Williams.

Any reader still naive enough to think that the College is telling the truth should take a gander at what Tyng scholars actually receive.

I’m a Tyng Scholar.

One of six to eight in each entering class.

The Stephen H. Tyng scholarship covers all four years of undergrad study, plus three years of further scholarship assistance in grad school– seven years total. Plus stipends for special research or internship opportunities, and a grant to embark on additional studies over one undergrad summer.

It’s all grants. No work-study programs. No loans that have to be repaid. Just grants.

Williams costs $38,000 per year.

For the 2004-2005 school year, the Tyng scholarship grants amount to $37,137.

Total cost of college next year: $863.00.

So, not only does the Tyng support graduate school, but it provides all sorts of stipends, grants and other goodies that are not really necessary for one’s Williams education. If this is not a merit scholarship, then the term has no meaning.


1) Does the College maintain a special endowment for the Tyng and, if so, how big is it? If there are about 28 Tyngs at any one time, then the total annual cost is over $1 million per year. That would suggest an endowment somewhere around $50 million.

2) How generous are the Williams Opportunity Scholarships?

3) Why does the College continue to dissemble on this? Is there some NESCAC or Little Three rule/agreement/policy whereby schools agree not to give merit awards?


Thomas ’93 on Tyng

Ken Thomas ’93 sent in these comments on the Tyng Scholarship. See our discussion on the topic from last year.

As a Tyng and (I hope I may say) a friend of Phil Wick, I knew [or at least met!] every Tyng ’91-96, and had heard no negative comments about definition of need — excepting one Tyng who was unable to get post-grad support for a particular law school program (which, reasonably, was expected to increase earning potential and pay for itself).

Read more


Merit Scholarships

The claim is occasionally made that Williams does not distribute “merit” scholarships or aid. That is, any aid that is given is no more than that required for demonstrated financial need. In a FAQ on financial aid, the College says:

Are there any merit scholarships at Williams not based on need?

No. All financial aid awards at Williams are based on need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. The College strongly believes that its scholarship funds should be used to fully meet the demonstrated need of each of its financial aid students. Williams does not sponsor and/or match National Merit Scholarships.

But I don’t think that that is true. I think that Tyng Scholarships and, probably, Williams Opportunity Scholarships, should be considered merit scholarships. The College says:

Tyng Scholarships are the most prestigious Williams awards. They are designed to meet a student’s demonstrated need, primarily with Tyng Scholarship assistance, for each year at Williams. Further assistance is available for three years of graduate or professional school or the equivalent of summer study or research.

So, if a Tyng provides money for law school, money that you do not need to attend Williams, isn’t it a merit award? Perhaps we now have a Tyng scholar, or buddy of one, among our readers who can enlighten us. I have been wrong about financial aid issues at Williams in the past.


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