The Williams College Admissions office received the second largest number of early decision applications and the largest total number of applications in fifteen years from the class of 2003.
According to Director of Admissions Thomas Parker the office received 505 applications for early decision, a 22 percent increase over the class of 2002. Of these applications, 201 students were accepted. This is the largest number of early decision applications that the college has received since 1984, when it recieved 535.
Early decision students will make up 38 percent of the class of 2003, eleven students more than the class of 2002. Parker commented that entrance into Williams will be much more competitive for the incoming class. Admissions is planning to have a class consisting of 527 students, 8 fewer than the class of 2002. Parker calculated that there would be 19 fewer spaces for regular decision applicants, meaning between 50 and 60 fewer will be accepted. This, coupled with the fact that Parker predicts the school to finish with about 5000 total applications, also the second largest total ever, will mean that the percentage of students accepted from the regular decision pool will be considerably smaller.
Both Parker and Dean of Admissions Philip Smith agreed that the reason for the increase in acceptances is that the upcoming class is extremely well qualified. Smith said that based on grades, SAT II’s, Advanced Placement scores, and class ranks, this class will be one of the most qualified the school has seen.
In comparing this pool to that of the class of 2002, Parker said, “It was a stronger pool academically and it was more diverse.” Both Parker and Smith commented on the large number of minorities accepted in the early decision group.
Smith said that the school tries to make the qualifications for early and regular acceptance as equitable as possible. He said that the standards are the same and, “The qualifications are just very high.” Smith did add, though, that admissions is slightly more cautious when making early decision acceptances because they want to wait and see what type of pool they get in April.
Parker said that he sees applying early as being either a slight advantage or a neutral factor for most students, but that it will not hurt their chances of being accepted into the school. He also added that the school does not accept weaker students early than are accepted in the spring.
In making the decision about whether or not to apply early decision, Smith said students need to make sure that they have “done their homework.” He does advise applying early for those students who are sure that Williams is the place where they will be the most comfortable because in doing so they will only have “one essay to write” and they will be able to spend their senior year concentrating on their school work and not worrying about their college applications.
Noting that Harvard accepted 65 percent of its class of 2003 early and Princeton over 50 percent, Parker said, “Students find out the places where it [applying early] does make a difference.” Although some schools are accepting large percentages of their classes early, Parker pointed out that Williams will never accept more than 40 percent early and therefore students should apply early because they are sure that this is the place where they will be the happiest and not because they think that they will have a better chance of getting in and then being unhappy when they get here.
Parker added that, “Over the long term it would hurt the college” to accept large numbers of students early only to have 15 or 20 percent of the first-year class unhappy.
In trying to explain the reasons for this sudden increase in the number of early decision applications, and applications in general, Smith said, “I think there are more people looking for the size and place Williams is.” He said that people seem to be looking for smaller, more participatory schools where the students can act more as generalists and are not required to specialize right away.
Parker attributes the increase in applications to the incredible talents of the summer tour guides. “A group of very talented young people that have joined our staff.” He also said that he thinks that there are a lot of good changes on campus, such as the construction of the new science center and the theatre and dance facilities that are attracting interest.
Parker said he “seriously doubts” that the increase in applications is a pattern which will continue for long. He said that the number of applications received each year fluctuates between 3900 and 5100, depending on the number of seniors who are graduating in a given year.
According to Smith, the increase in the number of early decision applications is not the same for all schools. Although there has been an increase at schools such as Harvard and Columbia, there have also been decreases at places such as Dartmouth.
Housing in Fitch North
Fitch North, which was converted to first-year housing for the academic years of 1997-98 and 1998-99 will be converted back to upperclassmen housing for the year of 1999-2000.
Director of Housing Thomas McEvoy said that Fitch North was made into first-year housing to alleviate the stress in the first-year buildings. It is being converted back to house the large classes of ’00 and ’01. McEvoy also commented that fewer seniors are choosing to live off campus which is putting further strain on housing. Admissions is planning a smaller class of ’03 which can be housed in current first-year buildings.
McEvoy said that even though Fitch North will be upperclassmen housing, the first-years currently residing there will not be allowed to squat. McEvoy said that this decision was made as it seems to be the most fair to all the first-years, not giving one group special privileges, and that he feels that most of the students in Fitch North, who live in doubles, would want to try their chances in the lottery to get single rooms.
Shaun Duggins, junior advisor in Fitch North, said that he feels that the students should be allowed to squat next year. He said that it would be fair to the rest of the class because most of the first-years who live there requested to be there and others could have done the same. He also commented that there are three other sections in Fitch so other first-years who want to live there could get in.
Michelle Ruby ’02 said she is not sure whether or not she would squat if the option was afforded to her. She said that although she loves living in Fitch she wants to “branch out and meet new people.” She also commented that it might be a nice change to live with other people in her class.
Ruby said that she’s not sure whether or not it would be fair to the other first-years if those in Fitch North were allowed to squat. She commented that it would not be fair to other first-years if those in Fitch North were allowed to squat because, “They don’t have that option.” But she also said that it would not affect them because they probably would not get rooms in Fitch, seeing as it is primarily senior housing, and that it would mean that there were less sophomores competing for rooms in Mission and other primarily sophomore housing.
David Cooperman ’02 and Jamin Morrison ’02 both agreed that those currently living in Fitch should be allowed to squat. They said that although they would probably choose to move out and experience living somewhere else, they see no reason why the option should not be available. Cooperman and Morrison said that since most sophomores live in Mission or in doubles in mixed class housing, Fitch North, which consists for the most part of doubles, would for the most part probably end up being sophomore housing anyways. Like Duggins, the two said that all first-years were given the choice of living in Fitch North and that it was only “ right” for a select few.