Of the 537 students that applied early decision (ED) to be a part of the Class of 2014, 216 applicants, or 40 percent, were offered admission, down from 232 last year.
Although this year’s applicants represented a smaller pool than last year’s 614 – a 9.6 percent drop – the number of regular decision applicants increased from 6017 last year to 6500 this year.
Thirty-seven percent of the remaining ED applicants were deferred and 21 percent were rejected, according to Dick Nesbitt, director of Admission.
“It is difficult to pinpoint any one particular reason for the drop in the Williams ED numbers, and it may well be a combination of factors,” Nesbitt said. He added that fewer public school students applied early. “This suggests recession- induced reluctance by many students and their families to make an early decision commitment without being able to compare financial aid packages,” he explained.
Fewer international students also applied ED this year, which Nesbitt said might also relate to economic reasons. “There may have been some ‘reality checking,’” he said. However, he noted that the international applicant pool was more solid than in previous years.
Another trend that Nesbitt saw was a drop in the number of legacy students who applied in November. Nesbitt cited a process of “presorting” in the form of summer interviews that admission counselors conducted with legacy applicants over the summer. “Very few legacy applicants in the ED pool were not viable candidates, and most were quite exceptional,” he said.
The high quality of applications held true across the ED applicant pool. “Judging from the results of the ED ‘take,’ the cohort of students that elected not to apply were primarily those who were unlikely to be admitted anyway,” Nesbitt said.
The 216 accepted students, who represent 39 percent of the Class of 2014, show greater diversity than their predecessors. Nineteen are black, two are Native American, 11 are Latino, 11 are internationals and 16 are Asian-American, forming a total of 59 non-white students, up from last year’s total of 48. For the first time in five years, the college accepted equal number of females and male students, 108 each.
There was also an increase in socio-economic diversity among the admitted students. The total number of first-generation students increased from 33 to 42 students, approximately a 33 percent increase.
In addition, there were nine students accepted from the Quest-Bridge program, an educational program that matches talented but economically underprivileged students with its partner colleges.
The ED admits and Quest-Bridge matches will be joined by 19 students who deferred their application from fall 2009 to fall 2010. The other 55 percent of their class will comprise regular decision applicants.
Though regular decision acceptances will not be announced until April, Nesbitt expressed high satisfaction with the ED admittance data. “By almost every measure, the admitted ED group for the Class of 2014 is academically stronger and socio-economically more diverse than last year’s early crop,” Nesbitt said.
Additional reporting by Sasha Mironoff, News Editor.