Last month, 112 women and 132 men were admitted early decion to the Class of 2019. These students make up 44 percent of the target size of 550 for next year’s first-year class.
“We have tried to diversify our early decision pool,” Director of Admissions Dick Nesbitt ’74 said. So far, the Class of 2019 will include 136 white students, 27 African Americans, 25 Asian Americans, 20 Latinos, one Native American and 19 students who chose not to identify themselves by race or ethnicity on the Common Application. Additionally, 16 international citizens were offered admission to the incoming class of first-years. The accepted students come from 33 states and 10 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Ethiopia, France, Kenya, Pakistan, Tunisia and Vietnam.
Like most institutions, the College has a policy against releasing a demographic breakdown of the applicant pool. For this reason, an analysis of the acceptance rate of a certain race or ethnicity is impossible to perform.
Nesbitt also highlighted the role of the College’s fall fly-in program for high-achieving, low-income students, Windows on Williams (WOW), in diversifying the class. This year, 13 students who participated in WOW were admitted early decision. Additionally, six more WOW attendees were admitted via QuestBridge, a program that connects outstanding students from low-income families to universities and colleges. Of the admitted students, 22 are first generation college students, meaning they will be the first in their families to earn a four-year college degree.
While Nesbitt said that being a “legacy,” a student whose parent attended the College, is never enough to make up for a subpar application, legacy status does hold some advantage in admission. So far, 36 legacy students have been admitted to the Class of 2019. Nesbitt speculated the College is often a first choice for legacy students because a disproportionate number of legacy students come to the College via early decision.
The College offers 32 varsity sports, but Nesbitt was adamant that athletic prowess is never a priority over academic achievement. On the admissions end, “there is some consideration for every one of those varsity sports,” Nesbitt said, but he maintained that this consideration is strictly limited. There are “roughly 75 students per graduating class where athletics is going to be a primary factor in their admission,” he said.
Applications were up seven percent for early decision in this year’s admissions cycle, with 593 applicants. “If we’re looking to increase the applicant pool,” Nesbitt said, “we’re looking to increase quality and diversity, not just to increase numbers.”
The concept of early decision has existed in the field of college admissions since the early 1960s under the name of preliminary application. The College adopted the early decision model at the same time of its implementation at some of the Ivy League schools, and it has been in use ever since.