There is no doubting that Williams College prides itself on being one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation. So much so they state it on their own website, “academic excellence in a community of learning [comprises] students, faculty, and staff.” Nonetheless they do in fact make strides in trying to achieve this “academic excellence” through the inclusion of people from a diverse set of backgrounds, whose academic and personal attributes” will contribute to the Williams community in a meaningful way–personal attributes, that can not be measured through standardized testing
An article written by David Kane, “What Does It Mean to be the Best?: An Alum Considers the Relative Importance of Acceptance Criteria,” was recently published in the Williams Record, advocating for more selective admission to Williams through an increase in cutoff scores for standardized tests and a decrease in the acceptance rates of people Kane categorizes as “other.” Just so that we are clear, many admits who are labeled as “other” have scores/grades that would have led to rejection if it were not for some special attribute. The vast majority of “other” admits fall into three categories: athletics, race and income. Kane argues that we should raise admission standards even more for athletes and decrease the preference for underprivileged students of color. In his eyes, this is what will make Williams College great again (allegedly).
I’m just gonna take a quick guess and say this opinion that Williams is no longer the best came from the drop in its Forbes list ranking, (although we still maintain high ranking on the US. News’ list). For those who are currently Williams students and for those wish to become an eph, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t believe everything you read online– especially if what you read states that standardized testing, which is OBVIOUSLY in favor of those with easy accessibility to test prep, is an “accurate” way to measure the prestige of a college.
This is a call to arms. I’m here to stand up and declare that Williams isn’t great because of its cutoff scores, but because of the so called “others” that make this institution vibrant and unique. The “others” who happen to be athletes and privileged minorities that probably didn’t test as well as those who could afford the proper testing resources. The “others” whose standardized test scores don’t even come close to showing their intellectual prowess without having to choose an answer choice to decide what a word like “abnegation” means. The “others” who may not have hit the cut off score for the SAT, but took ahold of values such as humility, perseverance, tolerance, and devotion that ultimately allow them to thrive at Williams. These “others,” like me, whose unique socioeconomic backgrounds and experiences could potentially make a better student than the unknown face of the 2100 SAT score. And I’m pretty sure the first thing my professor wants to know about me isn’t if I “passed” my ACT, but rather what it was like living in the Bronx and commuting to school a total of 4 hours everyday and how I was still able to maintain such high grades. I’m definitely sure my common app essay wasn’t on how I got my ACT score (which, by the way, was significantly lower than the cutoff) but on how my experiences forced me to take responsibility fast and learn faster–which I know for a fact is why I was chosen for Williams. And it’s the reason why I excel here.
As a proud “other”, I say confidently that Williams may have its kinks, as every school does, but the “others” are definitely not one of them. We, as the student body, diverse in personality, experiences, and academic make this school the best it could be, not numbers on a paper.