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October 5, 1998

Report of the Undergraduate Admission Study Group

The Undergraduate Admission Study Group was convened by President Harold T. Shapiro in the spring semester of the academic year 1997-98 to review Princeton's undergraduate admissions process. As the President made known to the campus community, the review was designed to permit a comprehensive look at policies and practices that have evolved over a number of years and may not have been widely and consistently understood by members of the University community. The objectives of the Study Group, in President Shapiro's words, were to understand "both what our policies are and what their impact is on the composition and character of our student body" and "to consider possible changes in policies and practices." The Study Group included nine senior faculty members, the Dean of the College, and the Dean of Admission, with the President serving as chair. (See Appendix for the full list of members.)

This report describes the work of the Study Group, reviews its findings, and presents recommendations for steps to sustain and further strengthen the quality of the undergraduate student body. The report consists of five parts: an account of the work of the Study Group, including its assessment of our admission policies and practices; a discussion of the Study Group's view of the overall goal of the admissions process; a discussion of specific challenges involved in accomplishing that goal; a set of recommendations; and a concluding comment on the limits of what can be accomplished solely through the admissions process.


I. The Work of the Study Group

The Study Group met eight times from January through June, 1998. While the President and the Deans prepared extensive background material for the initial meetings, the interests of the faculty members of the Study Group set the agenda for the group's continuing deliberations.

The members of the Study Group came to the enterprise with a deep and abiding commitment to Princeton and great pride in its students and in its distinctive institutional strengths. They came also with questions that reflected concerns about the balancing of institutional priorities in the admissions process and about whether there are particular kinds of students the University ought to be doing more to attract to Princeton. The Study Group's investigation, then, served both to educate its members about admission policies and practices and to respond directly to these widely-shared concerns.

The Study Group began its work by learning everything it could about the admissions process. The group examined all of the written material sent to applicants, from initial inquiry through the admissions decision. In addition, Dean Hargadon provided a detailed written account of the work of the year in the Admission Office and described for the group each step of the process for reviewing applicants' materials and making decisions. The group was impressed by the quality of the materials sent to applicants and by the thoughtfulness and thoroughness with which the Admission Office reviews applications and makes decisions. It would be difficult to imagine a more careful process.

Next, the group reviewed extensive historical data on Princeton admissions and matriculation. It took note especially of the following trends:

  • Applications to Princeton have risen dramatically over the last three decades, resulting in a marked increase in selectivity. For the Class of 1972 (the last to matriculate before the admission of freshman women), there were 5,511 applicants, of whom 25.3 percent were admitted; for the Class of 2001, there were 13,400 applicants, of whom 12.9 percent were admitted; for the Class of 2002, there were 13,006 applicants, of whom 13.1 percent were admitted.
  • Princeton's yield (the percentage of admission offers accepted) has risen steadily over the last decade; it was 65.7 percent for the Class of 2001 and 68.9 percent for the Class of 2002. Princeton's yield stands second only to Harvard's.
  • Academic 1's and 2's (the academically most qualified applicants) are the most rapidly growing part of Princeton's applicant pool, and yields on Academic 1's and 2's have been increasing significantly. Academic 1's and 2's comprised 51.2 percent of the Class of 1993, 68 percent of the Class of 2001, and 72.2 percent of the Class of 2002.[See note 1.]
  • Taken as a whole, minority enrollment has improved slowly over the last two decades; minority students comprised 16.9 percent of the Class of 1982, 25.6 percent of the Class of 2001, and 26.6 percent of the Class of 2002. For affirmative action minorities, however, steady progress has proved difficult to achieve: here the comparable figures are 12.4 percent of the Class of 1982, 13.6 percent of the Class of 2001, and 14.5 percent of the Class of 2002.[See note 2.] Despite active recruitment, the yield on minority admits (affirmative action minorities as well as Asian Americans) lags well behind that of non-minority admits. (For instance, while the yield on non-minority admits for the Class of 2002 was 76 percent, the yield on minority admits was 55 percent. In some years, the difference between the yields for the two groups has been even greater.)
  • There have been decreases over the last decade in the representation of alumni children and recruited athletes in the entering class. Alumni children comprised 17.3 percent of the Class of 1992, compared to 13.1 percent of the Class of 2001 and 11.4 percent of the Class of 2002.[See note 3.] Recruited athletes accounted for 20.5 percent of the Class of 1992, compared to 16.4 percent of the Class of 2001 and 16.9 percent of the Class of 2002.[See note 4.]
  • In applicants, admits, and enrollees, Princeton has become an increasingly national university. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania accounted for 50.8 percent of the Class of 1976, but only 34.1 percent of the Class of 2001 and 33.1 percent of the Class of 2002; the comparable figures for California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii were 6.8 percent of the Class of 1976, 12.1 percent of the Class of 2001, and 11.4 percent of the Class of 2002.

After reviewing the written materials describing the admissions process and analyzing the extensive statistical data available, the Study Group decided that the best way to get inside the admissions process was to read a subset of the applications for admission to the Class of 2001. The group wanted to understand more fully what applicants' portfolios actually look like (i.e., what kinds of students Princeton attracts); what choices are being made (which applicants are accepted, which rejected); what kinds of criteria are taken into consideration in making those choices; and which of the admitted students choose to come to Princeton. To accomplish this, the group asked Dean Hargadon to assemble all of the applications from a varied group of secondary schools -- urban and suburban; public, private, and parochial; northern and southern, eastern, midwestern, and western. All told, each member of the Study Group read about 150 folders from eight schools.[^5]

The folder-reading project proved to be extremely instructive, both in conveying the challenge and complexity of the task and in allaying the reservations of those individuals who came to the Study Group with some skepticism about the focus on academic quality of the admissions process. Everyone agreed that the choices being made were, for the most part, entirely reasonable -- in those cases where students were admitted, the reasons seemed, in the main, to be clear and compelling.

While there was no quarrel about the students who were admitted, there was a strong desire for more of them. That there were more students the group wished could have been admitted was a persistent refrain in the discussion. What struck the Study Group most forcefully, in other words, was the depth of academic talent, intellectual curiosity, and life experience in the applicant pool -- how many more outstanding applicants could have been admitted if spaces had been available.

Beyond that, the folder-reading project focused the attention of the Study Group on three issues:

  • the special challenges of recognizing and evaluating talent in the humanities;
  • the role in the admissions process of extracurricular activities;
  • the effects of socioeconomic background.

As for the first issue, the Study Group took particular note of the considerable challenges involved in recognizing and evaluating talent in and for humanistic study. There are well established markers for outstanding aptitude for and achievement in science and mathematics on the part of high school students (among them, for example, the Westinghouse Talent Search, or the international olympiads in science and mathematics), but similar markers for unusual aptitude for and achievement in humanistic study are simply more difficult to come by. While the Study Group did not have a formulaic solution to recommend (the consensus is that this is a genuinely tough issue -- one that all American colleges and universities are now facing -- and that there are no good formulaic solutions), it felt strongly that the Admission Office should continue to work assiduously to spot such talent, with the continuing advice and counsel of members of the faculty.

As for extracurricular activities (a subject not unrelated to the first point), the Study Group talked at some length about how we assess and weigh the large variety of non-academic accomplishments that we see among our applicants. In some pursuits, there are many easily identifiable markers for achievement; in others, especially in the case of individual pursuits, it is simply more difficult to assess the nature, quality, and level of achievement and/or promise. The Study Group expressed the strong sense that more weight should be given in assembling a class to the potential contributions of intellectually engaged students pursuing such extracurricular activities as playing a musical instrument, acting, writing poetry, painting, and playing chess. The group's reasoning here was twofold: increasing the representation in the student body of students with such commitments would likely enrich the quality of intellectual life on the campus; moreover, with a significant proportion of the class already recruited to participate in varsity athletics, giving more weight to other forms of special accomplishment outside the classroom might result in a better overall balance.

There was also considerable discussion about the interactions of the college admissions process with socioeconomic background. Parts of that process, which may be understandable in and of themselves, nevertheless have consequences that may unreasonably disadvantage students from more modest socioeconomic backgrounds. The gap between the best and the weakest secondary schools has grown much wider over time, and it is closely correlated with socioeconomic status. Applicants who come from well-to-do families now routinely avail themselves of SAT preparation courses and professional (paid) college counselors and application support services. On the non-academic side, the opportunities for extracurricular activities (sports, arts, Model UN trips, etc.) are of course far greater in some schools than others, but even where such opportunities exist, the ability of students to take advantage of them may depend importantly on family circumstances. In reading admission folders, the Study Group took special note of the instances where outstanding students had to forego activities outside the classroom in order to care for younger siblings or work on the family farm or in the family restaurant. The Study Group underscored the importance of valuing otherwise desirable applicants whose credentials may differ from those of other applicants because of the effects of socioeconomic background.

It should be noted, finally, that the Study Group considered but rejected the possibility of creating new "tagged" categories as a means of accomplishing its desired goals for the composition of the undergraduate student body. The objectives stated in this report can and should be accomplished without further balkanizing an already tightly constrained admissions process.


II. The Overriding Goal of the Admissions Process: Insuring the Long-Term Excellence of the Undergraduate Student Body

In its discussion of the foregoing issues, the Study Group noted the need to be explicit about the goals of the admissions process. The Admission Office is asked to pursue a variety of goals, and it performs a highly (indeed, increasingly) complicated balancing act in enrolling a freshman class. Speaking of a single goal for the admissions process vastly oversimplifies what the University expects the Admission Office to do.

That having been said, the Study Group believes that the overall goal of Princeton's admissions process can best be described as insuring the long-term academic excellence of the undergraduate student body. More specifically, the goal is to sustain and strengthen the highest-quality student body, drawn from the widest possible variety of backgrounds and interests, with the capacity and desire to take the best advantage of the distinctive features of undergraduate education at Princeton.

The group acknowledged one of the central dilemmas of selective college admissions: while intellectual engagement is likely to be accompanied by high academic achievement, the reverse is far from being necessarily the case. There is a considerable range among applicants whose grades and board scores put them at the top of the scale: at one end are students bursting with imagination and curiosity who are passionately engaged in the world of ideas; at the other end are students who apply themselves assiduously and accomplish all that is asked of them, but without that special spark. The challenge -- by no means easy with high school students -- is to identify the intellectually engaged among the large group of high achievers.

The group talked at length about markers of quality and descriptors and measures of capacity. It agreed on characteristics of excellence that Princeton should seek:

1. Qualities of mind

  • High intelligence;
  • Demonstrated capacity to excel academically;
  • Originality; creativity;
  • Joyful engagement in learning; passion for intellectual inquiry, whatever the field;
  • Mental discipline; perseverance; willingness and ability to take on difficult challenges;
  • Self-motivation; eagerness to venture beyond the boundaries of assignments and stated expectations;
  • Ability to challenge and contribute to the learning of others by offering differing perspectives;
  • Disposition to make the best use of the educational resources that Princeton has to offer.

2. Qualities of character

  • Integrity; responsibility; sense of values;
  • Demonstrated ability to look beyond one's self; concern for the well-being of others; concern for and contributions to the quality of life of the community;
  • Maturity; judgment; balance; resilience.

3. Capacity to enrich and contribute to the University community

  • Effective commitment to an activity or activities outside the classroom, whether intellectual, artistic, athletic, or service-oriented in nature;
  • Energy;
  • Capacity for leadership.

4. Potential for life-long leadership and service in one's community and profession

The Study Group agreed, further, that diversity is an essential component of long-term excellence. By diversity it means that the men and women who study at Princeton should be drawn from the widest possible variety of backgrounds -- socioeconomic, racial, religious, and other -- and should bring to the University a wide range of values, beliefs, experiences, and interests. What is key here is diversity of experiences and interests. Aiming for such diversity both maximizes the likelihood that Princeton will draw as fully as possible from the most talented young people in this country and abroad and enriches our educational program; it maximizes, too, the likelihood that we will assemble a group of undergraduates most likely to take advantage of the educational opportunities available here and most likely to succeed in challenging and learning from one another. In the view of the Study Group, diversity -- and the experience of dealing with diversity -- are integral elements in the preparation of effective citizens and leaders.


III. Accomplishing the Goal: Specific Challenges

The Study Group identified a number of specific challenges that must be met successfully in order to sustain the long-term excellence of the undergraduate student body. These fall into two overarching (and overlapping) categories: recruiting students of outstanding ability, and recruiting students with wide-ranging experiences and interests that will enrich Princeton's informal as well as formal educational processes.

Toward these ends, the Study Group laid out the following challenges:

  • To make our best effort to attract exceptional applicants from a wide variety of secondary schools;
  • To make our best effort to enroll students with the highest potential;
  • To increase the number of intellectually engaged students pursuing such extracurricular activities as playing a musical instrument, acting, writing poetry, painting, and playing chess;
  • To continue to expand and intensify minority recruiting, and to continue to work to make Princeton more attractive to minority candidates;
  • To make our best effort to identify and recruit highly qualified candidates from broad socioeconomic backgrounds;
  • To continue to increase the representation of international students in the undergraduate body.


IV. Recommendations

To help meet these challenges, the Study Group has framed a set of specific recommendations for changes in policy and practice:

1. Increase the size of the entering class by as many as 125-150 students per class; use the additional slots specifically to support the objectives above.

The Study Group was greatly impressed by the extraordinary richness of the applicant pool; its members are convinced that the University would be strengthened and enriched in significant ways if it were possible to admit more of the outstanding applicants who must be rejected because of space constraints. Put simply, Princeton is turning away too much exceptional talent.

In the judgment of the Study Group, the pressing justification for increasing the size of the entering class is the opportunity it offers to increase the proportion of academically excellent students at Princeton and to further diversify the student body. The point cannot be made too strongly: the additional slots must be used for these purposes.

In recommending an increase in class size, the Study Group takes as given that there are no plans to increase the size of the intercollegiate athletic program; this recommendation therefore assumes no growth in the number of recruited athletes.

The Study Group is mindful of two realities: the size of the faculty will continue to increase modestly; and the burden of additional students will not be felt equally across the departments. It is essential that the recommended increase in class size be accomplished in a careful, planned fashion, without in any way damaging the close personal interactions between faculty and students that characterize the Princeton experience.

2. Continue to expand recruitment efforts.

(a) Enlist faculty whenever possible in school visits and other activities to augment the efforts of the Admission Office in attracting outstanding students to Princeton.

(b) Increase the likelihood that admitted students will have had an opportunity to visit the campus and to meet faculty and currently enrolled undergraduates.

In the spring of 1998, the University made special efforts to encourage outstanding admitted students to visit the campus, including providing assistance in defraying the costs of travel for students whose financial circumstances would otherwise have made campus visits impossible. The Study Group recommends strongly that these efforts be continued on a significantly broader scale.

(c) Expand the new program of faculty recruitment of admitted students.

In the spring of 1998, the Admission Office organized a new effort to recruit admitted students. The effort came in two parts. The Dean of the College wrote a personal letter of congratulations to 121 of the most outstanding admitted students, encouraging them to visit the campus and to avail themselves of the opportunity to meet and talk with faculty members (as well as to address any questions they might have to her directly) -- all in the interest of helping them to appreciate why Princeton would be an especially good match for their intellectual interests and aspirations. At the same time, the Dean of Admission and the Dean of the College enlisted members of the faculty in recruiting the 453 Academic 1's admitted in the regular decision round in April. The deans sent to each of the departments the names of students who had indicated a specific interest in that field; they asked department chairs and departmental representatives to identify members of the professorial faculty who would be willing to call or drop a short note congratulating each of the students on his/her admission and expressing a willingness to be of any assistance to the student as he/she considered Princeton. The Dean of Admission provided some written guidance (a sheet of recommended "do's and don't's") to the faculty members who would be calling and writing.

While it is difficult to disaggregate the many reasons for the unusually strong yield on Academic 1's admitted to the Class of 2002, the evidence suggests that the special recruiting efforts helped to encourage the very positive response we got from our most outstanding admits. For 1998-99, the Study Group recommends doubling the number of students targeted in these special recruitment efforts.

(d) Develop new initiatives that could yield gains in racial and socioeconomic diversity.

The Study Group recognizes both the dimensions of the challenge and the concerted efforts of the Admission Office toward these ends. But it believes that we all need to continue to try new approaches if we are to realize our objective of making Princeton more reflective of the distribution of class and color in the United States. The University's new financial aid initiatives, which the group enthusiastically supports, will be helpful in this respect, and redoubled efforts at recruiting are essential. The Study Group felt strongly that we ought to be exploring opportunities to enlarge -- even if very modestly -- the pool of prospective applicants from such backgrounds. One of the possibilities the Study Group discussed was to establish a special relationship with one or more community colleges, such that a small number of their best graduates could be considered for transfer admission to Princeton. Doubtless there are other possibilities; the Study Group recommends continuing, focused attention to this very difficult issue.

3. Work to support Princeton's reputation for providing the very best, most challenging undergraduate education.

Princeton's success in attracting top students depends importantly on their perceptions of Princeton, some of which are rooted in fact and some of which are only loosely and anecdotally related to reality. Images of Princeton abound: a university with an unusual commitment to undergraduate teaching; a university that provides the very best, most challenging undergraduate education; a university with an abiding commitment to the nation's service and the service of all nations; a university with an outsized commitment to and success in varsity athletics; a university whose social environment bears the enduring stamp of Fitzgeraldian legend.

Sustaining and strengthening Princeton's attractiveness to the best students requires that we work continuously to improve the educational experience for the students we enroll, a subject we will address in Section V below. It requires, too, that we do the best job we can of telling the story of Princeton's remarkable strengths, and that we face up to some difficult, long-term issues concerning campus climate. Here we turn first to the challenge of telling our story, and then to the aspects of campus climate that we believe compel serious attention.

(a) Focus attention on Princeton's remarkable academic strengths and the high quality of its students.

To ensure that Princeton's reputation is commensurate with its true character, the Study Group identified a number of ways in which we might more widely inform the public about the University: writing profiles of high academic achievers and distributing them to secondary schools; sending press releases about student achievers to students' hometown newspapers; writing profiles of faculty and their research and distributing them to secondary schools; sending writings of faculty and students to secondary schools; developing admissions materials (on the University's web page and in print) that feature pairs of thesis writers and their supervisors, each reflecting on the research enterprise and the final product from their complementary perspectives; celebrating and acknowledging the considerable academic achievements of our students. Making our strengths more apparent to the outside world will help us continue to attract the outstanding students who can take the best advantage of the educational opportunities Princeton has to offer.

(b) Address long-term problems in campus climate.

At the same time, the Study Group believes that some of the realities of campus life make Princeton less attractive than it should be to many outstanding students. This has been an enduring challenge for Princeton, and faculty committees have been voicing similar concerns for many years. The Study Group was struck especially by the observation of Charles C. Gillispie, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History Emeritus, who chaired a faculty subcommittee on admissions in the late 1950s and early 1960s. "The committee was set up," he said at the time, "because the faculty was dissatisfied with the entering class. We wanted to see if the admissions staff was preferring 'well-rounded students' to hard workers. We found that wasn't true; I think that, given the applications, a group of faculty members or trustees would choose about the same class the admissions office chooses. But we still feel we might have a brighter class than we do. We want to know why seniors in school apply to Princeton -- and, even more important, why they don't apply. This matter of our clientele and its quality appears to be a question of Princeton's image. We want to see what we can do about changing the image if it's inaccurate -- and what we can do about changing the University if, as I think is true, some of the image is accurate."[^6]

For all of the changes at Princeton over the past four decades -- and there have been many significant improvements -- there continue to be problems relating to campus climate that handicap our efforts to attract outstanding students. The Study Group urges continuing attention to the aspects of campus climate that are often cited by prospective students who choose not to apply to Princeton and by admitted students who choose not to matriculate, such as the limited range of dining and social opportunities, the alcohol-centered nature of social life, and the less than fully comfortable climate for minority students.

The Study Group suggests that the President convene two additional faculty working groups to follow up on these concerns, one to focus on issues relating to dining and social life on campus, the other to address issues relating to minority student satisfaction and alienation.

4. Vest the Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid with the responsibility to monitor developments in admissions, as recommended in this report.

The Study Group has every confidence that the Admission Office will use its professional judgment to achieve the objectives specified in this report. At the same time, the faculty members of the Study Group strongly affirmed the value to them of their semester-long immersion in the admissions process and extrapolated from that the value to the process of continuing faculty attention. While the same kind of close, detailed engagement is not realistic to sustain, the group believed that the Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid might appropriately be expected to provide continuing faculty oversight to help to insure that the goals described in this report are adequately met.


V. Epilogue

Recognizing the Limits of What Can Be Accomplished through Changes in Admissions

Admissions is the gateway to the University; admission policies and practices obviously have a critical impact on the composition and quality of the student body. Everyone wants to admit students who will seize and run with the educational opportunities available to them; everyone wants to avoid admitting students who are not going to work hard and grow intellectually while they are on campus. As has been suggested already, the Study Group believes that there are additional steps that can be taken in recruitment and admissions to sustain and enhance the long-term excellence of the undergraduate student body.

But it is too easy to fall into the trap of assuming that admissions holds the sole key to the nature and effectiveness of undergraduate education and campus life at Princeton. By any measure, Princeton already admits an exceptionally talented group of undergraduates. What happens to them on campus is at the heart of the effectiveness of undergraduate education. That is what in large part determines the intellectual climate at Princeton; that is what fosters, or discourages, intellectual curiosity and engagement. While the University will continue to improve its admissions process, it is up to the entire University community to rededicate itself to realizing the full potential of the academic talent Princeton enrolls. That can happen in so many ways: continued dedication by the faculty to improving the quality of our teaching programs; expansion of the Freshman Seminar Program; rethinking of departmental curricula for freshmen and sophomores; closer attention to student writing; more proportionate distribution of concentrators across departments; more effective faculty mentoring of undergraduates from the outset of their enrollment; continued efforts by the faculty to address underperformance on the part of certain groups of students; continued dedication by the coaching staff to the reinforcement of the importance of academic achievement. While we continue to seek the greatest possible share of the most outstanding applicants to colleges and universities, we need simultaneously to insure that we are doing all we can to provide the kinds of educational experiences that nurture and stimulate intellectual curiosity and engagement. Ultimately, it is all of the above that attracts first-rate applicants who, once admitted, decide to enroll, and that provides an environment that enables those who do enroll to achieve at the highest level while they are here.



Members of the Study Group

The Study Group included nine senior faculty members, Dean of the College Nancy Weiss Malkiel, and Dean of Admission Fred A. Hargadon, with President Shapiro serving as chair. The faculty members were Miguel A. Centeno (Sociology), Bradley W. Dickinson (Electrical Engineering), John G. Gager, Jr. (Religion), Anthony T. Grafton (History), Amy Gutmann (Politics), Arnold Rampersad (English), James C. Sturm (Electrical Engineering), Shirley M. Tilghman (Molecular Biology), and David T. Wilkinson (Physics).


1. One needs to acknowledge, however, that the overall improvement in the quality of the student body does not necessarily translate into improved conditions for all departments.

2. The ranges here are worth noting. For all minority students, the percentages range from lows of 15.2 in the Class of 1985 and 15.8 in the Class of 1984 to highs of 28.0 in the Class of 1999 and 28.2 in the Class of 2000. For affirmative action minorities (Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans), the lows are 10.4 percent in the classes of 1987 and 1989; the highs are 15.3 percent in the Class of 1999 and 16.0 percent in the Class of 1983.

3. The percentage of alumni children in an entering class is sometimes mistakenly assumed to be a barometer of the degree of alumni preference exercised in admissions. Many factors affect the percentage of legacies in a given class, e.g., the overall number of applicants, the overall percentage offered admission, the overall yield rate, the number of legacy applicants versus the number of non-legacy applicants, the yield on legacy admits versus the yield on non-legacy admits, and the number who defer admission to a subsequent year. Our policy is one of according alumni preference on an "all things being equal" basis. That is, if a legacy applicant's credentials are as competitive as those of the three or four applicants from whom we are likely to be able to admit only one, the nod will go the legacy applicant. A more accurate measure of the preference accorded legacy applicants is the percentage of legacy applicants offered admission versus the percentage of non-legacy applicants offered admission. While the percentage of legacies in the entering class has gone down over the past decade, the relative admissions advantage for legacy applicants has actually increased. For the past five years, legacy applicants have been offered admission at more than three times the rate at which non-legacy applicants have been offered admission. This is a higher ratio than in previous years and is more likely than not attributable to a higher degree of self-selection among potential legacy applicants themselves.

4. Recruited athletes are applicants who have been identified by the Department of Athletics as having strong potential to contribute to the athletic program in the various sports in which we engage in intercollegiate competition at the varsity level.

5. The Study Group was mindful of the ways in which its folder-reading differed from the reading done in the Admission Office. For one thing, the Admission Office does not read applications by school, but randomly across the entire applicant pool; more importantly, the folders represented only a tiny fraction (about one percent) of the applicants to the Class of 2001, so the group could not get a fully comprehensive picture of the universe of choices available to the Admission Office. The situation was different, too, in that the members of the Study Group knew the outcomes -- both what the admissions decisions were for each of the candidates, and whether the admitted students had chosen to matriculate.

6. Quoted in Martin Mayer, All You Know Is Facts (New York, 1969), pp. 85-86.