Amherst vs Williams vs Bowdoin

Bowdoin is not less prestigious than the others. It is very prestigious. This is like saying Yale is less prestigousmthanHarvard. To me, Bowdoin seems like the bets fit, based on what you describe.

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@thisistough - Which college did you choose?

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Re. prestige, an imperfect but generally accurate – not always, not precise, but directionally accurate – is the draw rate for each college. That’s the yield rate divided by the admission rate.

For a private college, a good rule of thumb is that you want a draw rate of at least 2.0, ie the yield rate should be about twice as high as the regular admission rate.

There are exceptions, most notably Reed College, but generally speaking, a private college with a draw rate of below 2.0 is less prestigious.

Another big exception is that many small colleges located in what are currently considered “hip” or desirable areas such as LA, NY or Boston will get an artificial boost to their draw rate thanks to the perceived attractiveness of the location and its job market. For a college that’s not located in one of the “cool cities” on the coasts, a draw rate greater than 3.0 signifies elite status.

Here’s the draw rate using 2019 data for each of the colleges discussed here, along with Swarthmore and Oberlin for reference – again, Draw Rate = Yield Rate divided by RD Admission Rate:

Elites:
Amherst - 2.8
Williams - 3.5
Bowdoin - 3.6
Swarthmore - 4.4

Good, not great:
Haverford - 1.8
Hamilton - 2.0
Carleton - 1.9
Colgate - 1.6
Oberlin - 1.3
Kenyon - 0.7

Outliers - good but not elite schools with exceptionally high Draw Rates:
Bates - 3.1
Pitzer - 3.5

for reference - here are some private universities’ draw rates:
USC - 3.7 (hip location: LA)
Tulane - 2.7 (hip location: New Orleans)
Tufts - 3.2 (hip location: Boston area)
Emory - 1.9
George Washington U. - 1.7

Those draw rates do not appear to match those of this data source:

Draw rates will fluctuate slightly from year to year but they’re fairly stable. Your data source is 2018. Mine was 2020. But this isn’t important. Again, the point is not precision but directional accuracy.

A big shift away from the five-year trailing average would indicate a shift in the public’s perception of either the college’s prestige, or the hipness/attractiveness of its locale, or both.

This is an interesting statistic. It seems harder to manipulate because it has several inputs. Nevertheless, I wonder if a relatively desirable school can admit a sufficient portion of its class through ED (so as to pump up yield) while encouraging lots of (so-called soft) applications (so as to decrease admit rate). The ED admit rate would have to remain low enough for this to work.

Good point about reliance on ED. Of the elites mentioned above, only Amherst and Williams have one round of ED; all of the other SLACs (and Tufts) have ED1 and ED2. I’m not as familiar with how admissions works at the other universities cited.

Yes, absolutely the ED admit rate is a well-known scheme for pumping up Draw Rate (along with reducing uncertainty, boosting revenue and forcing students into an unfavorable negotiating position re. financial aid packages).

All the above LACs have ED rates that are far above their RD rates – as high as 3x for several of the good but not elite LACs. Kenyon College’s ED rate is 64%!

If you were to reconfigure Draw Rate for several of the above schools by taking the AVERAGE of RD and ED Admit Rates, you’d get something closer to this:

Draw Rate if Average of ED and RD is used as denominator:
Amherst = ca. 1.7
Williams = ca. 1.7
Swarthmore = ca. 1.8
Bowdoin = ca. 2.4

Bates = ca. 1.2
Hamilton = ca. 1.1
Haverford = ca. 1.1
Colgate = ca. 0.8
Oberlin = ca. 0.6

Most other good LACs will have a Draw Rate of ca. 1 if ED is factored in.

Other Private colleges’ Draw Rates if Average of ED and RD is used as denominator:
Tufts = ca. 1.9
Tulane = ca. 0.6
George Washington U. = ca. 0.7

USC does not do Early Decision. USC’s Draw Rate is still close to 4.

Harvey Mudd and Pomona would still have exceptionally high Draw Rates, even if ED were factored in per the above, of 3.2 and 4.2, respectively.

I’d argue that LACs like the Claremont colleges also benefit greatly from a relative lack of competition. People interested in attending an elite liberal arts college on the west coast simply do not have many other options (most notably Reed, Lewis & Clark, Whitman, Willamette, and Occidental). The competition among liberal arts colleges in the northeast and midwest is far more stiff.

Similarly, there are not many strong private research universities on the west coast aside from Stanford, Caltech, and USC.

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That would leave Barnard as the true exemplar of @thibault 's hip LAC model: campus the size of a postage stamp; no endowment to speak of. Yet, it has a Draw Rate of about 5 (!!!)

:smiley: haha

Note that if you factor in ED to the Draw Rate calculation, the good-not-great LACs’ Draw Rates start to converge with those of public flagships.

So by this (directionally-accurate) measure, a not-great LAC is not more prestigious than a public flagship and considerably less prestigious than a public ivy.

… or, SATAN? (Oh Dear, I’m going to get it now for invoking Church Lady references. Sheesh.)

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But, let’s be honest here: LACs would be the first to admit that they invented Early Decision and specifically to compete with the Ivies:
The Early-Decision Racket - The Atlantic

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Hmmm . . . Just for fun.

NYC hipness draws students to Barnard? Well, more than half the student body is from the tri-state area. They already live in NYC or are in its backyard. They don’t need to go to Barnard to gain access to the Big Apple. They already have that.

My guess is that the draw to Barnard is Columbia. Last year chances of getting into Barnard were almost double your chances of getting into Columbia, and this year they were almost triple. But either way, you come out with an Ivy League degree since all Barnard degrees are also from Columbia.

Not only that, but no other women’s college offers the kind of full access to an Ivy League University and its facilities that Barnard students have to Columbia literally at their doorstep. The closest comparison is probably Scripps.

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Yes, the “backdoor” to the Ivy League element has always been there, but seems to have really taken off in recent years.

Continuing with the adjusted (for ED) Draw Rate analysis…

When you eliminate the distortion created by ED, you see that the Draw Rate for all but two of the top LACs-- Bowdoin and Colorado College-- is about the same as for Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, Rice, U. Michigan and U. North Carolina.

Most of the other LACs are in the neighborhood of the same Draw Rate as public flagships such as U Florida, U Georgia, Texas A&M, U Washington, etc.

Draw Rate of 2.1-3.2 if average of ED and RD is used as denominator:
Cornell 3.2
Northwestern 3.1
UC BERKELEY 3.0
Vanderbilt 2.8
UCLA 2.8
Bowdoin College 2.4
Colorado College 2.2
Carnegie Mellon 2.1

Draw Rate of 1.6-2.0 if average of ED and RD is used as denominator:
Johns Hopkins 2.0
Rice 2.0
Tufts 1.9
Claremont McKenna College 1.9
Swarthmore College 1.8
Bates College 1.8
Amherst College 1.7
Williams College 1.7
U MICHIGAN 1.6
U NORTH CAROLINA 1.6

Draw Rate of 1.1-1.5 if ED and RD are averaged:
GEORGIA TECH 1.5
Washington U. St. Louis 1.4
Carleton College 1.4
U VIRGINIA 1.3
New York University 1.3
Haverford College 1.2
Wesleyan University 1.1
Hamilton College 1.1

Draw Rate of 0.8-1.0 if ED and RD are averaged: 0.8-0.9
Cal Polytechnic - SLO 1.0
UT AUSTIN 1.0
Vassar College 1.0
TEXAS A&M 1.0
Emory U. 1.0
Northeastern University 0.9
Reed College 0.9
U FLORIDA 0.9
U. GEORGIA 0.9
Lehigh University 0.9
Colgate University 0.8
VIRGINIA TECH 0.8
Colby College 0.8

Draw Rate of 0.6-0.7 if ED and RD are averaged: 0.8-0.9
U WASHINGTON 0.7
U ILLINOIS 0.7
Lafayette College 0.7
CENTRAL FLORIDA 0.7
UC SAN DIEGO 0.7
U WISCONSIN 0.7
Stevens Institute 0.7
WILLIAM & MARY 0.7
George Washington University 0.7
MARYLAND 0.7
Tulane 0.6
Oberlin 0.6
OHIO STATE 0.6
Grinnell College 0.6
American University 0.6
U. Miami 0.6
UC SANTA BARBARA 0.6
U. of Rochester 0.6
Boston University 0.6

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Well, you substantially edited your original figures and comments since I posted, which was sufficient to move Bates, for example, from “Good, not great” to “exceptionally high.”

Bates is obviously pumping up its Draw Rate with an extremely high ED admit rate (42%), which lowers its real, adjusted-for-ED Draw Rate to 1.8.

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Interesting. Is this counter-intuitive, or not? :laughing:

Bowdoin
Colorado
CMC
Swarthmore
Bates
Amherst
Williams
Carleton
Haverford
Wesleyan
Hamilton
Middlebury and
Vassar

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