Hats off to Professor Dalton Conley for his Aug. 14 op-ed in The Washington Post advocating a lottery for admission to Princeton University and other elite colleges! I suppose that, as a sociology professor, he comes to the issue from that discipline. My major at Princeton was economics, and I taught a graduate seminar in economics for 10 semesters between 2001 and 2009 at leading universities in Washington, D.C. During this period, drawing on items in PAW, I became increasingly bothered by the admissions process at the University. Not only did it seem to be unfair to many qualified applicants, it also seemed unscientific from an economics perspective. The process appeared to be premised on a highly questionable ability to predict how individual applicants would perform as students and beyond. I concluded that a lottery system — along the lines sketched out by Professor Conley — would be both more fair and more scientific.

Lex Rieffel ’63
Washington, D.C.