The On the Campus story about admissions in the November issue of PAW reminded me of the arguments in favor of using a lottery to admit undergraduates to Princeton. These arguments appear stronger in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and how life in the U.S. is likely to change in the decades ahead from this experience and other forces changing the workplace, such as robotics and artificial intelligence. 

The admissions process could be restructured to produce a pool of candidates who meet a set of basic standards, or have petitioned to enter the pool based on special circumstances. The lottery would be designed to yield the class size desired.  Sub-pools could be established to ensure diversity.  Importantly, in my view, there would be no preference for athletes or any other skill or aptitude.  The impact on varsity sports would probably be devastating, which I regard as a major advantage of admissions by lottery.  Instead, intramural athletics and other “amateur” activities would be enriched to make the college experience much less elitist.

Lex Rieffel ’63
Washington, D.C.