The recent movie Admission certainly showed Princeton in a great light. I thought the movie was fabulous as a dramatic comedy, and it indeed showed the admission program very accurately. As one who has served as a member of the Schools Committee in central Ohio for 30 years, I have long appreciated the thoroughness by which our University goes about qualifying each freshman class.
Having said this, I must say that in my 30 years of interviews, I have had very few student applicants who I did not think could handle Princeton’s rigorous academic program, or in fact anyone who would not enjoy and prosper in the experience. I have found that young people simply do not take the time, effort, and money to apply to Princeton if they and their guidance counselors are not confident of their ability. I have found myself being an advocate for the young people I interview, realizing their chances of being admitted are slim at best.
I now believe the admission staff could be cut way back to provide enough people to ensure that each applicant has the basic qualifications to succeed at Princeton, and then choose the class by lottery. With more than 20,000 applicants, a lottery statistically would provide the same mix of students the University seeks without the horrendous animosity created among the many applicants’ families who feel their student has been denied acceptance unfairly.