Improving The Success Rates Of First Generation Admits | Jim Wickenden | 12 Min Read

April 13, 2023


For the past five decades, those in the Princeton University Admission Office have made a concerted effort to diversify the entering classes.  While the emphasis on the diversification process initially was slow, significant progress has been made over the years. For example, In the Class of 2026, women outnumbered men by 52% to 48%. Around 40 percent of those who were offered admission are people of color. That included Asians, African Americans, LatinX students, Native Americans, international students, and transfer students. Stated another way, the progress the University made with respect to diversity may have been slow but it was certainly steady.

As Dean of Admission from 1978-1983, I readily acknowledge that in continuing to support the diversity initiative, I made decisions to admit candidates who could bring something special to the University without threatening those whose academic goal was to be selected for Phi Beta Kappa. For example, we admitted some young men and women who attended schools where the SAT average of their senior class might have been 150 points below the average SAT scores of the entering class at Princeton.  Those applying from schools with marginal…

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Jim Wickenden

Jim is a Principal at DRG and Founder of Wickenden Associates, an affiliate of DRG. Having been the CEO of one of the premier education executive search firms in the United States, Jim brings unparalleled experience and networks to best serve clients. With over 30 years of experience identifying and guiding Heads of Schools and other senior administrators of schools across the country, Jim approaches each search with flexibility and openness that responds to the individual needs and concerns of schools and their leaders. Before founding Wickenden Associates, Jim served as the Dean of Admissions at Princeton University and Director of Student and Alumni Affairs at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A graduate of Tabor Academy and Princeton University, Jim holds a master’s degree in Counselor Education from Rutgers University, a master’s degree in the General Purposes of Education from Harvard University, and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Boston University. As a former member of eight boards of independent schools with a wide range of missions and resource levels, Jim also knows firsthand the responsibilities shouldered by today’s trustees; and knows how to guide boards through tough transition processes and on good governance practices. Jim lives in Princeton, NJ, and when he is not at the office he enjoys reading enlightening books.