What is your overall opinion of this school?
Williams' reputation for academic excellence is certainly well deserved. Classes are highly challenging in the right ways - they seek to change the way that students approach the world (often while buried under piles of homework). In addition to providing food for thought, Williams also gives students the opportunity to maintain really rewarding social lives. While people often complain about having too much work to hang out with one another, the benefit that students get from meeting and spending time with one another - when they somehow find the time to - is immense. Everyone brings a unique experience to Williams, so befriending other students can often be highly educational and engaging. While the entry system, a style of residency that groups first years together with two Junior Advisors (JAs), as well as self-selected consolidation of the campus into a few prime hang out spots, makes it easy to have a lot of friends right away, it is often difficult to find privacy. One cannot conduct affairs without anyone else on campus finding out about them, and the feeling of constantly being observed by other students can create stress and pressure at times.
The school is small - only 2,000 students - so the effect that students' actions have on one another is a lot more visible, and certain social pressures can build up. Because everyone is so busy it can be difficult to spur a lot of community engagement in larger campus-wide issues, such as the way that students spend time on the weekends, and the health (both physical and mental) issues that students face during their Williams careers. While Williams' student government and groups are working hard to help solve some of the greater problems on campus - through community forums and events - some students feel that their voices aren't being heard, and that the college perpetuates a "culture of silence". Many students come away with mixed reports on their college experience, but despite their critiques, most maintain that they love Williams and wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else. Students' connection to Williams lasts far beyond their undergraduate experience, a fact to which the highly supportive alumni network attests. Most graduates are just as friendly and willing to help out as current Williams students are, which further reinforces the positive sense of connection that many feel to one another and the school. The college has both wonderful and not so wonderful qualities, but at the end of the day, Williams is a family that most people can be proud to be part of.