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While Williams can be a great academic challenge, the isolated location and pervasive white liberalism can be exhausting. Be...
While Williams can be a great academic challenge, the isolated location and pervasive white liberalism can be exhausting. Being a predominantly white institution with almost no opportunity to leave campus, it can be mentally and socially taxing for students of color. On the other hand, affinity groups and extracurriculars usually provide a good space to escape the " Williams Purple Bubble." What makes the school worthwhile are the professors; they are incredibly accessible and always willing to sit down and truly get to know you. They truly debunk the hard-ass elite professor with their kind humility and well-intended nature!
I absolutely love Williams! It is such a unique school. The people there are so interesting and accomplished, yet humble and ...
I absolutely love Williams! It is such a unique school. The people there are so interesting and accomplished, yet humble and friendly. Academics are taken very seriously and intellectual conversations are frequently had, even outside of the classroom. I love it!
Never underestimate the power of a liberal arts education. The 7:1 student to professor ratio is great to engage the material...
Never underestimate the power of a liberal arts education. The 7:1 student to professor ratio is great to engage the material being taught. Also, the high-quality professors here make this a unique educational experience I cannot imagine receiving anywhere else. On top of that, the social scene is great. It's small enough to feel like a small community yet it still retains the ability for students to explore new friend groups.
Williams College is a rigorous and challenging school, but it is doable. It the type of school that will teach you the meanin...
Williams College is a rigorous and challenging school, but it is doable. It the type of school that will teach you the meaning of being an independent and unique individual. You will meet others who have come from different or similar educational backgrounds as you, but will come to find that intellect is not something that will make you distinct amongst your peers. It may make you distinct in the classes, given how challenging they tend to be, and how small they are, as Williams wants to make each experience unique for each of it's students, but you quickly learn that isn't everything. Williams will make you confront yourself and make you really think and wonder what about yourself is so unique. What makes you, you. How well do you know yourself? You will be asking yourself these questions as you learn more about yourself and find who you are as a person. Williams is a challenging school but it is a school that will make you question and confront on who you are.
A very challenging academic schedule with all the support available for help. Athletics are very popular and many, many other...
A very challenging academic schedule with all the support available for help. Athletics are very popular and many, many other club opportunities. So much to do, no time to sleep. Class size is ideal for those who want one on one with professors. It is a pleasure to be around students and professors that love to learn and teach.
A place where creative and intellectual minds foster ideas and pursue stimulating and open conversations with one another
A place where creative and intellectual minds foster ideas and pursue stimulating and open conversations with one another
Williams College is accepting and nurturing of all types of individuals. However, I would say that those who are not willing to jump headfirst into their education and take advantage of all the opportunities available, both in and out of the classroom, will not reap the benefits of a Williams experience.
Dear High School Self, Keep doing what you're doing. Working as hard as you do now will make the academic transition to college much easier. That being said, read more books. Watch the news. If something interests you, go learn about it, because people in college are going to want to have intellectual discussions with you and they can be really beneficial and enjoyable if you feel confident enough to participate. Don't be scared by the people who think they know everything. Be confident in your abilities and try not to compare yourself to other people, as hard as that may be. I know you love performing, so when you get to college, audition for EVERYTHING. This is how you will get your foot in the door, make connections, and make great friends. I know you enjoy being busy and working hard, but don't forget to have a social life too. Balance is important and it's an easy thing to forget. Honestly, just jump in head-first and college will be amazing. I promise. Love, Your Older and Hopefully Wiser College Self
Williams' reputation for academic excellence is certainly well deserved. Classes are highly challenging in the right ways - ...
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.
Athletics take up a lot of people’s time on campus. Many who don’t participate in varsity sports choose club or intramurals, and the gym is almost always full when classes aren’t in session. The outdoors are definitely something to take advantage of, and there are many opportunities to do so, from backpacking trips available through the outing club to walks in the surrounding countryside. Because the school is so small and students are so busy, many student-run groups are managed by handfuls of dedicated students. It’s easy to become very involved in clubs even as an underclassman, but it’s also easy to try out new clubs and leave ones that you’re not interested in. There are definitely parties on the weekends - some are school sponsored and some take place in dorms - but after a few weekends of homogeneous partying a lot of people choose to stay in with their friends. There are a lot of students who hold similar interests, but unless you attend the club fair at the beginning of the year, they can sometimes be difficult to find.
Williams is a genuinely diverse community. Not only do students come from varying ethnic backgrounds and places within (and without) the United States, but the life experiences that they’ve had are incredibly unique. In the college admissions world Williams students have a reputation for being athletic and preppy. As a private institution that only became co-ed in 1970, Williams has certainly perpetuated this image for a while. Undoubtedly the school has made progress; today's student body is cognizant of relevant social issues in a way that many wouldn't associate with preppy private schools. Additionally, a lot of students are invested in academic disciplines that lend themselves to activism and social change, something the school hasn't historically been known for. Despite this, the stereotypes about Williams students can seem to dominate the campus from time to time. Almost everyone, it seems, plays a sport, and the art scene is not as prevalent here at it is at some other liberal arts schools. In the end, however, every Williams student comes from a completely different background, which yields a highly eclectic campus. The diversity of thought that each student brings to conversations, both within and outside of the classroom, breaks down most initial assumptions people have about one another and makes it impossible for any one stereotype to be too pervasive.
The community at Williams is an incredibly diverse mix of hard-working people. There are future politicians, farmers, consult...
The community at Williams is an incredibly diverse mix of hard-working people. There are future politicians, farmers, consultants, and entrepreneurs all sitting in the same classes learning from each other. Williams is just the right size, not too big, but not too small. You're meeting new people everyday. People are generally impressed when I mention I go to Williams. On campus, there's a ton of school pride. I will always remember my first Mountain Day, a Friday in October when the president cancels classes and everybody hikes up the highest mountain in Massachusetts to listen to acapella and drink cider.
They kids are great.
The academics at Williams are very challenging, but even more rewarding. The professors here are truly extraordinary. Before I even walked into my first class, my professor knew the names of everyone in the class (30 people).
Lots of people think of Williams as a bizarre mixture of nerds and jocks. I'd say that most Ephs really like to get outdoors, but they also know the value of working hard.
I love Williams for a lot of reasons. I've found that being surrounded by so many intelligent and interesting people--althoug...
I love Williams for a lot of reasons. I've found that being surrounded by so many intelligent and interesting people--although it can be stressful and a little intimidating at times--has really benefited me both intellectually and socially. Interacting with these people has definitely furthered my learning and personal growth, both inside and outside the classroom. I've also found that Williams has a strong community filled with a number of students who are heavily invested in their community and are constantly trying to improve it in whatever way they can. Student leaders take it upon themselves initiate campus-wide discussions about the way in which different areas of the community can be improved and do their best to take action. The administration grants students the independence to do so. I am very proud of this aspect of Williams. Students mostly complain about being stressed and having too much work. The workload does makes getting out of campus for the weekend (to visit a friend, go to Boston or New York City, etc.) difficult to manage at times, although people definitely do it. They also complain about the size of school, mostly because things spread around campus quickly. I haven't found this to be a huge deal; I knew what I was getting myself into when I applied to a school with just over 2,000 students. Despite being ranked by Forbes as the #1 undergraduate institution for 2 years in a row, most people from your hometown probably will not have heard of Williams. While this can be frustrating at first, it quickly becomes a joke once you get to campus; the people who matter--i.e. employers---are well aware of Williams' prestige, and Williams alums LOVE talking to Williams students. Overall, despite the fact that Williams can be a stressful environment at times, many students, including myself, absolutely love Williams, and the vast majority are at least happy to be there.
2 things: First, every freshman should try to have a good grasp on the role of the entry system, which is such a big part of freshman year at Williams. Each entry is unique, is partly shaped by the JAs, but is mostly shaped by the freshmen in the entry. Some freshmen need the entry more than others; it becomes their main social scene and their main way to make friends in a way that's comfortable for them. Others are much more comfortable going out on their own and making friends outside the entry, though this does not necessarily mean these freshmen won't be a part of the entry at all. Still, some freshmen might not want/need to be a part of the entry at all and may distance themselves from it, or become close with a different entry that they might feel closer to. As someone who is going to be a JA to the Class of 2016, I believe it is important for freshmen to understand that no matter where you fall on this spectrum, the entry is supposed to be a safe place where you can unwind and feel welcome, even if it is not a place where you would like to spend most of your time. Freshmen often get their hopes up that everyone in their entry will be best friends with each other, and then are devastated if that doesn't happen. I don't want to completely throw a wrench in this: many entries do become extremely close and stay close throughout college--two of my closest friends now were in my entry freshmen year. But it is important for freshmen to understand that while this can, and certainly does happen, it is by no means inevitable. Instead, freshmen should take the entry as is, putting themselves out there and attempting to grow close to and be a part of the entry, but also realizing that not fitting in with their entry does not equate to not fitting in at Williams as a whole; rather, it simply means the freshmen need to find their own niche, either by getting involved with a club, making friends from class, or growing close with other entries. Finding your niche at college is arguably the most important thing in making a good college experience, and the entry should be seen as something that facilitates this rather than hindering it. Second (and more briefly), freshmen coming in to Williams should understand how important it is to ask for help, especially academically. In some of my other responses I mention the various academic resources available to students. It is really important to use these. Because of the highly intelligent and competitive nature of Williams students, it is important for students to realize that other students struggle as well and that is it not only okay, but encouraged that students ask for help. It is also important that students, when necessary, are willing to address the stress of their academics in a healthy way, by talking to friends, JAs, Peer Health, or even Psych Services.
Williams students are typically athletic and/or outdoorsy, intelligent, competitive, confident, and multi-talented. In my experience, the freshman entry system at Williams does a great job of promoting interactions between the diverse student body--students of different races, social classes, religions, sexual preferences, etc. Some of my closest friends are "different" from me in these regards. I feel that these interactions are more common at Williams than they are at most other schools. People often talk about the "community" at Williams, which I personally have really bought into. Students, while competitive and high-achieving, are genuinely concerned about the well-being of their fellow students. Students, each with their unique background and experiences, often come together to listen to each other: every Sunday night Williams has "Story Time," during which one students tells their life story or a particular incident that shaped their life. This is further promoted by the entry system. The Junior Advisor system also describes students at Williams very well. First, there are the students who apply to be Junior Advisors. They volunteer their Junior year to live with freshmen without receiving free room and board or getting paid in any way. While people list many reasons for becoming a JA, in my mind it all boils down to a desire to contribute to the Williams community, of which the entry system is a huge part. The fact that only about 1/3 of applicants are given the JA position speaks to how many students have a vested interest in contributing to the Williams community. Second, there are the students who volunteer to serve on the JA Selection Committee. These students, including current and former JAs as well as the peers of the applicants, spend something like 4 hours a day for about a month trying to pick the best JAs. These students also don't get paid or anything like that and don't even get the recognition that JAs do. I really think this shows how dedicated students are to the Williams community.
Freshmen year I was kind of sad to realize that my idea of people going to early classes in their pajamas was just not the reality. It's not that anyone judges you, I just feel like a bum if I'm the only one doing it. Most people just dress casually: a lot of people wear athletic gear, or jeans and a normal shirt. A lot of guys wear khakis and button downs (see preppy-ness mentioned in my stereotype response). Also, BOAT SHOES...they're everywhere.
One of the biggest pulls for me was the entry system. I didn't fully understand it, but it sounded too good to be true at the time. It started to make sense as the year progressed (see my other posts for more on the entry system and JAs...as an incoming JA, I'm kind of obsessed with it). I took the campus tour on a beautiful day and the experience was just amazing. Everyone I interacted with was friendly and seemed to love being at Williams. Everything about the place just seemed to click for me. I also didn't have much of a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life, or even what I wanted to major it, so Liberal Arts was the way to go for me. The core curriculum seemed really flexible which helped in that respect, too. Some people think that most students who decide to go to Williams are Ivy League rejects, but actually somewhere around 40% of every freshman class is accepted Early Decision. I did not apply Early Decision and didn't get in to the one Ivy League school I applied to, but I honestly would have chosen Williams either way.
The faculty at Williams is definitely one of its selling points. The majority of professors take the time to, at the very least, know your name, are easily approachable, and make themselves available as much as possible. Although Williams has departments that are particularly strong--the Math Department, for example, is absolutely stacked--it is pretty well balanced throughout. Building relationships with professors early on is really important and is something that I personally didn't really do a lot of until sophomore year. It's easy to get caught up in work and forget to do this, but they can really help make your life easier.
Williams has a lot of places for students to go to get work done based on individual studying habits. For students who need absolute silence in order to focus, there's the two libraries (though Schow is usually considered more "social" than Sawyer) and the Quiet Room on the top floor of Paresky. For students who need a more social place to study, the couches and chairs on the second floor of Paresky allow students to study with friends and get work done while chatting with each other or other students passing by. Eco Cafe (a.k.a. Schow Atrium) is a place with a similar environment.
A large percentage of students are involved in Varsity, JV, and intramural sports--varsity games usually get a pretty good crowd. But most students are involved in other activities as well. A cappella has exploded at Williams; there are currently 8 a cappella groups, which (I think) are more than most large universities have. The groups receive a lot of support from the student body at their concerts. I am a member of the Ephlats, one of the co-ed groups on campus. In general, there are a lot of opportunities to get involved in the arts (dance, theater, music, etc) and these concerts also get a good turnout from the student body. As far as weekend life goes, drinking is pretty popular at Williams, but there are always other activities going on for those who don't drink or don't feel like drinking on a given weekend; these include concerts/performances, guest speakers (though there are less on the weekend), movie theaters (a small one in town, bigger ones within driving distance), and a bowling alley (driving distance), among others. There is a limited amount going on off campus, but there is some stuff to do if you have a car and are willing to make a trip. Especially after a stressful week, students are eager to get out and do something--whether or not that includes drinking. But sometimes the workload can prevent them from going out as much as they might like to. Going out on weeknights is pretty rare for most students.
Williams is located in a small, rural town in Western Massachusetts nestled in "purple mountains." The location gets a lot of...
Williams is located in a small, rural town in Western Massachusetts nestled in "purple mountains." The location gets a lot of bright students. The best thing about Williams its its individualized experience. The school is so small (about 2,000 students) that its hard for anyone who may be struggling to get left behind. The administration is extremely supportive and often responsive to the needs of both individuals and student groups. The negative for some students is that a small school like Williams isn't as familiar to the average American. And, of course, during the most stressful times of the year, the campus can seem too small! One can easily become ignorant to the current events in the rest of the world if he or she chooses. It's common for a student to feel a love/hate relationship with the small town, but love always comes out on top. The scenery, of course, is breathtaking during the fall and spring.
Students use their extracurricular groups and their close friends for the majority of the fun on weekends. A club or a group of friends (the two often overlap!) find activities to do with one another: The nightlife at Williams is very quiet. There are a few bars in town, and there is usually one party per weekend (on average--there may be more depending on the point in the semester), but it is difficult to tell when any of these endeavors will be well-attended. Students usually hang out with their dorm mates, watch movies or attend the late night dining hall. Again, without friends your weekends will be lonely, but with them, you'll have a great time.
Unless you are taking a large lecture class, the classes at Williams are generally not larger than 30 students (this would be too large for a class in my major's department of English). We are very fortunate in this respect. It is difficult for a student to be "invisible" in a class, and professors also expect a lot of participation in and preparation for seminars. Students are generally not outwardly competitive with one another.
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