Williams College Top Questions

What is your overall opinion of Williams College?

Is Williams College a good school?

What is Williams College known for?

Mariah

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.

Mariah

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.

Mike

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.

Mariah

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 feasts 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.

Kesi

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.

Will

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.

Mike

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, I would say the majority of students are happy to be at Williams, even though it can be a stressful environment at times.

John

Williams is different. Academically, we have one of the hardest curriculums in the nation. But people that matriculate here are well aware. People come here to work hard. They choose the mountains and not the busy city streets for a reason. We are a small school full of students that desire learning more than its signaling. We chose Williams, not Harvard. Most people have never heard of Williams and this is actually common discussion among our student body. We realize not a lot of people know about the school. You ask Joe Smith if he has heard of it, and he'll probably respond with a contemplative "no." We're fine with it. We don't need the public's spotlight or their recognition to be affirmed in our choice of school. We're humble, in that regard. The college is very rural - I'll be the first to admit that. If you're a city dweller or one who wants to be, Williamstown will be bleak for you. It is not a shopping mall. It's nestled comfortably in the Berkshires. People are always on campus going to each other's concerts, sporting events ... etc. Off-campus life doesn't really exist. There is a nearby town that has some necessities and a McDonalds among other shops, but most people like to stay on campus. School pride is huge, as you'd expect. If you meet a Williams alum on the street (very unlikely), the bond will be immediate. There will be an instant understanding among both parties that doesn't require words to be felt.

purp

Most students are happy to be here. People are always wearing some form of purple (even purple cow print) and or yellow. The campus and student body are both small, but this just means you can make it to most classes in about five minutes and see a few friendly faces as you run across the quad. People might not know what you're talking about when you say you go to Williams (we sometimes get mistaken for William and Mary, Hobart and Williams Smith, even a community college from time to time), but Williams grads and their families are always enthusiastic about meeting a fellow Williams student. Basically, the people in the know about Williams more than make up for the people out of the loop.

purp

Hardly anyone I talk to knows about Williams. So far, the only people who haven't asked me, "is that a community college?" or "Are you sure you don't mean William and Mary?" have been my neighbor (who grew up not too far away in Shelburne, MA) my friend's mom (who took art classes in Williamstown) and some of my grandma's friends who went to Williams. The name recognition for Williams just isn't there. However, if I tell people we're rivals with Amherst they seem to understand. I think the people who you'd want to know that you went to Williams will know about it. Williamstown is quaint at best. The town is adorable, but oh SO expensive. This is due to Williamstown's abhorrance to chain stores. We do have a Subway, but that's because the town either A) didn't know that Subway was a chain or B) because Subway was allowed in after the original building burned down. All of the other stores in town are mom and pop stores. I love mom and pop stores, but I also love not being gouged by high prices. Williamstown is a tourist attraction, but the tourists are there in the summer when many of the students are not. I just wish pricing in town was a little more equitable. Even some of the stores in North Adams suffer from price inflation. If you really want normal prices, find someone with a car. Williams College is a nice size. It's small enough where you can see your friends daily to say high, but big enough that you can fly under the radar if need be. Sometimes I wish Williams had a few more quirky people instead of cookie cutter people, but otherwise I love the students here. Everyone is always helpful and friendly.