Williams College Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?


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


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.


Breathe.During senior year, life is more stressful than ever – school, work, volunteering, EMT class, and college applications loom over your head. You can’t wait to leave high school behind, but you’re not quite ready to go. After college decisions come out, you’ll anxiously deliberate over your future. But don’t worry; Williams becomes home as soon as you arrive.Your view of the world changes dramatically once you get there. You’ll make friends with people from China to Zimbabwe, and learn that you have much more in common than you thought. You’ll discover your opinions and argue for them with a passion you never knew you had. However, it’s not all great. There are times you’re so homesick you call your parents at one in the morning ‘just to say hi’; when you burst into tears while talking to a professor about the midterm you just failed. But your parents calm you down, your professor offers extra help, and your friends are always there with hugs and midnight tea breaks.And don’t worry about being the ‘awkward one’. Nearly everyone, including you, will find a place here. Just remember to breathe.


Something very important - college is hard. Not just academically, but socially, emotionally, personally. So even if you feel that you have found the perfect school, the transition from high school, a place to which you have already adjusted, will be difficult. But don't let those difficulties bog you down. Just because you don't drink, doesn't mean you can't have friends that do. Just because you're on a small club sport team doesn't mean you cannot be friends with the varsity football captain. Take advantage of everything the school does to turn students, faculty and staff into a real community. What you do in college may turn your world upside down. And it should. Surprises are no less a part of college than they are of anything else. And one of the biggest surpirses is that the friends you make by simply doing something together, maybe a math problem, are going to be those friends that you have for the rest of your life. Try things. Talk to people. Share your passion. And don't be scared, even if you are worried sick.


If I could go back, I'd probably tell myself to not stress so much about my initial grades. I feel like students who go off tend to think that they'll excell fantastically and without fail, particularly if that's what they're used to. Freshman year of college is about getting used to what you're doing and adjusting. You cannot expect to hit the ground running. This is particularly important because to think otherwise takes away from what I feel is the real reason you go to college. While, yes, it's to learn about whatever you major in for your future job - you're in a place where focusing and dissecting ideas is the prominant activity. We so often lose the fact that we're there for the academic learning. Use these 4 years to expand you mind, take things away from the classes you enroll in, simply learn more. The knowledge lies in what you take away and whether you learn from the mistakes you've made; if you don't realize this, the weath of information at your disposal is squandered.


Do not be afraid. Do not worry about the questions you had on the first day of high school: "Will anyone like me?" or "How will everything change in my life now that I'm taking this new step?" College is not high school. College is filled with people of all sizes, races, orientations, economic backgrounds, and dreams. You will be welcomed, and you will change. But that is what this process is about: finding what institutions and values in this world matter dearly to you, and investing your time and energy to see those institutions and values manifest themselves in your life and in the lives of others.


College, like life, is exactly what you make of it. If you try to do everything, you may end up doing nothing well. Give yourself time to take it all in; you will find that you are surrounded by new and shiny things at first, and you will be pulled in a million directions. It is wonderful to be able to expand your horizons so extravagantly in such a short time, and at first you'll want to cast your net as wide as possible. But once you've gotten a lay of the land at your college, pick the things that are important to you or that interest you most and focus on them. And don't forget to foster the friendships that could last a lifetime. If you do that, once you graduate, you'll have a network of friends spread around the globe, and all the sudden, the whole world seems like a better and more fulfilling place to live in.


Take it day by day; focus on school. Always gauge what's important at any given moment. You will encounter many many obstacles, don't be discouraged by them. Stop, regroup, find support, and keep going.


I would tell myself to not be afraid to try new things and meet new people, no matter how intimidating the whole process may seem, because the craziest, most thought-provoking, and/or best moments of your life form out of those moments. I would also tell myself not to worry where I ended up, because no matter where I end up, it'll be a learning adventure, and the right place to be.


While it's important for parents to be supportive of their children during the college selection process, ultimately they really must learn to let go and allow their son or daughter to feel like they are taking their future in their own hands and making their own decisions. My parents wanted me to go to one school and I wanted to go to another, and while ultimately I chose the school they preferred (it was a highly selective liberal arts school in the Northeast), and ended up absolutely loving it, for awhile I resented not feeling like I chose it 100{4a082faed443b016e84c6ea63012b481c58f64867aa2dc62fff66e22ad7dff6c}. I can't stress enough how important that is. Of course, on the flip side, parents shouldn't be afraid to seek out statistics and data (like US News and World Report) to help their son or daughter make informed decisions (my school was ranked #1 in US News and World, and I wouldn't have known if my parents hadn't shown me!) Above all, when the time comes to actually leave, parents should know if they let their son or daughter go and have fun and discover, they'll miss them enough to keep them close.


Definitelty visit before finallizing your decision. This will tell you how you feel about the environment ans people of the college.


To parents and students alike, I would assure them that there is a "perfect fit" for every student out there. The are scores of academically challenging colleges, of colleges with excellent art programs, and of colleges with unique pre-professional tracks. When beginning the college searching process, students and their parents should keep an open mind, knowing that each student will inevitably end up at a school that is right for him or her. With this in mind, the search will be that much less stressful and anxiety-riden. Once a college has been selected, I would encourage all students to try really hard to keep an open mind. There will be tons of activies and clubs that may be outside of your comfort zone, undoubtedly. However, it cannot hurt to try something new, or take one step out of your element. You just might meet a future best friend or spouse that way, or be introduced to your future calling. In short, venture a little off your beaten path and open your eyes to the limitless ambiance of a college campus.


Let the student choose which ever school they want. Just because a school has an awesome history, is an ivy, or is on the top 20 for career opportunities doesn't mean it's the right school for everyone. While the primary reason for attending college is to better oneself academically, a social life is just as important. College changes people in very important,drastic, and necessary ways, and if the overall atmosphere of a college isn't conducive to a student's personal growth, then it's not the right place for them. In order to make the most out of college, two things need to happen: 1) Be Involved...in anything. If a college student just studies their life away, sure their GPA will be amazing, but their overall quality of life will not be. 2) Branch out. Try new things. It's cliche, but when else are you going to be able to be on an Indian dance team, play squash, or tutor first-graders. Don't be afraid of new opportunities. Because once you are in the "Real World", you can't tell your boss that you want a day off to practice your Bassoon.


Make sure you can see yourself living there for the next 4 years. Make sure that the school appears responsive and caring about supporting you and making sure you succeed. WHat percentage of student graduate? Check out the website. Are there fgroups there that you are interested in ? Do Alumni give back? Are they excited at the college?


The only way to find the right college is to rely on the subconscious. Williams, from the moment I stepped on campus, felt like a home away from home - I was at ease, comfortable, and excited about the possibilities I felt attending the college could bring. The complete wrong way to choose a college is to spend time solely thinking about the quantitative characteristics of the college - college rank, retention rate, financial aid package, campus size. Without a doubt these things are important and will help narrow the college search down. But do not completely rely on the quantitative to make an emotional decision. In a way, choosing a school is like choosing a new pair of shoes. One will narrow down their search based on surface characteristics, but the final decision should be made based on what feels right. Once at the right college, it is easy to make the most of the college experience - be open to everything. Make friends easily and don't worry about fitting in. The days of high school cliques are over, and college is a time to simply be yourself.


The most important thing about finding a school isn't finding the biggest or best known name, it's about finding the school that is right for you. Just because you can get into Harvard, doesn't mean you should go there; you should define your college experience yourself and not rely on the school to define it for you. Spending four years miserable at a big name school won't be as beneficial as spending that same time at a less well known school where you feel more comfortable, happy, and where you feel like you are adding something to your community. And even if you can't get into a top tier school, there is no reason why you can't be just as successful coming from a state school, as long as you put effort into school and making a difference on your campus.


As a student, the most important thing to remember when searching for the right college is that the decision should, ultimately, be based on what you want and are interested in, not what your parents or teachers might want for you. Of course, counselors', teachers', and parents' opinions are incredibly important and should be considered very seriously, but a student will only thrive in an environment where he or she feels secure and happy. Just because your parents treasure their experience in the Greek system does not mean that you need to join a sorority or fraternity; just because your counselor thinks you could get in to an Ivy League school does not mean that it's the right place for you. Think about what subjects you're interested in, how important class size and artistic opportunities are for you, how you'd like to spend your free time, whether or not you would be bored in a small town. Finding a school that is right for you is far more important than fulfilling the expectations of those around you. College can be one of the best experiences of your life - don't deny yourself the opportunity to succeed!


Really make sure that once you are accepted you take advantage of overnight programs, etc to really see if the school is a right fit for you. Most good schools have these programs so definitely avail of them. In light of this difficult economic environment (in 4 years you will be fine), it might be worth giving a little more emphasis to the "brand name" of the college. I have found going through the job search for jobs on Wall Street that while students may have a disdain for the ivies (myself included), obtaining careers from "top tier" schools becomes easier.


You need to visit the schools. There is no brouchure or online photo gallery that will ever capture what a school is really like. Spend a night at the school with a current student and try to live "typical" college day while you're there. Also, there are a lot of great schools out there. Don't pick the school based on rankings alone. Most of your success in college, and life, will be based on what YOU do, not how rich or prestigious your school is. A lot of times the Ivy League environment isn't right for many intelligent people. Distance from home is also a very important part of school. Consider it when you finally decide. Going away doesn't mean going across the country. You will be just as "far" from home if you are 3 hours driving distance as you are if you are a five hour plane ride away.


Really think about whether or not the student would enjoy being at a very large or very small campus. I benefit greatly from going to a small school; I know my professors very well and plan to keep in touch with them after graduating. I did not go through my college experience feeling like a number. It was not hard to get into classes I wanted. But at the same time, WIlliams is in the middle of nowhere. I don't mind that, but a lot of my friends do. And it also puts a strain on some students' social lives when you quickly know almost everyone on campus.


Talk to multiple students/alumni of said school. A diversity of opinion is best. Student should try and have some idea of what he or she is really looking for.


College is an investment in yourself for the future. Go to the school which will set you up best for the future.


Find a college that you feel comfortable at. Don't feel pressure to look at the same colleges your friends are looking at, or where your parents went. Going to those schools can be great, of course--but keep in mind that this is where you will be spending four or more years of your life, and it should be a personal decision. To that end, remember that there are huge cultural differences between large and small (and medium) schools--if you can, visit both and get a vibe for the campus. Group tours and admissions visits are usually led by students and you can get a pretty good idea of if a school is a good fit for you. Know that some (wealthy) schools offer full, no-loan financial aid. Admission is competitive, but once you're in, you will pay less than at public universities. This is not always publicized. If you are a competitive student, do some research. Finally, the process feels like a huge amount of pressure. But remember, the decision is not written in blood: transferring is a possibility. You can "go back" if you find you made a mistake. But you probably won't.


Ask however many questions it takes, do an overnight visit, and you'll know when something feels like a good fit.


Go with your gut when choosing a school! And definitely go for an overnight visit before you choose. Once you get there, meet as many people and try as many new things as possible!


Going to college is like walking into a kitchen to prepare the meal you will eat for the rest of your life. Make sure your college has all the ingredients you need to make your life into whatever kind of dish you want--you can't make a cake if you only have sausage and peppers--but keep in mind that you're the chef and ultimately you're going to have to do the cooking. Maybe you get into some schools that will look sweet on your resume, but if you're trying to make split pea soup and they don't have any split peas (performance theory classes? internships for credit? a capella groups?) then you're going to find yourself in a pickle. Think long and hard about what you want to make of yourself, and be honest about what schools have the recipe for that delicious, addicting, one-food-on-a-desert-island thing that you're looking for.


Make sure you visit the school, and stay overnight, before you make your choice. If possible, try to do this some other time than the scheduled accepted students days, and take enough time away from your parents to get a real sense of the place on your own. Talk to students and teachers, attend classes, and aim to have as few surprises as possible once you're an official college student.


Be an active visitor and see for youself! Talk to a student and/or professor in addition to taking the tour. Only get involved in the activities you are most passionate about. While academics should come first, don't miss out on opportunities to meet amazing people! Work hard and play hard, since the power making friends should not be underestimated! Find an area of study that you care about, and you will succeed by default!


Don't focus too much on where you WANT to get in: you won't get in where you want, but you will get in where you BELONG. Visit schools, get to know the students, ask them how they feel. I visited my future college on a rainy, freezing, gray April weekend, but the campus mood was happy, friendly, and warm. That's how I knew that I belonged there. Get to know your community--a college town isn't just about the college. Get to know the faculty--they're there to learn just as much as you are. Get to know the staff--they work at your school to be around students, and you can learn just as much from them as you can from your professors.


While I think it is essential to take your time in finding the college that is right for you, I also believe that your college experience is what you make of it, and you can be happy just about anywhere. If you think you've found the school for you, be sure you research it thoroughly! Visit more than once and, if you can, stay a couple nights with a student. Ask students questions to find out what they like and don't like about the school. But in the end I think it is a gut decision, which college just feels right. Once you are there you have to make the most of it! Don't forsake academics for socializing but don't kill yourself studying. It is the most fun time of your life but the classes you take will be like nothing you do again. Go outside your comfort zone and take courses in disciplines you couldn't imagine yourself taking, like philosophy, math, art history. You will be a richer person for it. Enjoy everything your campus has to offer and don't be afraid to try new things!


Talk to as many people as possible about all aspects of college life -- academics, faculty accessibility, social life, location -- and fully consider what you want to get out of college. I chose a small, liberal arts college in a rural setting that is famous for its small classes, friendly professors, and loyal alumni. Over the four years I made unforgettable friends with students and faculty/staff members. I was happier in college than I ever dreamed of being, but I also met students there who were unhappy living in a small and relatively isolated community in New England, and decided to transfer after the first year. So consider your choices carefully: visit campuses, attend classes, and talk to current and past students. Once there, take healthy risks. Be adventurous, try new sports, study abroad, take fun classes. You will discover so much about yourself, and grow in ways you had not anticipated, during those four years. Make friends, talk -- really talk -- to them. After you graduate and scatter, those late-night conversations in the common room will stay with you, having become part of you without your realizing it. Your friends will be your family, in school and beyond.


Don't decide what you're looking for in a school until you visit a wide variety. Just because you've always had in mind a small, liberal-arts environment doesn't mean you won't fall in love with a bigger university. Also, visit schools during various times of the year - don't be fooled by New England campuses that are gorgeous in the summertime but dismal in February!


Visit!! If you don't visit a campus (for at least one weekend and two weekdays), you won't know what it's really like!


Making the right choice for your college experience is a tough, but infinitely important process. In many cases you will have preconcieved notions about where you think you want to go, but after actually visiting the school you may find you want something completely different. Thus, here are my rules for picking a school: a) Visit, visit, visit!!! Actually going to the campus, talking to the students, and taking the tour will allow you to picture yourself there. Is this a picture of yourself you want as reality? b) Set your sights high. There's no reason not to apply to your dream school--give yourself a chance! c) Put some time in your applications. Opt for interviews if available. This is all admissions has to know you by. Once you're there, make sure to take advantage of all the programs that you chose the school for. Attend the random campus lectures and concerts that the school provides as enrichment opportunities. Make friends with a variety of people. Take hard classes and interesting electives. Don't sit in your room and play video games or surf the internet all day--you could do that in your parents' basement.


Remember that there is no one perfect college - you can be happy and successful anywhere if you make the best of your situation.


Finding the right college is not an exact science and it is important to keep in mind that there are many school that may be right you. When you are looking for a school that fits with your personality and desires, you should keep in mind that the type of school you have as your first choice, is not the only type you should have on your list. For example, if you are looking at top large school, don't assume you are only interested in large schools. If academics are your main interest, consider smaller schools that have equivalent levels of academic excellence. If you are focused on top small schools, recognize that larger, lesser schools will offer you a mutli-dimensional, potentially more eclectic student body. There are a lot of excellent schools in all catagories and you should keep your mind open to all possibilities, even after you have chosen your top choices. Once you have selected a school, try to get as involved as you can in any area that is remotely interesting to you, while focusing on one or two activities in which you are most interested. Keep your options open--have a great time!


Look for a college that employs its students to help its students through modes such as college-paid student tutors. This not only employs students, but fosters a feeling of responsibility and ownership of class material, and provides aid for students who need help with the class. Also, spend the night/ weekend at the college to see if you click. Sometimes moving geographical locations can not only be difficult in that you are far away from home, but also in that there is often a very different culture from the one you are acclimated to. This can be a good thing or a very difficult thing, and its good to know which before you show up for freshman orientation.


Only go to school if you know you really want to and not just because your parents want you to. Parents do not pressure your kids into going. Take a year off, think about it, and only attend a school where you feel at home. I mean where you think its managable, and comfortable, and will not bore your for its lack of anything, or frutrate you with its overabundance of everything. Find a school that serves your porrige just right, that is passionate about the things you are passionte about, and never let a tour guide convince you. Talk to students who aren't on college payroll, who have had ups and downs. Find the corners of the student center and engage some real students. Get a feel for what it might be like to be studying on the couch next to them. Then ask yourself, is that where I want to be studying, are these couches even comfortable? You will not know it when you see it, but you will know it when you spend some time envisioning next year and thinking, if I'm all stressed and tired, will I still want to be here?


If at all possible, go and visit the schools you are interested in! That is how I fell in love with Williams. Interacting with students who go there is the best way to get a feel for the school, and for its various pros and cons. If visiting is not possible, use the internet to get in touch with people who are currently attending. How you make the most of your college experience is up to you: figure out what you want out of your education, and make it happen! That's the beautiful thing about college: everything is at your fingertips; you are free to compose your own experience!


Visit the college with your children and make sure that they are comfortable with it. Check the college's course catalog to make sure that there is a large variety of courses to quench your child's intellectual appetite whatever it may be. Be understanding when your child makes mistakes because it is inevitable, but don't be a push over and remind them of how important it is to not make the right choices in possible life or death situations. Finally, remind your child to allow themself to have fun every once in a while because it is necessary in order for him or her to keep sanity in tact.


Make sure that you go and visit the school before deciding to go!


Don't settle. Whatever is meant to be will be, so keep your options open. You really have to picture yourself there for the next four years of your life, and if there are some things you don't like about the school, ask students if they have a problem with it before you committ. If it is really something you think will bother you for the next four years, look at other options. There are many great schools out there, and there is bound to be a perfect fit for everyone, so definitely look at every school possible, big or small, rural area or city scene, to get a feel of what you like and don't like. Good luck!


Make sure the college is the right fit for you. List out the characteristics you want in a college, such as size, location, student body, etc. Plan a campus visit and talk to as many people as possible, including current and former students, professors, administrators, your school counselor - everyone. If your schedule and budget allows it, plan to stay for an overnight visit. It sounds like a lot of work, but your researching efforts will definitely pay off. Once you are at college, be enthusiastic and explore every opportunity that is offered to you. Check out as many academic departments, clubs, dining halls, and campus attractions as you can. You will only be at this college for a few years, so take advantage of the people and resources available to you. Be aggressive and don't be afraid to try your hand at any and everything that comes your way. Good luck with the college selection process, and trust your gut!


Visit colleges until you find one that feels like home. If you have heard that each company has a corporate culture, each college has a community culture that will leave a lasting social and intellectual stamp on its students. This stamp is apparent in speech, humor, philosophical approaches, and values. Meet students and alumni of your target schools, and ask yourself if you like their style. If the answer is "yes", you will probably enjoy freerer intellectual exchange and a more relaxed social life at that school. You will make friendships and connections that will sustain you for a lifetime. Once in college, try everything, join everything, experience everything. Leave your emotional box and stretch. Take chances and risk failure. Embarrassment? Leave it at high school. This is your opportunity to discover yourself and re-imagine what you can bring to the world. Expect surprises. It will be an amazing adventure.