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WHO IT'S FOR:|
Those who are willing to study nights and weekends for the sheer joy of learning. Those who are looking for a great education and a thousand opportunities. Those who can tolerate the lack of a party scene. (This is by no means a 'party school'--go to UVA if you want that.)
WHO IT'S *NOT* FOR:
Those who aren't willing to spend the extra hour re-reading a research paper to check for glarings errors. Those who expect college to be a breeze, awash in alcohol. Those who need constant stimuli and a fast-paced life--Williamsburg doesn't offer much in the way of that.
-Academic reputation--W&M is known as the queen of the "Public Ivy League" and with good reason.
-Cost to in-state (Virginia) students--an Ivy League education at a state school price.
-Professors--phenominal. Ask around for the best ones when you get there...students will be more than happy to point them out and tell rambling, funny stories about them.
-Students--are fantastic. Brilliant, witty, friendly, approachable, laid-back as a rule. Most are fairly tolerant...just don't bring up the subject of our current Chancellor, Henry Kissinger. Half the school loathes him and the other half doesn't know who he is.
-Tradition--the second oldest university in the country. (Curse you, Harvard!) Thomas Jefferson's (amongst others)alma mater.
-Off-campus Dining--being a tourist town, the area is home to a host of restaurants. The ethnic ones are the best, and not too bad on a college student budget.
-Campus scenery--great landscaping, set in a historic area. No twenty-storey concrete monstrosities on THIS campus.
-Cost to out-of-state students--you WILL be gouged for your fantastic education. Trust me. Unless you're a FAFSA rider, be prepared to pay through the nose for everything.
-Social Scene--I list this as a weakness not because I believe it to be so, but because it's a common complaint on campus. Williamsburg is pretty, but dead after 6.00 PM. No malls, clubs, or nightlife to speak of.
-On-campus dining--mediocre at best.
-Parking--Horrendous. I don't even have a car and I know how bad it is.
-Tourists--more prevalent than you'd think, especially in fall and spring. Quieter in winter. There's a reason we call them 'tourons'.
-Building maintenance--many of the buildings are falling to bits, and not just the oldest ones. The school is incredibly cheap, and cutbacks in the Virginia state budget have hurt the school considerably.
-Diversity--A good 2/3rds of W&M comes from NoVA (Northern Virginia, the area around Washington D.C.), and the majority of students are white or Asian, and middle to upper middle class. For a non-VA resident like me, it's frightening at times.MY OPINION: The College of William and Mary was my first choice school, and since I'm an out-of-state student I can say that I had a number of places to choose from. I wouldn't trade it for anything, though. I love it here.
|Jun 18 2002|| 2nd Year Female --
Class 2004 |
| I transferred into William and Mary from a small liberal arts college in the northeast (one of the NESCACs). I felt the student body at my old school was too monochromatic, and I was also looking to go a bit bigger (and cheaper...even though I'm an out-of-stater, I'm still saving about $10,000 a year). |
While I realize this place is not for everyone, I really do like it here. I feel like there was definitely a "break in" period, if you will. At first, I was sort of surprised by the academic environment here (students take their academics pretty seriously) and the lack of a social scene. If you're a partier, be warned, unless you're into the Greek scene, there is very little of that kind of fun here. It's not to say that you absolutely can't drink if you don't want to, but it's definitely more difficult to do here (at least compared to my last school).
I suppose I should touch on the student body. I would say like 50% of the kids here are the "weird" kids from high school (you know, the ones who were into anime, Harry Potter, and lacking social skills. Don't take offense to this if any of the aforementioned apply to you...I have lots of friends who fit into this category. Know that if you do, you won't have trouble finding like-minded people). The other 50% is definitely a mix of people. I have been able to find people with similar interests to my own, especially by joining clubs here on campus (there are literally hundreds to choose from).
As far as the campus goes, I love it. Most of it (particularly old campus) is gorgeous. New campus definitely suffered aesthetically when funds were tight in the '70s, but new buildings are being built that seem to be a lot better in appearance. I live in one of the brand new dorms on campus, and it is quite nice. I have lived in some of the older dorms as well, and they're really not terrible. Only the Botetourt Complex, Frat Complex (the "Units"), and Yates (a freshmen hall) are really undesirable.
The natural beauty here on campus is awesome. I love being able to go running on the trails that weave through the campus woods surrounding the lake. If you like being outside, there are so many ways to escape the "campus" scene here.
That brings me to Williamsburg. Many students are very down on the town, seeing as it's primary function is to cater to tourists. I actually like Colonial Williamsburg. Again, it provides an escape from the campus scene. If you don't like that, there are plenty of other places in town to go to, like "New Town." Here one can find all sorts of things like a movie theater, Panera, and Barnes and Noble. There are a lot of commercial areas as well where one can find Target, Walmart, etc.
I suppose now I should comment on the academic environment. To be perfectly honest, my first semester here frustrated the hell out of me. The grading here is fickle, at best. Some classes are not difficult at all, and others are quite tough. I wouldn't expect to get all A's here unless you're a braniac or you choose all your classes based on Professor "easyness" on Ratemyprofessor.com. As for the second part of the last statement, don't be a typical William and Mary student and do that. Take some risks, even if that means a less than perfect GPA, because some of the best professors here are the ones who make you work for your grade. Also, most employers/graduate schools are familiar with the academic rigor of William and Mary, and should take that into account when looking at your resume. I'm from New Jersey and when I tell people I go to W&M, they're all like, "Wow, great school! I hear it's really difficult..."
Okay, so while this place has its imperfections, I am glad I ended up here. Sure, there were some times right after my transfer when I had my doubts, but this place really does grow on you. There are so many little quirks here (such as the reputation of the students being "socially awkward" to the great history we have here) that make you proud to be a student here. So, if you're up for some challenges (both academic and at times, social), come check W&M out!
|Mar 07 2007|| 2nd Year Female --
Class 2009 |
| William and Mary is quite simply, a jewel. You will never be challenged more, or have your life changed so thoroughly as W&M compels its students to do. Its reputation as an "academic boot camp" is, if anything, an understatement. For those who survive the rigor, there is no doubt that the education they received here is second to none, and is comparable not only with the other "Public Ivies", but with any school in the Ivy League. The reasons that W&M does not rank higher than around #30 on the U.S. News and World Report scale is because of its size, location, and funding. W&M is small, and is not a true research university. Thus it does not receive the enormous grants that UVA, Duke, or Carnegie Mellon are blessed with. While it has a superb marine biology school, it does not field an engineering program and its other science programs are limited to undergraduate education, rather than major research. Also, it is not located close enough to a major city or other major universities to share information with a wider academic community the way that Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill can. Not that this means total detachment. As a government major, I can attest to the opportunities available for study and interaction with all that Washington, D.C. has to offer, for it is only 3 hours away. And we always seemed to get enough international reknown. At my own commencement, we were treated not only to Queen Noor of Jordan as our main speaker, but were delighted when our former chancellor, Margaret Thatcher, stopped by for a surprise visit. Earlier in the year, Kofi Annan was our charter day speaker, and before present chancellor Henry Kissinger gave him an honorary doctorate, the Choir (of which I was a member) sang a special song based on his famous "Girl in Afghanistan" Nobel-Prize acceptance speech. Most days though, the reality is that Williamsburg may be of enormous historical and tourist value, but it is still a sleepy Southern town in many aspects. Furthermore, since W&M is public, it must compete with UVA and Virginia Tech, as well as a myriad of other institutions, for its money. And since UVA and Tech end up making more money for the state, they receive substantially more funding. Add to this the fact that Virginia's financial status is only slightly more sound than California's, and you have a serious financial problem. Furthermore, W&M tends to produce a cadre of alumni that go into artistic, environmental, and social service careers, rather then produce a wealth of CEO's, though its business school is increasingly noted. Considering that W&M was practically unknown outside of Virginia 40 years ago, it is amazing that it has made its mark on the world in such a short period of time. Remember, though it ranks 30 on the list for overall quality, it only ranks about 170 in terms of financial support. In comparative terms then, William and Mary produces high class education on a lower middle class income. Nevertheless, it just launched a 500 million dollar fundraising drive over a period of 5 years, and in the next ten years, 5 new academic buildings, 3 new dorms, and a completely new business school complex will be built. William and Mary alumns are coming out of the woodwork and supporting the schools 21st century vision. |
Keep in mind that, when speaking to alumni who graduated 30 years ago, the common statement is "I would not be able to get in here today". Every year W&M gets more competitive, and its stature grows. The message I would like to send to anyone considering this school is that in 30 years, expect W&M to be in the same league as at least Georgetown, and perhaps even Duke and the University of Chicago or several of the Ivies. In terms of undergraduate teaching, we already are on par with at least Berkeley, and most likely Cornell and Chicago. In other words, it is an Ivy-League education at state-school prices. Another note: William and Mary is the nation's second oldest college and its first university. The system of study in place here is largely similar to that when Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, James Monroe, and John Tyler were students. For anyone who loves the pulse of history and tradition, it is hard to beat W&M. The arrogance, detachment, and cutthroatness of the Ivies is absent at W&M. William and Mary students are enormously bright, competitive with themselves, and very hard workers. At the same time they seem to enjoy the small community atmosphere, and look at their professors as friends and counselors. When W&M students do anything, they will exhaust themselves, and usually, do more then is required of them. They are, as a group, humble and bonded to each other. We often make jokes such as "Williamsburg: Where Fun Goes to Die"; "William and Mary: Where You're Best Just Isn't Good Enough"; and "William and Mary: 311 Years of Tradition Unmarred by Progress" - however, that is just typical of the W&M spirit of making fun of ones self and understanding that while our school is difficult at times, we wouldn't want it any other way. W&M is the place for those students who love learning above all else, who are challenged by hard work, who prize honesty and integrity, and who aren't afraid to admit they are huge dorks and have usually been leagues above their peers in high school. If you come here, expect to dance with the President at some point, share a drink with your professors, be humbled beyond your wildest dreams, and have tears stream down your face when the end finally comes. As the information packets proudly state, quoting former chancellor Chief Justice Warren Burger, "Harvard is a good school too, but you have to look really hard to find a place like William and Mary."
|Sep 02 2003|| 4th Year Male --
Class 2003 |