Our tour/info session group was very small, which I appreciated. Small groups = more individualized attention + a better ability to hear the guide. The morning session had something like 70 people in it! We had about five other prospective students with their parents/family members and it was lovely.
Our guide is a rising sophomore at William and Mary and she was so bubbly and outgoing her positive attitude was infectious! She walked backwards the entire tour, no small feat considering the amount of roads crossed, uneven brick, and people she could crash into. A Biology major, she provided us with tidbits, facts, and general information about the college as we walked around campus including classrooms, labs, dorms, dining halls, and the historically infamous Wren Building. Fun fact: the Wren building is the oldest building in America still used for educational purposes.
WM's campus is absolutely gorgeous. Of course, I adore history and j'aime Williamsburg so I was destined to love it but truly this campus is breathtaking. Fun fact: Thomas Jefferson is an alumni and there are statues of him around campus.
the Wren Building
one of the dorms
the Sunken Gardens (I remember watching a music festival here when I was really little--I split my pants open sliding down the brick staircases!)
Our tour of the campus was pretty all-inclusive, including the Ancient, Old, and New parts of campus. So even if you don't care much for history or old buildings, you don't have to worry about W&M being outdated or stuck in history--new construction is going on and the classrooms are all very modern.
Traditions ranging anywhere from 300 years ago are still upheld and celebrated in new, modern ways: an annual concert takes place including performers like Wiz Kalifa and Ludacris. Old lore and legends still stand, such as the story surrounding the mystical Crim Dell. Legend has it that if you walk across the bridge with someone, you are destined to be with them forever. If you walk alone, you are destined to be alone forever. The only way to break this bond is to push the other person off the bridge.
Find this photo on my Instagram--this is the Crim Dell bridge
Class size ranges from 20-30 for normal classes to 100-200 per lecture class. 99% of classes have under 100 students in them, and 200 is the absolute limit a class can have. Personally I found 20+ students a little much for a class, although I know they have smaller classes occasionally.
The majority of the dorms are without air conditioning. If you have severe allergies or asthma (or other respiratory problems) you can have a doctor write a note to get a window unit that you have to purchase yourself but most students survive with fans.
The honor code is strictly followed here. Not so much that they enforce it, but rather each student is said to take it upon themselves to keep the code that says honesty and integrity prevail above all. "I can leave my laptop, my books, all my stuff at my table in the library and when I come back after lunch I know it will all still be there." Says our guide.
W&M is Division I athletics, they superscore SAT scores, have a really solid library and resources available for students, a freshman seminar, and a unique approach to orientation.
- They superscore your SAT scores--this means they take your best scores in reading, math, and writing from any/all SATs you've taken and put them together to create one big, great score.
- Freshman orientation happens the week before classes do--you are already living on campus and acclimated to everything before you even start going to class. This orientation also isn't just boring information and speeches, a great deal of time goes into social mixers and making friends.
- The freshman seminar course--every freshman is made to take this class, which seems to be smaller than normal classes, and our guide absolutely raved about it, she said it helped her to really get a feel for the school and learn to really love W&M
- The study abroad program--W&M offers a lot of opportunities to study abroad, including a partnership program with St. James where you spend two years at W&M and two years in Scotland to earn your degree.
- I absolutely love the town of Williamsburg--the history, the architecture, the ability to walk almost everywhere....love it.
Not My Favorite Qualities
- William and Mary is a research based college--with something like 70% of students undertaking a research project in their undergraduate program. However, W&M research expands much further than traditional lab and science based research in that you can research in any field you are taking/interested in and that's a major plus.
- The class size--kind of peaked my 'not really loving that' response however, as my wonderful grandmother who took me to Williamsburg pointed out, these classes are still a lot smaller than other colleges and their class sizes.
- A core program--there is a core set of classes everyone must take, however as the admin leading the information session pointed out, William and Mary chunks their classes into thirds: one third of the program is the core, one third relates to your major/minor study, and one third is pure electives. That's a lot of choice.
Overall I left William and Mary still loving the school and very happy with my experience. I got good vibes from our guide and I plan on applying next year.
Next Stop: Davidson College in North Carolina