Campus Insider: Williams College

5:21 PM


By Diana Meza, academics editor

Hi everyone!

As all you seniors know, college application season is well underway, so here’s the first Campus Insider: Williams College edition.

Williams College is the currently ranking #1 private, liberal arts college in the US. It’s located in Williamstown, Massachusetts and has an undergraduate enrollment of 2,100 students. Last weekend, I had the opportunity of visiting through the Windows on Williams fly-in program, and this is what I saw:

Location:
Green. More than anything, Williamstown is green.

Upon stepping into the lobby-style Albany airport, all traces of Southern California were gone. “There is more grass in one lawn than there is in all of California” is really the most accurate description of the towns surrounding Williams College. Unlike the many perceptions surrounding rural colleges, however, there are actually many colonial-style houses and cute shops throughout the Berkshires, and they’re all characterized by an abundance of trees and grass. It’s honestly a refreshing change from the Los Angeles heat and chaos.

As can be inferred from looking at the surrounding geography, most Williams students engage in various outdoor activities, from mountain-climbing to bee-keeping to rowing to snowboarding, with the assistance of the Williams Outing Club. By paying a yearly membership fee of $10, students can join hikes and trips led by the club and borrow equipment (skis, backpacks, tents, etc.) for any outdoor trip. Once a year in a October, Williams also engages in Mountain Day, a celebration in which classes are cancelled and all the students hike up to Mt. Greylock for a day full of picnics and fun activities.While the expansive fields and safety of the surrounding towns promote outdoor exploration, Williams students also take trips to New York City or Boston, both of which are around 3 hours away from the campus.



Financial Aid:
Williams meets 100% of demonstrated financial need! You can use this link to find an estimate of the financial aid you would receive at Williams. Additionally, students who are eligible for financial aid receive free books, insurance, and storage. There are even more perks that students receive, such as “career” funds and assistance with purchasing flights back home, which are not publicized at all on the Williams website. Most of Williams students also participate in work-study, and Williams puts a lot of effort into providing good job opportunities for students. They range from working in the dining hall to being a curator at the art museum to doing research with a professor, and because there are so few students in the school, it’s not too difficult to get the job you want.


Atmosphere:
The one thing that most surprised me when I went to Williams was how NICE everyone is! Williams is the top liberal arts school in the country, yet the students are not pretentious at all. Everyone is approachable and welcoming, and surprisingly, doesn’t look too stressed, and because the student body is so small, there’s this very notable family-feel that exists throughout campus. Wherever you go, you can feel that people know each other and love to be around one another. It’s something that you want to be a part of. Many students at Williams are also very academically motivated and tend to take classes and participate in extracurriculars that interest and challenge them, but there isn’t a cutthroat sense of competition among them. As with any top university, however, there is very obvious white predominance within the student body, but all the classes I attended had representation of various minority groups, so it never felt overwhelming.


Academics:


The academics at Williams are really what make it one of the best schools in the country. Williams is a liberal arts school, which means that it encourages students to explore different academic interests and refrain from declaring their major until junior year. This is especially great to do at Williams because every single department is outstanding. I met professors from the Calculus, Political Science, and Global Studies departments, and, just like the students, they were the most welcoming people ever. Even from a single conversation, you can feel the passion that the professors have for teaching their subject and their personal interest in their students.

Another outstanding thing about the Williams curriculum is something called “tutorials.” Tutorials are conversation-based courses in which two students develop and critique work with a professor each week. It’s literally a two-person class, and there are tutorials for every subject available at the college. All Williams students are able to take a tutorial at least once, and they love it.Williams is also one of the few colleges that runs on the 4-1-4 calendar system. What this means is that there are two 4-month long semesters with a month-long Winter Study in-between. During Winter Study, students can do independent research, go on a short-term trip, take a one-subject pass/fail class, partake in an internship, and enjoy all the snow activities around the Berkshires.


Housing:

Mission Park (left), and Frosh Quad Common Room

Housing at Williams is pretty flexible. Upperclassmen can choose to stay in dorms or on/off-campus houses, but freshmen can only choose between Mission Park and Frosh Quad. Both Mission Park and Frosh Quad have co-ed common rooms and bathrooms and (usually) single-sex rooms.

Frosh Quad (image on the right) is more of a traditional dorm. The outside is brick-clad, and the rooms inside are very generic. The common rooms connect two bedrooms and contain one bathroom, but they are open to anyone. It has a very homey vibe (but also can feel slightly cramped if your roommates are messy) and is located right next to the Paresky student center which has the late-night snack bar.

Mission Park (image on the left) has a completely opposite vibe; it has a modern, concrete-based structure. The inside feels more industrial, but it also has many large windows and open spaces which feel much more refreshing than Frosh Quad. The hallways are pretty funky in that the doors are arranged in a zig-zag pattern, and the rooms are mostly singles. The common rooms are shared by more people and are therefore more spacious and even sometimes have mini-kitchens. Mission Park is further away from the center of campus than Frosh Quad, but it has a dining hall connected to it.



Insider Look:
(What nobody will tell you)
  • Sports teams and acapella groups are a substitute for Greek Life
  • Parties are weak 
  • Hook-up culture is a thing
  • There are A LOT of rich people 
  • Students (and the school in general) are very liberal


My Take:
In my opinion, Williams College is perfect! The school has so many fun activities and people, so you never feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, and the students and administration have a passion for learning and applying their knowledge which is so contagious. The campus is breaktaking, and it’s truly the most amazing environment to be in.
If you all want to know more about Williams or would like me to connect you with someone from there, let me know!! Or if you want to talk/hear about anything at all, feel free to message me!

Diana

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