Williams College–Williamstown, MA
Tight-knit liberal arts college
Students at Williams College get close. They all know one another and they’re all a part of something. Students respect the nature they’re surrounded by and the mountains that are literally beside campus provide not only a beautiful setting but also a frontier of adventure for a large amount of the student community. Students have nearby access to two famous art museums and hold them in high regard. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and The Clark Art Institute are both a quick bike ride away (or quicker drive).
What It Feels Like to Go Here
“It definitely takes some getting used to, but once you find your place and find your people, [Williams College] feels really familiar. It feels like home. It’s a weird combination of feeling really comfortable and seeing lots of friendly faces,” said senior Kayla Shore. “In one coffee shop you run into three friends and then be studying late at night and meet a bunch of friends you haven’t seen in a while.” Spotting that many friends sounds like heaven for those needing some social support in college…which is all of us, right?
Former President James A. Garfield is Williams College’s most notable alumnus. He graduated in 1856 as salutatorian of his graduating class when the college was still a men’s-only school. Stephen Sondheim, the composer and lyricist who has been creating famous musicals for the last 50 years, graduated from Williams College magna cum laude in 1950 before finding massive success on Broadway. Former Attorney General of Massachusetts Martha Coakley is another proud alumnae of Williams. John Sayles, who became the forefather of independent filmmaking, also got his undergraduate degree from Williams.
Where We Hang
In a spot so far out as Williamstown, a place to hang out off campus is to be treasured, but a few do exist. “There is a single student bar named The Red Herring,” said Shore. It describes itself as relaxed source for casual food and a full bar. “We have a coffee shop, the Tunnel City, which is packed Sunday morning.” It offers all forms of coffee plus delicious baked goods. It also presents artwork from artists in the area. Students desperate for caffeine plus a spot of campus to study? Yeah, that’s going to be packed.
1. How much are students partying?
“Not that much. They’re pretty low key. It’s very much not a party school. It’s definitely there because there is not much to do because the scope of things is fairly small,” said Shore. So if you really want to be at those parties, you can find them, but they’re going to be hidden.
2. What will you get in trouble for at your school?
“I think the main source of serious trouble that people get into are alcohol, drugs, sexual assault and academic dishonesty. All of these things are taken extremely seriously at Williams. Academic dishonesty is taken extremely seriously especially because of the Williams honor code,” said senior Paige Wilkinson.
3. How much sex are students having?
“A fair amount? I think it depends on the circles as well as class years you are speaking about,” said Wilkinson.
4. What would you tell incoming freshman about your school?
“I would tell incoming freshman not to over extend themselves because college is work. There is this mindset that college should be about experimenting and branching out, which part of it is, but you will be here for four years. At the end of the day, you have to make sure you enjoy where you are” said freshman Merudjina Normil. Freshmen everywhere could do with this advice, but at a school with students as active as those at Williams, it’s more important than ever to keep this in mind.
5. What’s one thing you would change about Williams?
“I would reform financial aid policy and end sexual assault on campus,” said Shore. Williams currently has a pretty supportive financial aid policy and a strict eye out for campus safety, but all campuses could do a better job.
“We’re super lucky that the administration encourages a lot of experiential learning, which is important in a place like Williams where you might not feel that you’re experiencing the real world…You also get to know your classmates and professors really well.” – Libby Dvir, senior, Psychology major
“Going to school here is challenging, but it’s truly enriching. Williams has made me a deeper, more critical thinker, and I am so grateful for all that I have learned. The day-to-day can feel like a grind, but you get out what you put in.” – Elena Zifkin, senior, Sociology major
“It has been an honor to go through the stress, hardship, uncertainty and rigor that Williams provides because of the joy, pleasure, satisfaction and camaraderie that is produced. Our small, isolated, tight-knight community is not always the easiest or most united, but the relationships we forge last lifetimes and create an unbreakable bond that extends long after we graduate.” – Marcus Christian, senior, English major
“One particular thing about Williams that I’ve really loved is how easy it is to connect with professors. I’ve been able to really get to know my professors here, learning about them both as educators and as people. Because of the smallness of the college, everyone is easily reachable. Community does mean quite a bit to the staff, faculty, and students at Williams and visitors can see that in action several times during the year.” – Andrew Lyness, junior, History and Economics double major
“The past two years have been the best years of my life. The best part about Williams, for me, has been the people that I’ve met and the conversations that I’ve had with them. My friends and professors have changed the way I think and the way I view life.” – Nick Friedman, sophomore, Math and Economics double major
Top 3 Majors
TOP 3 MOST POPULAR STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS
1. The Williams Outing Club is responsible for the widely known and enjoyed trips in the surrounding mountains and sharing the apple cider donuts. The Club has over 750 members (almost half the student population!). They do all sort of outings from hikes to “polar bear swims,” which sounds terrifying, but they claim they are open to all students regardless of previous experience (or lack thereof). “It could be people’s first ever hike. Taking time out on an academics speaks about the value Williams places on its studies and the beauty surrounding us. Our mission is to get people outdoors and to be able to enjoy this environmental community,” said director Scott Lewis. They even offer wilderness first aid classes and orientation classes in case the fear of getting injured or lost in the woods holds you back from joining. They also offer P.E. classes which can take care of the required P.E. credits, which may be argued the best benefit of all.
2. Her Campus is an online magazine with a Williams chapter. It covers all sorts of topics from news and campus culture to things like fashion and beauty tips. “Her Campus Williams was launched because we felt the need for a platform that focused on sharing the experiences and interests of women at school. Having Her Campus at Williams has allowed us to bring together a group of talented writers who each have unique and interesting perspectives to share with their peers,” said recent graduate and HC Williams founder Michella Ore.
3. The Ephlats are a co-ed a cappella group. They sing all kinds of genres from oldies to current popular music. “In addition to holding our own concerts, we enjoy singing at many Williams events, hospitals and retirement homes,” said the group’s president Lucy Davis. “While our purpose is obviously to sound good, we also make fun a priority, and we pride ourselves on having a incredibly bonded group full of people who are really great friends and support each other in all endeavors,” said Davis. A group that manages to bring the people close to one another while providing music for others is one nice formula.
With only about a fifth of the students who apply getting accepted to Williams College, trying can be a little intimidating. But the experiences so many students are proud and excited to share prove that taking the risk is worth it. Applications for Early Decision are due November 15th and Regular Decision applications due January 1st. Incoming freshman will have SATs scores of at least 700 in each subject area and the vast majority will ave earned a 30 or higher on the ACT. Williams College is surrounded by a close community, in a beautiful place with a passionate group of motivated people. Sounds like it’s worth the effort to me!
Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts
Tuition & Fees: $49,780
Total Cost on Campus: $63,290
Undergrads Enrolled: 2,045
Grads Enrolled: 54
Total Enrolled: 2,099
Acceptance percentage: 19%
Percent Admitted who Enroll: 45%
Percentage of Male Students: 49.2%
Percentage of Female Students: 50.7%
Percentage Receiving Financial Aid: 50%
Percentage Receiving Federal Grants: 50%
Percentage Receiving Federal Loans: 50%