College of William and Mary
Written by Lisa Bleich.
William and Mary is a beautiful, expansive campus where old, ancient and new intermingle. Its historic setting in Colonial Williamsburg, VA compliments the deep history associated with William and Mary, a college of firsts. It was the first law school, the first school with an honor code, the first college to become a university and the first college with a chapter of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa. While steeped in tradition and history, it is in every sense a modern, major research university with 70% of the students doing undergraduate research and ranked 14 in students going onto PhD programs in the STEM fields.
As we walked the sprawling campus, we were delighted by a large open quad area, gorgeous sunken garden, historic structures, quaint bridges that overlooked small creeks, and state-of-the art facilities including a new performing arts center, recreation facility and student center. Students took advantage of the perfect 70-degree weather, eating outside, sitting on benches reading, or congregating on the lawn area.
Students seemed happy and engaged. We saw a mix of nerdy, artsy, athletic, down-to-earth, ambitious, active, and intellectual students with a strong sense of community, history and traditions. Sports are pretty big on campus since William and Mary is a DI school with 120 recruited athletes (1/2 of them apply ED). Greek life also has a strong presence on campus, but not overwhelmingly so.
There is a saying at William and Mary, “If you come here, you belong here.” And in speaking with students is seemed true. We met one of my former clients, who is a current freshman, at a student hangout called Aroma. She discussed her art class with great enthusiasm as it forced her outside of her comfort zone, but in a really engaging manner. She is a biology major, but always enjoyed art and was happy to be able to pursue it during college. She felt welcomed by the strong sense of community and intellectually engaged, yet supportive student body.
To promote a sense that students are part of something special and long-standing, there are several traditions including an opening convocation where all new students walk through Rem building and come out by sunken garden where they are greeted by current students and staff, a Yule log ceremony and a charter celebration and ceremony.
Directly adjacent to the campus sits Colonial Williamsburg replete with a mix of restaurants, touristy shops, and cafés to service the numerous visitors to this historic destination.
William and Mary is a public university, but has the feel of a small liberal arts college. Professors teach all the classes and they offer 100+ majors in the humanities, social sciences, and hard sciences.
In the fall of 2015, a new college core curriculum will be introduced requiring students to take a handful of the same classes so that students can have a shared academic experience. The core curriculum will focus on interdisciplinary studies and include a Freshman seminar, a Capstone major project, a study abroad experience or a course on campus dealing with global issues, and a class that looks at how the three main academic areas impact each other. Students are encouraged to look for opportunities where disciplines intermingle.
W & M also offers a joint degree program with St. Andrews in Scotland whereby students spend two years on each campus. The majors for this program are limited to history, economics, English, and international relations.
Admissions and Financial Aid
Since William and Mary is a public institution, it is more competitive for out-of-state students. The ratio between in-state and out-of-state students is 35% vs. 65%. The overall admissions rate is 33% however the majority of applications come from out-of-state; therefore the admissions rate for in-state applicants is 42-44% vs. 25-27% for out-of state applicants. They fill 39% of their class with early decision applicants and the ED acceptance rate is 45-46% and most of the ED applicants are in-state.
William and Mary is highly selective and seeks students who have taken a rigorous course load in high school. Roughly 81% of students were in the top 10% of their high school pool. Accepted students scored in the 1270-1470 range in the Critical Reading and Math section of the SATs and 29-33 in the ACTs with writing. Out-of-state students scored in the higher end of that spectrum. They also look at personal qualities and how involved students were in high school.
Students can interview with current William and Mary students during the summer or fall, but it is small part of the process. It’s best to sign up for interviews during the summer.
William and Mary meets full demonstrated need for in-state students, but not for out-of-state students (with the exception of Monroe Scholars). There are limited merit scholarships available.
William and Mary is a great school for highly intellectual, collaborative, creative, quirky students. It’s set in historic Williamsburg with a sprawling, understated campus rich in natural beauty and historic building. It offers a quiet, contemplative setting coupled with a strong academics, athletics, and Greek life.
The College of William & Mary
Contact W&M for specific mailing addresses.