- Class: Freshman
- Major: Anthropology
- Gender: F
- High School: Highland Park High School
- Transfer Student: N
The best thing about William and Mary is the opportunities you get here that are so unique. It's magical, actually; even the most timid person, as long as they have an interest in something, has a chance to pursue that interest in truly exciting ways. I came here because when I visited on Admitted Students' Day, there was this extremely quiet girl who got up to speak at a session on research opportunities. We could hardly hear her, and she didn't seem like an obvious choice as a speaker who was supposed to be convincing us to attend William and Mary. Then she told this story about emailing a professor about trying to get into a class that was full, and in response getting an offer to spend the summer doing research with him. This was amazing. She was clearly not the most aggressive or cutthroat of people, but here, she didn't have to be in order to have an absolutely amazing experience, and one that fit her interests perfectly. She ended up getting published with this professor-- all because of one tentative, and unrelated, email. So I decided to come here because I wanted to be able to tell a story like this. And this summer, I will be going to Kenya for six weeks to go on an archaeological dig. For free. I am able to do this because a professor I had in the fall suggested some names of people to contact. One email later, I was offered a ticket to Nairobi. I didn't have to beat out tons of my also well-qualified classmates, or brag endlessly and uncomfortably about myself, and this is the kind of thing I've only heard about happening at William and Mary.
Professors know your name if you want them to. Clearly, there are smaller classes where they will know your name (no matter how carefully you might avoid it!) but in introductory classes, for science, especially, a professor may not learn your name. An easy remedy to this is going into office hours. Not only do you get extra help, but the professor learns your name and recognizes you in class. I did this for a class I took with almost 100 people in it, and it has paid off enormously; my professor started suggesting research opportunities for the future for me, and really has helped me figure out how to blend my diverse interests so I can pursue a field that's right for me.
Some groups on campus are more vocal than others, and some are more militant than others, as well. The racial and cultural groups are always extremely accepting; overall, they just want other people to appreciate the things about their heritage that they love. Even events that you'd expect to be less easily accepted, like Palestine Awareness week, really do stir up a lot of interest, in a good way. The religious groups keep mostly to themselves; they recognize that their activities are going to interest mostly group members, and hold a lot of activities that foster group bonding. The only groups that really cause any sort of bad feelings around campus are super-rightist ones that seem to refuse to accept other views. For example, Students For Life will always hold an event on the SAME night as a pro-choice event is held. Their planning seems to be retaliatory, always. Also, the Virginia Informer, our "independent" newspaper, is known for being purposefully incisive and biased. There are more conservative or rightist groups that are far more tolerant and well-accepted on campus, and students whose views aren't extremely liberal don't feel out-of-place, but some groups' aggressiveness can be over the top.
The Best Things
The people. Nowhere else have I met people that I can make a noise, and they understand how I'm feeling. I can say things that don't really make sense, and they know what I mean. We talk about why carrots are orange, how best to peel a hard-boiled egg, and the necessity of relationships for happiness. I would be hard-pressed to find a group of people I would rather spend my time with, and that is what I love about this school.
The Worst Things
Because it's a state school, it's under the jurisdiction of the Board of Visitors, which has tended to be very conservative-leaning. Student's rights can sometimes be infringed upon, as a result.