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When any student says they go to Williams, the most common reaction seems to be "Oh.... what's that?" It's tiny size and the largely rural landscape create a very different atmosphere from the town where I grew up, which was home to a mid-sized public university. The main street through Williamstown consists of art galleries, a few decent restaraunts, and overpriced "market" that carries mostly organic food, one clothing store, and a mediocre coffee shop (the coffee is terrible, but the espresso drinks are okay and the vegetable quiche is amazing), plus a store that sells quirky gifts, books, children's toys and costume supplies. On the plus side, there's lots of good hiking. The administration keeps things running smoothly. They're good about responding to email and working with students on personal issues, but they seem to have little regard for student opinion when it comes to construction projects and the infamous cluster housing system. The cluster system divided an already tiny campus of 2000 into four neighboorhoods, supposedly to promote community and help the students get to know each other, but effectively did nothing but piss people off and limit housing choices.
Though most confuse us with Williams and Mary, I feel that Williams's name is associated with far more important qualities. 1) That for those who recognize the name, there is usually an affinity of gratitude and love attached to it. Those who attend Williams don't regret it. This is a place where the small size leads more easily to the formation of life long relationships and friendships that help to truly form us when we leave college.
Beautiful town, but very small and definitely in the middle of nowhere. The school gives us plenty of "special" traditions to bond us to the school and help us forget about the limitations of our location, though--a surprise Friday off every October (called Mountain Day), fireworks in January during "Winter Carnival," and a bizarre but lovable mascot (the purple cow). It's a small school that makes its size an absolute plus.
Williams has a gorgeous campus. Mountains, well kept historical buildings, beautiful new structures...and more mountains! Although it is remote (and kind of hard as a freshman to get off campus), most of the things you need/want you can find in Williamstown (or near by). The campus is fairly small, but you really get to know a lot people. I think the size makes everyone feel a little more connected. We have five dining halls that aren't too far from any dorm, which offers lots of variety (both of people and food). The vegan/vegetarian options are pretty good, but you can find something to eat no matter what your taste/restrictions are. As a freshman, I spent most of my time in my entry. The entry system is one of Williams's distinguishing factors. All freshman are divided into a group of about 20 and are given two Junior Advisors (JAs). JAs help arrange things for their frosh (like dinners and weekly snacks). Entries offer frosh a sort of home base, a group of people who will always be there to help you out when you're in need or hang out with you in the common room to watch crappy reality shows!
If you like a small, elite college that is obsessed with providing its students with the best possible educational experience, come to Williams. By having no graduate school, Williams students are the center of the attention. If you like nature, you are in the right place. Williams is at the base of a mountain and has truly beautiful surroundings. We have one of the best golf courses in the country and hiking is a fun activity. Winters can get tough - they are cold and long, but if you like skiing, you will enjoy it. The social scene is a little tough. Being a small school with no bars, a lot of students party on campus. This is great to get to know people, but if you are looking for streets lined with bars and clubs, Williams isn't the place for you.
Williams people are generally friendly and smart. For the most part people work very hard, enjoy what they do, and make the most out of the tremendous amount of resources offered to us. We have generally small classes with excellent professors (I've only had two or three classes I didn't like). Classes here are most certainly challenging, so come prepared if you sailed through high school. The school is only about 2000 undergrads and twenty some graduate students, but the size makes for a close knit community. Buildings on campus, including dorms, are well kept and high-tech (wireless internet everywhere, lots of AV access, etc.). The liberal arts aspect allows you a lot of free reign on what you take. I'm a science guy at heart, and the bio, chem, and physics departments here are all top notch. There is a lot of school spirit, and a lot of athletic people, but not your average "dumb jock" types. These folks are some real student-athletes. The administration is friendly and try to be receptive to students, but often get caught up in some idea they think will better the community even though most students oppose the change. Cluster housing, for example, is a completely failed system that the administration imposed on the students. Luckily in the big picture it's a minor issue because of the small size of the campus. The often talked up "entry system" and the whole Junior Advisor thing for first years is actually as great as the admissions office plays it up to be, at least in my experience. Williamstown is very small in terms of population and rather large in terms of geographical area, with lots of great hiking and nearby kayaking, canoeing, and climbing. The town and the student body don't mix too much, and most students stick to campus for social life/parties. Not really any bar scene (a few bars on Spring Street in the middle of campus, but they are tiny and don't attract huge crowds). The Clark is in walking distance, offering free access to their world-class art exhibitions for students. The college's own museum of art is free to all and generally has interesting exhibits. We're halfway between Boston and New York City, making those popular summer internship locals. The Adirondacks, White Mountains, Green Mountains, and (of course) the Berkshires are accessible for outdoor adventures during the semester. I didn't study abroad, but plenty of students do, and have a great time. The biggest recent issue on campus is dealing with subtle intolerance and racism. I suggest cruising around William Students Online and the Williams website (search "stand with us" or "williams speaks out") for more information on this form an opinion based on the reports of students who have been directly affected. The food can range from surprisingly excellent to just plain bad. 5 dining halls on campus, so it depends on which one and the day. Good restaurants around town. Overall, I love it here, and wouldn't change my choice.
Jared SeniorReviews provided by: Unigo