D. is a first-year student at Amherst. Has had a wonderful experience thus far. The campus community seems very warm. The kids in her dorm, one of the smaller ones, have been pretty close from the beginning (very different from my older daughter's Top 20 university, where she doesn't know or speak to half the kids on her floor). Her friends are equally divided between sports teammates, kids who are not athletes, kids involved with different sports. Although everyone is very bright, the kids I've met all seem very "normal."
The campus community is incredibly diverse--geographically, culturally, economically--and yet they've done a very good job of bringing students together. It strikes me as a very special place in that regard.
As a prospective student, she did an overnight at Williams and did not like anyone she met. The vibe struck me as cold with everyone trying to come off as an intellectual. This is obviously a very personal thing--Williams is no doubt a very fine institution.