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How Hard is it Really?

Gangsturr123Gangsturr123 Registered User Posts: 148 Junior Member
I have heard so many rumors about how difficult it is at William & Mary. Can I get the perspective of any current students? Is it as cut-throat as some people say?
I am a current junior and have to stay in state so William & Mary is at the top of my list, but I don't want to get in over my head.
Post edited by Gangsturr123 on

Replies to: How Hard is it Really?

  • doctorbdoctorb Registered User Posts: 662 Member
    No its not too much but it isnt a walk in the park. Of course, once youre out you love the rep b/c of the respect people give you for being smart.
  • javabytes87javabytes87 Registered User Posts: 275 Junior Member
    The workload is not easy. But then again, W&M only accepts high school students who have shown they're capable of hard work. If you're a strong student in high school, that's not something that typically changes once you get to college. It's no different here. The workload won't kill you, but don't come here if you're looking to just coast through college.
  • namtragnamtrag Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    My son, who just finished his first year, said it was easier than he had been lead to believe.
  • DatkidDatkid Registered User Posts: 594 Member
    I just finished up my first year at W&M and it wasn't as difficult as I imagined.

    I had imagined that the average class grade would be a C in every class and everybody would be in the library 24/7 trying to get an A. I was completely wrong.

    The average class grade for most classes seems to be a B and as long as you actually do a decent job in the class (i.e. you actually study for tests the day or two days before, the argument in your paper makes sense and is grammatically correct, you do some of the readings). So, yea, it's usually not that much work to get a B in most of your classes.

    Science classes are a little different. Science classes (mostly chem and physics) will require you to do more work, but not an unreasonable amount of work. Really, though, if you know you're not good at chem and physics you probably shouldn't be taking those classes anyways (I didn't). I'm just mentioning that because a lot of kids I knew started off pre-med first semester, took bio, chem, and calc, goofed off, and ended up not doing so well.

    But if you're not into the sciences, it's not difficult at all to pull off a 3.0. For a 4.00 (really, there's no way to guarantee a 4.00, I didn't meet a single kid with a 4.00 my first year) you'd have to do everything. This is you'd probably have to do every reading, go to every class, pay good attention/take good notes every class, write your papers ahead of time, show your paper to your professor early and have him give you feedback, start studying a week or more in advance of the test.

    Your GPA will get closer and closer to 4.00 the more and more you do the things listed above.

    But yea I pulled a 3.8 first year and I had A LOT of free time, much more free time than I ever had in high school or even middle school. So don't worry about the workload here, there's so much more free time in college to do what you want. Even to get a 3.8 GPA you'll only be in class/studying a small percentage of the day. I'd say I was only in class/studying for maybe 25-30% of the day M-F at the max (during finals weeks this can go up significantly depending on how well you've kept up with your work). So that left me with about 70-75% of my day to do whatever.

    The most challenging part about college is time management.

    Also, the atmosphere at W&M is not cut-throat at all. You will find that all of the students gladly help one another when it comes to studying.
  • namtragnamtrag Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    Are you my son, Datkid? He got a 3.8 as well...lol
  • rcmillerrcmiller Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    I just completed my first semester at W&M. I am a transfer from George Mason. And as surprising as this may sound I have found that the grades normalize at a higher point at The College. I too had always heard that it was the most difficult school around. However, as datkid stated, the grades tend to normalize around B/B+. It is not terribly difficult to get into the B/B+ range if one is attendinding class and spending a nominal amount of time studying. My GPA this semester is a little lower than datkid's at a 3.6. That being said, I'm no genius, so I truly believe that anyone can do well here. That being said, I too have heard that it is a great deal more difficult in the Sciences. For what it is worth I am a Government major. Hope that helps.
  • soccerguy315soccerguy315 Registered User Posts: 7,245 Senior Member
    You can get B's. A's are harder to come by (in significant numbers), it's the way it is. You will probably see at least one C before you graduate, most students (not all, obviously) do.

    Some professors are very demanding for their A's. Some essay questions on exams will come completely from readings. Some essay questions you can answer just from going to lectures. Some professors discuss the readings in class, others do not.

    I can say that you will not get a 4.0. There was one student this year with a 4.0. Math + Physics double major, with enough (or almost enough) Chemistry credits for a third major, though WM wouldn't recognize more than 2. Published in all 3 disciplines. Perfect score on the Physics GRE. etc I think the most 4.0s in a year since 2003 was 2. The other years I think there was 1, and one year had 0.

    If you want to work really hard, you can. If you don't want to do much work, you can do that too, but obviously, you will get lower grades than people who study some each day.

    ultimately, take stereotypes with a grain of salt, but remember that they exist for a reason.
  • MalvenutoMalvenuto Registered User Posts: 134 Junior Member
    It's not as hard as people say, and you have a lot more time in college. A lot depends on what subjects you're taking. I ended up with a 3.8 and other than my labs, I went to <10% of my classes. If I were taking English classes or something, though, I'd probably automatically fail just from attendance.

    First year physics is pretty easy, but my friends taking sophomore-level courses had to work hard. Math isn't as hard subject-wise, but there are almost never curves, even when the grades are very low. (In my abstract class this semester the midterm average was a 59 and the final average was a 62.) Chemistry curves are really generous. I haven't talked to anyone who didn't get a solid A in Orgo I. I did, and all my tests were in the B- to A- range.

    I've heard some profs in things like English make it impossible to get As, but Bs aren't hard. I managed a B in comparative econ with very little work.
  • DatkidDatkid Registered User Posts: 594 Member
    Malvenuto, did you have the teacher who published the histograms after every test? Because some of my friends were in orgo last semester and I saw the test averages histogram for one of the tests and the average was 116/150. So that would come out to a 77%/C+. So if you got everything in the B- to A- it would make sense for you to get curved up to the A-/A range if you were getting a lot of B+s/A-s on the tests.

    But anyways the basic gist of all these posts is that Bs aren't too hard to get in all of your humanities classes, however, As are usually difficult to get. With science/math classes it varies, though, you'll probably end up doing more work for the same grades as people majoring in the humanities.

    Also, just to put things in perspective (because CC is giving us a very skewed sampling of people getting 3.8 GPAs) the average first semester GPA for freshmen this past year was a 2.90. It just seems that not only high school overachievers post on CC but also college overachievers as well.
  • Gangsturr123Gangsturr123 Registered User Posts: 148 Junior Member
    Thank you all so much for your posts! So far, they have all been extremely helpful! Before, I was a little nervous about applying early to W&M, but now I am definitely considering it more seriously.
  • swish14swish14 Registered User Posts: 1,325 Senior Member
    The workload/no fun urban myths are UVA rumors. Lol!
  • namtragnamtrag Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    It also helps keep the reputation up and serves to weed out the applicant pool a little.

    I also still hear the rumors from kids my son's age that they heard W&M has a lot of suicides every year.

    This rumor goes on and on, I can remember hearing it when I was in school there, too.
  • Leibow11Leibow11 Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
    To all those out there who are getting their B's "with little work" or going to "<10% of your classes" ......... are you spending your parent's money for tuition, the school's money, or your own? If you're spending your own money that way, you're foolish. If you're spending your parent's or the schools money you're just selfish. You are in college to get an education and learn, not to sleep all day, party all night and have a wonderful social experience. You can do both but keep in mind that some day you will have to support yourself. Time to grow up, kids so you don't end up having to move back with your parents when you graduate because you can't afford rent. Sorry for the tirade...... well, no I'm not. Someone had to say it.
  • K9LeaderK9Leader Registered User Posts: 296 Junior Member
    Gotta agree with Leibow11 here.

    As a W&M alum who values the education I received there, I am troubled by the offhanded comments and implications that it is so easy to pull a 3.8 without working hard or going to class. That is not true for the majority of the students, and, I suspect, is an overexaggeration on the part of these posters. My experience was 25 years ago, but I remember how hard I had to work. I graduated in the middle of my class with just under a 3.0. But the work ethic I honed earning my degree and my pedestrian GPA has served me well in my career. It is true that being ensconced in the academic bubble of the campus, living in the dorms, being only a short walk to classes, does leave time for relaxing, playing, etc. even when studying and working very hard. I did find constructive/enjoyable ways to use that free time - the yearbook (which used to be an important thing in those days), student government, a fraternity, a girlfriend (now my wife). Maybe my GPA would have mattered more if I had been interested in a big-deal graduate program, but like most working professionals, when I did go back for a graduate degree, I was more interested in a school and program that were convenient in location and class times and that school didn't care about my undergrad GPA, only that I had the degree. And no employer ever asked about my GPA or cared. But I got job offers and promotions and raises based at least partially on the work ethic it took to earn my sub-3.0.

    As a parent of one college student and a second in a little over a year, I a m troubled as well by the indifference to the cost and lack of appreciation for the incredible opportunity to get a college education at all, and one as good as that offered by W&M. However, I know that that is not atypical of youth, a certain naivete, a self-indulgent obtuseness. Most of us grow out of it. I know some people who haven't.

    As a parent of a W&M student, I know how hard my son has to work. He is brighter than I ever was, and his GPA is better than mine ever was, or his mother's ever was. I'd like to see him graduate with a 3.8, and while that is mathematically possible, I'm not expecting it. He, too, has found an extracurricular activity (The Flat Hat) that is teaching him just as much as he is learning in his classes and if it costs him a little bit in his GPA, that's okay.

    As an alumnus who has donated to the College for 25 years, I am troubled that my donations and those of other appreciative alumni may be going to aid for students who blow off classes 90% of the time, although, as I mentioned earlier, I think the "attend class <10% of the time" is an exaggeration. I am comforted, though, that I believe most of the students have an appreciation for their opportunity and are making a good-faith effort at getting the most they can from it.

    Okay, rant over. To those wondering about how hard it is, if you were accepted and you are willing to be self-disciplined and focused, you'll do fine, even if you end up with a run-of-the-mill GPA but a great educational experience.
  • soccerguy315soccerguy315 Registered User Posts: 7,245 Senior Member
    it is possible in science and math classes to skip lectures and learn from the book. Most people will find the lectures helpful, but they are not always necessary.

    In other subjects, you will have no idea what's going on if you try to teach yourself from the book (especially in the classes that don't have textbooks...). Rest assured, it might be possible to get a 3.8 one semester not really going to class, but you won't end up with a 3.8 at the end.

    As has been mentioned, the average freshmen GPA is a 2.9, and most of those students work pretty hard.

    I also slightly doubt the attendance at 10% of classes... that means you went to one class a week? Really? Though, I will grant you, if you were in my comparative econ class this semester... you wouldn't be the only one. There were some people taking the final I didn't recognize.

    I also know people though that for the amount they party, you would never expect them to have the GPA that they do have. Some people who party until 2-3 on Friday and Saturday night spend 8 hours Saturday and Sunday in the Library.
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