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Pros and Cons of Williams?

topp25topp25 5 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
What are the best part of Williams? What are the worst?
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Replies to: Pros and Cons of Williams?

  • PublisherPublisher 8073 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 11
    I find it a bit disturbing that such a wealthy school would have "run-down parts of campus" as noted in the pst above.

    Any concern regarding lack of name recognition is misguided as employers and grad schools are well aware of Williams College's stellar academic reputation.
    edited August 11
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  • writingpumpkin03writingpumpkin03 157 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I haven’t seen any areas of the campus that I would describe as “run-down”. There are definitely old and outdated buildings, for sure, but nothing is “run-down” in the sense that it is badly maintained. In fact, I’ve always had the impression that the college spends quite a lot on facilities and landscaping—probably more than is necessary, to be honest.

    I agree that prospective students shouldn’t get the wrong impression regarding name recognition.
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  • EphmanEphman 456 replies4 threadsRegistered User Member
    I think the GreyKing's points were mostly fair, but I disagree vehemently with the "run down" facilities comment. I don't think any school in the liberal arts category can top Williams in terms of facilities, and most are far behind. In fact, the critiques I've heard are that Williams has poured too MUCH money into construction over the past few decades. The difference between the campus now vs. what it was even 20 years ago is truly dramatic.

    Consider: the student center (including the main dining halls), a second, smaller student life building, the theater and dance complex, the campus library, the two main humanities buildings, and the football / track / lacrosse complex are all very new, absolutely state-of-the-art facilities. The studio art building is also spectacular and still relatively new. I don't think any liberal arts school offers a better student center, set of dining halls, library, or theater complex in particular, and that covers where students spend the bulk of their free time outside of their dorm rooms. Williams is in the process of finishing a massive 200 million dollar science complex, which along with Amherst's impressive new facility will now be the state of the art for liberal arts colleges. Williams also just built two brand new upperclassmen dorms and regularly updates all of its dorms. Those dorms towards the end of their life-cycle will soon receive gut rehabs ... college dorms take a beating, but Williams is pretty on top of major rehabs for every dorms on pretty regular schedules. Some of the indoor athletic facilities could use some upgrades, but Williams did just pour a few million into improving the field house (which was the worst of them) this summer. Williams also just completed a brand new Williams Inn and is in the planning stages for a new art museum.

    When I highlight the best things about Williams, I like to point out what distinguishes it from its main peers (Amherst, Swarthmore, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Pomona), all of which offer tremendous undergrad educations, small class sizes, great reputation, and so on. Williams' unique attributes to me are:
    - Tutorials
    - Winter Study
    -a lot of great, quirky, really cool institutional traditions (some relatively new and some very old) including Mountain Day (in particular), Williams Trivia, the WALLS program, and watch dropping at graduation
    - Williams-Oxford
    - the entry and JA system
    - close proximity to world class museums (which feature not just art but a lot of great events) in a rural environment (the Clark and MassMOCA, and coming in about two years, EMRCA, plus likely even more forthcoming)
    - and of course, the mountain setting cannot be emphasized enough!
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  • bresdobresdo 22 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I think the only thing run down is the athletic facilities...for a school that has basically won every Lear Cup since it started the locker rooms, weight rooms, etc and all out dated. Compared to all the other NESCAC school Williams is far behind.
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3367 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think the days when even the wealthiest LAC could just dip into its endowment and solve all their deferred maintenance problems with one fell swoop are long gone. Old New England campuses are like museums devoted to the history of American architecture and like any museum, the constant curating and upkeep can be expensive. Most of Williams' peers sort projects according to priorities - student safety being #1 - and assign routine things like fresh paint or new carpeting, to specific rotational schedules. Bottom line: Leave the endowment for more important probems like maintaining need-blind admissions (which I suspect takes up much of its functioning), and be aware that just because something looks "run down" doesn't mean it's being neglected.
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2153 replies101 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    Above, Ephman mentioned Mountain Day as a special traditional “pro” for Williams. Today was Mountain Day 2019!

    Here is the announcement:


    Here is a detailed schedule for the day:
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  • CottonTalesCottonTales 1268 replies21 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Pro, it's Williams.
    Con, it isn't Amherst.

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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1725 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I see the location as a negative. The area is remote and IMO, not easily accessible. North Adams is the major town adjacent to Williams (the bubble) and it is very depressed. North Adams suffered greatly during the long recession and their major employer (a hospital) shut down. The Williams campus may be attractive to IMHO, it is an area that is less desirable than it was many years ago.
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2153 replies101 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    edited October 12
    Whether the location is a plus or minus depends on your opinion. For my son, the rural location was a major factor in favor of Williams. It is so beautiful!

    For others, who feel they need things like shopping malls and clubbing and big crowds of people, being in a rural area might not be fun.

    Williamstown and the Berkshires are charming and lovely. And North Adams has revitalized and has become a tourist venue for art and music.

    Here is an article about Williamstown from the Boston Globe:

    Here is a New York Times article with a positive portrayal of North Adams: Betting on the Berkshires

    Forbes lists Williamstown/ North Adams as a best travel destination, along with Charleston and Colonial Williamsburg and their ilk: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurabegleybloom/2018/12/06/where-to-go-next-best-places-us-travel-2019/#6f3226196928

    Definitely the location should be considered by any applicant. Some won’t care about the location one way or another, some will hate it, and some will love it. Those who love it, really love it, from their freshman orientation when they backpack on a WOOLF trip OR visit the local art museums and a waterfall and other local attractions on a “Where Am I” orientation, etc., to when they return to Williamstown as alumni for years to come.
    edited October 12
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  • writingpumpkin03writingpumpkin03 157 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Empireapple Personally, I love Williamstown, but it certainly isn’t for everyone.
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1725 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'm sorry, I go to North Adams a few times a year and it has not revitalized. It is downright depressed and parts are not even safe. Yes, the Berkshires are beautiful and Williams is an attractive campus but the entire area is different than it was 20+ years ago.
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2153 replies101 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    ^Interesting. I think it is much nicer than I went there 30 years ago. I guess opinions vary!

    Now there are restaurants with a wider selection of cuisines. Back then, you couldn’t get a New York City quality slice of pizza or a bagel in Williamstown (the only bagels were frozen bagels in plastic bags, and the pizza at the pizzeria on Spring Street was, er, ‘unique‘), and to get decent Chinese food you had to drive to Bennington. But now there are many ethnic restaurants on Spring Street and in the surrounding neighborhood, including Coyote Flaco on Route 7, which serves Mexican food that is among the best we have had (and we live in the New York metropolitan area and my spouse’s favorite cuisine is Mexican).

    It takes ten minutes to drive into North Adams, so it is not a huge factor in most students’ feelings about the college as many students almost never go there, but I think North Adams is much nicer now than it was 30 years ago. It has MassMOCA, and nice stores and restaurants, and a new railroad museum coming in, instead of the rundown former mill buildings with broken windows that I used to drive past 30 years ago. Colleagues at work, upon hearing where my son goes to college, tell me about their annual visits to music festivals in North Adams, and many people mention they have gone to MassMOCA or the Clark. The area is a tourist destination. The articles I attached above note that North Adams is an up-and-coming place, where real estate values have increased.

    But I do not think most college students spend a ton of time in the surrounding towns anyway— there is so much on-campus action!— unless they are involved in a service organization that works with local children or adults, or in the consulting club that works with local businesses. And, of course, when students do venture off-campus, the Outing Club is among the most popular options, as students hike, canoe, etc.

    Of course, not everyone will like a rural area. The least happy students at Williams seem to be those who went there purely for the prestige, often using it as a safety for the Ivies, without considering how they would feel about a small college social environment in a small rural town. Happy students love the close campus community and often mention the rural area as one of the things they love about Williams. The alma mater song is even entitled, “The Mountains.”

    It’s a quiet, beautiful setting, with the mountains its most noteworthy feature. Whether that is a pro or a con depends on one’s personal perspective.
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  • ivegraduatedmomivegraduatedmom 45 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Our family members are "mountain people." Each needs access to the mountains regularly for their physical and mental health. Both our kids chose it ED. DS hikes, rock climbs, skis and snowboards. DD is a big hiker, snowshoer, and is ticking off parts of the Appalachian trail, especially since it runs through campus along Mt. Greylock. They chose Williams ED because of its location, not in spite of it. YMMV

    BTW, Williams is not a safety compared to the Ivies, regardless of the higher admit rate. And anyone who thinks that will be sorely disappointed there and probably suffer for it. WC students have a harder workload, higher expectations from their professors, and are more broadly talented than most Ivy students. Many Ivy students couldn't hack Williams. It self selects serious students who can create their own fun.

    Good luck to everyone!
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