Could certain achievements/activities HURT my Williams application?

<p>Hello everyone! I am just joining CC now to ask a nagging question I've had on my mind. Thank you in advance for any advice you can lend me. </p>

<p>This past summer I visited Williams for a day. By the end of the visit, I knew it was the place for me. I'll be applying Early Decision, so I'm sure that the Admissions Committee will be aware of my interest.</p>

<p>But I'm afraid they'll see things on my application that will make them think I'm not a political/social fit for the Williams Community. I'm aware that all the liberal arts colleges are, well, liberal (not that I have a problem with that or care about a school's political leanings). A lot of my extracurriculars don't paint me as a very liberal candidate, even though I'm by no means a conservative. </p>

<p>For one, there's my Eagle Scout rank. It's one of the things I'm most proud of, but the Boy Scouts have been under attack recently by those opposed to its policy regarding the exclusion of gays and atheists. I'm no defender of that policy either, but I'm afraid I'll be cast as some homophobic religious conservative by being an Eagle Scout. There's no way I'm going to keep it off my application, but I'm wondering if I should either write a disclaimer or explanation, or downplay its significance on who I am.</p>

<p>Also, while I'm not a religious fundamentalist or nut, I am Catholic and volunteer in my church. I also go to a Parochial high school. I'm afraid these things will hurt me at a secular, liberal college like Williams. </p>

<p>Thank you all so much in advance for any advice. I really, really want to attend Williams and have been very concerned about these issues.</p>

<p>You should be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished, and if a school doesn’t think you are a great fit then their loss.</p>

<p>I agree. I have a couple of friends from when we were kids who did Eagle Scouts. It is a no joke really great program with lots of hard work involved. Now the admission - my parents did not permit me to do boy scouts even though I wanted to when I was younger. They cited the anti-gay bias when I asked about it. All along I’ve thought it was really unfair of them to take away an opportunity to do something I wanted to do with my friends because of their political beliefs, but at least they were honest with me. And it only took a few years before I got into something else, and by middle school it was not “cool” to be in scouts so then I thanked them. </p>

<p>No I don’t think that was cool on my part either, I think kids who do scouts through senior year have a lot of dedication and flame-retardant clothes and are generally really super-smart kids.</p>

<p>But I do agree that if Eagle scouts is a huge part of your life then you have to own that, because if you don’t, you’re just trying to wedge yourself into a school. I don’t know. It’s the strategy I’m taking. Whoever wants me, wants me. I’ve been told no by a few places already. I have to be cool with that, too.</p>

<p>questionaut, your ECs, religion and political positions will NOT keep you out of Williams. While Williams, like most (all?) selective LACs, leans left, it is one of the more middle road of the top tier privates. In debate, both in and out of the classroom, your opinions will be respected; your input welcome.</p>

<p>By my (very) informal count, there are more Eagle Scouts per square mile in Williamstown than anywhere else in the country. :slight_smile: Aside from Scouts’ position on social issues, Williams and Eagle Scouts are a good fit because of their core characteristics like leadership, self sufficiency, outdoorsiness, community service, commitment.</p>

<p>Your Catholic beliefs and involvement in your church could also be considered a plus. The Junior Advisor in my son’s entry (dorm unit) was a serious Catholic which led to lots of intense but positive discussions. He is now a priest.</p>

<p>I agree with Bayrunner: Williams wants to know who you are.</p>


<p>Thank you so much for that. That’s really why Williams is so high on my list - because I love the outdoors so much, and Williams practically lives for them. It is good to know that there are Eagle Scouts at Williams.</p>

<p>It’s not that I’m a conservative, even if I’m not very liberal. Nor am I excessively religious- I just don’t want to be interpreted as those things in front of an admissions committee.</p>

<p>I’m a Williams student and a Catholic. Wasn’t an Eagle Scout, but I think among my friends and acquaintances alone there must be at least a dozen of them. I don’t think the admissions officers are looking to construct a class of left-wing atheists by any means. Of course, there are a few real nutcases who are the most vocal among the student and faculty bodies, but that is a misrepresentation of the people here. Perhaps the students you met during your visit gave you only this perspective? Each student sees and makes their own “Williams” through the activities and friendships he/she chooses. And considering the College’s Protestant history, the de facto admission of qualified Catholic applicants since the beginning of Vatican II is likey seen as positive diversification to this day (according to a conversation I had with an admissions officer who worked in the days of the men’s college). </p>

<p>I’m not “a liberal” nor am I “a conservative” although I do tend to vote for Democrats. I’m sure I can get nasty words from both sides here if I go around looking for them–so I don’t do it. Just downplay your religion & personal political feelings if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it to Williams. To me it sounds like you’d rather show the admissions officers that you’re a unique, interesting person than a collection of semi-accurate labels.</p>

<p>Even if Williams did try to engineer a more liberal campus environment (which I highly, highly doubt they do), activities such as going to church or being an Eagle Scout are not political acts. Instead, they are insight into your values, which in all likelihood are values which you have every reason to be very proud of and will work strongly in your favor during the college application process.
If it’s any support to you, I really empathize with your concerns, having been through it myself. I am both an Eagle Scout and a weekly churchgoer, and I got into and have had a fantastic experience at another selective school considered at least as liberal as Williams. And I discovered I was hardly the exception; indeed, just over 1/4 of the freshmen in my freshmen unit were Eagle Scouts, a higher percentage than in my troop! When you achieve Eagle Scout, the proof is in the pudding that you can show dedication and leadership, and these are two values every school has reason to value deeply.</p>

<p>Those activities are fine and Eagle Scout is actually very impressive. They will both help your application, not hurt it. Best of luck!</p>

<p>Just as a side note, I’ve actually been to several info sessions at other LACs where they list how many Eagle Scouts are in their incoming classes, right along with valedictorians, National Merit Finalists and other honors and achievements. Among the admissions committees, I think you’ll find that being an Eagle Scout is only a positive, and if it isn’t, you really don’t want to be there anyway.</p>

<p>As far as being Catholic (or any religion), I really doubt that is going to make be a negative. I some cases it may actually help, as religions provide many opportunities for community-based leadership over a lifetime, not just a check-the-box kind of volunteerism that many students think will get them in. The only problem anyone might ever have with religious students is if they show themselves to be intolerant bigots calling for violent actions on their Facebook pages, and there the problem is not really religious in nature, so we’ll leave it at that.</p>

<p>Bottom line for any college applicant - be yourself. If you have to be someone else to get into a school, no matter how much you want to go there, what are the odds you are going to be happy once you get there? (One could say this about dating or getting a job as well.)</p>

<p>Williams and the other top-tier LACs want to admit a freshman class that represents a broad range of views and experiences; otherwise things get too boring.</p>