culture, crew, classes

<p>My senior visited Williams earlier this month and liked it a lot. He is a rower (rowing coach was not available) and while he's a strong member of his team, not good enough to be recruited. I think he has a profile that would be competitive, 2350 SATs, strong and interested in both humanities and math/sciences, good grades like a million other kids. So--he loved it but I was a bit underwhelmed. The school communicated how pleased it is with itself, it seemed peopled with ultra-confident (bordering on arrogant) over-achievers.</p>

<p>My kid is a quiet kid; introspective, not a partier. Plus, and this is a mom talking, he lost his dad to cancer 2 years ago and while he's made enormous and heroic strides in dealing with it, he's still dealing with it. So I worry. I definitely want him somewhere with a culture that is not over-the-top competitive. Hel loved the tutorial system. Other schools he's liked a lot by way of comparison include U of Chicago, Haverford and Reed. He also was awarded an NIH sponsored research internship at our Univresity's cancer research center this summer and hopes to return next summer, so research opportunities are important to him, and one of the great draws of a school like U of Chicago.</p>

<p>So -- can anyone comment for me? He's going to apply, I'm keeping my concerns to myself until he's admitted or denied and regardless it will be his decision. </p>

<p>My DS is a junior. Many walk-ons on crew. I don’t think the kids at Williams are arrogant. They are all achievers and work hard. My son has almost all “A”'s but he never discusses his grades with others and he is not competing with others. I don’t think the atmosphere is cut throat competitive. The tutorials are terrific but require a lot of work. My kid is an introvert but he has a pretty good circle of friends with similar interests. The entry system really helped him make good friends.</p>

<p>I had the opposite impression, that everyone knows your name but nobody knows your GPA. </p>

<p>It’s considered to be bad form to flaunt your intellectual prowess, in part, because that’s taken to be a given. </p>

<p>On our tour, I had the impression that there’s more bragging there about the accomplishments of Williams students than on a day to day basis. </p>

<p>Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with several of my son’s Williams classmates. If I had to generalize I’d say they were intellectually curious about everything and anything and sincerely kind. Confident, maybe comfortable in their own skins, but definitely not arrogant. Achievement driven, but able to maintain a happy life balance. </p>

<p>Maybe my son, like Blueash’s, was lucky in his entry-mates, but he pretty much developed a social group on day one and stayed close throughout his time at Williams and beyond. </p>

<p>Williams does seem somewhat out of sync with the other colleges on your son’s short list–both in culture and in setting. </p>

<p>Williams’ rural mountain environment isn’t for everyone, but those who like it, usually consider it a positive factor in their overall experience. If your son reacted favorably to the idea of being in beautiful natural surroundings, he might want to explore that characteristic in other schools. </p>

<p>My son was not a team athlete but was involved in outdoorsy activities, and the combination of an academic culture plus a physically active culture (plus a good dose of arts culture) really appealed to him. </p>

<p>The academics are demanding and intense, but the atmosphere is more collaborative than competitive. The pervasive emphasis on sports, nature and general wellness is a significant stress buster. From what you describe, finding this balance may be important to your son. </p>

<p>My D (current first year at WiIliams) also had Haverford and U Chicago on her list, until she visited Haverford and really didn’t like it at all ( but did very much like Swat on that same visit). She is very intellectual, doesn’t drink and considers herself an introvert, although she is also musical and athletic, and very outdoorsy. I think Williams attracts a lot of renaissance men and women, but also students who are more ‘pointy’. From my own observations on campus and from D’s reports, arrogant would be one of the last adjectives I’d choose for the student body. I think you can trust your S’s own impressions (and I bet yours will change if you go to previews next spring and get to observe the kids up close :)) </p>

<p>My current HS senior is my fourth to send to college in less than a decade, and I’ve had to learn to absolutely let them lead the search for colleges that ‘fit’. I was pretty pushy with the first two, thinking that I knew better and they didn’t understand, etc. It really comes from natural concern that things be ‘right’ and safe and good for our kids with their unique selves, and maybe some issues, as they move into the world. But once they have visited a college, if the campus culture feels good to them, that’s a pretty reliable compass. </p>

<p>The great thing about Williams crew is that there aren’t so many recruited rowers (on the women’s team only 4 this year I think) but there are loads of walk-ons who have rowed before and who haven’t. So your S can pull an oar in a novice boat until he’s ready for more…or who knows, maybe he’s stronger than you think…<br>
Also many research opportunities at Williams, maybe more than for UG at Chicago et al. Look at some of the research that science faculty is doing - fascinating, unique, cutting edge, totally over my head! But D has been given the opportunity as a first year to do real research and she’s in heaven. </p>

<p>My DD is a Junior at Williams and loves it. She is a bit of an introvert and is not a big drinker. However, she has admitted to some drinking on occasion, much to my chagrin. The classes are demanding but really prepares them for the real world. She has a great group of friends and is a recruited athlete. She has never expressed to me that other students are arrogant, but says that most are very friendly and accepting. Overall she is having a very positive experience at Williams. Hope this helps.</p>

<p>My D just ran for office at Williams and if you read the kids’ self nominations (what goes out to the student body and is the platform/basis for voting), none of them brag about their accomplishments – obviously some do mention what they love to do, and why they might be qualified. But overall, they are just so down to earth, and enjoy learning, each other and life in the purple bubble!<br>
Crew at Williams is fun, and open to many levels - your S would find a family there as well as with his entry. </p>

<p>Zzzmmm I sent you a message.</p>

<p>My D graduated from Williams. The assumption is that everyone who goes to Williams is smart and kids from Williams want to learn from one another. Crew is great there. The team is truly a family. There are many walk-ons and everyone can participate. They usually do well. There are large parties that my D rarely attended, preferring instead to hang out with a small group of friends. In my experience, when we visited, and at graduation, I never saw Williams be particularly “pleased” by itself. It does celebrate it’s students. Before D attended, I “heard” that diversity wasn’t appreciated, but this is certainly not mine, or DDs impression</p>

<p>Just to add, learning is cooperative there, not competitive. </p>