Do you ever feel isolated at William's because of the location?

I am going to Williams as class of 2024 for track and I really liked it when I visited, but I am kind of scared of feeling lonely and isolated because it is kind of in the middle of nowhere. I am not really outdoorsy and don’t care about nature and hiking and stuff so what am I supposed to do there?

It is isolated in that it is a long journey to international airports, and you have to travel out of town for big-box stores or an urgent care facility. But—

A college campus is a community unto itself. You will be surrounded by 2000 super-smart people around your own age, plus college professors and staff, and you will not lack for activities! There are student performances, lectures both in-house and from visiting speakers, sporting events, etc., as well as events with the clubs, sporting or music groups in which you participate, and parties/social events, plus fun college traditions like Mountain Day and All Night Trivia. The immediate local area also boasts three world-class art museums as well as beautiful mountains. There are plenty of cultural events on campus, and there is plenty to “do”— much more than you will have time for, since you will spend most of your waking hours on school work!

People who like the energy and anonymity of large crowds of strangers around them in a city, or who enjoy malls or clubbing (or traffic and car exhaust), will not enjoy being in the quiet natural beauty of Williamstown. But as someone who lives in a suburb one hour from Manhattan, I frankly can’t think of any normal weekend leisure activity my family does where we are that we couldn’t do in Williamstown.

In this era of online shopping, anything you need can be ordered online and arrive in the college mailroom within two days.

But I do think that one of the best aspects of Williamstown is the beauty of its location. For an applicant who craves convenience and easy access but does not appreciate the beauty of mountains, Williams would not be a good choice. There are top small colleges of similar appeal, like Swarthmore or Haverford, that are located nearer a metropolis.

But it sounds like you already may have applied ED to Williams with an athletic slot that makes you confident of admission. If so, do not worry! You will immediately be part of three groups of potential friends— your team, your entry (dorm group), and your Ephventure group. (Consider choosing “Where Am I?” for your Ephventure group, if you want to learn more about the surrounding area.) As an athlete, you will be kept busy with team activities and have to work to balance those with your schoolwork. In the free time you’ll have available, there will be more to do on campus than you can possibly do!

Your fears about being “lonely” are understandable, but that would be as likely at an urban university like Columbia or Penn as at Williams! You will be in a new place with unfamiliar people.

Embrace all the opportunities to get to know your team and entrymates. In the early weeks, any time people in your entry are talking about going somewhere together, whether a meal or a party or apple-picking or whatever, go with them! If you show up for these events, you will quickly be a part of a group.

You still will be making new friends throughout your time at college, as you meet people through classes, your team and clubs, and other friends. Your entrymates and teammates and Ephventuremates may or may not be the friends with whom you will be closest by graduation, but they will be a ‘family’ of sorts who will keep you from feeling too lonely in the earliest days of college. Starting college is a really big and overwhelming experience for everyone, so you ‘bond’ quickly with those going through it with you.

If you are worried about missing your family, that is realistic— and it is harder to get to and from Williams if you live outside the northeastern U.S. But the college provides buses to Albany airport, New York City, etc. at break times. Plus Facetime and Skype make it easy to keep in touch. You can Facetime your family members or high school friends any time you want!

Best of luck and enjoy!

I agree with @TheGreyKing! My son wasn’t interested in Williams, but we drove through there on our way to New York to visit other schools. The campus and area were so gorgeous that I found myself wishing the school had been on his list!

OP asked: “So what am I supposed to do there?”

Run & study. Make new friends. Grow physically & mentally.

Lonliness & isolation describe two states of mind which can occur anywhere–even in the middle of New York City.

What you will not have at Williams College is the opportunity to enjoy anonimity on a frequent basis. And, after a semester, you are unlikely to see many new faces on campus on a daily basis.

Curious as to which other colleges & universities you considered.

P.S. I think that an appreciation of nature & the outdoors is important for anyone about to spend their college years in Williamstown, so that is a minor concern based on your statements in the initial post which started this thread.

The natural beauty of Western Massachusetts & rural New England is breathtaking during the Fall. If I could relive my life, I would spend every Autumn in Vermont or in Western Massachusetts. It will be intersting to read of your impressions throughout your freshman year at Williams College.

Some of the other schools I was going to apply to were Stony Brook (because it is 30 min from my house), RPI, Cornell, Columbia, UFlorida, Tufts, Vanderbilt, John’s Hopkins, and NYU. I also applied to Penn State and got in already, but there’s like a 1% chance of me going there. And two other schools for track that I would have been interested in had I not been committed to Williams are Emory and UChicago.

Second guessing yourself after a big decision is entirely normal. If you had gone to one of the other places you would be worrying the negative stereotypes they have: is the area around UChic really dangerous? is it’s reputation as ‘the place fun goes to die’ true? Is Atlanta too Southern? are Emory students all competitive pre-professionals? etc.

The point is that every place has some negative stereotypes and if you have made your choice & committed it’s time to move past second guessing yourself, and get excited! It’s a great school and you liked it when you visited. Remember why you chose it, get yourself a sweatshirt and enjoy knowing that you have a super adventure ahead of you!

You’re likely to live in a city or suburb the rest of your life, so four years in a small (albeit sophisticated) town in New England would give you a unique experience.

Yeah thanks guys and I live on Long Island right now and my town is on the water so this is going to be a very big change being up in the mountains far from the water. I really liked it when I visited so I think I will like it there and I am just second-guessing myself because it was a pretty big decision.

Think about it. Why did you apply? If you are seriously rethinking it, then I think a visit is in order if possible. I applied to Williams many decades ago and was accepted but decided not to attend (due to its location). That area in the Winter is really isolated even with 2,000 other people in the community. It’s likely to be fine. But think about it. You want to give yourself the best options. There really isn’t much there at all in the Winter. The other three seasons are fine. Mainly, I think the lack of a proper town is the downside. People who have gone there seem to have a great alumni connection, however.
Are all of your other options now closed? I think it’s natural to be thinking about it. But most importantly, ask yourself if you are afraid you talked yourself into it and have now determined that you won’t be comfortable there.

Well I applied ED because I thought it would be the best school I would ever have a chance of getting into and I didn’t want to lose the opportunity, so when I decided to apply ED the coach used one of his slots for me. That means I can’t change my mind now. But like I honestly don’t even know what a liberal arts school is and when I was looking at schools that I was initially going to apply to they were all regular size universities.
The whole thing sort of just fell onto my lap because my parents don’t understand the college or recruiting process at all so they couldn’t help me (like in August my dad asked me if I got into all my schools yet, when I hadn’t even applied to any). Well Williams sent a generic mail thing to my coach directed for me, and then I sent a recruiting questionnaire, and after a few emails back and forth with the coach they asked me to come to the recruiting weekend visit, then I told the coach I wanted to go and that was it.
So yeah I decided to go there because it seemed relatively enjoyable when I was there and I didn’t think I would get into any other good schools.

The reason I am having second thoughts is because it was the only school I visited so I don’t have anything else to compare it to

You have made the best decision you could with what you had to work with, @moonquism - and frankly, that is the very best that you (or anybody) can ever do. And in this, as in every big decision you will ever make throughout your life, once you have made it you set your face to it and really commit to making it be as successful as possible.

If in time, with more or different information, it turns out that you want to make a different choice, you assess your options at that point.

In the meantime, Williams is a great school and there will be no shortage of opportunities for you to make your college experience be full of challenges and adventures. Onward!

OP: In post #4, you list 11 other schools to which you would have applied if you had not been accepted ED to Williams College. Those eleven schools (RPI, Univ. of Florida, Penn State, Emory, Chicago, Cornell, Columbia, Tufts, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins & NYU) are substantially different than Williams College in almost every way other than regarding academic excellence.

Colleges similiar to Williams College are Dartmouth College in New Hampshire & Middlebury College in Vermont & Bowdoin College in Maine.

I agree with post #8 above that Winter at Williams College is likely to reveal whether (weather) or not your fears are justified.

Here’s what I would suggest. Since it’s not really possible to change ED decisions, go to Williams. When you get there you will be on the track team so that will be an instant group of people you’ll know. Learn to love a winter sport or activity. And if you are not happy there then transfer. The only issue, I’d have if you were my kid would be that FA aid and track opps are really different as a transfer. (Someone with recruiting athletes for transfer will probably know more about how it works).
You can also speak to your guidance counselor. This must happen from time to time. The issue is, coaches talk and it’s likely your acceptance was already posted on social media. So how can anything be changed? I don’t know. It’s a good reason that ED isn’t a good choice for kids but it helps the colleges lock in their choices.
The location might not be optimal but then again every school has positive and negative aspects. You will get a great education and many students would love to have that opportunity. Four years will fly by. Stay positive and think of the positive aspects. Many students make college decisions based on $$, parental aspects and even their own health So choices aren’t usually their first choice. This was, and you changed your mind but you must have liked something about the school. Think of those positive attributes and move forward.

OP’s current location on Long Island within 30 minutes of Stony Brook University is very similar to mine.

The winters will not be a shock to OP, as New York has winters with cold and snow also. It can be a drop colder in winter in the more inland/higher elevation location of Williamstown, and sometimes when there is a cold rain on L.I., there may be snow in Williamstown. But it snows in NY, too. As a New Yorker, OP won’t experience anything “new” in the weather in the Berkshires!

Plus, starting sophomore year, during Winter Study, you could study abroad or do internships in another location if you want to escape to somewhere warmer.

I also think that OP, as a Long Islander in either Suffolk County or easternmost Nassau County, will not find Williams too “isolated.” Traveling off Long Island is difficult and time-consuming due to high traffic congestion, and what’s on L.I.? Beaches and small wooded parks instead of mountains for outdoor fun, and lots of stores. How important is the absence of strip malls and big box stores to one’s sense of physical isolation? The more charming aspects of Long Island (besides beaches), like colonial villages and historical interest and local theatre productions and art museums and a planetarium, have equivalents on campus and locally at Williams.

It would be hard to live on Long Island without a car. It is actually easier to catch public transportation to stores from the Williams campus than it is from many homes on Long Island, where there may be no bus stop within a mile or more. There is a local bus that stops on the Williams campus.

OP, hopefully my earlier post will be reassuring, as will the posts by other posters.

Your decision is made, so get ready for a great four years! From your personal story, it sounds like you had an experience akin to winning the lottery! How wonderful that the outreach to your coach led to your being able to experience one of the best undergraduate educations in America! From here, it is up to you. Go into college with an enthusiastic attitude and embrace the wealth of opportunities available to you. Enjoy!


Quoting @TheGreyKing purely for emphasis!

@TheGreyKing Williamstown is NOTHING like LI. LOL. Not even the weather is similar. As my spouse often reminds me. The Winter is much longer and snowier, colder by far ( not close to the ocean so damper and far more snow), and there is really no comparison except they are both on the East Coast. Comparing the two is strange. The absence of stores (not only box stores but any stores) means you have to travel far to get things. If you ever lived in a rural area ( like the Berkshires) you would know that buying something can often mean driving 1/2-hour to the appropriate store. People who live in rural areas, learn to shop at farm stands and are kinder to their neighbors. They get used to driving a long way. They live differently. It’s real. It’s not a suburb of a big city. Never will be.
OP, Williams is a great school and you are lucky to go there. That being said, you will get used to a different pace. I’ve lived out there and you do learn to love the snow ( and Amazon Prime). You will find that it’s a different pace. Going to any college is a big change unless you live at home.

I mean my dad is from Oley PA which is in the middle of nowhere and I really like it there and visit once a month so maybe I will like Williamstown too

OP. I went to Williams and while the winter is long I suppose, I grew up in New England so it wasn’t a shock for me, there is plenty to do. Firstly we (my entry) went to every home basketball game. The gym would be absolutely packed and school spirit ran high, especially for boys games. There are plenty of parties. Teams workout together at the gym off season. It’s pretty fun to be surrounded by your teammates as they cheer you on while lifting or doing a push up contest. Snow can be fun! There are tons of skiing opportunities discounted for college students in the area. Williamstown is as cute as a button. So much nicer than when I attended for sure.

I think this is a great opportunity for you, especially coming from a family that as you stated has no idea what’s going on with college admissions. You are also going to have an amazing alumni network to help you out. My husband got his very good job through an alum and he is currently creating an internship for a kid who contacted him through the alumni office.

There are plenty of kids who come from really far away and thrive at Williams. At least you have seen snow! There are going to be kids there who have literally never seen snow and never owned a winter coat or a pair of boots.

It is a scary big decision, I remember not wanting to stay when my mom dropped me off, but it was a great 4 years.

@one1ofeach 's post above is interesting because it captures some significant differences which may reflect on whether one is suited for a small, rural LAC or not.

Personally, I would hate to have teammates or any one else cheering me on while weightlifting or otherwise working out. And during my time at a small (about 2,300 student) rural NE LAC, I did not enjoy seeing the same faces day after day. And I had very little interest in getting to know my professors on any basis other than a professional basis.

My point is that you need to know yourself & know what is important to you. The good news is that you will find out during your first year at Williams College.

I attended a small, rural, cold weather LAC for undergrad & a large, public university for law school. I really enjoyed having different groups of friends & acquaintences based on different interests & activities at the large university. And I cherished the freedom to enjoy anonimity and alone time when I wanted.

As described by @one1ofeach in an above post, I think of high school, not college or a university.

The point remains: To each his own. You will be forced to understand your likes & dislikes much better when confined to a small, rural, isolated, cold weather environment. It might be heaven on earth for you or it might not be your cup of tea.

Again, it would be interesting to read of your impressions throughout your first year of college at Williams. I hope that you keep us updated.

P.S. I realize that you are not me and that this thread is about you. I offer my preferences as an alternate viewpoint.

Isolation is a real issue worthy of consideration when thinking about attending a small, rural, cold weather school. Some find it cozy & welcoming, while others may find it too confining & suffocating.