Freshman dorms/concerned

In almost every way, W&M looks like the perfect school for my daughter but I am very concerned about the freshman dorms. We live in the Northeast and cannot imagine a May or September in non-air-conditioned dorms. I grew up in TX so I know how oppressively hot it can be-- even in VA. Anybody have any suggestions as to the “best” freshman dorms in terms of comfort rather than closeness?

The (current) fresher dorms (occasionally dorms are re-allocated to different classes) that have A/C are: Camm (in the Byran group), Hunt, Lemon, Reves, Taliaferro & Yales. The Botetourt dorms all have A/C in the lounges, and the Green&Gold in the basement & ground floor.

I get the concern- but hand on heart this really should not be a dealbreaker.- generations of students have coped with it just fine! - and you can always invest in a Dyson air cooling fan, which does a great job of keeping a dorm room reasonably comfortable, even in Virginia :slight_smile:

Btw, for a while people tried to make sure that they got a room with A/C by getting a Drs note that they had a health condition (usually “allergies”) that required A/C. Unfortunately, so many students started arriving with Dr notes that now W&M explicitly says that there is no guarantee that they will be able to accommodate you- and also notes that the A/C is off from mid-Oct to mid-April.

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Great info-- thanks!

I echo everything that @collegemom3717 has said.

All of William & Mary’s upperclassmen dorms now have AC to my knowledge. A couple of the freshman dorms: Lemon, Jefferson, and Yates have AC in the rooms as well. If you are dead set on living in a dorm with AC, you can try to mark that you would prefer a larger dorm in your housing preference survey – which in most cases they do have AC.

I lived in a freshman dorm without AC, and like collegemom said, it is completely fine. It does get rather warm during the first month and last month of the year, but all the communal spaces and other parts of campus have AC. It allowed for a bonding experience and we spent much of the time together in communal spaces, and just had fans in our rooms. You can also get approval to get a window AC unit installed in your room (just get a doctor’s note), which my roommate did – but by the time that happened it was already cool enough to not be an issue at all.

This certainly shouldn’t be a deciding factor, and if there is a medical condition where this is a requirement, let W&M know and they will do their best to accomodate. In the past, I have defended W&M on this particular issue, but I do think it is about time that they modernize all the freshman dorms in this regard. W&M is certainly not the only campus facing this though, I know a couple of other campuses are facing the same thing.

As someone else from the Northeast, your student will definitely find their home here if everything else is a fit. Happy to also answer any other questions as well, I previously answered some questions about the school here: Ask questions about William and Mary here

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Thanks for the info. As someone who lives in Maine, my daughter is simply not used to southern heat (which I have been scarred by, having grown up in Houston!) She would probably do better in a smaller/less party-centric dorm— she needs her quiet. So, how we do both ac and quiet seems difficult. Having said that, we did do a driving tour and headed to Williamsburg. She absolutely loved it! A friend of mine knows kids who have gone to William and Mary and said it is quite a stressful academic situation there. My daughter is a scholar, but I don’t think she will function well in a very competitive situation. I think she works better in a more cooperative group, where she can be a leader. So I’m trying to avoid any cutthroat campuses, which may take Wellesley off the table. Definitely love Williamsburg though!

@lollylolly curious if you know from friends’ kids if it is a stressful academic environmentz because it is cutthroat/competitive among students, or if it is stressful because of the challenge and rigor? It could be a stressful workload but a collaborative environment. This will make a world of difference to my daughter, too. Thanks!

It’s helpful to tease out the kinds of stress at different schools. Competitive / cut-throat / intense / stressful are not synonyms in this arena.

W&M students tend to push themselves hard- but they compete with themselves, not each other. I know rather a lot of recent W&M students, and most of them would agree that while there are times when it is stressful (notably exam season!), overall they love W&M, and the bonds that they make with their peers. Of course W&M is not for everybody (tbf, few schools are).

In the spirit of helpfulness, I recommend keeping your thumb off the scale as much as possible: let your daughter find her way forward and wait until she is actually at the sharp end of the decision to voice concerns. One thing I have learned over several admissions cycles is that the actual process of investigating, considering, and evaluating different colleges has all kinds of learning in it, much of which is only visible in hindsight. There is real maturing happening as they work through the process. Asking (genuinely) benign open-ended questions is as far as I would go until she is actually narrowing choices for putting down a deposit.

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My daughter is a sophomore at W&M now, and she loves it. I actually would not describe her as a scholar, although she has always liked school and reading. She is primarily a “doer,” and would not be happy if immersed fully in a “life of the mind.” She prioritizes her classes, but also loves living in her sorority house with 15 other girls. She is a trip leader for W&M’s adventure program, sails on the sailing team, and volunteers at the animal shelter. She would not describe the academic atmosphere as competitive at all. For example, her roommate sets very high academic standards for herself. She is happy to spend her time studying, working out, eating with friends, and studying some more. My daughter prefers to take less rigorous classes, or fewer classes per semester, and spend more time on her activities. They are great friends and neither is competing with the other. In fact, I think they are good for each other, as D’s roommate inspires her to stop procrastinating on schoolwork, and D encourages her roommate to take a break and go for a walk (for example, to go see the baby lambs in CW).

The atmosphere is far less pressurized than our local public high school. The students aren’t competing—they each have different goals, and they support each other in reaching those goals, while having fun together along the way.

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This is a super helpful response! It sounds like W&M is what you make it-- and that the infrastructure supports the students to be the best they can be while still encouraging uniqueness. It sounds like a good spot to land, and I’m glad that it’s near the top of my daughter’s list!

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I appreciate your words. Our situation is a little unique because my daughter has Aspergers, and we are aware that W&M has a neurodiversity “bridge.” She is super high-functioning but still, there are areas that might be easier for the typical student to wing. That’s why I am keen to make sure she ends up somewhere that will play to her strengths as well as challenge her-- I imagine in a few years when my son is making these same choices, it will be a straighter line, if you know what I mean. And I only let my detail questions to rear themselves here, and not with her. She is fully involved and so far is appreciative of our commitment to support her.

@lollylolly I think that you will find that your daughter has Aspergers, I think you might find William & Mary to a better fit than most colleges. I think many students at William & Mary fully embrace their nerdy or quirky sides (one of the places it is seen as “cool”) and the college in general makes a big deal of its community and being a very welcoming environment. There are quite a few students that I know that are high functioning, but also somewhere on the spectrum, a couple of my friends identify this way, and there is even an active neurodiversity student organization.

When I was at William & Mary, I used to participate in their program where they could host prospective students overnight, and one student I hosted overnight had certain characteristics that I suspected strongly aligned with Aspergers. After giving him a tour and introducing him around, he eventually decided to attend William & Mary. Every time I walked across campus, I would find that he would be welcomed or embraced by different friends, he led certain clubs on campus, and overall seemed to be very well adjusted on campus.

William & Mary can still be a challenging academic school, but not for the reasons that you mentioned. I think students overall are incredibly collaborative, supportive of one another, and not really competitive in comparison to some other schools. I completely agree with the characterizations given by @collegemom3717 and @3SailAway as a very accurate way to describe the college experience there.

I think your student can certainly thrive there, as I know many students that have gone through there and have as well. One thing that might be helpful as well as you go throughout your search, is contacting and seeing what resources are available to students via the college accessibility office. William & Mary does a decent job at providing accommodations to students I believe, and there might be certain resources that different colleges might provide that could be beneficial to them.

Cheers your college search! Like I mentioned in my earlier thread, I answer some questions about W&M here so feel free to take a peek as well https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/t/ask-questions-about-william-and-mary-here/.

LOL

Good luck with that! Based on a random sample of the Collegekids, they all find ways to throw spanners in the works :rofl: