Is W&M worth the price tag?

Hi everyone, my daughter was accepted to W&M. No aid. We live in NY, so out-of-state tuition. She is undecided. She is not sure whether W&M is worth it, or whether she should go to Binghamton, which is half the tuition. She was also accepted to Lafayette, and is struggling with the same dilemma. Part of the dilemma is whether to go to a big university or a small college. She spent the last four years at the largest HS in US in Brooklyn, and it was not the happiest of time. I don’t know what to tell her. My generation went to the best school we could get into, but she is struggling with the decison.

If finances are an issue, then go with the most affordable option.

As to which among Lafayette, Wm.& Mary, and SUNY-Bing are the best for your daughter’s future depends upon her future plans and career goals.

It would be helpful if you shared that info. alnog with actual COA for each school & whether or not student loans will be required in order to pay for any of her options.

I mentioned that she is undecided, which I think shows that she does not have any future plans or career goals at this point. COA is still up in the air, however, clearly, the private schools will be significantly more. I mentioned that Bing will be one half the cost.

I am curious what folks think about W&M as a college. Objectively.

By any objective standards, W&M is one of the top public universities in the country, usually considered “top ten,” and is vastly smaller than the others on that list. (UVa is the second smallest and they have almost 3x the undergraduates!) It’s about the same size as Princeton. It’s much larger than a LAC like Lafayette, of course.

Most people don’t realize W&M is a public school. Even Virginians.

Some downsides of a large university that you might not have considered: Large universities usually have lots of graduate students, and many classes are taught by graduate students instead of regular faculty. Large universities often hire lots of adjunct professors to teach, and many are marvelous educators but are horribly paid and exploited. Finally, at large universities the graduate students get first crack at the research assistant jobs. At LACs and small universities like W&M, the undergrads get those opportunities.

Look at online assessments by the Princeton Review. W&M is highly rated in several key areas, including Happiest Students.

I’m so sorry you won’t be able at attend events for admitted students. They can be so helpful. Made the difference for my daughter, for sure.

Good luck!

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The only recent students whom I knew well who attended & graduated from the College of William & Mary all received an academic award with their admission which included a small stipend for summer study or a project. They all did quite well. Went with consulting firms that contract with the US government. Required security clearances.

In my day, I only knew football recruits.

Other than some complaints about lack of air conditioning in the dorms, I do not recall anything but positive comments.

I encourage you to read the Fiske Guide To Colleges 2020 edition. The College of William & Mary receives the highest ranking for academics (5 Pens); Lafayette receives 4 Pens for academics & has a rep as a very social school; SUNY-Binghamton received 4.5 Pens–the second highest rating–for academics.

Wm. & Mary tends to attract serious students.

Hi @Utenochek ! I was in your same shoes not too long ago. As an out of state student, I was admitted to William & Mary and had to make a choice among similar types of options. It would be helpful to know a little bit more about your daughter and what she really values and wants out of a college experience. It sounds like from what you’re saying, she would likely benefit from a smaller college experience.

Here’s what I can say from my time at William & Mary:

  • William & Mary is the ideal place for an undecided student. It is a place that really encourages intellectual growth and exploring new ideas. You don't have to declare your major until your sophomore year and many courses in the curriculum are interdisciplinary in nature. You can design your own major if you'd like, and many students really think across disciplines in their thinking. It has really helped me become a well-rounded person and think about things from different perspectives.
  • Small class sizes make a difference! I got to know my professors particularly well, which opened all sorts of opportunities. Most of my classes were less than 30 people and I have only had two classes total that I would even consider "large." Heck, I even had a class that was 5 people. The professors are enormously supportive, and I have gotten to know several on a personal level. I have gotten coffee with some of them, been invited to some of their houses at the end of the year, and even to meet some of their kids. There are several that I can point to that really made a difference in my life, and have completely changed how I think about things. It is not uncommon for them to stay in touch after graduation, get invited to weddings, and one of my friends said "I really want to come back to campus, so I can visit my professors.
  • It exposed me to a different part of the country. Like you, I grew up in the Northeast, moving to a different part of the country and many different perspectives, which I am incredibly grateful for. One question could be, where does she want to end up in the future? A significant portion of William & Mary alumni end up in the DC
  • Does this sound like your daughter: smart, open to new ideas, down to earth, focused on collaborating rather than competing, accepting, cares greatly about the others, wants to change the world, and gives their all to everything. If it does, congratulations welcome to William & Mary! That is the majority of the student body, and I always feel truly blessed for all the people I met there, they have truly changed my life (far more than the classroom could ever) and I am endlessly grateful for it. They are innovative, constantly coming up with new ideas, and I am no doubt many of them are going to end up changing the world, that's just the type of student that goes there.
  • Are you planning to go to graduate school? This might be a good question to ask. William & Mary does very well for graduate school placement, but if you are considering graduate school (med school or law school in particular) can be very expensive and offer a limited number of scholarships, so it may be worth going to a less expensive school and save money for graduate school later on. On the other hand, if she is considering a different type of program, there are many fully funded programs and scholarships available.

Whether it is overall worth it or not, that’s a personal decision and can depend on many different factors, but I am happy to help out in any way I can. I am also planning on opening up a thread again that I started a long time ago, so feel free to also ask questions on there (there is an abundant amount of info there too!)


@shawnspencer/ This comment really helped me–

“Does this sound like your daughter: smart, open to new ideas, down to earth, focused on collaborating rather than competing, accepting, cares greatly about the others, wants to change the world, and gives their all to everything. If it does, congratulations welcome to William & Mary!”


I am so happy to hear that it was helpful @lollylolly ! This is the first time I have logged onto College Confidential in ages, so it is great to log on and find your comment, and that people are still finding this thread.

Always happy to answer questions about William & Mary, especially during these times where it can be challenging to learn more about a school without physically visiting.

I previously also answered some more questions about W&M here: Ask questions about William and Mary here