Williams v UNC v St Andrews

My son is fortunate to have been accepted at Williams, UNC and St Andrews. All so very different. I feel like Williams is the most prestigious choice but they are all excellent/ prestigious. Son is into music and golf. Appreciate any views !

These are three entirely different schools. What does he want to study and what are his interests?

At St Andrews it’s International Relations.
Williams and UNC it would be music and psychology or music and TBD as it’s flexible and he can try different things-

He loves singing (classical and an cappela) and the high caliber music at Williams and UNC is a real pull.

He’d like to play golf and could probably play on the team at Williams and St Andrews as a walk on but I imagine UNC is too strong for that.

He is multicultural (UK/US/Latino) growing up mostly in UK. He goes to US boarding school in NE.

He has not grown up with big college sports focus in England so doesn’t need that- though it’s certainly a fun side of UNC.

Anything else good to know ?
Quality decision for sure :slight_smile:

Williams for reputation and chance to play golf. Would be amazing.


Williams sounds like a good fit, but it may feel a lot like his boarding school in terms of size, campus, and location. Will he be able to attend admitted student events at Williams and UNC? Has he spoken to the golf coach at Williams about walking on to the team? I know that there are walk-on spots for some sports, like women’s crew, but I’m not sure if it’s harder for small teams like golf.

Congratulations on having such terrific options!

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My vote is for UNC for US college. Williams of course is fantastic for LA studies. But UNC is Division I sports, closer to major airport and plenty of student life/parent life opportunities. Stronger and larger alumni network also. No other option in the UK for college? Easier for the parents if based in London clearly.

If he needs the small student body for comfort/ease of transition, obviously Williams then. I had classmates from school who were better off at a smaller LA college (mama’s boys and they would even admit it) and their track record then and after confirmed it. The kids who did well at the big State Uni’s like U Cal, U Mich etc…also were invigorated and ready for the chaos of big schools.

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Congratulations on this varied and interesting choice of schools! He is in at a top private school, a top public school, and a school across the pond.

  • Is cost a concern for your family? If so, is one of them going to be markedly less expensive than the others?
  • Are class sizes and school size (area and population) important?
  • Can he handle cold weather?
  • Does he want a US-style liberal arts/broad education, or a UK-style education centered more on the major? (it looks like you can take about 16-22% – up to 80 of 360 general degree or 480 honors degree credits – of your undergrad courses outside your major at St. Andrews, so there is some breadth available.)
  • Would he rather have a career in the US or UK?

Well does he want to study music?

If so then he has to stay here it sounds like.

Doesn’t matter the prestige of UNC or Williams. It matters where he fits. Isolated and tiny or fairly sizable suburban/urban flagship.

You have to be happy for four years. I’d say the same even if the flagship was Nebraska. Williams has prestige but it has many things that might not work for someone.

Good luck.


Thanks for all these thoughts. Let me try to reply- I think he is open to working US or Uk post college. Luckily we can handle the costs so this doesn’t need to be a factor. Parents are actually mostly stateside going forward and a bit back in UK. He definitely wants music to remain important whether as a dual major or just doing a lot of it. I’m not quite sure how much music he can do at St Andrews. I probably also should have specified he is in the special St Andrews dual degree with William and Mary so he spends the middle two years W&M and first and last at St Andrews. I should call on the golf at Williams and the music at St Andrews for sure

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Oh and weather ok. He has the same now. Williams would be very similar to his current boarding school in feel and location. I think he would perhaps prefer sun but that shouldn’t be the main thing I think- big size not sure he has definitely thrived in a smallish / medium boarding school socially - thanks again!

I would find kids from the program at W&M. How do they like it ? My daughter will be away the entire year next year and one concern is entry upon her return - will the student easily integrate, will they know people etc.

A first and fourth year somewhere may be tough in that fourth year, not knowing people.


The son of one of my work colleagues went through the William and Mary / St. Andrews program and he absolutely loved it. He is working for the US federal government now in northern Virginia.

I studied for a bit at the University of Glasgow and visited St. Andrews several times. It is lovely and charming but the argument that Williams may be too isolated kind of applies to St. Andrews as well. The students at St. Andrews were also a bit stuffy/snobby compared to the incredibly warm and welcoming Glaswegians.

UNC is obviously a great public university in a great US college town. But I am extremely partial to Williams, despite its small size and isolated location. The opportunities at Williams are rich and unique. The endowment $ dollars / student at Williams blow your other options out of the water.

I would absolutely choose Williams but all three options have merit. Good luck!


If he hasn’t thrived in a smaller population, def not Williams. Has he visited any of these schools? Williams is amazing, but rural and they get a LOT of snow.


He’s a guy who sings. He’ll be able to find tons of opportunities for singing anywhere he goes, since men who sing are in great demand at any school. Even if he cannot walk onto a golf team, he can still play golf anywhere he goes. More importantly, what does he see himself doing after college? It doesn’t sound as if he intends to become a pro singer or pro golfer. If he has absolutely no idea, then he might find a small school limiting, if he decides he wants to major in something that they don’t offer. If he was happy in boarding school, and is thinking something generic such as psych, maybe Williams, for the connections and the atmosphere. Do you think that he would do well with the back and forth of the w&M/ St a program? Sounds as if he wanted to transfer to St A, he could, since it sounds as if he’s got dual citizenship?

I agree with those who are saying Williams, if he would be happy at a small school.


The OP can clarify, but I interpreted them to be saying that there’s uncertainty regarding a large university since this student has thrived amid the relatively small scale of his boarding school.


What are his career goals?

He is pretty undecided for career goals. i think exposure to lots of fields would be good for him. I think he love to be a professional singer but suspects it’s unrealistic thought with the right collaborators and influence he might have a decent shot. He isn’t at a level to be pro golfer but he’s low single digit handicap so enjoys playing for a team/
Thanks for all this advice!


The US vs UK school choice is simply about where you want to work long term. Very hard to let go of Williams from that mix.


Williams. Do not turn down this opportunity.


If he’d wanted to become a pro singer, he should have applied to conservatories, and even had he been accepted by the best, the likelihood of a successful pro career would’ve been very small.

The only reason that I’d say UNC over Williams is that he has no idea what he wants to study. But if he finds his passion, and they don’t teach it at Williams, he can transfer. I’d say he should take Williams.