Impressions Of
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Academic Experience

Male Economics Major C/O 2020

Is there anything you feel the Economics department does especially well or poorly?
At Hobart, the Economics major is the most popular major, so there are a ton of students. I think the department does a good job of not glazing over any of the students. At least my advisor is always available for me whenever I want to drop in. It’s also easy to get into office hours with the professors. [About 13% of students are Economics majors.]

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I’d say it’s pretty collaborative, especially in the upper-level classes where people tend to work together more. For example, last semester whenever I had an exam in one of my Economics classes there was always a group of people that were willing to work together and study together. It’s definitely collaborative in the sense that everyone’s trying to fulfill the same goal.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
They’re pretty accessible. Hobart’s in Geneva but some professors live farther away in Syracuse so their office hours are once a week and sometimes you’re not able to go. If you can’t go, they’re always available to meet outside of their office hours, so I’d say they’re pretty accessible. They’re also very accessible via email.

Male Sociology and Africana Studies Double Major C/O 2019

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
I have a lot of reading for both of my majors. We usually have two writing assignments per class per semester, sometimes more, and then a final, which can be an exam, research project, or a longer writing assignment.

How accessible are your professors?
Very accessible. There are open office hours. A lot of the professors I have developed personal relationships with. That part has been wonderful.

Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I think they are. Most people who are in the classroom want to hear new ideas and learn new ideas, but I think the issue is that a lot of times people don’t necessarily feel comfortable expressing those ideas. It’s not because of the professor, I don’t really know what it is, but a lot of the time we’ll have discussions and students will play it safe.

Female Philosophy and Psychology Double Major C/O 2018

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
For Philosophy, you have shorter readings, but you have to do them twice or three times because they’re so dense and you have to be prepared to discuss them in class. The major’s so small that you have classes with like 8 people in them. Then for major assignments you strictly have papers. For Psychology, you have more tests and problem sets. You also have online multiple-choice quizzes.

Did you especially like or dislike anything about your majors’ departments? Did they do anything especially well or poorly?
Philosophy is a really small department, so all the professors in the department knew me as soon as I became a major. When I was thinking of becoming a philosophy major they gave me a folder about how philosophy can help with job opportunities. Psychology is a really popular major so you don’t get as much personal attention. It’s way harder for them to deal with all the kids. I have two advisers, I prefer my philosophy adviser because he has more time.

Social Opportunities

Male Economics Major C/O 2020

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
It’s a little different this year because right now most of the fraternities are on probation so there haven’t been many fraternity parties. It’s mostly off-campus parties now on Fridays and Saturdays and then also going downtown to bars is pretty popular. Usually, everyone goes downtown to the bars after parties.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Before all of these sanctions hit, it had a pretty big impact because a lot of the parties were at the fraternity houses instead of the off-campus houses. But since the sanctions, there haven’t been any parties at the Greek life organizations. This has hindered their ability to get students involved in Greek life because incoming freshmen don’t see fraternities having events and then they assume that they don’t really do anything. Now, the only impact is we have parties at off-campus houses, which are now the only real sort of Greek life facilitated parties.

How happy are you with the weekend options at HWS? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It’s pretty nice. It would be nice if there were more parties on campus that would take over the role of going downtown because that is pretty much where everyone goes. It’s also tough for people who aren’t 21 because they can’t get into the bars. I’m lucky that I was older when everything transitioned to being downtown.

Male Sociology and Africana Studies Double Major C/O 2019

What nights of the week would you regularly go out?
Usually Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Because fraternities dominate the social scene and I don’t really go to fraternity parties anymore, I didn’t fully understand how that would really limit my options for going out. Not going to fraternities can be very limiting because things circle around fraternities or off-campus houses owned by fraternities, so that can be very limiting. Now, I mostly stay on campus and hang out with friends.

How happy are you with the nightlife options at HWS? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Like all colleges, the school has cracked down on Greek life, but it’s punishing the students it’s not supposed to punish, it’s punishing the students who don’t want to buy a fake I.D. or don’t feel comfortable going downtown. There used to be a lot of parties at Theme Houses and The Barn, but those have more or less died out. If you don’t want to do the mainstream party scene, you have to find a good group of friends and figure out spaces. That is more challenging for underclassmen because if they want to just chill out, listen to music, and maybe even have a few beers, they might get hassled by campus safety.

Female Philosophy and Psychology Double Major C/O 2018

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
In season, only Saturday if we don’t play Sunday. Out of season, the most popular nights at Hobart are Thursday and Saturday. The nightlife scene separates itself pretty quickly. You figure out which frats and athlete houses you want to go to, and people stay in their path for the most part. Generally, you either go to a frat, athlete house, or downtown bars.

For a typical night, we’ll go to a small party at the on-campus apartments. I lived in one of those and I’m there until I go out. People start to go down at 11:30, if I do go somewhere else before the bars, I go to a frat or my sports house. A good night for me looks like going downtown, not running into any issues, getting the shuttle back at 1am with no line. The shuttle’s pretty small, so once the bars close at 1-1:30 all of a sudden there’s a big line for the tiny shuttle. You sometimes have to wait a really long time. The walk isn’t that bad, I make it a lot, but the real issue is the cold.

What are some other options if you don’t want to go out to a party or bar?
I don’t really know. Campus concerts don’t have great turnouts, a lot of people don’t go.

Campus Culture

Male Sociology and Africana Studies Double Major C/O 2019

How do you like the size of HWS in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [There are about 2,200 students.]
I love it. I think it’s great. I know some students wish it was bigger, but I think it’s right where it needs to be.

How strong is the Black community on campus? How would you describe it?
It’s very strong. You know every Black student and you will speak to every Black student on campus. That’s something that I personally really appreciate because, even if I don’t necessarily know someone, I can still say hello when I pass them in the hallways or on campus. There is also a party space that is carved out for that community. We’ve had a recent divide because a Black fraternity joined campus, Alpha Phi Alpha, and that added a bump to the social life but created some of the same divisions that exist with the White fraternities. We’ll see where that goes.

Female Philosophy and Psychology Double Major C/O 2018

How would you describe the social scene?
It’s definitely cliquey. Sports teams divide people, minorities have their own groups. Everybody has their own area of the dining hall. The dining hall is stupid, everybody has their own areas where they sit. They definitely tell all the freshmen coming in don’t be scared [laughs]. If people are going to a sports team party, it’s going to be all athletes. The frats are a totally different side. They’re almost never in the dining hall. Frats and men’s sports teams kind of run the show with nightlife.

Do people seem happy with Hobart & William Smith by senior year?
Yeah, it grows on people. It’s a really small school. I loved it freshman year, hated it sophomore year, and then junior year I got my footing and found the people I wanted to be around. That’s pretty normal for people. If people stick it out and stay they like it, especially when it’s sunny on graduation.

Male Media and Society Major C/O 2018

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I don’t think they did that much. Hobart’s a very liberal school and they had protests about that. [People of different races and sexual orientations] got themselves noticed, but they still wouldn’t come out and interact with everybody else. The athletic scene is pretty tight and close-knit, and [I thought that] some of the people who were of other sexual orientations believed if they were to come they would [not be accepted], which isn’t true.

How would you describe the student body?
It’s pretty open. [30%] of students are athletes, so everyone is pretty close. But, there is a portion of people who are on the outside who feel like it’s them against the world. There are a lot of protests because that’s how people feel they want to express themselves.

Geneva, NY

Pros of

  • “You don’t have much of an issue with police because it’s such a small community. There’s not much to worry about, it’s kind of like summer camp. You go up there and it’s not real life.”
  • “If you want to get involved in the city, there is a lot of interesting stuff happening. It’s small, but it’s a very diverse city. There are a lot of programs and a lot of people trying to revitalize Geneva, so that’s a great opportunity for students who want to take them.”
  • “Lake Seneca is right there. Especially in the summertime, the lake is amazing. Being able to go down to the docks when the weather is nice is a great experience.”
  • “There are some vineyards nearby.”

Cons of

  • “You’re out there by yourself and if you want to go anywhere remotely close by, it’s a 40-minute drive to Syracuse or Rochester.”
  • “It’s so cold and windy. the majority of the school year the lake’s not fun to be around.”
  • “The town is very poor and there is not a lot to do.” [The poverty rate in Geneva is about 22%.]
  • “There is not a lot to do. There are no concerts. There are a few bars and restaurants, but no chains.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Male Sociology and Africana Studies Double Major C/O 2019

What is something a prospective Black student should know that we haven’t touched on?
First, they should know that there are a lot of wealthy White students from New England here who have not had a lot of conversations with Black people. Also, if you’re Black and not from New York City, that can also be kind of challenging because the school takes a lot of Black students from there and they come with their own culture and understanding of the world. [About 73% of the students are White and 6% are Black. Socioeconomically, 12% of students come from the top 1% and the median family income is about $161,000.]

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I think you need to visit on a weekday when the students are there because you get a real feel for life on campus and there is hustle and bustle happening. If you visit at a different time, it can make the campus feel pretty empty.

Female Philosophy and Psychology Double Major C/O 2018

What is something you wish you knew about Hobart & William Smith before you entered as a freshman?
The size weighs on you. It’s really small. I wish I had considered more schools where I said, “would I still like this place if [my sport] didn’t work out?” [There are about 2,200 students.]

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
On Main Street, there’s the lake and then all these houses where students sometimes live. They also have department houses there, like the Philosophy department’s house is there. It’s smart to check those out because they’re really pretty and I think it helps to put in perspective how small the school really is.

Male Media and Society Major C/O 2018

What is something you wish you knew about Hobart before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how cold it was honestly. I visited in the summer and it was beautiful. The winters are so long. When you get there it’s colder for longer than when it’s warm.

What is something a prospective student may have missed on a visit that is worth checking out?
The surrounding area around Hobart. The area around Hobart is so beautiful. There are a bunch of different restaurants on the lake or wineries. I regret not exploring it sooner.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges

To Attend

  • “The professors. They are very engaged and dedicated to helping the students learn.”
  • “Because of the small campus size, you can get involved in pretty much anything you want to do. If it’s not there you can start it, and that’s wonderful. It’s so easy to take leadership positions in clubs because of the size, you’ll see sophomores leading clubs sometimes.”
  • “There are small classes. The biggest class I ever had was about 22 students.”
  • “Being on Seneca Lake. it’s beautiful. There’s a tight-knit community and you’re not going to have any problems with getting mugged or anything like that.”

To Not Attend

  • “It takes at least 40-minutes to get anywhere, so if you want to visit your friends it’s hard.”
  • “It can be very isolating on campus if you don’t fit into the typical student mold.”
  • “The nightlife options can be a negative.”
  • “Don’t go if you ever felt like your high school was small. It’s really, really small. I always know somebody and people know me. Some people like that, but I don’t.” [There are about 2,200 students.]
Notice: Hobart and William Smith Colleges is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

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