College of William & Mary
BackgroundInterview Date:August 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: I’m from Baltimore. I actually went to two different high schools. I went to a public high school for 9th and 10th grade, which was about 300 students per class. It was a public school, and I don’t need to get into all the issues with the Baltimore City public school system, but, in some ways, it was definitely a challenge to go there. I ended up switching to a smaller private school which had about 100 students per class. The two were very different.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I was in an acapella group. I was in a social sorority for the first year and a half of college but I dropped it. I was an orientation aide, so I led groups of incoming students through orientation for two years, which was one of my favorite things. I did a couple of volunteering things, like a tutoring organization where I worked with elementary school students in the community, and another thing where I worked with special needs adults in the community.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Yeah, I mean I could talk about a bunch of them separately, but I would say that the main ones that were really impactful for me were being an orientation aide and my acapella group.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Sociology is a lot more of a reading heavy major, as opposed to problem sets or more technical majors. A lot of sociology coursework has to do with various research projects. Social science research methods can include things like interviews or designing surveys or doing different kinds of media and picking out themes. It could be different kinds of things depending on what research project I was doing. Also, sociology is a lot of theoretical stuff which means there’s just a lot of reading and writing papers.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
Well for me, it was just the perfect major. I thought that they did a really good job exposing me to the way of thinking about things, because for me, sociology is just a way of thinking about the world and the department did a great job with that. In terms of poorly, I think there could have been a little more diversity and options for the courses that were offered. But, that is just limited by the size of the department and the resources that they have and things like that.
What was your favorite class in your major?
Community Sociology, and that is because that honestly just relates to what my personal interests are. There were enough specific electives within the department that I feel like a lot of people can find a similar class that goes well with their specific interests.
What was your least favorite class in your major?
I’m not sure about least favorite class. I mean if I had a least favorite class it was probably just because it was with a professor that I didn’t really vibe with or something like that. Yeah, I can’t really think of anything.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I would describe it as more collaborative. The sociology department was really small. By the time I graduated there were like 20 people with a major and I feel like I knew most of them, but not all of them. It wasn’t like we all got to know each other super well, but there were a couple of people who I would talk to about a ton. I would say it’s more collaborative because everyone has the same goals and is trying to do the same thing.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
Yeah, I am very happy with my choice. I chose it kind of late. I actually didn’t take my first Sociology class until spring semester sophomore year because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I felt like sociology went along really well with the way that I like to think about things and problems just from a social and historical perspective and considering the context of different groups and things like that.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Jefferson Hall with one roommate who I selected through the Facebook page for admitted students. That worked out well and I was very happy with the dorm we ended up getting. I actually wrote in a letter and requested it because I knew it was one of the two dorms that people always talk about as being the bigger ones with more amenities and I really wanted that going in and we ended up getting it.
Sophomore: Bryan Complex with one roommate who was one of my close friends I made freshman year.
Junior & Senior: Off campus house where I lived with three other people.
What was your favorite living situation?
I really liked the off-campus house senior year. I had a really nice bedroom and was living with one of my closest friends so that really could not have been better.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I think Williamsburg is a unique case because it’s such a small town where there’s just extremely low levels of crime in general. William & Mary is a place where in the dining halls people will leave their phones and their laptops on the table and go walk around and get whatever. I think it’s incredibly unique how much trust we have on campus and how people will leave their things around. I felt an incredible level of safety and comfort and security walking around campus and leaving things around and trusting other people not to touch them.
What is favorite off campus restaurant?
I think I would say Five Forks Diner. It’s a couple of miles off campus and is definitely one of the lesser known ones. It’s a very classic little diner place that’s locally owned so my friends and I would go for brunch as often as we could.
What is favorite place to get away from campus?
Definitely College Creek. I think one of the great things about William and Mary is the nature that we’re surrounded by. We’re really lucky and I’m going to miss it so much. You can literally drive a couple of miles off campus and be at the beach. It was really awesome to get to do that.
Pros and Cons of being in Williamsburg, VA?
Pros: (1) Because Williamsburg is so small, the community on campus is absolutely incredible. (2) The beauty of the campus is incredible.
(3) We’re surrounded by all these pretty lakes, parks, and beaches, like College Creek and Lake Matoaka.
(4) You can live in a city for the rest of your life, but I’ve really felt like being in such a nice place for the four years of college when we had this really strong community on campus was a perfect situation for me.
Cons: Williamsburg is an incredibly small place. I definitely had friends who were saying, “OK, I’m really excited to go and live in a big city.” If you are someone who wants to be in the middle of a city as you go to college, William & Mary is probably not the place for you.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
It definitely evolved as you start college versus end college. I think by the end of college my preference definitely was just spending time with my closest friends and doing activities that we found to be fun together. Like, just trying new things around town together, or going mini golfing or anything like that. Or just going to hang out at each other’s houses by senior year. Most of us had off campus living situations and we would just hang out a lot until late at night.
What was your nightlife at the beginning of college?
I think at the beginning of college you are just trying to figure out what college is like and trying to get a feel for all the options that are available for you. So, at the very beginning I was just going to places where people said that everybody was going to and things like that. Sometimes that was fun, but for the most part I was not into that that much because a lot the places I would end up would be really, really crowded and I wouldn’t really know very many people. So, as I started to make closer friends in different ways on campus and was able to spend time with them and go to places where I had been explicitly invited or where I knew more people. That was definitely where I found nightlife to be more enjoyable.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My closest friends came from a bunch of different places. By the end of college, I felt like I had a little bit of a core group, but for most of college I feel like I had some close friends from several different groups. Like, I had some very close friends from my acapella group, some very close friends from my freshman hall, some very close friends from my sorority, and some close friends from being an orientation aide. Basically, in every extracurricular I’ve described to you, I came away with a few close friends. Then in sophomore and junior year there were some people that I started to get closer with through those activities and through mutual friends. Then it was a group of us that stayed really close and we are going to be really close going forward.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think it really depends on the types of things you like to do and the type of activities you’re involved in. I think you can really make it kind of whatever you want, like there’s nothing you have to do to have a good time. As far as Greek life, that is definitely one way that you can make friends and have places to go out and things like that, but there’s also lots of other ways to do that. You can make friends through anything that you’re a part of and find people with similar interests as you. The majority of organizations are very social ones.
Do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Yes, I think they do to an extent, but I think it depends on the organization. I think there’s definitely a lot more work to do. There was some talk about how the acapella community is taking up different ways of going about the audition process that could be more inclusive in ways that people didn’t even realize, and that definitely goes for the Greek community too. Then again, there are organizations that I think are doing great and are very inclusive. William & Mary is a pretty diverse campus in general in a lot of ways, but for certain types of organizations there is work to be done.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of William & Mary by the time they graduate?
I think for the most part, of the people who I was graduating with, I think people thought the same way that I did that basically the school was the best thing that ever happened to them and that we all grew in ways that we never expected and that we met the most amazing people and had the most amazing time.
But, I also do think that we have kind of a high stress culture. There are a lot of people who want to achieve highly and care a lot about their schoolwork so sometimes, so sometimes there can be a lot of stress going on on-campus. I think it’s up to your own individual personal attitude to realize what types of things are most important and you can be above that.
Has the alumni network helped you in applying to graduate school or finding internships?
I definitely am still in touch with friends a couple of years older than me who have been helpful to me in the real world in various ways in terms of just general advice and talking to me about what they’ve been doing and things like that. So far, I haven’t really tapped any of those things for jobs and internships, but just maintaining those connections.
Have you used the career office much?
Yeah, I’ve used the career center. The career center has a website called Tribe Careers that I checked often for job postings. If you apply to a job through that website you’re a lot more likely to hear a response than if you just apply generally on the company’s website. The career center also hosts events and workshops. I also did a mock interview with the career center.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about William & Mary before entering as a freshman?
I mean I had an incredible experience at William & Mary. I applied early decision and I knew I wanted to go there. What I was thinking about a lot in the midst of graduation was just how much things have happened that I never expected. Like, the place that I’m at now is not what I ever expected coming in in lots of different ways. So I guess what I wish I knew, is kind of like what I would say to prospective students, is just to be patient and hang in there and do your best to put yourself out there however you can. Things will just change and work themselves out in ways you never expect because there’s just so much growth that happens in college.
What is something a prospective student may have missed on a visit that is worth checking out?
I would say the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Go check out Lake Matoaka and College Creek and the areas close to campus that are not exactly on campus but are a big part of what made Williamsburg really special to me.
Reasons to attend William & Mary:
1) Incredibly strong community on campus.
2) The people on campus and the fact that everybody is incredibly passionate and interesting. I’m going to miss being surrounded by the people.
3) The area for me is a serious pro. But, like I said, it depends what kind of person you are.
Reasons to not attend William & Mary:
1) If you’re looking for a school in a really big city.
2) If you’re looking for a really big school with tens of thousands of students.
3) William & Mary takes academics very seriously. So, if you’re someone who one of the most important things to you in college is to have fun. We do have fun, but academics are very important.
It depends what kind of person you are. For me, everything I’m saying really aligns with what I wanted in a school.