College of William & Mary
BackgroundInterview Date:August 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: I went to a private school in Washington, D.C. with a graduating class of about 120 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: International Relation and Chinese double major
Extracurricular Activities: I was in a sorority, I was on Honor Council, I was a DJ on the college radio station, and I did research.
What was your research?
I was a paid researcher at an International Relations lab at William & Mary.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I think all of them did. Being in a sorority introduced me to a lot of people. Honor Council gave me a lot of law-oriented skills. Doing research was really great because it gave me exposure to academia. Then doing radio was just fun.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
For International Relations you have to take a lot of Economics classes, so that’s a lot of problem sets and things like that. Other than that, it’s very open, so you can take more History classes or more Political Science classes and those are very reading and essay heavy. Chinese was test oriented, so we had a test every few weeks and a quiz every class.
Is there anything you feel your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
For International Relations, I wish they gave students a better idea of what they could do with their degree. I felt like everybody thought you could either go into consulting or academia, so I wish we had more career advising opportunities for the major. For Chinese, I really liked the department.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think International Relations was generally pretty collaborative. I always enjoyed those classes and the students are genuinely really curious and eager to learn. Because International Relations is an interdisciplinary major you take classes in different departments, so it’s hard to generalize, but I would say it was collaborative and a positive experience. Chinese was very similar, most people who were there wanted to be there and so I didn’t feel competitive at all.
What was your favorite class in International Relations?
International Relations in a Disciplinary Perspective, which is a class you’re required to take during your sophomore year. It gives you a look at how interdisciplinary the field is and each class is a different lecture from a different faculty member, so that was really cool. I loved that class.
What was your least favorite class in International Relations
Any of the high-level Economics classes. I really hated those [laughs]. Probably International Finance, which was not good.
Why did you choose your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I came into college knowing I wanted to learn Chinese and then I realized that major was pretty easy to get if you studied abroad, which I knew I wanted to do. Then for International Relations there is a pretty heavy language requirement, so that was taken care of, and then I really liked how interdisciplinary it was. I liked how you took classes from a bunch of different departments instead of taking classes from just one department. I also really liked the professors I had sophomore year. I think I’m happy with my choice of a Chinese major, but with International Relations I think they should change the requirement for taking Economics. I think that was kind of a waste of my time and I think a lot of students think that.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus? What was your favorite?
Freshman: Monroe Hall with one roommate.
Sophomore: Sorority house with one roommate.
Junior: I was abroad in the fall and then I lived off campus with one roommate in a house of six people.
Senior: I lived off campus in an apartment that I shared with one person. I had my own room.
What was your favorite living situation?
Definitely having my own room senior year.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I always felt really safe on campus and I always felt really safe off campus. I know a lot of women on campus have experienced catcalling and stuff, which would make me feel unsafe, but I never personally experienced that.
Favorite off-campus restaurant?
Five Forks Diner, it’s like 20 minutes away driving.
Favorite place to get away from campus?
Walking around colonial Williamsburg was really nice.
Pros and Cons of being in Williamsburg, VA?
Pros: (1) There’s an Amtrak station there.
(2) It’s about 3 hours away from D.C.
(3) I also think not being in a big city is good because I like that the school is the main draw of the town.
Cons: (1) It’s not a college town where there are lots of cool bars and restaurants and stuff. I didn’t think it was geared enough towards students.
(2) Williamsburg is very touristy. I really did not like that.
(3) It gets really, really hot and humid in the summer.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
For most of college people went out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If you’re actively involved in Greek life, which I was freshman and sophomore year, you mostly go to fraternity parties. There were three or four bars in Williamsburg and most people go once they turn 21. Junior and senior year I didn’t go to as many frat parties and, because most upperclassmen live off campus, I’d go to parties my friends were throwing and generally go to the bars afterwards.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
Most of the time we would hang out in one of our dorm rooms and then try to figure out what parties were going on and being in different GroupMe’s and stuff like that. Then we would go to a party, and usually freshman year you hop around a lot, so we’d go to different parties and then go home.
What have been your favorite times at William & Mary?
I think spring once it gets warm out. Everything changes on campus. People are in a better mood and are studying outside and it feels like the end of the year is near. I really love springtime.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I think it’s not as big as freshman are told. Freshman year I felt like I had to rush because I wanted to go to parties and the only way I would be able to do that was by joining a sorority, but I don’t think that was true. Most of the big parties are thrown by Greek organizations, but there are always a lot of other stuff going on that other clubs are hosting, they’re just harder to find out about when you’re an underclassman.
What alternatives to a party or a bar do you like to do for a night out?
I felt like there was always somebody else I could find who didn’t want to go out and we would just watch Netflix and stuff like that. My friends and I like board games, so we’d play board games sometimes. That was never really an issue.
How happy were you with the weekend options at William & Mary? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I wish I would have known about more parties that were going on that weren’t frat parties when I was younger.
How did you meet your closest friends?
One of my best friends was my roommate freshman year and then I also met some of my closest friends in my freshman dorm. Another one of my best friends was in my pledge class in my sorority. My sorority was also a big source of friends.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s what you make of it. If you’re really involved in Greek life it will feel like everyone on campus is involved in Greek life, but then once you step out of that bubble you realize there’s so much other stuff, like there are so many other organizations. I think it’s very organization-based. People are kind of defined by what club or organization they are in. It’s not that people don’t make friends outside of that, they definitely do, but that’s how you identify people. I thought the social scene was a really good fit for me. Especially in terms of nightlife, I think it was a good level of going out for me personally.
Do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think the races are pretty separated. There are people of color in predominantly White Greek life, but it’s not that many. I think Black students are particularly drawn to Black Greek organization, so it’s separated in that sense. In terms of sexual orientation, it’s a really open campus. People of all sexual orientations and gender identities are involved in all different things. I never felt like that was a distinguishing factor of someone.
How would you describe the student body?
It’s predominantly White and a lot of people are from Northern Virginia. [In the Class of 2022, 57% of students are White, and W&M maintains an overall balance of 65% in-state and 35% out-of-state.] Most people were at the very, very top of their public schools, so it competitive in that sense. [77% of the Class of 2022 were in the top 10% of their high school class.] People are very into what their studying. It’s also very liberal. Coming from D.C., there were more conservative people than I’ve ever met, but it’s still a predominantly left-leaning campus.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of William & Mary by the time they graduate?
Yeah, I think by the time they graduate they are. There are a lot of ups and downs, but I think, overall, people are happy in the end.
Has the alumni network helped you in applying to graduate school or finding internships?
Not yet, no.
To what extent have you used the career office?
I went to some workshops there and some information sessions that were hosted there, but that’s it.
Did you learn any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally through your coursework?
Yeah, some classes were very Excel focused. I learned Stata. And, I took a computer science course my senior year so I learned Python.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about William & Mary before entering as a freshman?
I just wish I had known to be more open minded and to know that Greek life is not the only way to be social.
What is something a prospective student may have missed on a visit that is worth checking out?
They should go to the Daily Grind, it’s the coffee shop on campus. It’s my favorite place on campus.
Reasons to attend William & Mary:
1) If you want a place that’s focused on academics and a place where people are very into school, I would say William & Mary is a great choice.
2) I think the campus is beautiful. I think that’s worth a lot more than I thought it would be going to college.
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) It’s definitely not as diverse as other schools of the same caliber, and I think that’s a big negative. [In the Class of 2022, 57% of students are White, and W&M maintains an overall balance of 65% in-state and 35% out-of-state.]
2) There’s a big stress culture, but I think that exists at a lot of schools.