Williamsburg, VA: The College of William and Mary is a small, highly selective state university noted for its historic tradition, its academic excellence, and its unique architectural design. Chartered by King William and Queen Mary of England on February 8, 1963, as “their Majesties College of William and Mary,” it is the second oldest college in the country.
During last April vacation I had the opportunity to visit and attend an information session for prospective students. The Assistant Dean of Admissions answered questions and discussed the university and its curriculum. He also explained the college’s admissions process and financial aid procedures.
Prospective students were also given a comprehensive tour which gave us an opportunity to view the college in session and to get a feeling for the social and educational atmosphere. The tour guide, a senior, was well-spoken and informative, providing us with many interesting details of the history, as well as first-hand information about the daily social and academic life.
I was very impressed by both the appearance of the campus and its location. The attractively landscaped, compact, twelve-hundred acre campus is located in the heart of the restored area of Colonial Williamsburg.
The focal point of the campus is the Wren Building, designed by one of England’s foremost architects,sSir Christopher Wren. This building is considered the oldest academic building in continuous use in the country today. Although the interior of the building has been ravaged by fire three times, the foundation and exterior walls of the building are basically original. Its distinctive colonial style and the pleasing mellow tone of its rust-colored brick blend harmoniously with later additions to the university which characterize the college as an integral part of Colonial Williamsburg.
During the guided tour, I was impressed by the peaceful, conservative atmosphere of the school. Most of the students, who were clean-cut and “preppy” in appearance and friendly to talk to, seemed very proud of their college and seemed quick to point out that, although the curriculum at William and Mary is exceptionally challenging, the school offers many extra-curricular opportunities as well as social entertainment.
The Honor System is one important aspect of the college which many students mentioned as contributing greatly to the quality of life. Students feel it has helped to create an atmosphere of integrity, security, and mutual respect between students and faculty and among students themselves.
Since William and Mary is a state-supported university, tuition is lower than at comparable private colleges. The combination of academic excellence and relatively low tuition is very attractive to students from other states and many foreign countries as well as to Virginians. This can be a problem for non-residents, because the state mandates that 65 percent of the student body is from Virginia. Therefore, competition is fierce among out-of-state residents and only twenty-five per cent of those who apply are accepted.
According to the assistant dean, among the factors the admissions committee consider important in selecting the members of its freshman class are: good grades earned in a challenging high school curriculum, 1200-1250 combined SAT scores (for out-of-state candidates), student involvement in extra-curricular activities, and well-written, well-thought-out essays. Fortunately, admission is need-blind, so that students are not selected according to their ability to pay the $15,000 tuition for out-of-state students.
I would recommend William and Mary to any qualified student who is looking for a college with the diverse educational opportunities of a national university, the intimacy of a small private college, and the tuition of a state-supported school. Look very closely at a really outstanding “public ivy”- The College of William and Mary. n
Reviewed in 1992