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26 September 2008 / April

Impressions of Williams

I actually feel really bad that I can’t give every single college on my list equal treatment before I turn in my college apps in, uh, FOUR DAYS.  I stayed overnight at Swarthmore, I spent one day at Williams, I’m not visiting Amherst at all, etc.  It feels so unfair.

But anyway.  First and foremost, let me state that my fundamental reaction to Williams was the same as that to Swarthmore, and to emphasize this point I shall quote from my last post, with slight revision:

Of course there may be better schools out there, maybe even schools I’d love more, but how picky do you really have to be?  I can imagine myself spending four years at [Williams] and being very happy.  That’s good enough.

And now, a friendly word to everyone at Williams: you’ve got to shut up about your math department sometimes.  Seriously, even people who didn’t like math seemed to gush endlessly about it at the slightest prompt, and people who do like math gushed endlessly without any prompt at all.

So I guess the Williams math department is, you know, okay. 😉

I sat in on a math class– a calculus one, actually, so I knew what was going on– whose professor was completely strung out on caffeine and borderline insane, but in the best possible way.  I’m attempting to choose just one quote to highlight but there were too many, many involving dropping cats off cliffs onto trampolines.

The linguistics class I joined was also fantastic, partly because of the professor but also because holy crap, linguistics is awesome!  I’m going to start asking everyone to say the word “try” just out of sheer curiosity.  I saw Maddie’s brother there, and have I mentioned that I followed Antal around for like half the day?  Yay Antal!  I’m sorry this is super-disorganized because I’m writing this AFAP (as fast as possible) before I have to leave.  The school library.  Where I am.

I also chatted with a music student who definitely gave me a favorable impression of the music department, as did the, ah, ornate nature of the concert hall.  The tour I took also had a fairly good guide, albeit pretty much the polar opposite of the one I had at Swarthmore.  And there’s the rub.

If I were choosing a college solely based on the appearance of the campus, the atmosphere, and the kinds of people I met, I would almost certainly rank Swarthmore first on my list of colleges.

But I’m not.

Can we take the academics of Williams and put them on the Swarthmore campus?  In the middle of the mountains?  Near Philadelphia?  With an open-food policy in the libraries?  And an arboretum?

Dammit, stupid life is never perfect.

(PS. I have SO MUCH non-college-related stuff to write about, but I’m still lacking the internet at home so it’s somewhat difficult, as I’m sure you understand.)

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9 Comments

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  1. Antal S-Z / Sep 26 2008 5:56 pm

    Yay Williams!

    I feel for you, though—I remember going through something similar when making my choice (place X, but with atmosphere Y…).

    Anyway, yeah. I do hope you come here, but Swarthmore would be OK too 🙂

    Good luck with everything!

    [Oh, and unrelated—I just reread your math seminar quotes. So funny!]

  2. April / Sep 27 2008 2:09 pm

    You sound so much more reasonable here than you did at Williams… (kidding, mostly)

  3. Rachel / Sep 28 2008 11:24 pm

    Harvard! Harvard! Harvard! Come visit Harvard!

  4. April / Sep 29 2008 8:15 am

    Uh, maybe sometime after October 24… I’m so terribly sorry Rachel, Harvard just isn’t that high on my list.

  5. Miles / Nov 11 2008 10:25 am

    I stumbled across your blog during random internet travels. I just one though on the Williams vs. Swarthmore debate, if it is still relevant.

    1) I go to Swarthmore. My younger brother goes to Williams (and is doing Math/Econ/Ling stuff)
    2) They sorta seem similar, but when you get down to it … they are very different schools. The athletics culture at Williams is *very* strong. At Swarthmore, you are identified by your major. At Williams, you are identified by your sport (or just called a “non-er” if you don’t play one). There is a much smaller focus on grad school at Williams–the school is far more career oriented in all of its majors. Importantly, Williams has separate dorms for freshmen (which really changes the tenor of living arrangements).

    And there are more things, but I won’t go on. Basically, carefully consider those differences. They matter.

    Oh … and Swarthmore’s ling department is much stronger than Williams’. Probably ’cause our president was a ling prof.

  6. April / Nov 11 2008 1:14 pm

    Wow– thank you so much for your view. Those were all valid points, some of which I had not thought thoroughly about. I definitely did notice the more athletic focus at Williams, though I hadn’t realized how strong it was.

    And hearing all these things from someone who has a close connection with both schools is very valuable.

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