This entry is written by guest blogger Ellie Manspile ’18.
As a student from Richmond, Virginia, my only two options for college were William & Mary and UVA. Students in Virginia are at a great advantage because of the many amazing public colleges here. Of course I had other options in Virginia and even toured outside of the state, but my personal decision came down to W&M and UVA, as it often does for local applicants.
I was torn between the two schools for various reasons. Both are respected and have good reputations, both are only an hour away from my home, both would challenge me academically, and I had no idea what I wanted to study. Unfortunately, my decision between the two schools was complicated by three major myths.
Myth 1: UVA students are preppy and W&M students are nerdy. I had heard of the phrase, TWAMP (Typical William and Mary Person), but had no idea what it meant and wanted to make sure I picked an environment that I was comfortable in. It is three semesters later and I honestly still couldn’t give you a definite description of a TWAMP, but I know that I am proud to be one. There are all kinds of students at the university, but a typical one is full of Tribe Pride, dedicated to academics, loyal to friends, and continually challenging themselves.
Myth 2: UVA is known for its resources in the hard sciences, but William & Mary is known for the same resources in political science. I did not want to hinder my ability in one field of study by choosing the wrong school. After coming here I learned that this is not at all the case. W&M offers excellent programs in any area of study one could imagine and provides its students with a well-rounded liberal arts education. Furthermore, there are many students here on the premed track and William & Mary is currently expanding its science departments by building Integrated Science Center 3.
Myth 3: Going to a bigger school is more fun. One of my main deciding factors was the difference in the sizes between the schools. A small school enticed me because I wanted an environment where I could get to know my professors, meet people in my classes, and see familiar faces around campus. But, a large school seemed fun because of the school spirit and opportunities to always meet new people. William & Mary is the perfect combination between a small-school community and a large-school atmosphere. We truly are “One Tribe, One Family,” but there is never a dull moment or lack of opportunity on and off campus.
My final decision came down to the tour. I know it sounds arbitrary, but I could see myself eating in the dining halls, sleeping in the dorms, and attending class in the buildings. I realized that the doubts prompted by the myths I believed were inconsequential compared to the sense of belonging I felt on campus. I had found a school that has the best people, exemplary academics in all fields, and the perfect size.