Advice from a Senior Interviewer

I’ll Admit It! When I was getting ready to apply to colleges I was in a pretty different place from where I am now. Don’t get me wrong, I am still the same language-loving, constantly singing, adventurous and slightly strange Emily I was four years ago, but now I have a lot more confidence and a much better grasp of who I am.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I came to William & Mary for the first time. I had an on-campus interview in the afternoon and planned to walk around campus beforehand. I had actually decided to not go on a campus tour, because I had been on tours at other schools and often felt self-conscious, intimidated and out of place walking around somewhere I couldn’t yet call home. William & Mary seemed like it might have home-potential and I didn’t want to do anything I thought might spoil that.

Emily Pearson-Beck on circle staircase at the end of the Sunken Garden

I walked all over campus with my dad as I tried to calm my pre-interview jitters, and I was struck by the natural beauty that surrounded us everywhere we went. More than that, though, I noticed how happy and friendly everyone seemed. I distinctly remember walking down Jamestown Rd. and sharing a brief but warm smile with a woman as she passed by. As a 16-year-old looking to find a place where I could feel I belonged, a smile made a big difference.

And that smile was so indicative of the kind of place William & Mary became for me after I got here. I have met countless incredible, passionate, and deeply thoughtful people. Individuals who have impacted my life in ways I don’t know how to begin to articulate. Friends who have become family, who constantly show me that I am loved and supported. Mentors and peers who encourage me to step WAY out of my comfort zone, which has allowed me to grow in ways I could not have anticipated. I was someone who had to will herself to speak up in class before raising her hand, who was so nervous about visiting a college campus that she didn’t go on a tour, and I am now the teacher (of yoga classes) and the tour guide leading visitors.

What About You?

My advice to people who are currently going through the college admissions process? Remember that you are cooler than you might often give yourself credit for. Know that your instincts are worth paying attention to and can be trusted. If you are passionate about something in particular, even if you don’t know where it will lead you, please have the courage to pursue it! Do what you love. Believe in yourself. I wish Emily at 16 saw in herself what other people already saw in her, but I am so grateful to see it now thanks to everyone around me. Lastly, even if you are not your own biggest cheerleader at the moment, or if you don’t know exactly what life has in store for you, please know that there are a whole bunch of people rooting for you whether or not you can see them.

Emily Pearson-Beck ’19

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