Dear William and Mary students of tomorrow, there is a rumor I must put to rest. Maybe you have not yet heard it, as it is more of a common misconception or an assumption than it is an actively spreading rumor, but in any case I would like to stop it dead in its tracks before it even reaches your ears and minds.
It is often assumed students at colleges of prestige and high caliber (such as our great W&M) act in a manner that can be… well… ferociously competitive; a la saboteur, if you will. “Don’t they, like, rip up each others’ notes there?” Here on this blog I set the record straight, and the record shall read: absolutely not.
To be sure—we students can be competitive… competitive about our intramural sports, competitive about the creativeness of our costume ideas on Halloween, and maybe competitive about who can be involved in the most on-campus activities. In the classroom environment, though, students here at W&M are collaborative and cooperative; attributes I personally find much more appropriate in academia than competitiveness. Students here are motivated and driven, and at their collective cores just genuinely enthusiastic about learning, and it’s a contagious feeling. In its context education is enjoyable, because everyone here wants you to succeed—your professors and your peers, alike.
Before I end this note, I’ll leave you readers with a bit of an anecdote of affirmation. This semester I’m enrolled in an Intro-level Computer Science course, which is one of the larger classes here at W&M because its completion satisfies the Major Computing Requirement for many non-science majors. Simply put—it’s a class a lot of students have to take. A few weeks ago we had an assignment that, I neglected to notice until the night before it was due, required the use of my textbook which had not yet arrived. (Okay, so not a prime example of the enthusiastic and motivated student I was speaking so highly of earlier, but alas! I am human.) Anyway, upon finally noticing this, very late into the night, I sort of freaked out but on a whim decided to send a mass email to the entire class, simply asking if I could trouble any of them in letting me borrow their book if they were done using it. Mind you, this is a large class and it was only the second week of the semester so there was no established feeling of camaraderie yet. I really wasn’t expecting any answers to that email. I was pleasantly surprised then, to say the least, when various students, who had absolutely no idea who I was and who for no reason should have felt obligated to help me, came to my aid at this late hour.
A modest example, but an example nonetheless. So thank you, gracious-student-who-let-me-borrow-their-book, for keeping the fellowship of the William and Mary student body alive. Thanks for continuing to keep this learning environment a hospitable one.
– Alex Rodriguez ’12