This post is jointly written by William & Mary bloggers Caroline Prout ’22 and Bryn DePaul ’22.
Getting involved at William & Mary and St Andrews is easy to do because there are many activities and clubs that cater to every kind of interest! People always recommend trying new things in college, and we definitely took that to heart and tried out a bunch of different clubs before finding the right fit for us. While Bryn got involved in the more athletic activities, Caroline joined a social sorority and a church group on campus.
What activities did you try at William & Mary and St. Andrews?
Bryn: I was a dedicated competitive swimmer for my entire life up until graduating high school. Although I love swimming, I decided to focus on my studies and pursue other activities in college.
Since I am in the Joint Degree Programme, I only spent one year at William & Mary. I dabbled in many activities, including the club swim team and various dance clubs. I enjoyed these very much but did not seriously commit to either. My sophomore year was at St Andrews. Also known as “Freshman Year Part 2”, I had the rare opportunity to start over completely. This was a new college and a new country where hardly anyone knew me! I made a plan with myself upon arrival that I would try new things. If something seemed intimidating, then I must do it.
My favorite activity I found was the Boxing Club. I was not aware that St Andrews had a boxing club until attending the Sports Fayre, nor did I ever imagine that I would box as a sport. I was intrigued, albeit intimidated. My impression up until then of boxing was that it was intense and scary. I was determined to keep to my plan though and I went to a practice. I really liked it! It certainly was intense, but not scary! It was a perfect sport for me, and I loved the training. You could definitely count on me to be working hard, while also chatting with my friends and laughing when I wasn’t supposed to.
Another activity I have enjoyed becoming involved with is the WaMSTa Student Partnership, a club for Joint Degree Programme students. I have made wonderful and supportive friends in the JDP and I currently hold a position in the club as the Classical Studies Peer Advisor! I am also on the executive committee for my residence hall in St Andrews, which I love!
Caroline: I had planned on getting involved with Bruton Parish Church, the Episcopal Church in Colonial Williamsburg, before starting at William & Mary. That was the first club I joined on campus, and I have absolutely loved doing it. We have services in the Wren Building every Tuesday evening which is really neat, and we also have weekly services at Bruton Parish Church which is even older than the Wren Building!
I had also planned to go through recruitment to join a social sorority on campus, but I ended up deciding not to go through with recruitment. Over fall break, I was pushed by family friends to reconsider, and I ended up joining Alpha Chi Omega through the continuous open bidding process. While recruitment does create a lot of close relationships, I found that, for me, continuous open bidding was a lot less stressful and still allowed me to find close friends who I now call sisters.
At the end of my freshman year, I applied and joined the Spotswood Society, a volunteer organization that gives tours of the Wren Building and Old Campus. I have really enjoyed the tourists and William & Mary alumni I have gotten to meet through giving tours and have learned a lot about William & Mary. I definitely have some fun stories about memorable individuals I have met through giving tours!
Were there any organizations that weren’t the right fit for you?
Bryn: Boxing was only one of the many new activities I tried. One, in particular, I remember not being for me was cheerleading. I went to the Cheerleading Club “Give it a Go” (tryout practice) with my sister, Jennie. Everyone was very nice and welcoming, but I quickly found that I am not gifted in or passionate about the art of cheer. Ironically, Jennie absolutely loved it, joined the club, and became a cheerleader!
I also tried out for modeling. St Andrews is famous for having elaborate fashion shows. Kate Middleton, once a student at St Andrews, was a model at one of the shows. According to the legend, Prince William saw Kate modeling in the fashion show and she caught his attention, paving the way for their relationship. Modeling sparked my interest because I like fashion and can walk in heels fairly well. Plus, maybe I would catch the attention of a Baron or Duke?
I went to various modeling auditions. Even the experienced models agreed the process was intimidating. It involved walking down the pretend catwalk in front of the committee while they watched you and then asked questions. Sadly, the committees did not choose me to be a runway model. Maybe it was because a lot of girls auditioned, wanting to be the next Kate Middleton. Only a very small percentage of those auditioning out made the cut. Or perhaps I got eliminated because my cheekbones weren’t high enough.
Caroline: Part of William & Mary’s orientation is attending a club fair one night which is a bunch of fun! The Orientation Aides told us in advance though that we should avoid signing up for the email list from every club that looks interesting as you’ll end up with over a hundred emails! I signed up for around 10 clubs which is way too much with all of the studying along with enjoying your free time that you’ll do!
I attended the first meetings for most of them, and I was able to tell right away that some were not going to be a good fit. There were a few volunteer organizations that had so many members that people would only get to volunteer once a month at the most and others were just not what I had expected upon signing up. While I really enjoyed the chance to meet new people through attending these meetings, I knew that joining the clubs themselves would be a waste of my time and the club’s time as I wouldn’t be giving my all to it.
What is your advice for new students at William & Mary and St Andrews about trying new things?
Bryn: Go out of your comfort zone! I am glad I didn’t just stick to swimming and that I tried new sports and activities. Although doing new activities in uncharted territory can be intimidating, don’t let fear and doubt stop you. If there is a sports club, society, or activity that interests and intrigues you, go for it! You may not make the cut for the tryout/audition or you may not enjoy the activity. That is perfectly okay and does not define you as a person! It will pave the way for something better. If you give new things a try, at least you won’t regret it later and wonder what would have happened if only you did have the guts to audition for modeling and subsequently could have become a Duchess.
Caroline: I would say don’t rule out any club just from name or appearance alone! The clubs at William & Mary are completely different than those in high school, and people from all different backgrounds are going to be involved. If you find a club that interests you, make sure to attend the first meeting, so you really get a feel for what that club is like. Maybe it is more disorganized than you would like, maybe the club’s focus isn’t what you expected, or simply maybe you just don’t vibe with the club. All of these are legitimate reasons for not continuing on with the group.
Never feel bad about quitting a club because it just doesn’t interest you any longer. College is supposed to be some of the best years of your life, and you shouldn’t spend it doing things you don’t like just because you feel like you have to.