Does Anybody Have a Map?

In order to explain why I chose William & Mary, it’s probably first worth mentioning that I am an extremely indecisive person. So, when I began the college application process four years ago, I was apprehensive. I had no idea how to go about choosing a school, and I was stressed about making what seemed like such a monumental decision.

At the beginning of my senior year, I made a list of schools where I was interested in applying. William & Mary was somewhere in the middle of this list. I hadn’t visited Williamsburg since I was little, and at the time, I was interested in going to school out of state. However, since my mom had attended William & Mary, I knew she would be happy if I at least submitted an application.

During that fall, I visited several colleges. While I liked different aspects of all of them, I hadn’t found a school where I could truly picture myself. Then, in October, I attended a Fall Focus Day at William & Mary. After touring the school, listening to a student and faculty panel, and talking with current students, my parents and I stopped for lunch at The Cheese Shop in Merchants Square. It was during this lunch that I made the extremely out-of-character decision to apply Early Decision to William & Mary. Just like that. No pros and cons list. No second guessing. Throughout the day I just couldn’t shake the feeling that William & Mary was the right school for me.

I loved the beautiful and historic campus. W&M had classes that piqued my interest and a variety of clubs and student organizations that I was excited to explore. However, what really convinced me to apply to William & Mary – and I know this sounds cliché but bear with me – was the people. Every single person I encountered while on campus made me want to be a part of the William & Mary community. From our tour guide, who told us all of his favorite W&M memories, to one of the student panelists, who talked with me about her time abroad in Italy, everyone was incredibly welcoming and passionate about sharing their different experiences.

At one point during the afternoon, my mom stopped to look at a map. We weren’t actually lost. She had paused to point out a building that she remembered from her own time on campus. While we were examining the map, two students walked over and asked if we needed help finding something. We struck up a conversation with them, and soon discovered that one of their fathers had been in the same graduating class as my mom. While this seems like such a small and seemingly insignificant encounter, I always reflect back on it when I think about why I chose William & Mary. It was the little conversations like this that really impressed upon me the school’s strong sense of community.

As I look back on my four years here, on the lessons learned, the memories made, and the friendships formed, I can say with confidence that William & Mary was the right choice for me. I am forever grateful for the time that I have had to find my own place within this community. While choosing a college can seem like a daunting decision, my hope for current high school students is that you find a place that feels like home. Should that place be William & Mary, I hope that you may also find community here and leave your own unique mark before you leave.

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