The more you talk to students about why they chose William & Mary, the more you start to see a theme: when they set foot on campus, they just felt home. They felt comfortable. They felt like they belonged. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it does seem to happen in a higher concentration than one would expect.
When it came time for me to choose a university, I set about doing it in the way that all the Washington Post and College Board articles recommended – I made lists, I thought about majors, I thought about size and location (much to my parents’ dismay, I wasn’t thinking about price). I narrowed it down to a whopping 12 colleges I wanted to visit and apply to, and set about visiting each one. Of those, William & Mary was high on the list for its history, size, and location, but it had some competition.
The list went out the window when I took my first tour of William & Mary. My mom and I drove down and stayed in the Hospitality House, back when it was still a hotel (I’m old, I know), and the moment I set about walking around the campus, I knew I was home. From that first tour, to my interview, to submitting my Early Decision application, I had never experienced such certainty in my life. To date, I still haven’t.
When it came to choosing a college, I chose W&M because of its history, the beauty of its campus, its strong reputation and small classes, emphasis on the liberal arts, its quirky students, and its traditions. I knew, on some level, that this was where I was supposed to be.
When it came time to leave college, I took with me my best friends, my future roommates, a strong resume, a diploma from one of the best schools in the country, and the memories of undergraduate hilarity and happiness I still turn to when post-grad life gets too complicated.
Even with our degrees conferred, we were still unable to determine if TJ is actually looking into the Washington Hall third floor women’s restroom.
And when I consider where I am now, three years’ post-graduation, I consider how much of my life is due to what I gained from college. My job in technology consulting, which I learned the skills for when I worked with Salesforce in the admission office as a senior interviewer. My side gig (#millennial) as a reader for GWU undergraduate admissions, which was sparked by my interest in admissions as a tour guide. My boyfriend, who was my lab partner in my Geology Lab GER senior year. My roommates, my best friends (still), the sheer number of W&M stickers on my car, this blog, my obsessive interest in Virginia history.
Every time I find myself back on campus, for Homecoming or another visit, I see myself as I was in 2010: a high school junior, on the precipice of something big, choosing this future for myself, choosing the people I would spend it with. And every time I retrace my old footsteps from Old Campus to New, I see the vibrant students who embody W&M now — and those who will come after them, trailing parents and families on tours. I hope they all feel home.