In my experience, one of the unofficial requirements of looking at colleges is this: you tell people the schools you are considering and they tell you every bad thing they have ever heard about the school. As if the college process wasn’t stressful enough, no matter where you apply it seems that someone has heard something negative about the school. Well I am here today to take those rumors (yes, I’ve heard them too) and give you the real facts. I hope what I have written below can help you get direct, honest responses to the rumors circulating about William and Mary.
Rumor 1: William and Mary is a cutthroat competitive environment—everyone is trying to outdo everyone else.
This one is absolutely 100% false. The thing I like most about William and Mary is the fact that you are really only competing with yourself. If your first test in a class didn’t go too
well, your concern for the next test is only to improve your score not to beat the other students in the class. Students don’t walk around bragging about their GPA or trying to trick
someone into studying the wrong material for an upcoming exam. When you hear that William and Mary is like a family, it is true—we are all here to succeed and we help each other through to the very end. Take my roommates as an example. Whenever one of us does well on a test or a paper, we know that we can come straight home and jump up and down for each other and spend the evening celebrating the success with a movie and dinner together. Everyone at William and
Mary is here to learn as much as we can and have fun while we are doing it. As I said before, the competition here is with yourself not with the students around you.
Rumor 2: William and Mary is where the fun goes to die, students study 24/7 and don’t have time to do anything else.
Again, false! We have over 300 student organizations on our campus and they are busy. I would say that W&M students are definitely busy 24/7, but they are not by any means
studying all of that time. Students are running for class office, heading up the bone marrow drive, participating in a Greek organization, serving as a tour guide and so much more! Williamsburg may not seem like the most “happening” place when you come to tour Colonial Williamsburg in third grade, but trust me, there is never a dull moment on this campus! Whether you are going to see a band brought to campus by AMP (Alma Mater Productions) or going to a philanthropy fundraiser hosted by a sorority or fraternity there is lots to do on campus. If you ever spend an entire weekend in the library it is usually your own fault—you didn’t start on that 10 page paper until three days before the due date or you “played” too much the weekend before and you didn’t study for an upcoming exam. I certainly don’t know anyone at W&M who studies 24/7 and I think you would be hard-pressed to find one. We do work hard and learn a lot, but there is more to college than academics.
Rumor 3: William and Mary is a “nerd” school.
I don’t think that I can label this one perfectly true or perfectly false. The way I usually say this is: everyone at W&M is in touch with their inner nerd (some more so than
others). This is part of what makes William and Mary such a unique atmosphere. It means that in the classroom no one is afraid to answer a question because it is “uncool.” Students here
are excited to learn (except maybe in 8 am classes) and they are never afraid to show it. William and Mary is one of the most welcoming communities you can find and this is just one more way in
which we all differ from one another.
Rumor 4: There is nothing to do in Williamsburg (except maybe hang out with colonial actors)
I’ve kind of already addressed this in talking about student activities, but let’s look at life off campus as well. Contrary to popular belief, there is more in Williamsburg than just the colonial part. The first thing that comes to my mind is Busch Gardens. In fact, at the beginning of every school year, there is “Busch Gardens Day” on which W&M students get reduced price
tickets and shuttles run to and from campus to get students to Busch for a day of fun. If roller coasters aren’t your thing you can head out to New Town, a town center with shops, restaurants, and a movie theater, or the Outlets. Don’t have a car? Don’t worry! The Williamsburg bus line runs to all those locations and more and you can ride free with your W&M ID. If you and your friends are desperate for some urban experiences, we are also a mere 45 minutes from Richmond and Virginia Beach.
So there are four rumors that I hope I’ve addressed to your satisfaction. Whether you are currently in the process of making your final decision or just considering which schools
to visit, I hope that this post will dispel/alleviate any fears you might have had about William and Mary.

On the Hunt

In an economy where fewer and fewer employers are hiring, I
am among the lucky group of individuals that is currently seeking
employment.  Yep, that’s right…I’m on the
market!  Not to worry, though, I have
copious resources at William and Mary that are helping me to move my job search
along in a stagnating market!
I have discovered that the biggest benefit I have gotten out
of my business minor is not the classes (although those are great), but rather
access to all the resources within the business school.  First among these-the professors.  All of the professors I know well in the
business school (and even those I don’t!) are opening their contacts to me,
helping me to attend networking events, meet with their personal connections,
etc.  Last week, for example, I was
invited by a professor to attend the Financial Executives International Student
Networking Night.  William and Mary took
two students to this event where we had the opportunity to network with some of
the top financial executives in Virginia. 
Even though I am not a finance major, I was able to attend this
networking event and connect with people from big name companies like GE and
Sony!  In addition to the professors, the
Mason School of Business also has a number of “Executive Partners” (EPs) who
come to William and Mary to aid business students in a number of different
areas.  In my entrepreneurship class, we
have four executive partners with whom I have been working to contact people
for informational interviews.  Within a
week, I had four meetings lined up to talk with individuals ranging from a cardiothoracic
surgeon to a former marketing director at GE, each of whom had a very different
outlook to share with me in my career search. 
Finally, the business school also has its own career advisor, Peggy
Gesing, who is there to help students with more than just resumes.  Peggy is great about brainstorming ideas of
people to talk to and coming up with ideas on how to advance your career
search.  Peggy recently helped me
reformulate the way in which I am selling myself to companies to make sure that
all of my experience is relevant.
The second major resource I have in my career search is
William and Mary’s Career Center.  Each semester, the Career Center hosts a career fair, but their work doesn’t stop
there!  Last Friday, I joined one of
their Road 2 Richmond trips, which connects students interested in working in
Richmond with employers in several different areas.  The trip I attended was focused on marketing
and involved a panel at The Martin Agency, one of the premiere marketing
agencies in the country (anyone seen the UPS whiteboard ads?), followed by a
networking event at the headquarters of a consulting company called Play.  This trip was great in many ways.  First and foremost, even though I am not
necessarily interested in a career in marketing, it gave me some good insight
into what employers are looking for in recent graduates and ways to get your
foot in the door at places you might be interested in working.  The Career Center also helped me to attend a
big career fair in Richmond on Wednesday. 
The College 2 Career Fair brought employers from across the country to
come speak with students.  The best thing
about it-it was sponsored by a major healthcare company with whom I got to
speak extensively.  It is too soon to
know now whether anything came of it, but I thought it was a very well put together
event.  (And who knows?  I may have even won a free airline ticket!)
Overall, it is a scary time to be in the job market, but
William and Mary is making it a little bit easier.  The answer is: network, network,
network.  It isn’t easy, but it is a life
long skill, and I’m getting plenty of opportunity to practice right now!

Do you know the etymology of the word snob?

Well, it has undoubtedly been the most interesting start to a semester I have had in all of my time at William and Mary. From my professor bringing in coffee and cookies to our first day in her 8am class to this semester’s career fair to William and Mary’s very own Bill Lawrence (he writes the show Scrubs) coming to campus, these past few weeks have been a good reminder that there is never a
dull moment on our campus!
Let’s start with the academic world. While we have had some typical classes in the
past few weeks, it seems that all my professors this semester are certainly
throwing “traditional” lesson plans to the wind. In the first two weeks of class, I have learned
the etymology of the word snob in my Intro to Islam course, I have evaluated
the potential leadership capabilities of a rock and a glass vase, I have
performed population genetics studies with coin tosses, and I have learned to
waltz (although that is what the
class is supposed to be about). My
entrepreneurship class is the most unique class I have taken in my time at
William and Mary. Over half of our grade
for that class is in an individual business plan we will all write as part of
the class. The unique part, however, is
that we have four “Executive Partners” who are helping with the class. These are not just teaching assistants. These are retired business people who have
volunteered their time to come assist our class. They each bring their own amazing range of
experiences to the class and are very willing to meet with students to discuss…whatever! I ran into one of the “EPs” in the library
one day and started talking about my plans for after graduation. By the end of our conversation, he had a list
of several contacts to whom he wanted to present me and he had a list of things
for me to do to further my job search. They are incredibly helpful, and it shocks me every day that I come to class
that these people are willing to take time out of their schedules to help us
with whatever we need. Another example—I’m
meeting with one of the “EPs” on Friday over coffee to go over the financial
background we need for the class since I have never had Finance before. Whenever you come to William and Mary, anyone
you talk to will go on and on about how dedicated the professors are. This is not only demonstrated in the EPs in
my entrepreneurship class, but also my professor. After meeting with him last week to discuss
my business idea, he invited me to attend a brown bag lunch seminar he was
giving to MBA students on job search strategies. So at 12:15 that day, I piled into a
classroom with about 40 MBA students to join in an upbeat “behind the scenes”
look at what corporations/recruiters are thinking as they look at your resume.
There is also a lot going on outside of class. I am continuing to develop Life After D.o.G.
Street—our next seminar is on February 25th if you are interested. In addition, last week one of the biggest “superstars”
in Islamic studies came to campus to give a talk called “Message to President
Obama: What One Billion Muslims Really Think.” He was phenomenal! He is a real
life advisor to President Obama and one of the masterminds behind the recent
Gallup Poll, which studied the opinions of Muslims from 35 countries. As someone who prides herself on being
relatively knowledgeable about global events, even I was surprised at how much
the American popular media has shaped my view of Islam and anti-American
sentiments in the Middle East. Of
course, all of the standard “goings on” are happening as well—the basketball
season is in full swing, comedians are coming to campus through AMP (formerly
UCAB), and The Secret Garden (this year’s student-run theater production) has
come and gone—there really is never a dull moment on this campus! When I stop and think about all that I do and
how I still miss so many events, I have to marvel at everything going on around
this campus! And now, I am off to have
dinner with the admissions interns!

Giving Thanks

grown up at William and Mary.  I don’t mean just in age…everyone does
that-it can’t be helped.  I’m talking about maturing…becoming an
adult.  The experiences I’ve had here, the people that I’ve met…they did
that.  And it is for that that I am truly thankful this Thanksgiving.
start by telling you a little secret: not every day at William and Mary is
great .  I love it here, but part of reality is that there are always
going to be those days when life knocks your feet out from under you. 
Part of growing up is learning to take those days in stride.  I have
learned that there will always be a sunny day to follow.  The most
important thing to remember about those days is that without struggle and
challenge, success isn’t gratifying.  Without failure it is impossible to
grow.  William and Mary is the first place I’ve ever failed at anything
(in fact, I think it’s the first place most of us have ever failed).  From
those failures, however, I’ve gained so much .  One example: I could have loved
working in a research lab.  I could be there right now setting up for
today’s experiment.  If I had succeeded in that activity, however, I never
would have realized that research is not the career path for me…I never would
have had my job in admissions this summer…I wouldn’t be who I am today.  I
know now how to stand up for myself when something isn’t going my way.  I
can handle conflict now.  I make all this sound like it happened
overnight.  It’s a process, but William and Mary fostered that process in
enough of the depressing stuff, it is more than just the hardships at W&M
that have helped me grow.  It is also the people that I have met
here.  From the professors who are willing to help you create from scratch
a new program for the school (read: Life
After D.o.G. Street) to the people on my Freshman
hall who all piled into my tiny dorm room to watch movies and eat junk food
to the speakers I have heard (including the man on whom Hotel Rwanda was
based).  Anyone you talk to will tell you that the people at William and
Mary are something to behold.  As I interviewed students this summer, the
thing I was looking for more than anything else was whether they would try to
leave their mark on the College as so many students before them have.  We
all leave a footprint at William and Mary.  As future William and Mary alums…we
have big shoes to fill.  It isn’t just my friends, either.  I look
around this campus at all the people here, and as odd as it may sound, they are
all part of what has shaped me.  They are the people whose clubs I have
joined, or with whom I have gotten into a heated discussion in class. 
They are the people who have picked me up when I fall (literally…I trip all
the time).  They are the people who make William and Mary what it is, and,
as a result, they are part of who I am today.
overall, I am thankful for the growth I have experienced at W&M. 
Coming in as a freshman I closely resembled a deer caught in the headlights,
but over my years here I have grown into a confident, accomplished young woman,
and I have W&M to thank for that.  I never would have dreamed that I
was going to spend a summer here helping to select the incoming class of 2013
or that I would start anything like Life After D.o.G. Street…there were even
days when it was hard to imagine that I would ever graduate.  But all
those things did happen to me (except for graduation which is six months from
last Monday).  Over my years here, W&M has shaped me into who I am
today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And the winner is….

“Have you voted yet?” “Where is your ‘I voted’ sticker?”  Everywhere you turned at William and Mary on November 4th someone was checking in on your voting status.  Unfortunately for me, no one sends absentee voters an “I voted” sticker.  We are the unappreciated voting body.  It’s ok though, because I got to vote!  I am a member of the unlucky year that missed being able to vote in the last election by mere months!  As a result, for this election, my class pulled out all the stops on election madness.  Throughout the day, there were crowds of people standing under the “bubbles” in Swem where you can hear the TV to check in on election results, people were talking between classes about which outcome would force them to move to Canada… professors and students alike were caught up in the election pandemonium!
The unfortunate reality of election day, however, is that there isn’t really anything to see on the endless newscasts until the polls start closing.  As a result, it was a good thing that I had a midterm and a presentation to keep me busy on election day or I probably would have been driven stir crazy by CNN and their exit polls.  The day was certainly hustle and bustle.  Students recently gained the right to vote in Williamsburg so the student assembly ran shuttles to and from voting locations; people were stationed outside the UC and Swem to make sure students had done their part; and, as the day wore down, people began gathering for their respective election parties around campus and at the delis.  Where was I for this historic election?  Sitting at home, studying Business Law while watching CNN on mute.  An unfortunate reality of being a William and Mary student is that the world doesn’t come to a screaching halt because you want to see America elect its first African-American president.  That’s ok, though, because I saw it happening, while studying with my roommate–probably one of those experiences in my life that I will never forget!  So whether by the end of the night you were crying with tears of joy or sorrow, America has a new President, and there is no doubt in my mind that William and Mary students played a role in that election!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I’ll be the first to admit it–William and Mary students drop everything when they hear the first whisper of a rumor that class offerings for the next semester have been posted.  We spend hours (if not days) pouring over the plethora of new classes…from Women in Islam to American Popular Music to Yoga, there is something to get everyone excited.  Well, it has arrived!  On Monday, the Spring 2009 classes appeared on Banner (our online course catalog) and we were off to the races!  As I sat frantically gleaning through the newest Biology offerings, it dawned on me–this is the last time I will choose my classes at William and Mary.  Come April, when everyone else begins registering for fall classes, I will just be sitting around watching them waiting anxiously to see which classes they got into.  So I’d better make this last semester count!  Most people might think it is weird to obsess so much over class selection, but I can tell you that everyone at W&M understands.  When you have such amazing professors and opportunities at your fingertips, you don’t want to let anything slip away.
I still have one more GER class to fulfill, and, ironically, I selected my class for that requirement from the video we show during sessions in the Admissions Office.  Apparently Professor Sonn is incredible–they had better not have been lying though, because the class is only offerred at 8am.  Yikes!  I have also chosen to subject myself to the 8am section of Biochemistry…you do what you have to do right?  I have also decided that since I am a senior, this is my semester to get into Yoga.  It is one of the hardest classes to get into on this campus, but I’ve been wanting to take that class since my freshman year, and nothing’s going to stop me now!  Other than that, one more Bio class and a couple of Business classes and I’m set to go!  Registration is one week from Monday…I’ll let you know how it goes!

So you wanna be a doctor…

Trust me when I say that there are a lot of people out there who
come to college thinking that they want to be doctors, and William and
Mary is no exception!  I remember my freshman year when I started to
panic because I didn’t know if I wanted to go to medical school…or
any form of graduate school for that matter.  I just got here, I thought, can’t I just enjoy undergrad for a bit? 
The answer to that question is yes you can!  But this blog post isn’t
for those of you who are in my shoes.  This post is for those of you
who want to go to medical school and want to know if W&M can help
you get there.  The short answer to this conundrum is yes, but if you
want to know more than that read on.
While I, myself, am not
planning on attending medical school, I have enough friends that have
gone through the process that I feel I can speak on the subject with
some authority.  At W&M “pre-med” is not a major, and there is a
simple reason for this–you can major in literally anything and
still go to medical school.  (If you want to go to med school, but
don’t want to major in a science, however, I do recommend meeting with
our pre-med advisor early on in your time at W&M to make sure you
are including the right classes in your program)  So if “pre-med” isn’t
a W&M major, how do you know what to do and what to take?  That is
where our aforementioned pre-med advisor comes in!  Dr. Bev Sher is one
of the most amazing people on this campus!  She knows everything
about the medical school application process.  She knows what classes
you need to take on top of the basic sciences, she knows when you need
to start studying for the MCAT, she knows how much clinical experience
you are going to need, she knows how many med-schools you need to apply
to (between 10 & 14 if you were wondering), and most of all she
keeps everything in perspective.  She is the person that gets W&M
students into med-school.  But there is a lot more that goes into
getting into medical school…what else does W&M have?
classes, beyond anything else prepare you for medical school.  My
boyfriend is in his first year of med school right now, and he has
already covered a lot of this year’s material in W&M classes during
undergrad which is really helping him get ahead of the game now. 
W&M professors don’t just teach you the material, but they teach
you how to think.  That is good preparation no matter what your goals
W&M also has a partnership with Eastern Virginia Medical
School (EVMS) in Norfolk, VA.  This partnership allows you to gain
early admission to EVMS in your sophomore year (no MCAT scores
required).  Not everyone who applies is accepted…it is medical school
after all…but if your grades are in great shape and you do well in
your interview with them, you have the potential of having a medical
“safety school.”  If you are accepted by EVMS you are not required to
go there, but it takes a lot of the pressure off of applying to medical
schools later because you already know you are in somewhere!
One last thing and then I will stop rambling.  Can pre-med students at W&M still have a life?  Absolutely! 
Pre-med students might be a little busier than other students at
W&M, but that is because they do have lives.  Sure, they study, do
research, and volunteer at the local hospitals, but they are also in
sororities and fraternities, they go on international service trips,
they are presidents of clubs, they are tour guides, they are
everywhere!  So if you are interested in pre-med, W&M is definitely
a good option!  And, before you know it, you will be receiving your
first white coat on your first official dayof medical school! (See picture)

Long Time Coming

So since I am amazingly technologically adept, I managed to delete the post I wrote about the start of the school year.  Long story short, school has started again and is the usual blend of stress, facination, and fun!  Depending on the day, I go back and forth on how I feel about adding the business minor, but what’s done is done…I just don’t get quite as excited about it as I do about Biology.
The big news in my life right now, though, is that the first Life After D.o.G. Street seminar happened last Wednesday night, and was a huge success!  Almost everyone who signed up showed up, and I think everyone learned a lot.  We had a speaker from a group run jointly by Bank of America and Monster come in to speak about credit and money management skills for college students.  While some of the information was a little bit elementary, I think the overall impression was that this series is something people want to keep coming back to.  I can’t even begin to describe how thrilled I was when two days later, my inbox was already flooded with people asking to come to the next seminar!  I can’t wait to get that one up and running (hopefully as successfully) as the first one!  Wish me luck, I’ll keep you posted!

Get Excited!!!

So it’s been a while since I’ve done an update on Life After D.o.G. Street, my seminar series, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on it!  When I last posted we had a list of potential speakers and nothing solidified for our first seminar which will be on September 24th.  Yikes!  Well since then, a lot of progress has been made.  I have continued working with Professor Busbee in the business school, and touched base with Cindy Gillman in the Alumni Association.  Ms. Gillman has been helping me with a speaker for our seminar on credit.  Through her contacts at Bank of America, she was able to find a speaker who is trained in speaking about credit and money management to college students!  Perfect!  The only obstacle we faced then, was that they prefer to speak to groups of 100 or more and I wanted to keep the seminar small.  In the end, however, we got the details hammered out, and the seminar got one step closer to becoming a reality!
The big issue from there was marketing.  I needed to get news of this seminar out to the students and quickly.  I started by posting flyers around campus, but those yielded a great big zero people asking to come to the seminar.  The next thing I considered was doing a mailing to all of the seniors’ mailboxes.  In the age of “going green,” however, this seemed like a huge waste of paper.  So I kept brainstorming…I put the event on Facebook, thought about using Student Happenings, but I needed something more direct.  In the end, I got in touch with our class president, and he agreed to send out an e-mail for me to the senior class about Life After D.o.G. Street.  The results were better than I could ever have hoped for!  I now have 60 people signed up to come to the first seminar (10 of whom are on a waiting list, because I just couldn’t accommodate more than 50)!!  60 people!!  There was something about actually seeing the student response that made this come to life for me.  It’s still hard for me to believe that something I thought up at the beginning of the summer is actually happening, and I did it!  The best thing is that I didn’t have to do it alone.  I couldn’t have done it alone.  I needed the help of faculty, staff, and students alike to get this thing going.  I think I have now generated enough interest that I will be able to fill the seminars for the rest of the semester.  I don’t want to jinx myself, though.  Maybe I should bake cookies for the first seminar…food is the way to the heart of any college student.  Cookies might get them there and keep them there.  That’s not bribery is it?  :)

Bowling with the Deans – Intern Bowling

Tuesday night was the first of what will hopefully be many Tour Guide
social events!  The tour guides (well…the couple of us that
remembered to show up) went bowling with almost all of the Admissions
deans!  Keep in mind, my previous mention of my athletic abilities, but
bowling is a lot of fun regardless of whether or not I’m good at it. 
We split ourselves up into three teams and came up with bowling
nicknames–everything from Money Mike to Killa Ki to T Boolicious.  I
think everyone had a great time.  The best part was that it was a
chance for this years interns to get back at the deans for beating us
so badly in kickball–and oh did we beat them (with the help of the
other Tour Guides).  I don’t have the exact final scores, but we beat
them.  Carrie and Mike were the surprises of the night both scoring
much higher than most of the rest of us and they
made it look efortless.  I spend my entire time bowling trying to get
the ball to not go in the gutter, but they just walked up to the lane
and dropped the ball.  Pretty incredible!  It was another night of
W&M administrators and students having a great time together–we
should have gone to Sno-to-Go afterwards…hmm ideas for next time!