A peek into the lives of those who learn, teach, research and work at the College.
October 15, 2013 by Daniel Reichwein
When I was a kid, my father had paid a man to bring some firewood to our small farm and unload it in the middle of Indiana winter. He had arrived late, and my dad was very short and irate with him. We were low on supply and needed the firewood to power a couple wood-burning furnaces of our dog kennel. My parents bred Great Dane dogs and operated a small hog farm.
Funny thing was that no matter how mad my dad was, that firewood didn’t get unloaded any quicker. So I put on my coat and gloves and went outside to help the man. He was in his 40s with a well-weathered face and feeble demeanor. After the surprise of me offering to help him passed, I got to know him a little as we stacked the firewood along the front of the dog kennel.
I can’t remember the man’s name now, but I won’t forget his story. As it turns out, his wife had recently divorced him for reasons unknown and he had a boy he was raising by himself at home. He was chopping and selling firewood trying to make a living for the two of them. Work doesn’t come easy nor does it pay well in rural Indiana, or any rural area for that matter, so he was trying to get by as best as he could. Before we parted, he shook my hand and thanked me for the help. That was one of my first lessons in respect.
There a couple ways that this story applies outside of unloading firewood in wintry, rural Indiana. If you see your classmate struggling to answer a question or explain something, jump in and help him/her. The same thing applies to your professor who might be having a problem getting their presentation or video to start that you know how to solve. Try to think “extrospectively” when a classmate shows up late for a meeting. They could be dealing with some serious personal problem or working a couple part-time jobs so they can afford to go to school here. Lastly, as you look around at your classmates, don’t judge them. No one is as simple as they appear to be. We all have our stories.
October 14, 2013 by Admit It!
We Admit It! The whole early application process is confusing: there’s Early Decision, Early Action, Single-Choice Early Action, etc. Sometimes it feels like you need a degree just to understand how to go about applying for a degree program. In our ongoing attempts to help clarify W&M’s Early Decision (ED) process (see our previous three blogs), this week’s blog will focus on the Early Decision Agreement and what exactly it means to apply ED.
Early Decision is the binding form of early application; if you apply to a school Early Decision and you are admitted to that school, you are committed to enrolling there the following fall. The Early Decision Agreement acts as the contract through which you put that commitment in writing.
The Early Decision agreement outlines what exactly Early Decision means. You, one of your parents and your guidance counselor all sign the agreement stating that you understand the ED policy and that you agree to enroll at the school to which you apply ED if it admits you. You further agree to withdraw any outstanding applications or offers of admission you got from other institutions, to not submit any new applications and to send your enrollment deposit to the school that admits you ED. Early Decision is a serious process; the Early Decision agreement helps commit you to that process.
You can apply to only one school under an Early Decision deadline. You can submit other applications under Early Action or rolling decision or other non-binding deadlines. William & Mary will not release an ED admission decision to any student who does not submit the Early Decision agreement.
Applying to a college is a serious process; it’s also a very liberating process. There’s a lot of maturity and self-reflection and growth that accompanies what you go through. Applying ED and signing an ED agreement is one physical representation of that. So enjoy the process, immerse yourself in the search and application experience, give it the attention and seriousness it deserves. When you land at the college that’s the right fit for you, it will all be worth it.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
October 7, 2013 by Admit It!
We Admit It! College admission is confusing. There’s Early Action, Early Decision, Regular Decision, rolling admission. And then, once you’ve figured out which deadline you’re applying under (W&M offers Early and Regular Decision only), there are numerous decisions you can receive. So to clear up some of that confusion, this blog is dedicated to the three types of decisions you can receive should you apply to W&M under the Early Decision deadline.
Admit: Admit It! No one applies to college under any deadline hoping for a decision other than this one. The percentage of students admitted during Early Decision varies from year to year based on numerous factors. Generally speaking, we admit approximately 45% of those who apply Early Decision. Those students are then committed to attending W&M the following fall (in this year’s case they become the first members of William & Mary’s class of 2018). At the time of admission, they must withdraw all other outstanding applications to other colleges and submit an enrollment deposit to W&M.
Defer: Most of the students who apply Early Decision who are not admitted are deferred. This means that your application will be reviewed again during Regular Decision and another decision will be sent to you in early April. Those who are deferred are encouraged to update their applications with any new academic information (new standardized test scores, first-semester grades, etc.). Your original application plus any updates you send will be reviewed again in the context of our larger Regular Decision pool.
Deny: A small cohort (usually 10-15%) of those students who apply Early Decision will get a final decision of deny in December. While obviously the least desirable outcome, if a student applies who is not competitive for admission, and who no matter what won’t become competitive for admission, we will make that final decision during Early Decision rather than having the student cling to false hope until April. This decision is used sparingly and only for those students who across the board, fall short when compared to the other students who are and who will be applying for admission.
So there you have it. One application deadline, three possible outcomes. For those who apply Early Decision, our Decisions, Decisions blog, posted when decisions are released, will provide additional information on how students receive admission decisions and additional context on what each decision means.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
October 4, 2013 by Madelyn Smith
Walking through the streets of Washington, D.C. there is an air of uncertainty that permeates all that we do these days. This uncertainty is accompanied by a skepticism and distrust in government that I have never felt before. It is disheartening, this feeling of uncertainty, yet I understand the frustration that many people are feeling. People are disenfranchised by the inability of the government to compromise or agree.
Abraham Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg Address that the United States should be a government by the people, for the people, and of the people. Our public officials were elected to office to represent the voice of their people, to stand for bills and policies that would help the American Public, not put 800,000 people out of work. So, who is to blame? The media has pointed fingers at our congressmen and women- the people who are slaving hours on end to negotiate a resolution to the budget and debt crisis. Yes, congress is polarized with strong personalities who have made the news for their opinions, but I am optimistic they are working on our behalf to make positive change. Many people say that it is Obama’s stubborn stance on Obamacare that has created this mess. The truth? No one REALLY knows… It’s not the answer that any of us want to hear. Everyone thinks that there has to be someone or something to blame in order to put those pent-up emotions somewhere.
Well, here’s the truth: it’s the system. The system that allows us the freedom to debate. The system that allows us to share our opinions. The system that gives Congress the power to decide our fate as a country. The success of our country is built on this system. The liberties we have are a result of this system. The problem is that as well as this system functions, there are occasional mishaps that cause major Government shutdowns.
This is not the first time that the government has shut down, and I can guarantee that it will not be the last. Rather than become jaded by the United States government, I have decided to take a different approach. What I recognize, is that in order for there to be some sort of change, people are going to have to let go of their ego; something that will not happen voluntarily. Instead, come October 17th the threat of defaulting on the Debt will be so great, and there will be so much external pressure on Congress to act, that they will have to compromise. My hope is that there will be an agreement sooner, but there is no way to know. The best I can do is put my faith in the people who are working their hardest to make things right.
You might think that I am living under a rock speaking favorably about the Government in this time of crisis, but I still have hope. Hope persists despite the uncertainty, despite the shootings, the riots, the shutdowns and the crises – hope persists when the real world shuts down, because hope is all that we have.
October 1, 2013 by Benming Zhang
“Ambition is a passion, at once strong and insidious, and is very apt to cheat a man out of his happiness and his true respectability of character.”
- Edward Bates
Ambition. There is universal acknowledgement yet so different and in many forms. It is dynamic and personal. Even so, it is part of the American character – the very notion of the American Dream feeds on the capacity to succeed independently and comfortably.
Like the American Dream, there is a Tribe Dream every student feeds on here. The Tribe Dream could be little more than to graduate with a college diploma, or as wide as to make the most impact on the school. Look around, and ask a student for a list of all that he’s involved in. It could be breathtaking by the sheer volume of involvement in a wide array of interests. Of course, the Tribe Dream cannot exist without the opportunities that this institution offers. While “opportunities” usually shed a positive light, ambition can twist and bend them for the worse.
I caught the bad end of ambition. As all dreams are capable of doing, I became disillusioned with my capabilities. At the start of my freshman year, I knew I could call this campus my home. With that, I went ahead and took full advantage of what this campus offered. What began as an ideal situation became my next realistic nightmare. My first mistake was taking 18 credits. I found the commonsense to bring it down to 17 credits (not really “commonsense” at all) along with rowing, two other clubs and fraternity pledging. By mid-semester, I was worn out and grades slipped. I became overwhelmed with my slipping grades, and saw my social life gradually collapse to stress. My morale gave way all throughout finals week, during which I simply gave up on salvaging my grades.
Best practices: What could have been avoided
What I lacked is at the core of all ambitions: organization. At times, I became overwhelmed with the influx of quizzes, projects, problem sets, midterms – you get the picture. You have to find your own way to organize, but my main point is when organizing, allow free time for yourself. There have been days where I rushed endlessly from class to committee meetings, and this self-imposed, harried lifestyle beat the energy out of me before I got around to homework. In addition, ensure that you articulate attainable goals. Instead of writing “Get 4.0 GPA,” note a specific way of reaching it. This works: “Get a 4.0 GPA by following my new study habits, and prioritizing studying for exams a week before.” This captures the ideal into a workable form.
Disorganization begins by lacking priorities. Without priorities, ambition will invade and multiply invincibly into our core as cancer does. An ideal setting would call for equal attention to and for everything. In this world, especially in the Tribe universe, such things are nearly impossible. Prioritizing means putting more time into important matters, and leaving others that can survive for tomorrow. A simple practice is creating a list with As, Bs and Cs. “A”s garner (and demand) the most attention, with the rest declining in order of priority.
When ambition becomes overwhelming, and everything seems to be crumbling, don’t let up. Recollect yourself and plan for change at your next chance. I took Winter Break to reorganize my study habits and prioritize my attainable goals for the spring semester. I made marked improvements, and so can you should you ever fall into a similar situation.
October 1, 2013 by Admit It!
Admit It! With The November 1 Early Decision deadline being just one month from today (that took my breath away when I said it aloud this morning during an information session) there’s lots to do and little time in which to do it. To that end, we want to address another frequently asked question regarding Early Decision (ED) applications: What about senior-year grades?
Unless your school operates on a quarter or trimester system, it’s not likely that you’ll have any finalized senior-year grades to present with your Early Decision application. That’s okay. You’ll be in the same boat with 99% of the other ED applicants. The Committee will simply review and rely upon your grades from freshman year, sophomore year and junior year in order to make our decision.
Those who wish to submit first-marking-period/first-quarter grades are more than welcome to do so. We recognize that such grades may not be available until early November. Submitting them once they become available is fine; it’s the required application components that are due on the November 1 deadline. Additional materials (like updated testing or first-quarter grades) can be submitted in the days following the deadline.
Note that those admitted during Early Decision will be required to submit first-semester and final grades once they become available. Once admitted, a student is obligated to maintain the academic and personal record under which they were admitted, and the Committee will look at senior year grades to ensure those who were admitted early are continuing to achieve at the levels demonstrated in their applications.
More to come as November 1 draws nearer.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
September 25, 2013 by Katie LeCornu
This past weekend was Parents Weekend! My mom flew in on Thursday night, and we met for dinner after class. On Friday morning, I took off from work and we started our tour of Washington. I took her to the Eastern Market neighborhood, expecting the massive farmers market that I had witnessed the weekend before. It turns out that the outdoor vendors are only there on the weekends, and on weekdays only the indoor produce and meat vendors are there. Still, she got a taste of how cool that part of town is. Then we walked to the Hill. I showed her the Capitol Building, and took her inside Russell Senate building, where I sit in on a few staff meetings every week. Russell is home to many senator offices, so it was fun walking around and seeing their names on the gold plaques. We came across an office swamped with reporters and official-looking people, only to see that it was John McCain being bugged about something.
On Friday, my mom went to class with me. One of our speakers was a lawyer from the Department of Commerce, and the other worked at a nonprofit organization called Accion. Both were very interesting, and above all, passionate about their jobs! It’s reassuring to see W&M alums in great positions.
After class, the W&M DC office held a reception for the parents and students. THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD! Smooth brie cheese, rich cake balls, sizzling kabobs – fantastic!
After the reception, my mom got her first taste of the horrors of the Metro. First, the blue line was delayed, so by the time it got to the station, hundreds of people were waiting on the platform to get on. Somehow my mom and I squished on. I’ve seen the Metro full, but this was like in the cartoons when people’s faces are smashed up against the glass. We made it a few stops, cramming more and more people in. Then we smelled something terrible. My mom turned to me to ask what it was, and I sarcastically responded “the train must be on fire”. Turns out, I was right. There were so many people on the train, an electrical fire started underneath us, and everyone was kicked off at the next stop. Finally, after much delay and smoke, we made it to my mom’s hotel, where we met an old family friend and had dinner at a cute Lebanese restaurant.
Saturday morning began with a Costco run. I went in needing only three things, and came out with none of those things, instead five other items (Costco bulk sized). The second best part of Parents Weekend is having your family stock you up on food for the semester. (The first best part is just being with family.) After filling my fridge, my mom and I headed to the Newseum for the day. Even though we got the tickets for cheap through the DC office, it still would have been worth it to see the museum for full price – it was awesome. The purpose of the Newseum is essentially to tell history through the eyes of the reporters and journalists who witnessed it first hand. There was a display of pictures from the days of Camelot, and an exhibit of souvenirs from various FBI investigations. There were also pieces from history, like the very top tower of the World Trade Center. One of my favorite displays was the Berlin Wall. One side was clean, while the other side was covered with graffiti symbolizing the turmoil and unrest occurring on that side. I was awestruck to be that close to a piece of history. Another memorable part of the Newseum was the footage reporters got of the 9/11 attacks. It was incredible how close they were willing to get to the debris, and eerie to witness their reactions as events unfolded. My mom liked the replication of Tim Russert’s office – she was a huge fan of his.
After the Newseum, my mom and I walked to Clyde’s at Gallery Place for dinner. Again, the food was fantastic – crab cakes and spinach pastries. After dinner the group went to a show at the Reagan Center called Capitol Steps. The comedians make fun of politics and happenings in Washington. My favorite skit was when they replaced the words from Grease the musical with lyrics about Greece the country and how it is failing economically. It was surprisingly non-partisan: they poked fun at both sides of the aisle.
On Sunday morning, my mom and I headed back to the Newseum to soak up a little more of the exhibits. We watched a documentary about how the Holocaust was largely ignored by the US press because of the anti-Semitism at the time. It was moving. News about the Holocaust was only printed about once a year on the front page – most of the focus was to WWII. If only the press spoke out more about the killings, thousands of lives would have been saved. It made me realize the power of the media. Also, we went to the Pulitzer Prize picture gallery, which was again very emotional. While a few of the pictures documented victory and progress, many depicted war and violence and death. It is truly amazing the power of a picture.
After the Newseum, my mom and I walked through the Mall. The National Book Festival was going on, but it was overwhelming so we didn’t stop. I showed her the Washington Monument and the White House, and then sent her on her plane back to Texas. It’s tough going to school so far away from my family, so it was great getting to see my mom over the weekend.
As I was about to leave work on Tuesday, I got an email from the internship coordinator that he got us passes to go see Ted Cruz filibuster about the Continuing Resolution and ObamaCare. All my office left, and I started heading to class, but after about a block of walking, I realized that there will probably never be a time in my life where I get to sit in on a Senate filibuster, so I turned around and joined them. It was a weird experience – I thought since Senate was in session and a filibuster was going on, the chamber would be full. However, the only people in there were Ted Cruz, a senator from Alabama, the scribe, and a presiding chair. Ted Cruz kind of just rambled, but it was cool to see the formalities of it. They called him “Junior Senator from Texas” instead of just Senator Cruz. I’m excited to see how the CR unfolds in the Senate this week. Below is a sample of what we witnessed in the Senate Chamber Tuesday night…
September 23, 2013 by Admit It!
Admit It! That first college application deadline is fast approaching (likely a little too fast for both your comfort and ours). William & Mary’s first application deadline is our November 1 Early Decision deadline (39 days from today for those of you who like a countdown). This time of year we get a lot of questions pertaining to the Early Decision (ED) process. So for the next several weeks leading up to the ED application deadline, we will do our best to address those most frequently asked questions here.
The question we probably get the most often relates to standardized testing; what test results will make it to us in time to be considered during Early Decision and which won’t. While we make no guarantees, here’s what’s helpful to know.
- Any ACT or SAT taken prior to October 1 should reach us in time to be considered during ED (just ensure you’ve asked for those scores to be officially reported from the testing agency)
- October SAT results generally arrive in time to be considered during Early Decision (assuming the test date is in early October as it generally is)
- October ACT results generally do not arrive in time to be considered during Early Decision as they are usually offered in late October and thus results aren’t available until late November)
- All test results need to be reported to W&M from the testing agency
- Results do not need to arrive prior to the November 1 application deadline but should arrive shortly thereafter in order to be considered
- We do accept rush scores although rushing is generally not necessary as October SATs should arrive in time without rushing and October ACTs, even when rushed, may not arrive in time
What’s most important is that when filling out the Common Application, report any prior and any future test dates (even if results aren’t yet available or you haven’t yet taken the exam). That way we can make a note to look for updated testing when reviewing your materials.
We will address questions about financial aid/merit awards, senior year grades and other Early Decision-related questions in upcoming blogs. If there are any specific ED questions you have, post them as comments below and we’d be happy to address them.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
September 19, 2013 by Katie LeCornu
Well, the DC Fall intern class has officially completed our first full week of work! Armed with pantsuits, briefcases and walking shoes, we venture out every morning with the fellow Crystal City-ers with “real jobs”. Not to say our jobs aren’t real or that we aren’t doing just as much work (and more) than our paid co-workers. We surely look just as professional as the other ho-hum commuters frowning on the Metro. We’ve entered the rat-race, but our spirits are still fresh, and we are ready to take on what is thrown at us.
Corporate America is not what I expected. There are so many little tasks that need to be completed just to keep things running. No, not getting coffee, but entering contact information or updating a database. These tasks seem insignificant, and I find myself asking, “When will the big work start? When will I have that groundbreaking project? When will I be the President of the United States?” Okay, maybe that last one escalated too quickly. But when I take a step back from the tedium, I realize that the small daily tasks I perform save my supervisors a lot of time, which then enables them to do the big things. Once I gain their trust by completing the little chores, they feel comfortable delegating to me the bigger projects, like representing them at an important conference that they don’t have time to attend. Or sending out a daily email to 9,500 people (eek!)
One of the most difficult parts is trying to find the perfect balance of how often to talk to your supervisors. I want to have something to do, but I don’t want to bug them to death. One of the problems I’m facing is the fact that I’m in two departments, so each supervisor assumes the other one gave me something to do. It’s tempting to continue to let them assume that so I don’t have any work, but it can get boring pretending to be productive. I’ve started going to my supervisors in the morning to let them know what is on my plate for the day, so they know that I have time to do certain tasks. I’ve learned that it is important to assert your desire to learn. By being eager to help out and showing you are ready to get your hands a little dirty, supervisors will respect you as an asset to the organization, and treat you like a colleague rather than an understudy. Also, I’ve found that many supervisors want you to get the most out of the experience, so they are willing to help you reach your goals if you just speak up about them. I know it’s nerve-racking, but speaking up to your supervisors can solve a lot of problems and keep you from being forgotten.
In other news, I got to explore a little bit of DC this weekend when a friend came to visit. On Saturday we went to the National Zoo, which is HUGE and free. Although I visited the Zoo on the scavenger hunt, we actually only saw chipmunks and no animals. This time I was able to make it through almost all of the exhibits. My favorite was the otters – they played follow-the-leader the whole time. Also, there was a butterfly room where the butterflies actually would land on you! It seemed like a lot of the animals did not have much room to play – the elephant kept ramming into the gate trying to get out. But I guess in the wild they don’t get fed and protected from poachers, so it’s a tradeoff. Unfortunately the animals don’t get to make that decision for themselves. I don’t know how much I would like being stuck in a cage with snotty kids banging at me…
On Sunday we went to Eastern Market, a super cool neighborhood with an all-day, everyday farmers market. There are a ton of great restaurants in the area, and we settled on one called the Chesapeake Room. After lunch we got a cupcake from a food truck, and headed over to the tents. There was a wide variety of produce – everything from beautiful heads of lettuce to juicy peaches. There were live bands playing, soap shops, art tents and jewelry artisans. It was an awesome atmosphere – definitely a place I want to return to.
Last night the interns had dinner with our mentors. It was fun hearing about their time at William & Mary. Although the campus has changed a lot, the prestige of the school remains. Also, many cool programs have been introduced since their time there, like the DC program. It was great to see that so many alums left W&M prepared for a career that they love. One of the most important things I got out of my dinner was that it’s okay that I don’t know what I want to do after college. My mentor was actually glad that I didn’t know what to do – it gives me time to explore and be flexible. He didn’t settle into something until he was almost thirty, but once he did, he loved it. I think it’s important to take the time to discover where you can do the most good.
September 13, 2013 by Admit It!
We Admit It! Travel season is exciting. Beginning this week, the admission deans will pack up their suitcases, get in cars or on planes, and hit the proverbial road. Over the next eight or nine weeks, we will traverse the state of Virginia and many areas outside of it to talk with prospective students and families at high school visits and college fairs. Attending these events in your area is a great way to introduce yourself to various colleges and universities and to collect information that can help you make your way through the college search process.
Take advantage of these opportunities whatever year you might be in high school. Your guidance counselor will likely know which colleges and universities are visiting your high school (if W&M is, we will send you an email notice a week prior to our visit – assuming you’re on our mailing list) and when there will be college fairs in your area.
When attending a college fair or a visit from a college rep at your high school, don’t be afraid to talk to the admission officer behind the table. We promise we are not intimidating, and we LOVE talking to people, especially about the institution we represent. Ask the questions that are most helpful to you. Seek out answers that will help you determine where to apply and how to apply. Collect materials we hand out and read through them when you have a free moment. While these types of interactions cannot replace an actual campus visit, they can help you determine which schools interest you enough for an official visit. If we are not coming to your area (and sadly we cannot visit every high school or even every state), you can always reach out to us by phone or email or come visit our beautiful campus (the fall is particularly lovely in Williamsburg).
We’ll see you out there (wherever there is).
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission