What is William & Mary Known For?

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Jon Stewart, Kelly Choi, Thomas Jefferson, Glenn Close, Perry Ellis, Mike Tomlin, and Beth Comstock are just some of the many world-famous alumni of The College of William & Mary. Founded in 1693, the public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S. after Harvard University.

 

Today, William & Mary is considered a top institution thanks to its excellent academic programs, gorgeous campus, and engaged student body. Along with institutions like the University of Virginia and several of the University of California campuses, it was named as one of the original “Public Ivies,” according to Richard Moll’s book of the same name, published in 1985.

 

Overview of William & Mary Admissions

 

Location: Williamsburg, VA

Undergrad Enrollment: 6,300

Acceptance Rate: 42%

Middle 50% SAT: 1320-1510

Middle 50% ACT: 30-34

 

William & Mary uses the Common Application, with a regular decision deadline of January 1. The school has both Early Decision I and Early Decision II plans, with application deadlines of November 1 and January 1 respectively. 

 

As a public institution, W&M’s admissions rate is higher for in-state than out-of-state students—51% vs. 36%. Out of 1,187 students who applied early decision, 528 enrolled.

 

Learn more about W&M and see your chances of acceptance.

 

Unique Aspects of William & Mary

 

Academics

W&M’s undergraduate academic programs are spread across a multitude of schools: Arts & Science, Raymond A. Mason School of Business, and the William & Mary School of Education. Students can choose among majors such as Africana Studies, Business, Data Science, Medieval & Renaissance Studies, and Physics. 

 

They can also undertake an interdisciplinary major, such as Global Studies, Environmental Science and Policy, or Film and Media Studies, or create their own. They may elect to pursue a minor as well. There are several pre-professional tracks through which students are assigned advisors:

 

  • Engineering
  • Pre-Law
  • Pre-Med
  • Pre-Nursing
  • Pre-Occupational Therapy
  • Pre-Physical Therapy
  • Pre-Physician Assistant
  • Pre-Vet, Pre-Dentist, Pre-Pharmacy

 

The core College Curriculum intersects disciplines and broadens the academic experience. Students read, discuss, examine different paradigms for examining knowledge, and grapple with ideas that shape our world through sets of courses throughout their college careers. 

 

One unique program is the St Andrews William & Mary Joint Degree Programme, an international degree partnership between the U.S. and Scotland institution. Students divide their time between William & Mary and the University of St Andrews, completing two years at each school and ultimately earning a single BA with International Honours. Students may choose among five majors within the program: Classical Studies, Economics, English, Film Studies, History, and International Relations.

 

Separately, W&M offers Sponsored Semester Programs during which participating students may study abroad for a semester through the following institutions:

 

  • La Plata, Argentina: Universidad Nacional de La Plata
  • Oxford, England: Hertford College, University of Oxford
  • Montpellier, France: Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III
  • Sevilla, Spain: Universidad Pablo de Olavide

 

The school also has exchange agreements with 15 additional international universities.

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Extracurriculars

 

The William & Mary Tribe competes in the NCAA Division I. The Tribe holds national championships in several sports, including men’s tennis. In 2020, W&M cut several athletic programs, but after considerable controversy and backlash, they were all reinstated, some temporarily.

 

Aside from athletics, W&M has more than 450 student-run organizations and clubs, such as 7th Grade Sketch Comedy, 1683 Furs, Active Minds, Rubik’s Society, and many others. There are more than 30 multicultural and 35 religious student organizations. Approximately 6,000 students participate in community service each year. 

 

Greek life plays a big role in campus life, too. More than a third of students join fraternities or sororities. In fact, W&M is known as the “Birthplace of the American College Fraternity” — five students at the college founded Phi Beta Kappa, the first so-called fraternity, now an honor society, in 1776.

 

Traditions

 

W&M’s Honor Code, dating back to 1736, is one of its most fundamental traditions. This system upholds the concept of individual responsibility and entrusts students with adhering to its principles. Students administer the Honor pledge to every incoming student, who is expected to follow it throughout their time at W&M.

 

The college has a number of other traditions, including the Raft Debate, a theatrical debate among faculty members representing different departments. There’s also Yule Log, a holiday-themed festival featuring multiple seasonal traditions, hot cider, sugar cookies, and a story read by the President of the University. 

 

On Charter Day, students and faculty honor William & Mary’s Royal Charter by the eponymous King William III and Queen Mary II in 1693 with festivities including awards, honorary degrees, and a concert.

 

Resources

 

Students and faculty enjoy many on- and off-campus resources. For example, they are able to visit the Muscarelle Museum of Art, a museum affiliated with the university, for free. They also receive Colonial Williamsburg’s Official William & Mary Collegiate Pass, which entitles them to free or heavily discounted events, tickets, entertainment, and programs in Colonial Williamsburg.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at W&M?

 

William & Mary is a selective school. Hoping to attend? Then you’ll need to find out how you stack up. Using CollegeVine’s free chancing engine, you’ll be able to learn your real chances of admission to W&M and hundreds of other schools, based on your unique qualifications.

 

If you want to learn more about W&M and additional schools on your list, check out our school-search tool. You can filter institutions according to preferences like major, size, location, selectivity, financial aid, and many others.

 

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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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