Williams College was ranked as the number one liberal arts college in America by the 2012 U.S. News and World Report. It is considered a feeder school for many top business, law, and medical schools. With an 2010 endowment of $1,468,492,932, it’s easy to see why. According to College Board, Williams also come with a hefty price tag of $44,920 per year for tuition and fees and an additional $11,850 per year for room and board (freshmen are required to live on campus). With personal, travel, and textbook expenses, the total cost can be almost $60,000 per year.
Interestingly, only 59.3% of incoming freshmen apply for financial aid, and of that 59.3%, 53.8% of students are granted need-based financial aid. This means that almost half of the kids there have parents who are paying the full price tag – you’ll be going to school with a lot of rich kids. The average financial aid package for kids who do get it is $41,133, and is 92% scholarship and 8% loans, which meant the average student debt upon graduation is $8,369 according to U.S. News and World Report. That number, however, may be misleading, since it’s the average debt of ALL graduating students, which includes the half with rich parents that probably don’t have any student debt, which means the average debt for the other half is probably double the average of the total student body.
As for the demographic statistics, 56% of the undergraduate population identifies as white, 12% as Latin, 10% Asian, 8% black, 7% multiracial, and 7% non-resident aliens not identified by race. 51% are women and 49% are men. 89% of students come from out of state and 11% from Massachusetts. New York is the home state of the highest percentage of students, and California is the third highest after in-state students.
Located in the northwestern-most corner of Massachusetts, Williams has a rural setting, and the total undergraduate student population (there are also 56 grad students) is just over 2,000 students, which means you’ll have about 500 students in your class, which means you could potentially know most of the people in your class (and since you’re in the middle of nowhere, you might as well). The surroundings, while sparsely populated, are very scenic, so if you are a hiker or nature-lover this may be a good place for you.
As one of the oldest colleges in the country (Williams was founded in 1793), the college also has many traditions to bind the students together, including Mountain Day, which takes place on one of the first three Fridays in October, when the president of the college cancels classes and everyone celebrates by climbing the nearby Mount Greylock, where various festivities unfold. The athletics teams are known as the Williams Ephs (with a long E) after the school’s founder, Ephraim Williams, and their mascot is a purple cow. There are no fraternities or sororities at Williams.
One thing that makes Williams unique from other American undergraduate programs is that it offers an Oxford-style tutorial system for some of its classes, which means that some of your courses may be entirely one-on-one with your professor. They also have a partnership with Exeter College at Oxford university, where 24 juniors study abroad each year. The student to faculty ratio is 7:1, which means professors should be quite accessible. All in all, what you would expect from the creme de la creme of small, prestigious liberal arts colleges.