In the gentle light of the Berkshire hills, Williams pursues a bold ambition: To provide the finest possible liberal arts education. If the goal is immodest, it is also bracing: Elevating the sights and standards of every member of the community, encouraging them to keep faith with the challenge inscribed on the College's gates: climb high, climb far.
Williams is fortunate to have extraordinary resources, but its strength derives above all else from the quality of its people.
Williams students rank with the best in the country; the rigor and competitiveness of the College's admission standards place Williams in the company of only a handful of other institutions. Over the past thirty years especially, Williams has both strengthened its academic profile and actively recruited a student body that is markedly more diverse in many dimensions, including race, national origin, and the educational and socio-economic background of its families.
The strength of the student boof the College's resolve to search as widely as possible for students of high academic ability and great personal promise. Diversity is not an end in itself, but a principle flowing from the conviction that encountering differences is at the heart of the educational enterprise differences, certainly, of ideas and beliefs, but also differences of perspectives rooted in the varied histories students bring with them.
As both an educational and social imperative, we are committed to welcoming talented students irrespective of their financial resources, and it is therefore a central institutional priority unwaveringly supported by all parts of the College community to maintain our policies of need-blind admission for domestic students and of fully meeting a students demonstrated need. And, recognizing that of those to whom much has been given much may properly be required, we ask all our students to understand that an education at Williams should not be regarded as a priher privilege, but rather as a privilege that creates the opportunity and responsibility to serve society at large.
We seek to capitalize on our character as a residential college by placing great emphasis on the learning that takes place not only inside the classroom, but outside as well, where students can strengthen mind, body, and spirit by participating in athletic teams, artistic performances, political debates, religious and volunteer groups, and nearly one-hundred-and-seventy extra-curricular organizations. We also urge students to see their college as a laboratory in citizenship. To an unusual degree, Williams gives students primary responsibility for creating and governing their own community, whether as Junior Advisors (chosen by fellow students to live with and mentor first-year students), or as guardians of academic integrity through the student-led Honor Code.
Recruiting top talent from a wide variety of institutions, Williams asks its faculty to accept a distinctiveand unusually ingcombination of challenges: to be exemplary teachers, productive scholars or artists, and active partners in running the institution. Well supported by the College through research funding and a generous sabbatical program, Williams faculty are leaders in their fieldsrecognized nationally, and often internationally, for the high quality and significance of their scholarly and creative work. They also embrace the chance to shape their college, serving in a civic spirit on an array of committees, and as senior officers of an institution that has long prized shared governance and collaborative decision-making.
But it is the teaching gene that especially defines Williams professors. They devote sustained attention every year to assessing the quality and freshness of the curriculum, and to crafting pedagogical approaches that help nurture in their students a passionate pleasure in the life of the mind. Faculty members invite students to become partners in the process of intellectual discovernership becomes visible in every classroom, where students are expected to contribute rather than consume; in the challenging setting of Williams tutorials, where students take the lead in explaining what is interesting and consequential about that weeks assignment; and in the Colleges ambitious programs to engage students directly in faculty research.
But the classroom and curriculum are only the entry points. Professors at Williams want to know not only what their students think, but how they think and who they are. They want to know students in all their dimensionsto learn their histories and hopes, to advise them on matters personal as well as academic, to see them as complex individuals who deserve attention and respect.
Faculty and students together, learning with and from each other in a community whose intimacy of scale fosters close personal and intellectual relationships; where concern for the needs and ideas of other people is not only an educational, but an ethicale the values of engagement and decency fundamentally shape the educational process: These are the ideals to which Williams faculty and students aspire.
They have strong partners. Williams is blessed with an enormously talented administrative and support staff; they keenly understand the Colleges mission and devote their energies to advancing it. Williams alumni are fiercely and intelligently loyal, contributing generously of their time, experience, and resources. Far from insisting that the College remain as it was in their time, alumni encourage Williams to reinvent itself for each new generation. Williams trustees (all of whom are currently alumni) provide discerning strategic direction and careful stewardship of the Colleges assets. While the board is fully engaged, it keeps its focus on large policy issues and long-term decisions.
We are fortunate, too, in our location. Surrounded by communities that enthusiastically support and participate in its educational project, Williams is atown rich with cultural resources. The College strives to be a responsible citizen and employer, and contributes both expertise and resources to numerous local initiatives. The natural beauty of the Berkshires makes us especially conscious of the urgent need to addressthrough our teaching and research, and through the daily operations of the Collegethe environmental problems that threaten an increasingly fragile planet.
That is who we are, and this is what we aim to do: To develop in students both the wisdom and skills they will need to become responsible contributors to whatever communities they join, and the richly textured inner lives that will make them rigorously self-reflective, ethically alert, and imaginatively alive. Public and private purposes, as it were, harmoniously nurturing each other. Toward these ends, certain principles and values shape our sense of mission:
Our purpose is not to offer specialized or professional training, but to develop in our students strong writingand quantitative abilities, as well as analytical and interpretive talents, tested in relation to a wide range of issues and disciplines. We embrace the liberal arts claim that a broadly educated person will be more capable of adapting to the particular needs of the professions and of public life than a person narrowly trained in singular subjects.
Our curricular requirements aim to negotiate the crucial balance between breadth and depth. We combine an appropriately liberal distribution of each students course choices across the curriculum with some measure of control over the methods and subject matter of at least one field. While fully recognizing the important value of disciplinary approaches and the departmental structures that support them, we have welcomed and participated in the academys growing emphasis on inter-disciplinary learning as a way of understanding the inter-connectedness of ideas, and as a bulwark against the fragmentation of knowledge.
Through the increasingly global rcurriculum, as well as the diversity of our campus community, we seek to develop in students the capacity to see beyond the limits of their own experience. So many of the worlds problemsfrom racism, to sectarian and nationalistic violence, to everyday forms of disrespectstem from a failure to imagine our way into the lives of other people, a failure to understand the beliefs and contingencies that shape their lives, a failure to hear the stories that other people are trying to tell us. A liberal education alone cannot solve the worlds problems, but it can help to open minds and deepen human empathy.
Our curriculum is as varied, up-to-date, and forward-thinking as the contemporary world requires, but we also want to strengthen our students curiosity about, and respect for, the past: for the story of how people before us have responded to challenges different frombut analogous toour own, for the story of where human beings have been, what we have ao resist the tendency to see our historical moment as so much more complex and dangerous than those experienced by earlier generations that we fail to think of the past as something that calls to us with an urgent, or admonitory, or even sympathetic voice.
We want, too, to lean against the growing culture of simplification, where intricate issues are boiled down into fiercely held positions, where counter-arguments are seen as irritating distractions from clarity, where points have more power and visibility than the thinking that produced them. We want instead to inspire in our students the confidence to be undaunted by complexity, and to embrace it in ways that will prove valuable to them and to society at large.
We aim to encourage students to develop a personal stance toward learning and knowledge, and to make judgments that put their beliefs and values on the line. We want them to have the courage of their convictions, but at the same time, to seek out criticism of thpreciate the virtues of personal and intellectual humility.
These values and ambitions will serve as beacons into a future when the college will continue to encounter, and continue to welcome, changes in our demographics, our curriculum, our approaches to what and how we learn. To remain a vibrant institution that both reflects and leads the society of which it is a part, Williams must always adapt and grow, and be preparedas we tell our students they too must be preparedto respond in an agile, nuanced way to needs and challenges we cannot yet
In missions statement
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||Econometrics and Quantitative Economics; Mathematics, General; Biology/Biological Sciences, General; Political Science and Government, General; and History, General
|Student to Faculty Ratio
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|Average GPA Requirements(4.0 scale)
|Average SAT Requirements(new 1600 sat)
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