HELP ME DECIDE: Chapel Hill or William and Mary?!

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Discus: College Search and Selection: March 2004 Archive: HELP ME DECIDE: Chapel Hill or William and Mary?!
By Julibean008 (Julibean008) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:58 pm: Edit

Hey all, I've been accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill and William and Mary, but I can't decide at all. I'm not even leaning one way or the other... so it sucks. Great to have choices, but it's a tough decision. I'm out of state for both.

I plan to major in political science/international stuff/government/other stuff like that. (not quite sure yet obviously) Does anyone know which school would be better for this? Also, I have a few concerns about each.

Chapel Hill Concerns
-big size. I'm from a teeny state and am afraid I might be overwhelmed and never see anyone I know.
-ENORMOUS amount of out of staters. Will i feel left out? Will a lot of people leave for the weekend?

William and Mary Concerns
-Williamsburg. Seriously, how much fun can a colonial town have?
-The toughness of the school itself... someone was saying that the students never stop studying and that A's are hard to come by. I want a tough school, but I also wanna have fun

Okay, if anyone knows anything about either of the schools, let me know because I'm going out of my mind trying to decide!

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:05 pm: Edit

My advice is to visit both now. Spend at least one day and one night at each. Do this even if you did it earlier. Colleges seem very different after one has an acceptance in hand.

Also check out their web pages to find out if there are special programs that they offer for freshmen. This could be things like summer retreats or seminars during the year. Applying for and participating in these kind of things can be a wonderful way to adjust to college and to get friends.

I just visited UNC last week with my son and was overwhelmed by the friendliness of the people on the campus. While it is a large university, it had a very personal, friendly quality that I have not experienced at some schools, even at some small ones.

You are lucky to have such wonderful choices. Both W&M and UNC are great schools, so IMO you can't go wrong with what you decide to pick. Congratulations!

By Frazzled_One (Frazzled_One) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:35 pm: Edit

Nice choices! You must be a very strong student to be in at UNC from out of state (and at W & M too?), so I'm sure you'll do well academically at either school. Northstarmom's advice to do an overnight visit at each is excellent. I'm betting you'll find that UNC seems less impersonal once you've met several people during your overnight - also that you'll find there's actually a thriving social life at W & M, if that's important to you. The Greek scene at W & M apparently provides parties each weekend at which all are welcome; and there are many other, more parentally acceptable activities. There's more drinking than I expected from a school with such a strong rep for academics/hard work. My d is a junior there and has never been bored, though she has had to hone her self-discipline in order to get all the work done. She's a bio/government major, and doesn't find the government requirements especially arduous. She loves the profs in that department! The workload can be tough, no question, but I imagine it's rigorous at UNC, too. Let us know how your visits go!

By Stephanie8686 (Stephanie8686) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:52 pm: Edit

I can sympathize. I've been accepted to Dartmouth, Davidson, Duke, Pomona College, and University of Oklahoma(with almost a full ride). I'm terribly confused and stressed out. My father wants me to go to Univ of Oklahoma, while my mother favors Dartmouth. I think if I chose at this moment, I would pick Pomona with its California sunshine, but tomorrow I might prefer Duke. I wish I could just make up my mind! The May 1st deadline for deciding is growing dreadfully close. It does not help that I am undecided in major.

By Jcf007 (Jcf007) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:59 pm: Edit


I can sympathize with you....I've been accepted to Williams, Duke, Cornell, and Middlebury, (I've yet to hear from Darmouth) and I have no idea what to do about it either. I can't decide whether a more medium sized school like Duke is the way to go over the very tiny Williams (same thing with Pomona). The fact that I'm from the Northeast works against me because my parents are willing to do anything to keep me out of NC. Have you visited Duke yet? I'd be interested in your opinion, seeing that your in a very similar position with me. Yale was my first choice but of course I was deferrd EA, and now I don't know if I'll ever be able to make up my mind.

By Mominva (Mominva) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 10:53 pm: Edit

Chapel Hill = college town, large school, large TA taught classes
Williamsburg = tourist town, small to mid-sized, professor taught

By Julibean008 (Julibean008) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 02:58 pm: Edit

Thanks for the advice, Northstarmom. I just called both colleges and asked for overnights. Unfortunately Chapel Hill doesn't do overnights or anything like that, so I think I'll just visit a class there and walk around campus. Also, I'm going to be out of the country for the last two weeks of April, so I've got to decide by April 14th. Talk about no time at all! Also, does anyone know which one is more liberal?

Thanks a lot to everyone for the advice!

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 03:03 pm: Edit

Chapel Hill is supposed to be very liberal. It seemed liberal to me, too, when I was there last week. The Duke students whom I talked to, who happened to be liberal, also said that UNC was liberal.

I don't know how W&M is politically.

By Frazzled_One (Frazzled_One) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 07:47 pm: Edit

I'd say that there are probably more liberals than conservatives at W & M, but not lop-sidedly so. Someone my d knows is editor of a very conservative/libertarian newsletter there, and he apparently has many contributors. He would definitely not have chosen an exclusively liberal school. When I looked at the school's website, I was surprised not to see a Young Republicans club - there is one for Young Democrats. There are about 200 clubs listed, though, so I may have missed a conservative group.

Have you checked out the Flat Hat online (W & M's student newspaper)? You can get a feel for campus issues by going through the archive. I think you can access individual student websites as well.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 07:55 pm: Edit

The tip to read the student papers (which are on-line) is a good one. Also check the colleges' web sites for the names and contact people for student clubs. E-mail students who are in clubs that you might be interested in. The students may be very willing to meet with you when you visit the campus. That would give you lots of great inside info about the campus, too -- info that would be filtered through the eyes of people who are likely to have lots in common with you. Students usually are happy to connect with prospective freshmen who are considering their colleges.

It also could be a good idea to e-mail professors who are teaching classes that would interest you. See if you can meet with them when you visit.

By Vulcano (Vulcano) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 07:59 pm: Edit

UNC is supposed to be a very fun university with what I hear are excellent job placements. Besides, I know somebody who left William and Mary because of how boring and hard it was.

By Julibean008 (Julibean008) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 08:36 pm: Edit

Wow, that's really funny Frazzled One. I was reading a list of activities I got when I visited W&M last year, and I only saw a Young Republicans club, no Democrats! That's what got me all worried. I guess they have both.

Side note: everything about college and money is ridiculous! I'm spending four days down there on my "Tour of the South" deciding which one to go to. Plane tickets from Vermont, car rentals, hotels... I'm gonna be broke before I go!

By Ctmom (Ctmom) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 10:27 am: Edit

Wow Julibean - those are 2 great just need to see where you feel you will thrive! Your travel expenses will be well worth it if you get that 'AHAH'insight. Something to keep in mind though, is how you will be traveling back and forth to VT - you'll be doing it for 4 years.
FYI, my son is a freshman at W&M (from CT)and is really happy there.

By Tsdad (Tsdad) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 10:59 am: Edit

I'm a Carolina person so take my advice with that understanding. The political scene at UNC runs the full range from very conservative to very liberal. You'll be able to find your political niche there. It is a comprehensive research university with all the advantages that brings. It has a great sports program, many, many high quality majors, a temperate climate, a good location between the ocean and the mountains, close to two interstates and an international airport. The student body is diverse in the largest meaning of the word. Black/white; rich/poor; brilliant/less than brilliant; and so on.

It is large but that means you get to meet new people all the time and reinvent yourself whenever you want. People are indeed friendly. Large size means there will be many clubs for you to join and things to do.

I can't speak to the TA comment, but you can ask the departments you're interested in about it.

I also can't comment about CWM except that it's more like a LAC with all the pluses and minuses that brings.

By Eadad (Eadad) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 11:26 am: Edit


UNC does offer the "Explore Carolina" program which gives you (accepted student)the opportunity to stay overnite with a student in a residence hall. We are out of state also and are leaving today for tomorrow's session.

My son had same apprehensions that you have but after spending four days there, came away impessed with the school and Chapel Hill. I have found the admissions office amazingly helpful and friendly in my conversations with them.

Just so you know his point of view, he was named a Morehead Scholar and is trying to decide between Yale and the Morehead scholarship. UNC was by far the largest school he applied to and it was because he was nominated for the Morehead by his school. Others on his initial list were Dartmouth, Pomoma, Amherst, Princeton and Stanford. After getting into Yale EA he withdrew most of the other applications. He attends a small private school and has come to see the value of the opportunities that a larger school can provide.

He found the professors he met to be interested and caring and the classes he attended engaging. He said that the students he encountered were friendly and he has remained in email/im contact with a number of them.

You should receive info in the mail shortly about Explore Carolina but here is web access.

We will be back late Friday and perhaps then I can provide some first hand insight from the point of view of a parent who shares your dilemma.

If I can be of more help, let me know.

By Julibean008 (Julibean008) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 12:20 pm: Edit

Thanks, moms and dads!

I did just receive an email about the "Explore Carolina" sessions, although they did say they don't offer overnights. Maybe it's different for the Moreheads.
Eadad, my cousin was in a similar situtation to your son. He was accepted at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc... and also as a Morehead at UNC. He ultimately chose UNC because it was free for him, and he his now attending med school there. He loves the school, but he did say that more doors probably would have been opened for him at the Ivies.

Thanks for the advice again everyone! I'm going to take a 4 day trip down to see both next week.

By Macsuile (Macsuile) on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 08:25 pm: Edit

Here are some stats on William & Mary:

- Second oldest U.S. university
- Oldest U.S. law school
- Birthplace of Phi Beta Kappa
- Thomas Jefferson's alma mater
- Most selective U.S. public university
- Third highest SAT scores in the South (only Duke and Rice are higher)
- Highest entering student GPAs in Virginia
- Fastest growing university endowment in Virginia
- Best physics, history and biology departments in Virginia

As you can see, William & Mary has an amazing academic tradition. Yes, the grading scale is somewhat deflationary and the course offerings are not as extensive as some other Southern schools, but William & Mary is a school high on tradition which doesn't subscribe to fads where everyone graduates cum laude and there is a supermarket of course offerings. The school is committed to the British university model which is human-scale as opposed to other university models which focus on research and increasing enrollments. W&M may not be for everyone but a degree from there has timeless substance, something you can't find from most other U.S. schools which are constantly trying to reposition or recreate themselves.

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