Williams College: The Finest in Liberal Arts
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Williams College: The Finest in Liberal Arts

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  • Written by UnivAdmitHelp
  • Category: Admission Application
  • Published on 29 Mar 2021

There are two things about Williams that you might not be able to get anywhere else. And it is precisely these two aspects that make it the most attractive, and the best Liberal Arts college in the US, if not the world. A private college, founded in 1793, in a quaint setting in Massachusetts, this liberal arts college comes with an endowment of more than $2.9 billion - that’s equivalent to the GDP of Bhutan. 

 

The college has 3 academic branches: arts and humanities, social sciences, and science and mathematics – and graduate programs in the history of art and economics. The home page of the college states: “At Williams, students receive an education both deep and broad, thanks to the close relationship between teacher and student. Accomplished scholars, teachers and practitioners guide students’ academic explorations, advancing knowledge and often blurring the lines between disciplines.”

This is the first and most distinct aspect of the college’s approach to education. The interconnectedness of multiple disciplines, where “lines are blurred” between disciplines, this is the primary characteristic of interdisciplinary learning. When one idea, topic, or theme is explored, or pursued across multiple disciplines, then education becomes multiple disciplinary. It helps foster an environment where students may gain a newer perspective or understanding that they didn’t have before, that might not even exist before. From that busy intermixing of thoughts, disciplines, and streams of knowledge is often where the next big idea comes.  

The second, and definitely more tangible, benefit of the college is its tutorial approach. Imagine, if you may, a world class college that pays individual attention to students. It sounds ideal, but extremely impractical, right? Williams, US, is one such institution. 

Williams has small class sizes, with a student-teacher ratio of 7-to-1. The school also has Oxford-style tutorials, which rely heavily on student participation. 

 

What is an Oxbridge tutorial?

Oxbridge tutorials are based around conversations, normally between two or three students and their tutor, who is an expert on that topic. Tutorials are courses where two students engage in liberal arts experiences under the guidance of a professor. “Here's how the tutorials at Williams work: Two students -- one presenting a paper, the other critiquing it -- spend an hour each week with a professor. Unlike independent study, reading lists, problem sets, and assignments are part of the agenda. If all goes well, the professor stays quietly in the background.” 

The students acknowledge that the tutorials are harder than real courses, but they also love them more than the usual courses. The general opinion is that most traditional education is equivalent to being “force fed information”. With tutorials, a student is on his own, and has to rely on his own resources to learn better. 

 

 

Academics:

The entire experience of learning at Williams is balanced across regular lectures and tutorials. The college offers 3 academic branches: arts and humanities, social sciences, and science and mathematics – and graduate programs in the history of art and economics. 

The Winter Study feature at Williams too is one of its unique features. Students can take a relaxed course, or internships (between 30-35 students are sponsored every year), or travel to Oxford for a connected experience. This is a favourite among alumni as the College slows down and students can really explore.  There are also many research opportunities in almost every discipline, with additional connections to research institutes outside of Williams if you would prefer to do research abroad. Additionally, with a 90+% medical school acceptance rates, one of the highest in the country, Williams definitely earns its spot in the limelight. 

 

The homepage of the college holds this message. Before you read anything else, it is this that symbolises the completeness of its approach to life and its complications: 

“We hope that, wherever you are, in whatever way you can, you are fighting racism, injustice, and inequality, and lending your voice to making necessary and immediate change. We stand with you and commit to being part of Williams’ efforts to eradicate racial injustice in our own community, and in communities across the U.S. and around the world. The Office of Admission and Financial Aid sees political engagement as every person’s right and obligation, and we assure you that no applicant will ever be disadvantaged in our admission process for taking part in political activity or protest.”

 

These are some of the figures that set Williams apart from the rest of the academic institutions: 

7:1 Williams’ student-faculty ratio—among the lowest of any college
100% of classes taught by professors (not teaching assistants)
41% of students conduct funded research each year
65+ Oxford-style tutorials offered each year across the curriculum
88% of the class of '19 were employed, in graduate school or volunteering within six months of graduation

 

Williams is on-par with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, etc. on per-capita successes of its alumni. Williams alumni have some of the highest salaries across government, finance, business, medicine, arts, and academia. The alumni have made their presence felt across all fields in firms like: Amazon, ESPN, Goldman Sachs, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Institutes of Health.

Here is a snapshot of the median starting salaries by major for alumni of Williams College: 

Alongwith its focus on tutorials and multidisciplinary learning, Williams offers great options for research and internships as well. Under no circumstances are the careers limited to teaching or research. The real purpose of Liberal Arts is to provide context to applied disciplines. The interdisciplinary system of learning enhances the careers options and helps the learner begin to make a difference in the world. No wonder Williams College is indeed considered amongst the best colleges in the world. 

 

Further reading:

Why do we need the Liberal Arts

Call of the Humanities

How to choose the Right Course for Yourself