February 9, 2010 8:12 PM   Subscribe

Weather permitting, I am going to visit William & Mary this weekend. I'm super excited. How can I make the most of what might be a little boring (it's guided)?

I'm going to their Transfer Day, which includes a tour and information session (which, if it's anything like most information sessions, won't actually include any useful information). What questions should I ask? I don't know what's appropriate and what's really more email material, but I'm thinking of just asking what kind of help they give with applying to graduate school and whether I can do an honors thesis.
What should I do/see/know about William & Mary/Williamsburg?
More importantly, are there any treasure chests that I should know about while I'm there?
We will probably only be there for one day, since my mom is definitely going to insist on taking the long way, which means 5 hours there and back.
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know what to ask at the tour, but how long will you be there? The college of William and Mary is smack up against Colonial Williamsburg, so if you have time, you definately need to take a trip through there. The last time I was there, you could walk through for free, but some areas are "pass only." Of course the shopping area is always free to enter. ^_^ I used to get season passes whenever possible. I love Colonial Williamsburg. You're too early to hit Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but definately check out Colonial Williamsburg and the surrounding area.
posted by patheral at 8:24 PM on February 9, 2010

Oops, I missed the part that said you'll be there for one day. That's still enough time to shop at Colonial Williamsburg since it's within walking distance of the college.
posted by patheral at 8:26 PM on February 9, 2010

Go to the Cheese Shop! It's an obvious treasure, but a good one...it's at the top of D.O.G. Street (right at the end of campus).

If it were spring or summer, I would point you to some outdoor treasures (and Sno To Go)...but Colonial Williamsburg and campus (which are beautiful and interesting on their own) are probably enough to entertain you on a day trip.
posted by hellogoodbye at 8:27 PM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: Make an appointment to talk to Anne Rasmussen, William and Mary's resident ethnomusicologist. She is vibrant and personable professor, and a great performer and ensemble leader of middle eastern music. Even if you don't end up focusing your studies on music, she's worth talking to about the college more broadly.

Also, seek out Troy Davis, the head of the media center in the basement of the main library. I'm not sure whether you were speaking literally about 'treasure chests' but the media center is definitely an incredible resource on campus. It's an incredible setup--basically lots of mini-studios for multitrack audio and/or video recording and editing that are completely available to students day or night (whenever the library is open). The other schools I've taught at don't have anything like that, but they should. W&M is a great place--motivated, open-hearted students for the most part, and a very strong sense of community.

It's also pretty great to have Richard and Sally Price teach in anthropology one semester a year. I'm not sure whether they'll be there or not when you visit, but they are very interesting and accomplished scholars you could learn a lot from.
posted by umbú at 8:31 PM on February 9, 2010

Feel free to PM me with questions about W&M and the area - but I will second the Cheese Shop recommendation for lunch (or, if you and your mom want to hit it sit-down-fancy-style - I deeply loved The Trellis).
posted by moxiedoll at 8:33 PM on February 9, 2010

Response by poster: hellogoodbye: Sno To Go sounds awesome.
umbu: So does the media center.
Doesn't have to be season-specific—it would be cool to know about things that might be useful if I actually end up there!
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 8:49 PM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: I went to exactly the same event last year. I now attend William and Mary. Some advice:

Bring an umbrella.

Assuming the basic scheme is the same, there will be a time where all the prospectives are sitting around eating and there are a lot of administrator types hanging around. Ask them any and all questions you can think of: how strong are my chances of getting in? Do you think the school would be a good fit for me? I'm thinking about majoring in X/being involved in X -- who can I contact for more information about that? I have Y logistical issue; will that be a problem? How do I fix it?

Bring an umbrella. (Bears repeating).

If/when you have a bit of free time, go hang around the department of your intended major and see what it's like. If you have a bit more free time, wander around in the academic buildings. The Wren Building is much cooler on the inside than it looks on the outside; of the buildings on Old Campus, Blair Hall is the best-preserved.

Do not go into the front of Ewell Hall to get to the Music Department; you have to use the side door. The front and back parts of the building aren't connected.

Do not call it "Duke of Glow-chester Street." It's pronounced "GLOSS-ter", and everyone calls it "Dog Street" anyway.

The place where Jamestown Road, Richmond Road, Boundary Street and DoG Street intersect is known as "Confusion Corner." If/when you drive through there, be aware that there are no stop signs: there are only yield signs.

Parking is horrible. I took the train when I came, but I'm pretty sure you can get a visitor pass from the Admissions Office that lets you park anywhere.

On preview:

umbu: I regret to inform you that the Trellis is closed (don't know why; renovations maybe?). Another excellent place for a fancy-sit-down meal is The Blue Talon Bistro, on Prince George Street.

I'll be working from 11 - 5 that day and am pretty much tied up after that, too, but if you send me a Mefi-Mail I might be able to find some time to show you around/provide information.
posted by Commander Rachek at 8:52 PM on February 9, 2010

You may want to see if the information you are seeking regarding academics isn't available on their website. I bet you can find out about honors thesis programs on their website. In fact, if you go to the WM website and search for "honors thesis," many hits come up. Just narrow it by what you want to study.
In general, it's best to get the general information by my own research before asking on the college visit since time will be at a premium and you may not want to use the time you have for asking questions on things you can find out easily on your own, instead of focusing on more detailed information. Usually the bulk of the time on a campus visit is related to the campus itself and student life. If you have been admitted already, they should be able to hook you up with an academic advisor to be in touch with.
posted by ishotjr at 8:54 PM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: Definitely visit the Cheese Shop for a sandwich with house dressing! Their attached restaurant is also a nice choice if you'll be sticking around for dinner.

You can walk all around Colonial Williamsburg for free and go into the commercial shops, just not into the historical buildings. But if you do end up getting in and going, you'll get free admission to everything!

On campus, the Daily Grind is a good place to pop in for a coffee. It's very central, so you're bound to walk by it. Also walk through the woods in the middle of campus, don't think you go through there on the tour.

I don't recall how they deal with housing for transfers (continuing students go through a lottery process), but it's worth asking what your options will be and then seeing if you can peek inside some of them. The quality of the rooms vary a lot. I recommend living on campus, at least for your first year.

If you have a particular major in mind, see if you can talk to a professor or an upperclassman in that major to get a feel for the department. Just because a particular class is listed in the catalog doesn't mean it will actually be offered when you're there. It's also good to check to see if a professor you're interested in plans to be on sabbatical or something while you're enrolled. Certain classes and professors are impossible to get into because they're popular or rarely offered or happen to be one of the few that fulfill a requirement. I'm pretty sure all majors offer an honors thesis option, but few (none?) require one. The department's website and the catalog will tell you this.
posted by wsquared at 9:36 PM on February 9, 2010

Response by poster: W²: For reference, I am majoring in philosophy. I've been to the website approximately five million times, so I've learned that I am going to be making a trip to Blair Hall.
How should I go about talking to someone? I might just stand by an open door.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 9:41 PM on February 9, 2010

Find a prof on the philosophy department's website that has interests that seem to align with yours. Email them, say you're a potential transfer student, and ask if you could meet with them to talk about the department and the school. Barring unusual unfriendliness or business, they'll probably say yes.
posted by MadamM at 10:21 PM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: Definitely walk around Colonial Williamsburg, it's really beautiful. There's been a few major (well, major for Virginia) snowstorms recently, so you get a rare chance to see everything all covered in snow. You should be able to walk through most areas. Some areas get closed off (mainly the end of Dog St. near the Capitol) for Revolutionary City but since it's wintertime that program isn't running.

In addition to the Cheese Shop, there is also Friend's Cafe on Prince George. Personally I find the Cheese Shop to be kinda crowded and expensive but their sandwiches are really good. Aroma's is a nice coffee shop on Prince George.

There are also a few taverns in Colonial Williamsburg, if you'd like to get a real "colonial" experience, but be warned they are expensive and you need to make reservations ahead of time because they fill up fast.

Have fun!
posted by cottonswab at 5:41 AM on February 10, 2010

The official tour (I'm sure) includes a visit to the College's Earl Gregg Swem Library, where I imagine a philosophy student will be spending a lot of time. You might ask to pop in for a peek at the library's Special Collections, where they always have a lot of neat historical documents and artifacts on display, some going back to the Colonial era.
posted by steef at 5:50 AM on February 10, 2010

If you end up going to W&M you should take Norman Fashing's Entomology for non-bio majors and Greg Capelli's class on Human Nature (especially if you're a philosophy major.
posted by ghharr at 6:52 AM on February 10, 2010

Best answer: Oh, and go check out the Lake Matoka Amphitheater, that area around the lake was one of my favorite areas to hang out and they've renovated it and it looks really nice.
posted by ghharr at 8:05 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Go Tribe! I was a transfer to W&M too (my first experience with W&M was not Transfer Day but Blow-Out, which is the big end of the year party day - basing one's impressions of a school on this sort of experience is a mistake, but that's another story). I don't have a lot of suggestions about what to do/ask at Transfer Day, but if you do end up going to W&M:
- Live on campus (your first semester/year at least) if at all possible. A big part of W&M identity, friendships, etc. comes from your freshman hall - transfers, without this bond, are likely to feel adrift, so having a dorm and a roommate to hang out with will help stave off loneliness and ease the transition (I, like a big idiot, spent my first year renting a place way out by the Target - big mistake).
- W&M students, overachieving nerds that they are, are way into clubs and activities. Don't let being a transfer scare you away from joining things - it is definitely not too late.
- The best things about Williamsburg/W&M: The Cheese Shop (I never miss making a stop there when I'm back in the 'burg), Sno-To-Go (closed in winter, sadly), the Queen Anne Dairy Snak (lesser known because it is farther from campus, this is a roadside burger stand that makes the most incredible milkshakes in awesome flavors like butterscotch), Mug Night at the Green Leafe (the old one only - the one in New Town is an abomination), beautiful campus/architecture, friendly people, excellent professors (they are almost uniformly intent on being helpful - I second MadamM's suggestion to pick one and email him/her in advance), Death by Chocolate at the Trellis (but otherwise the Trellis is overrated, and I second the Blue Talon recommendation for a nice sit-down dinner), WaWa runs while pulling an all-nighter, free access to Colonial Williamsburg with your student ID, Busch Gardens Day, some decent events, concerts, etc.
- Worst things: not much to do in Williamsburg off-campus (once you get sick of the colonial stuff), annoying tourists, students are for the most part hopelessly dorky (in a way that you may or may not find appealing), rain.
It's a place I personally have mixed feelings about, but the vast majority of people I knew there just loved it to bits, and I will give it huge props on being very welcoming to transfers. One thing you should probably look into is how your credits are going to transfer, especially within your major and in what W&M calls GERs - I got hugely lucky in that I got credit for every class I took at my previous school and had a sizeable chunk of my requirements out of the way already, but not all the transfers I knew were so fortunate.
posted by naoko at 8:50 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

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