WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., August 25, 2017—The 550 students who make up the Williams College Class of 2021 will arrive on campus on Aug. 28 for First Days, their official orientation to the college.
The tradition of First Days introduces first-year students to the college through meetings with academic advisors and opportunities to learn about academic departments and get to know the campus. Students will also take placement exams and the college’s mandatory swimming test. In between the scheduled events, students will settle into their dorms and get to know their classmates.
During the second half of the week, first-year students will participate in EphVentures, a program designed to enhance students’ orientation experience, provide them with opportunities to build lasting friendships, and help them develop an appreciation for the campus and community. Students choose from among one of several programs that help develop leadership skills, give them the chance to learn about the Berkshires, experience arts and culture in the region, or explore intersections among environmental sustainability, identity, and social justice.
On Sunday, Sept. 3, students will return from EphVentures for a picnic dinner on Paresky Lawn. On Monday, they will participate in Williams Reads, for which each student received over the summer a copy of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Faculty and staff-facilitated conversations about the book provide an introduction to the intellectual life at Williams. Later this fall, Stevenson will come to campus to discuss the book with the community.
“I’m overjoyed to welcome the class of 2021 to Williams,” says Marlene Sandstrom, dean of the college and professor of psychology. “Welcoming the first-year students at First Days is among my favorite moments as dean, because this is when the students begin to shape our community and ensure that for the next four years, it is also their community.”
By all standard measures of academic talent, including test scores and academic performance, the Class of 2021 is impressive, selected from among 8,593 applicants. SATs for the cohort averaged 735 on evidence based reading and writing and 733 on math; the ACT average was 33.
The class is also incredibly diverse. Forty percent of students in the incoming class are U.S. students of color, and another 8 percent are international students. Of the 550 incoming students, 293 identify as men, 237 as women. Two incoming students identify as trans or transgender, and one as a-gender. Seventeen students did not respond to an optional question about gender identity (but did answer a required binary question that appears on the Common Application). The students come from 43 states and represent 52 foreign countries. Fifty-two percent of students will receive financial aid, with an average aid package of $57,024. After First Days, six students who have transferred to Williams from another college or university will arrive. Among this group are two U.S. military veterans.
The full schedule of First Days is available at https://new-ephs.williams.edu/first-days/first-days/.
Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.