The Ivy Scholars guide to William & Mary’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Type: Public Research Institution
Population: 8,800 (6,400 undergrads)
William & Mary is the second oldest institution of higher education in the United States, after Harvard University. Several American presidents are alumni of the school. Noted for many firsts in American higher education, including the first fraternity. One of the school’s earliest goals was to educate both colonists and Native American young men. Founded under a royal charter with letters issued by King William III and Queen Mary II. The campus spans 1200 acres, and is considered one of the most beautiful campuses in America.
Year Founded: 1693
4 Year Graduation Rate: 85%
Gender Distribution: 59% female, 41% male
Acceptance Rate: 37%
Residency: 62% in state, 31% out of state, 7% international
Location Type: Suburban
Schedule System: Semesters
Student/Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Average Class Size: 20
Demographics: 55% Caucasian, 12% Other, 11% Asian, 9% Hispanic, 6% Black
US News Rankings:
Average Applicant Pool: 14,700
Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 5,400
Average Number Enrolled: 1,500
Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App
Average GPA: 4.27 weighted
SAT Scores: 25th% – 1320, 75th% – 1510
ACT Scores: 25th% – 30, 75th% – 34
*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.
William & Mary does not consider demonstrated interest.
Recommendation Letter Policies:
They require one letter from a guidance counselor. You can send additional letters, but no more than two.
William & Mary Essay Prompts:
It should be noted that students apply for liberal arts ed without a declared major and are expected to take two years to explore various academic disciplines. Students wishing to major in business must apply once they are already students at the school. The same goes for students wishing to study education.
Important: GPA, course rigor, class rank, test scores, essay, recommendations, extracurriculars, talent, character, and state residency.
Considered: legacy status, first-generation status, geographic origin, race/ethnicity, and interview.
Recruited athletes do have a slight advantage in the admissions process, though they must still meet the academic benchmarks.
What is William and Mary Looking for?
William and Mary practices holistic admissions, which means they want to see both academic achievement, and who the student is as a person. While weak academics will make admissions more difficult, perfect academics do not guarantee acceptance. They want to see the entire story of the student, what they’re passionate about, and how those passions will play out if they are admitted.
William and Mary is trying to grow the overall enrollment in the school. They are, however, deeply worried about how they are perceived, especially in terms of selectivity and overall rankings. While the school downplays how much it cares, it is caught in a bind by wanting to admit more students, but also not wanting to slip out of the top 40 in the rankings. The need for more students comes from a need to address rising costs, while fewer students are applying overall each year.
Admission is more difficult for out-of-state students, as the school is a public one in Virginia, and so the majority of the student body must come from within the state. Here, they are competing for the state’s top students with UVA and with other highly ranked schools outside the state.
The school cares a lot about mid-year grade reports, to see how the student is doing in the senior year and to gauge their current performance against their track record. A very strong performance senior year can send a candidate over the edge, while a weaker one can reverse previously favorable views.
William and Mary Strategy:
While the supplemental essay is technically optional, it is one of the “optional” requirements which is nothing but. It is an important way to demonstrate your character and passions to the admissions committee, and to give them deeper insight into your personal narrative.
Applying Early Decision is a very good way to boost your chances of admission. Schools appreciate the commitment shown by ED admits generally, and the binding decision allows William and Mary to fill their class early and depress the RD acceptance rate, something many top schools do.
Applying Early Decision II is a good option if you aren’t ready to apply by the ED deadline. The advantage given by applying ED II is smaller than the one given for applying ED, but it still gives a boost to admissions chances. This is a good way to boost your odds if you missed the ED deadline, or if you were rejected by your first choice school ED, and William and Mary is your second choice.
While interviews are optional, they can greatly help an application if you complete one. It will not be counted against you if you are unable to, but can add points or fill in gaps in your narrative if you do.
The college is a liberal arts school first, and while they do have a very strong business program, freshmen are not allowed to enter it directly. For the application to the college, it is therefore best to focus on what about the liberal arts portion of the school you relate to. It is wonderful to be interested in business, but for a liberal arts institution like William and Mary, coming across as too focused on career or financial success can be detrimental.
Programs of Study:
AP Credit Policies:
Computer Science Options:
Additional Specialty Programs:
Programs for High Schoolers:
School Motto: I can’t, I need to study
Mission and Values:
Residential Housing System:
William and Mary offers both hall and suite style housing for under and upperclassmen. Special interest housing is also available for students looking for a designated community. Some students choose to live in Greek housing as well. Students are able to live in coed rooms, not just dorms, by special request.
Campus & Surrounding Area:
Yearly Cost of Attendance:
Offers Grants, Loans, and Student Employment & Work-Study to help students create a package to afford their stay at W&M. The School of Education Financial Aid offers departmental scholarships.