Now that everyone is successfully settled in for the year at Williams, both first years and seniors are experiencing some new feelings.
“Overwhelmed” is one of the words that Justine DeYoung ’02 used to describe her initial feelings. Many first years have just been bombarded by so much information and so many things to do that when asked directly, they struggle to put their feeling into words. “I’m mostly just suffering from lack of sleep,” comments Maja Carr ’02. Many have found that Williams lives up to its reputation as a challenging school. DeYoung says, “I chose Williams because I knew it would be hard, but the classes are even more difficult than I expected.” Ken Ryu ’02 adds, “It is intimidating to be in classes with juniors and seniors.”
Most freshmen have already begun to appreciate the scenery of the school and Williamstown,. “It’s very beautiful here, especially the sunsets against the mountains,” DeYoung noted Williamstown is small, but first years don’t seem to mind. Jelani Perry ’02 describes it as “quaint” and concedes that, “You are pretty much close to everything you need, except a big city.” Rachel Jenkins ’02 also points out that there are fewer distractions in Williamstown than back home in Illinois.
Many first years were anxious to hit the party scene and have been quick to form opinions. Jenkins says, “It’s hard to find a party where people are actually dancing” and Perry agrees that, “here it is more social drinking than real partying.” Another common complaint is that the parties are too sports-oriented. “There is never just a party. It is always a basketball party or a swimming party or something,” says Rebecca Fritz ’02. Athletes agree that this is true, but claim it is a big help for first-years. “Being a part of a sports team is really helpful in the beginning. It is like having an instant group of friends,” says Pat McCurdy ’02.
There is often a different attitude towards parties in the senior class. None of the seniors intrerviewed for this article seemed as eager to party as some first-years. Edward Murphy ’99 explains that, “By this year, I find that I’m just not interested in the party scene that much anymore.” Many seniors live off campus and that changes the parties too. Seniors tend to party among their little houses, just with their friends. Robin Paul ’99 likes the atmosphere off campus. “It’s a lot of fun,” she said. It is like living with your small family in a neighborhood of other seniors.” Paul and her housemate Kate Neiderhoffer ’99 plan to “put Suzy Hopkins back on the map.”
Seniors also find themselves concerned with life beyond Williams. Dan Courtney ’99 points out that “Getting into grad school is really stressful.” Another senior said his course load was lighter this semester than it had been in the past because he needed to concentrate on medical school applications. Niederhoffer noted that senior athletes spend a lot of time with their teams and are really dedicated to their sports. “It is important to have a good season because maybe it is the last time you will ever play the sport,” she says.
Although seniors may feel uneasy about the future, they seem very well settled into their present. “I don’t worry about image as much as I used to,” says Courtney. Murphy feels “very easy, very in control.” Seniors know the ropes here and are getting ready to move on. “I’m not sick of Williams, but I am ready to leave,” says Paul. Many, like Murphy, are excited to be a part of “the wider world,” but all said they will miss the college.
Both first-years and seniors have an important year ahead. First-years adjust to new people and new surroundings while seniors enjoy their last year of college. Both groups are busy and a little stressed, but happy to be here. Many seniors empathized with the plight of the first-year students when they arrived on campus. Murphy says, “I feel a little bad for them, because I know there are so many anxieties and stuff for them, but it will get better” Don adds, “I know it is going to be hard for them, but everyone has to learn on their own. Just like we did.”