Like the admissions office often advertises on tours, academics at Williams come first. Extracurricular activities, including athletics, come second. A distant second.
It wasn’t until last week, when I told my swim coach, Steven Kuster, that I needed to miss part of practice on Thursday for a job interview, and possibly Friday for jury duty, that I really appreciated the importance of that idea. For someone who coaches such a high-ranked Div. III program as the Ephs’ swim team, Kuster is incredibly accommodating.
Why? Because he understands the importance of living outside of the swimming pool. At large universities, coaches own their athletes. They dictate when they can have classes, when they can go on vacation and what they choose to do with their summers. Williams clearly has students who could participate in programs like those (we have a few on the swim team), but these individuals choose not to in order to get the type of education that you can only get when academics come first. This is why one of my teammates was able to bow out of practice the day before the Amherst meet on order to attend a job information session in New York â€“ something that could never be done at a school like UCLA.
Back in admissions, the department tends to ask tour guides to list their activities on campus. That list is quite long for many people, including athletes, and only serves to demonstrate how incredibly engaged the student body tends to be on the whole. Thanks to the flexibility of the coaching staff and their dedication to the Williams tradition, those interested in athletics never have to choose between success in the classroom, success after graduation and success on the field.
Jeremy Goldstein ’09