Zachary Thomas ’08, Valedictorian, “The Liberal Arts After Williams

But, throughout the whole process, Williams’ defining characteristic was the perhaps mysterious appellation of “Liberal Arts College,” with its separate ranking in the U.S. News & World Report. The label of “liberal arts” includes a deep commitment to educating its students across many different fields of study, one that I found quite appealing — and one that is by no means necessarily present at other colleges. During my search, I knew I was quite interested in science and math, and I looked at several top engineering schools during my tours — but I felt out of place there. I wanted to attend a college where I could study both physics and history — a school with more than one lone English major on campus — and Williams more than fit the description.

Your thought process for choosing Williams (unless it is very funny and/or self-deprecating) will not make for the best material in a graduation speech.

One of the few things that Harvard does better than Williams is to require try-outs from the students who want to talk at graduation and then choose the best ones. Being valedictorian does not (and should not) guarantee you a spot on the podium. Williams should do the same.

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