A question from College Confidential.

How strong is biology program in Williams?

I got an early writes from Williams. But I am not sure how strong Biology program is in Williams as opposed to other top liberal arts and ivy league schools. I’m guessing research opportunity would be lot more limited than bigger schools. Anyway I would appreciate some feedbacks from current students or alumni. Thanks.

First, has any biology professor contacted this student? Probably not. And that’s a shame. Williams does a pathetic job of trying to woo the vast majority of highly desirable students. We should provide a mechanism for willingly professors to reach out to early writes, and incentives for them to do so. Convincing a few extra students to choose Williams over Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford does much more for the quality of a Williams education than authoring another journal article.

Second, do we have any biology-major readers (Aidan?) who can answer the question?

Third, I suspect that research opportunities at elite liberal arts colleges are similar. Does anyone know? You can make a plausible case that the Math/Stat Department at Williams is much better than the ones at Swarthmore and Amherst. You can’t do that for most departments, as much as we at EphBlog might wish that you could.

Fourth, it is probably not true that biology research at Williams is more “limited than bigger schools.” I bet that, all else equal, this student is just as likely to get a research position at Williams as he would be at Harvard. Yet there are differences. Harvard has more research options than Williams but you are much more likely to be supervised there by a graduate student or post-doc. Simple test: E-mail three professors at both schools and see who replies.

Fifth, my advice is the same as five years ago: Choose Williams over Harvard.

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