The New York Times recently featured “Advice for New Students From Those Who Know (Old Students).”


If you’re like me — meaning fairly driven and self-assured — you’re coming into college with a strong idea of what you’d like to do with the rest of your life. At 18, I was set on medical school, with the hopes of becoming a neurobiologist. When I got to college, however, a single freshman seminar showed me that both my academic talents and interests lay with religious studies and Spanish, of all things. At first, I was hesitant to pursue these fields because they didn’t fit the image of success I had imagined for myself. With time, I learned that interest and success are highly correlated — do what you love, and you’ll be good at what you do. Don’t be afraid to take classes that challenge your suppositions. A single course could be a game-changer. — Sasha Ward, University of Virginia, ’15, University of Oxford, ’17

Yes to the first part, especially at Williams. If you’re a math geek, take a religion class. If your life revolves around the stage, study astrophysics. Intending to join the Williams Art Mafia? Dabble in Political Economy. No to the second part. If you love something, and your professors (who
will know you) tell you that you really don’t have the talent to pursue it as a career, thank your lucky stars you’re at Williams where the faculty cares about you, and think about where your interests and your skills overlap. Don’t laugh — the Williams faculty can make you fall in love with something and work impossibly hard at it when everyone else has it easy.

Low light:

You know those tables set up by the student store trying to get you to sign up for a credit card? Those are a scam with insanely high interest rates. Take the time to go to your bank and sit down with a financial adviser and discuss what the best options are for you. You need debt to earn credit, but not 15k of credit card debt. — Brittany Nicole Brisson, East Carolina University, ’15

No, not all credit cards are “a scam.” Sign up for credit cards. Follow a budget in your spending, pay off your credit cards every month, and you’ll help build a solid credit foundation for leases and loans after you graduate. As long as you pay your bills, you won’t pay late fees or interest on your spending, and you won’t regret your choice.

Sheds no light:

College life is similar to what happens when you get high — i.e., you have a vague idea of your surroundings and forget who you are and where you wanted to go… — Sangepu Ashrith, Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur, ’17


Obligatory Amherst View:

I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy… — Brittanie Lewis, Amherst College, ’17*

It’s hard to be at Amherst when the glory of Williams shines such a short distance away…


Over the years, EphBlog has provided ample advice of the sort excerpted above.  But ours is specifically directed at current Williams College students. Find it in this category of posts: “Advice to Undergraduates.” I think you’ll find that our advice is better. And with a new class of Ephs starting in the days to come, we’ll repost a few highlights.


*Selectively quoted.  Okay, we have higher standards here than the Grey Lady often does.  Here’s Ms. Lewis’s full quote:

I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and social incompatibility specific to my experiences as a low-income, first-generation student, and you will face similar challenges. Your more fortunate peers will frustrate you with their well-meaning suggestion to just “buy a new one” after you lose your coat; they may sadden you when they ask where your parents went to school, where your siblings want to go, why you seem so different from your entire family. Sometimes, you might feel you just don’t belong on campus. I implore you to extend grace to yourself and have confidence in the fact that you were chosen not only for your academic competency but also for the perspective you have to offer your peers and professors. You are now part of a conversation that would be lacking without your voice. Speak even louder, and help others understand a life story they may not have considered before they met you.

Your Williams peers will probably not be so callous if you lose your coat.  And they will value your perspective.  Even if your first choice was Amherst.

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