Friday, November 02, 2007

Williams College: a word of praise

A combination of unearned good fortune and inspiration born of desperation allowed me to spend a half-year at Williams College playing liberal arts student. The academics were much less work than what I was accustomed to, and the teaching was superb. Best of all, my real undergrad institution paid the whole thing -- room, board, travel and tuition. (Actually the best est part was a I got academic credit for having fun. [1])

I have a soft spot for Williams, but it's fantastically expensive for people who have to pay. So I credit them for enabling some students who are very smart, and perhaps only somewhat poor, to go there ...
I am very pleased to announce that, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, the College has decided to eliminate loans from all financial aid packages and replace them with grants....

This move is the latest in a series of steps the College has taken in recent years to ensure that a Williams education is affordable...

Previous steps had reduced the amount of loans we expected financial aid students to take. For students from families with the lowest incomes that expectation has in recent years been zero. But other financial aid students had been expected, depending on income, to borrow cumulatively over their four years $3,800, $7,800, or 13,800.

This move also comes at a time when the College has succeeded in increasing the socio-economic diversity of entering classes. In fact, the Class of 2011 is the first in history to have more than half its members qualify for Williams-based aid. Even more have won scholarships outside the College..
I don't think this would help much kids like mine though -- it's state school for them. (They've got their share of advantages anyway.)

If you're on the edge of middle class or below, however, and a good student, I would encourage a look at Williams. Even back in the day there were enough non-rich students there to offset the weird experience of studying next to the ultra-rich.

[1] Of course for me learning is fun, so it's not like I wasn't goofing off completely.

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