The Classes of 2023 are made up of athletes, artists, future politicians and students who are determined to make their mark on the school. Each seeing the school through a different perspective, as a different opportunity to make the most of their education, this first-year class has some thoughts about Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
In talking to first-year students about why they chose to attend HWS, three things came up: study abroad, community, and financial aid. Ranking in the top 5 for study abroad, HWS provides a variety of countries and programs for students. Johanna Golden ’23 said she was determined to study abroad at least once in places such as Bali or Brussels.
Another reason for students’ choosing to attend HWS was the close community. Smaller class sizes, professors that know your name, and the fact that you’re more than a number in a class means more. Students look for that connection and want to be able to have a relationship with professors that extends beyond the classroom. Whether it’s a simple ‘how was your day’ at the start of class or ‘come by office hours to talk to more’ in passing, students appreciate it.
The last aspect, financial aid, was mentioned the most. Daniella Brown ’23 explicitly said that the financial aid the school offered her was one of the reasons why she even decided to consider the school. Many students benefited from the aid the school gave them, making it easier for them to join a community they were glad to be a part of.
While these are the reasons why first-year students came to the HWS, there are different reasons why they have decided to stay here. Ashley Edwards ’23 came to HWS because of “the beautiful lake and close-knit community.” She can call this place her home for the next four years because of the friends she has made and the classes she has been able to take.
That rings true for many others as well. Several first-years attribute finding their place to the Intercultural Affairs House. On a campus that is predominantly white, diversity is something students want. “Students of color are bound to feel a little left out or overwhelmed about being in a space that you don’t see representation in,” Fatou Diokhane ’23 says.
Diokhane believes that “the school really tries to include everyone and promote diversity.” One of the main ways it does this is through the IC house, which brings students together and provides a space for everyone to learn more about different cultures and religions. As Kevin Lima ’23 states, “The IC House must stay.” His sentiment is echoed by many.
Just as the first years are new on campus, so is President Joyce P. Jacobsen. Having a new president didn’t affect many students’ decision to attend HWS, as students felt that a new president might be a good welcome. Fondly recalling President Jacobsen’s rendition of “Old Town Road” during Orientation, a student, who asked to remain anonymous, felt confident in knowing that they made a good choice, despite being away from home for the first time.
Some students are a mere 20 minutes away from home, others 6 hours, and many even come from the opposite coast. Being in a new place is a common fear among all first-years, which is why meeting new people and working through the school, day by day, helps. The students here want to do big things and are surrounded by other students who are more than willing to help them get there. The Classes of 2023 are capable of great things. They’re determined to make the most of their time here at HWS, and HWS is determined to help them do that.