Is William & Mary an Ivy League School?

Many of your high school classmates with impressive GPAs are putting William & Mary on their college lists. On the other hand, those whose academic profiles are not as remarkable tend to steer clear of it. And this may leave you wondering whether or not William & Mary is an Ivy League.

William & Mary is not one of the eight Ivy League schools. However, it has an Ivy League-like status. Its acceptance rate, for instance, is lower than most public colleges and universities. While not an Ivy League, William & Mary is considered one of the Public Ivies, Little Ivies and Hidden Ivies.

Read on to find out why William & Mary is one of the most prestigious public institutions in the US.

Below, we will discuss some of the most important matters every college-bound high schooler needs to know about it, from its various rankings, cost of attendance to notable alumni members. After reading this article, you will realize if William & Mary or another institution is deserving of that remaining spot on your college list.

College of W&M
College of W&M

What is William & Mary Known For?

William & Mary is the first US institution with a Royal Charter and the second-oldest institution in the country. While it has a long history of liberal arts education, it has a growing research and science curriculum. In 1779, William & Mary became the very first US college to become a university.

Located in Williamsburg, Virginia, William & Mary has a spacious 1,200-acre suburban campus.

Currently, it offers 34 undergraduate degrees, which are concentrated into 31 majors. Students may declare one major or two majors. They may also choose to declare one major and one minor. For the academic year 2021 to 2022, the total number of students attending William & Mary amounts to 8,939.

The following are some of the majors William & Mary is known for:

  • Anthropology
  • Business
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Education
  • English
  • Environmental Science
  • History
  • Math
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

William & Mary Rankings

William & Mary is #38 in National Universities by US News. On the other hand, the public institution is #10 in Top Public Universities in America and #2 in Top Public Universities in Virginia, both by Niche. William & Mary is #18 in Public Colleges by Forbes and #31 in Best Colleges by Money.

Allowing any college ranking site to tell you which college or university you should attend is a terrible idea. That’s because college rankings can be subjective — what’s perfect for a particular ranker may not be the perfect fit for you.

However, college rankings can help you know quickly which schools reign supreme in which categories.

It’s true that William & Mary is no Ivy League. But the fact that it’s one of the high-ranking institutions in the US means that the Williamsburg, Virginia-based school is just as admired and respected.

Here are some other William & Mary rankings by various college ranking sites:

  • #3 in Best Colleges in Virginia (Niche)
  • #5 in Best Value Colleges in Virginia (Niche)
  • #9 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (US News)
  • #11 in the South (Forbes)
  • #16 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News)
  • #18 in Public Colleges (Forbes)
  • #41 in Research Universities (Forbes)
  • #42 in Colleges With the Best Professors in America (Niche)
  • #51 in Top Colleges (Forbes)

Related Article: Is Stanford, MIT, Duke an Ivy League School? | Ivies Facts

Acceptance Rate at William & Mary

Less than half of all applicants get admitted into William & Mary. With an acceptance rate of 37.7% only, it is evident that the institution is one of the most selective in the US. Other schools with pretty much the same acceptance rates include Brooklyn College and Pepperdine University.

Many assume that getting an acceptance letter from any public institution is trouble-free.

William & Mary may be public alright. However, students with a weak academic profile and overall application are very much likely to get a denial from it.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) says that the national acceptance rate at public US colleges and universities is 69.1% — William & Mary’s is just 37.7%.

Using a college chances calculator can help you determine whether or not your chances of getting accepted into William & Mary are high. It will also help if you have an idea of how its admissions officers evaluate applicants.

The following are the academic admissions factors at William & Mary and their relative importance:

  • Academic rigor – very important
  • GPA – very important
  • Standardized test score – very important
  • Class rank – very important
  • Application essay – very important
  • Recommendation letters – very important

And now, here are William & Mary’s non-academic admissions factors and the relative importance of each:

  • Extracurricular activities – very important
  • Personal qualities – very important
  • Talent or ability – very important
  • State residency – very important
  • Volunteer work – very important
  • Work experience – very important
  • Interview – considered
  • First-generation – considered
  • Alumni member relation – considered
  • Race or ethnicity – considered
  • Demonstrated interest – considered

Related Article: Calculating Your College Chances [ala Chance Me College Confidential]

Is William & Mary Test-Optional?

William & Mary became test-optional in 2020, but this may change in the future. Meanwhile, applicants are not required to submit their SAT or ACT scores. Submitted test scores will be taken into account in the admissions process. The absence of any test score will not disadvantage the applicants.

No matter if you were unable to take the SAT or ACT or are unhappy with your standardized test score, fret not. That’s because you can still apply to William & Mary as it’s one of the many test-optional schools in the country.

But if you are proud of your standardized test score and feel that it can boost your admissions chances, feel free to submit it. Despite knowing that the school has a test-optional admissions policy, 77% of accepted students still submitted their SAT scores. On the other hand, 32% of admitted students still submitted their ACT scores.

Keep in mind that, as stated while we were talking about the various academic admissions factors at William & Mary earlier, the standardized test score is considered very important in the admissions process. Needless to say, it’s a great idea to let the admissions officers see that SAT or ACT score of yours, especially if it’s good.

And if you have taken the SAT or ACT more than once, consider submitting all of your scores.

William & Mary superscores standardized test scores.

This means that its admissions officers will consider only the highest section scores across all test dates when evaluating an applicant. And if you took both the SAT and ACT, submit both composite scores — the school will consider whichever is higher.

Wondering about the standardized test scores of applicants who get accepted into William & Mary? Well, the SAT scores of freshmen students range from 1300 to 1490. Meanwhile, their ACT scores are anywhere from 30 to 34.

What GPA Do You Need to Get Into William & Mary?

Having a high GPA is important to increase one’s chances of getting admitted into William & Mary. For the academic year 2020 to 2021, the average high school GPA of first-year students accepted into the school is 4.28. Only very few applicants with GPAs below 4.0 were admitted into William & Mary.

Like many colleges and universities in the US, William & Mary follows a holistic admissions policy. This means that decisions are based on various aspects of the application, not just the test score and GPA.

Still, an impressive high school GPA can increase your admissions chances.

Proof to this is the fact that the average high school GPA of students accepted into William & Mary is 4.28.

To put it into context, bear in mind that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average GPA of high school graduates in the US is 3.0. However, this data is from 2009 — NCES did not release an update since then.

Worry not if your high school GPA is not equivalent to or higher than 4.28. Because of the school’s holistic admissions policy, other parts of your application will be taken into account, too.

Let’s take a look at the high school GPA ranges of first-year students at William & Mary:

GPA RANGEPERCENT OF ADMITS
4.0 and higher86.29%
3.75 to 3.999.74%
3.50 to 3.742.77%
3.25 to 3.491.05%
3.00 to 3.240.15%
TOTAL100%
W&M Applicants GPA
College of W&M
College of W&M

William & Mary And Early Decision

William & Mary offers Early Decision. As a matter of fact, it offers two rounds of Early Decision: Early Decision I and Early Decision II. Both decision plans are binding. This means that applicants who apply for Early Decision, no matter the round, and get accepted will have to attend William & Mary.

Earlier, we mentioned that demonstrated interest is a non-academic factor in the William & Mary admissions process. There are many ways to show interest, and applying ahead of everybody is an example.

It’s because of this why the Early Decision acceptance rate at the public institution is 46%.

However, it doesn’t mean that applying Early Decision is a guarantee that you will get admitted into William & Mary.

While a 46% Early Decision acceptance rate is higher than a Regular Decision acceptance rate of 37.7%, it’s still a must that your high school academic performance and the rest of your application can impress the admissions officers.

No matter how committed you are to go to William & Mary should you get accepted, it means absolutely nothing if you fail to submit your application before the deadline.

Here’s a table showing the deadlines for the various decision plans at William & Mary:

DECISION PLANDEADLINEDECISION NOTIFICATION
Early Decision I1-NovEarly December
Early Decision II1-JanEarly February
Regular Decision1-JanEarly April

Related Article: Is Early Decision Worth It? All Pros and Cons

Requirements to Get Into William & Mary

Although a selective school, William & Mary does not require applicants to submit a lot of materials. For instance, the most important requirements are the completed Common App, secondary and mid-year school reports, and a recommendation letter. In-state students have to answer additional questions.

Many things keep a lot of college-bound teens from applying to some of the most competitive institutions in the country. One of those is that there are lots of conditions to meet and requirements to submit.

The good news is that even though it has a low acceptance rate, applying to William & Mary will not leave you with a bad headache trying to submit one requirement after the other. That’s because there are only a few things you will have to submit.

As a matter of fact, many of them will have to be carried out by your high school counselor!

Here’s a checklist of what you will have to submit when applying to William & Mary:

  • Application. Unlike many institutions for higher education in the US, William & Mary accepts only the Common App. Make sure that you will be able to submit your completed Common App before the deadline — earlier, we discussed the deadlines for the various decision plans available at the public school.
  • Application fee or a waiver fee. The cost of applying to William & Mary amounts to $75. You may instead apply for a waiver fee, although there will be different eligibility requirements to meet.
  • School reports. Your high school counselor will have to submit a completed secondary school report form together with your high school transcript. Once the first semester grades are already available, he or she will also have to fill out the mid-year school report form and submit it with an updated high school transcript.
  • Letter of recommendation. Besides school reports, it’s also the task of your high school counselor to come up with your recommendation letter. So, should you also submit recommendation letters from your teachers? Well, you may, but the admissions officers at William & Mary say that this is optional.
  • Admissions essay. Many elite US colleges and universities require applicants to submit all sorts of essays. Not William & Mary — applicants to it will only have to submit the Common App essay. And here’s something that you should know: submitting an admissions essay is optional, too, just like teacher recommendations.
  • Standardized test score. Since William & Mary is a test-optional school, it isn’t surprising why another optional requirement is the SAT or ACT score.

Are you a resident of the state of Virginia, right where William & Mary is located?

To enjoy lower in-state tuition costs, you will have to answer questions pertaining to in-state tuition privileges in the Common App.

How Much Does William & Mary Cost?

The estimated cost of attending William & Mary for one year is $40,220 for in-state students and $63,446 for out-of-state students. The tuition and fees for non-Virginia residents ($47,038) are almost twice the tuition and fees for Virginia residents ($23,812).

Being a public institution, the cost of earning a degree from the Williamsburg, Virginia-based school will depend on where you live. That’s because the tuition and fees are different for in-state students and out-of-state students.

As of this writing, the national average tuition and fees at public colleges and universities amount to $10,560 (in-state) and $27,020 (out-of-state). Unfortunately, the tuition and fees at William & Mary, both in-state and out-of-state, are so much higher than at most public institutions in the US.

Here’s a breakdown of the estimated cost of attendance at William & Mary for the academic year 2021 to 2020:

EXPENSESIN-STATE COSTOUT-OF-STATE COST
Tuition$17,434$40,089
Fees$6,378$6,949
Room and board$13,332$13,332
Books, travel, etc.$3,076$3,076
TOTAL$40,220$63,446

The cost of a William & Mary experience is lower for Virginians than students residing elsewhere in the country.

Typically, the school meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need of in-state students. And by means of the William & Mary Promise, which was implemented in 2013, in-state students can enjoy increased grants and lowered loans.

Eligible out-of-state students may get up to 25% of the full cost of attendance in grant aid.

Which Famous People Went to William & Mary?

Some of the most popular alumni members of William & Mary are former US Presidents, including the very first one. Many other political figures once attended the public institution, too. William & Mary is also the alma mater of founders, CEOs, athletes, designers, and movie and TV personalities.

Earning a degree from William & Mary could help you land your dream job after graduation. It could also make you a household name, depending on how hard you will work in order to get somewhere. But having the name of a prestigious institution on your resume could give you a head start.

Case in point: the many different former students or graduates of William & Mary. Some of them have names that may ring a bell to you, while others have names that are known not only in the US but all over the planet, too!

Some of the most notable William & Mary alumni members include:

  • George Washington – The first President of the US who served for two terms
  • Thomas Jefferson – The third President of the US and principal author of the Declaration of Independence
  • James Monroe – The fifth President of the US and the last President from the Founding Fathers
  • John Tyler – The 10th President of the US
  • Robert Gates – Served as the US Secretary of Defense (2006 to 2011) and William & Mary’s 24th Chancellor
  • Mary Jo White – Served as the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (2013 to 2017)
  • Ellen Stofan – The first female Under Secretary for Science and Research at the Smithsonian
  • Beth Comstock – Former vice chair of General Electric (GE) and founder of Hulu
  • Chip Mason – Former chairman and CEO of Legg Mason, a Baltimore-based investment firm
  • Mike Tomlin – Head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL)
  • Jill Ellis – World Cup-winning coach and the current president of the San Diego NWSL team
  • Perry Ellis – Fashion designer considered an outstanding designer of sportswear in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Glenn Close – Award-winning actress
  • Jon Stewart – Comedian best known for hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central

It’s true that William & Mary is not an Ivy League school. However, it is regarded as a Public Ivy, Little Ivy and Hidden Ivy.

These various titles are a telltale sign that it’s a prestigious school with a low acceptance rate. Needless to say, your application should be strong if you want to receive an offer from William & Mary.

Read Next: How to Transfer From Community College to Ivy League


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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