By Neel Simpson
I didn’t expect to be a science major when I came into college. In high school, I was interested in science topics but always found my humanities and language classes more interesting. However, after multiple identity crises and semesters of turmoil, I decided to declare my major in geology. I was super excited for my geology classes, but between that and other requirements like math, bio, and chem, I was noticing that my schedule was lacking in time to take those humanities classes that had made me so excited to come to William and Mary. With some careful planning, I’ve been able to take at least one class per semester on a topic I was interested in, from Music to Economics to Religious Studies. I recommend this for anyone considering a STEM major, not only to diversify your coursework and improve your writing skills but also to develop a critical thinking mindset that’s necessary for leaders across every discipline. I can’t say that I had a favorite subject that I took as an elective, but I had thoughts about the buildings. Here’s my guide to the best places to take these classes.
- Blair Hall
Cards on the table, I’ve never actually taken a class in Blair and probably never will, but it is consistently my favorite building to walk through. The mahogany walls and marble floor have peak dark academia vibes, and the classrooms are all comfortable to sit in. Even if you’re like me and can’t take a class here, make sure you check it out some time!
- Wren Building
I’ve taken one class inside the Wren, and one this past Fall in the tent outside. It might seem controversial that I put it in second, but when I had a class here, tourists would always be walking around or even trying to step into the classroom. Still, the religious studies department is phenomenal and there’s nothing like sitting in one of the classrooms here!
- Tucker Hall
I will say that I’ve had all sorts of classes in the Tucker Theatre, including a geology class, but never an English class. I’ve also never had a class in Tucker that was not in the Theatre. However, this has to be my favorite academic building design-wise. There’s so much natural light and that staircase on the second floor is a great spot to study, hang out with friends, or just sit and read. The colorful walls are also a great touch!
- Andrews Hall
Andrews is often forgotten because it sits kind of in new campus and kind of in old campus, next to Swem and the ISC. I haven’t been able to take a class here, but the few times I’ve walked through, I’ve appreciated the modern vibes and art installations from the incredibly talented students in the art and art history departments. The only time I ventured into a classroom here was for a pre-study abroad information session, and I remember it being very difficult to find. For its navigational faults, I had to put Andrews in fourth place.
- Ewell Hall
I took a Music COLL 100 my freshman spring, and while it was the only music class I’ve been able to take, it has been one of the most interesting classes I’ve taken yet. Ewell gets bonus points for having the music library as a study spot, and also the ability to walk around and listen to faint classical instruments hum in the background. However, I just remember my classroom being packed with desks and being difficult to walk around, so I have to push this building back to fourth place.
- Washington Hall
Washington Hall is BIG. I’m genuinely surprised that I didn’t get lost in this building more than I did, but there’s so much to see here and some of my favorite classes have been in this building. I recommend taking an archaeology class here and seeing if you might be able to access some of the collections they have in the basement. The Washington lecture room, while it is a fun space to have larger classes, definitely lacks acoustic capacity and can be hard to hear. Additionally, nothing stands out about the classrooms here, so it gets an average score.
- Morton Hall
Morton gets a bad rep, and I do wish I could defend it, but this has to be one of the worst buildings on campus, hosting some fantastic departments and students. My favorite part of Morton is walking through the hallways and learning about events and opportunities from departments like Sociology, Africana Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. That being said, it takes forever to walk to, there is consistently a puddle outside, and the classrooms are dim and cramped. The students in this building deserve so much better.
- Tyler Hall
Tyler is the most cursed building on this campus. Ever since my 9 am in this building my freshman fall, I have been adamant about never taking a class in here. It seems like they tried to make it seem nice and modern but at the cost of any personality. And why are the lights so harsh? If the lights are going to be turned to their absolute brightest possible, then why are all the floors, ceilings, and walls also a bright white? Stepping into this building gives me the same sense of dread that I get when I’m on a zoom call and I realize I’m not muted when I thought I was. If you can avoid a class in Tyler, please do. If you can’t, please work on your priorities.
Neel is a junior from Vienna, Virginia, who is double majoring in environmental geology and anthropology. While he has been an orientation aide for both GGV and Botetourt, his heart still belongs to his freshman dorm, Hunt Hall. When he’s not sporting his neon as an orientation aide, he spends his time volunteering with the office of sustainability,doing research in the Keck Environmental Studies lab, or working with his team on GeoLab.
Outside of classes, he enjoys playing guitar, cooking vegan food, and anything outdoors. He is a Sagittarius and INTJ, but his most telling personal characteristic is that he genuinely enjoys Swem third. After William & Mary, he hopes to attend graduate school to study human and environmental geography, but is beyond excited to make the most out of his last two years here.