The many things I’ve learned from William & Mary, shorted into my top ten

By: Ellie McMahon

  1. Go all in. As a junior, my first (almost) three years have flown by and I’m not really sure how. What I do know is that this time is too short not to take advantage of all the amazing things W&M has to offer!
  2. Prioritize your wellness. In addition to cool FitWell classes, the Rec also has a sauna that works wonders for stress.
  3. Dining hall condiments will be your best friend. Trust me on this, especially if you want food with flavor
  4. The Sunken Garden is best enjoyed with a picnic blanket, hat, and a group of friends. Maybe even a football and sunscreen if you’re feeling fancy.
  5. Never eat a meal alone. This I learned from a W&M alum during an interview; he said that if he could redo anything about his time here, it would be to always eat with new friends.
  6. Don’t be afraid. Of the hard classes, the scary professor, the making new friends. We’ve all been there and made it out the other side.
  7. Comparison really is the thief of joy; it’s important to run your own race.
  8. Don’t forget to call your parents/siblings/loved ones. They’re the ones who helped to get you here!
  9. Embrace your inner TWAMP* because life is more fun that way!
  10. Learn to bleed green and gold, whatever that means for you. William & Mary was never going to be just a four year thing; we’re all in the Tribe for life.

* Typical William & Mary Student

Pros and Cons of Study Abroad 

While study abroad can be an exciting experience, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons when deciding to commit to this big decision.


  • Enhance language skills: Studying abroad provides a unique opportunity to enhance language skills, especially if you are unfamiliar with the local language or have only a basic understanding.
  • Making new friends: Relocating to a new location opens the door to a broader social circle, offering numerous chances to forge meaningful connections and friendships.
  • Exploration of New Opportunities: Being in a different country may expose you to unexpected opportunities in various aspects of life
  • Building Independence: The distance from home necessitates a level of self-reliance, which can help you develop independence and life skills


  • Financial Costs: The considerable expense associated with moving abroad, even for a short duration, can be a significant drawback
  • Language Barriers: Navigating daily life in a country with an unfamiliar language can be challenging and stressful, contributing to difficulties in effective communication.
  • Homesickness: One of the most common challenges of studying abroad is homesickness, as being far from friends and family can lead to a sense of longing and emotional strain.
  • Culture Shock: While immersing yourself in a new culture is enriching, it may also result in culture shock, requiring adjustment to different customs, traditions, and ways of life.

A Brief Overview of Housing 

General housing selection begins today! Whether you are a returning student, incoming freshman, or prospective student, check out this blog post for a brief overview of housing. 

All first and second year students are required to live on campus to help build friendships during the beginning of their college experience. The freshman housing includes the Botetourt Complex, Bryan Complex, Dupont Hall, Green & Gold Village, Hunt Hall, Lemon Hall, Monroe Hall, Randolph Complex, Reves Hall and Willis Hall. Most of these residence halls are double rooms with either hall or shared bathrooms and are located close to either dining hall. Each residence hall will include laundry machines, a shared kitchen, and lounges for all residents to share. For my first year I was in Nicholson Hall (part of Botetourt Complex!). Being in a hall style residence hall helped me meet lots of new people which was especially helpful as a spring transfer student. 

For returning students, more housing options are available. Barrett Hall, Bryan Complex, Chandler Hall, Hardy Hall, Jefferson Hall, Landrum Hall, Old Dominion Hall, and Randolph Complex are hall style. One Tribe Place and Richmond Hall are suite style with private/shared bathrooms. Tribe Square, and Ludwell Apartments are apartment style which include in-unit kitchens, living area, private bathrooms, and separate bedrooms. Greek Life Housing is also available to those in sororities and fraternities. 

For upperclassmen, it can sometimes be challenging to find on-campus housing due to limited campus spaces. However, there’s currently construction happening across campus to increase the number of beds available to students that will continue for the next couple of years. Those who are unable to acquire on-campus housing can rent out houses or apartments near William & Mary. Off-campus housing resource fairs also occur each year to help students find nearby apartments. 

Learn more about first year housing here:

Learn more about upperclassmen housing here:

10 College Productivity Tips

  1. Invest in good noise canceling headphones – good for blocking out noisy areas when studying! 
  1. Get 8 hours of sleep each night – sleep is so essential for retaining energy and a clear headspace
  1. Utilize a planning system that works for you – whether it be paper or digital, finding a planning system that works for you helps you stay on track
  1. Take short breaks during your day – make sure to get some fresh air and movement throughout the day! Breaks are equally as important as work blocks
  1. Prepare your things the night before – having everything ready the night before relieves morning stress!
  1. Put your phone on do not disturb during the day – don’t let your phone become a distraction 
  1. Begin and end your day without screens – I love doing this to help me wake up and wind down. 
  1. Break down your assignments into smaller tasks – If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by your assignments try breaking them down into smaller tasks 
  1. Get your hardest work completed first – Eat the frog! Once you get the hardest things out of the way, it only gets easier
  1. Set up a routine / schedule that incorporates time for all aspects of your life (academics, personal time, exercise, etc.) – Possibly the most important thing to do in college! Finding time for everything can be daunting and overwhelming, but making sure you’re not focusing too much on one aspect of your life and taking the time to explore your interests to get the most out of your college experience! 

The Institute for Integrative Conservation 

This past month I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Conservation through my Conservation Biology class! If you’re looking for more research opportunities, try checking out the Institute for Integrative Conservation (IIC). The Institute for Integrative Conservation here at William & Mary connects students with research opportunities that solve real world conservation problems!  They have three main ways to get involved: a GIS semester project, semester project, and year long project. Projects are highly interdisciplinary making it a good fit for any major. 

You don’t need to be a conservation major to get involved. Many projects include aspects of chemistry, biology, and business. Doing research projects within the IIC can be a good way to learn more about human interaction with the environment and how to prevent and find solutions to both community and global scale conservation issues.

Students are paired with partners to create, develop, and carry out research projects in order to implement solutions. 

If conservation is something you are passionate about or interested in learning more about, check out the IIC for both research and other opportunities. 

Check here for more information:

Developing Study Schedules 

Creating a study schedule is so helpful for reducing procrastination leading up to exams. Having a set time to study, exercise, go to class, eat, and spend time with others / self time will make sure you’re balancing your time effectively. Here are some study schedules that might be useful for creating your own: 

3 hour study schedule 

8:00 – 9:00: get ready for the day, daily planning, breakfast 

9:00 – 10:00: study block 1 

10:00 – 11:00: break, exercise, extracurriculars  

11:00 – 12:00: lunch

12:30 – 2:00 – class 

2:00 – 3:00 – break

3:00 – 5:00 – study block 2 

5:30 – 6:30 – dinner 

6:30 – 9:00 – clubs, extracurriculars, work

9:30 – 11:00 – self time and get ready for bed 

5 hour study schedule 

7 – 8:30: quiet time, getting ready, reading, breakfast

8:30 – 9:00: plan your day
9:00 – 10:00: class

10:00 – 11:00: exercise 

11:00 – 11:30: lunch 

11:30 – 1:00: study block 1 – hardest tasks 

1:00 – 2:00: class 

2:00 – 3:00: break

3:00 – 5:00: study block 2 

5:00 – 6:30: class 

6:30 – 7:00: dinner 

7:00 – 8:30: study block 3 – review and any smaller tasks 

8:30 – 11:00: self time, get ready for bed

7 hour study schedule 

7:00 – 8:00: get ready for the day, daily planning 

8:00 – 9:00: study block 1 

9:00 – 10:00: class 

10:00 – 11:00: exercise 

11:00 – 11:30: lunch 

11:30 – 1:00: study block 2 

1:00 – 2:00: class

2:00 – 3:00: break

3:00 – 5:30: study block 3 

5:30 – 6:30 – break, dinner

6:30 – 9:30: study block 4 

9:30 – 11:00: self time, get ready for bed 

25 Productive things to do when bored

You have a couple homework assignments to complete, but end up cleaning your room instead. We’ve all been there! Procrastination productivity starts to make an appearance around this time when midterm exams are just around the corner. While studying is probably the most productive use of your time, if you’re looking for a break or looking to swap scrolling on your phone for something more productive, check out this list for 25 productive things to do when bored.

  1. Go for a walk / run
  2. Do a puzzle 
  3. Catch up with a friend 
  4. Clean out your email inbox
  5. Do your laundry 
  6. Try a new recipe  
  7. Start or write in a journal 
  8. Organize your files 
  9. Clean your room 
  10. Read a book 
  11. Clean out your car
  12. Draw or paint something  
  13. Call a loved one  
  14. Listen to a podcast  
  15. Learn a new skill 
  16. Crochet or knit  
  17. Update your resume 
  18. Create a bucket list  
  19. Learn a new language 
  20. Meal prep for the week 
  21. Organize your closet 
  22. Do a meditation 
  23. Go to the library 
  24. Volunteer 
  25. Take a nap or do self care 

Process of Declaring a Major

Congratulations! Have you reached the credit limit or decided what major you’d like to pursue? Here’s a brief guide to declaring your major:

1. Decide your area of study

Do you want to declare a major, double major, major + minor? In what area would you like to study? You probably already have an idea of what you want to major in, but if still unsure try using degree works to see the specific requirements for majors you’re interested in. Degreeworks will tell you what classes you will need to take for your intended major/minor. This will be especially helpful later on for making a rough schedule of when you’ll take each required course. Also note that some majors have other requirements (ex. Business majors must apply to the Mason School of Business)

More info on how to choose a major:

2. Complete the Declaration of Major Form
This form will be what you submit to the University Registrar for official approval and declaration. On the form there’s a section to list required courses for your intended major and list when you will complete them / when you completed them. (This is where degree works comes in handy!) You must meet with your major advisor before submitting this form, but it’s a good idea to fill it out before meeting with them to fully understand the requirements you’ll need to complete.

3. Find and meet with your major advisor

Your major advisor must be in the academic discipline you intend to major in. Try making a list of professors you’ve taken a class with and/or have a good relationship with. For instance, my major advisor is also the professor I’m doing research with! After asking and settling on a major advisor, meet with them to discuss your future plans and complete the declaration of major form.

More info on major advisors: More information on declaring your major:

Happy Birthday W&M! All about Charter Day

This past Thursday, the College of William & Mary turned 331! How do we know how old the university is? On February 8th 1693, the charter of William & Mary was issued by King William III and Queen Mary II, making William & Mary the second oldest institution of higher education in the United States! Now Charter Day is celebrated annually by students, staff, and faculty here at William & Mary. The Green & Gold Bash, special dining events, and more accompany this celebration each year.

Who initiated the charter?
James Blair negotiated the charter to the royal court in 1691 and was later named as William & Mary’s first president.

Does the charter still exist?
Unfortunately the original charter was lost, however, Swem’s Special Collections is home to two manuscript copies of the charter!

Who began the celebrations?
President John Stewart Bryan initiated the first celebration of Charter Day in 1937! Each year, speakers are invited, awards are presented to faculty and students, and campus wide events occur!

More info: