WILLIAMSTOWN — Next week hundreds of curious young college students will arrive at Williams College — and the streets of Williamstown — to launch their college careers.
The traditional start to the fall semester will begin with the arrival of about 540 freshmen Monday and continue through the first day of classes Sept. 6 with a number of orientation activities known as First Days.
The incoming Class of 2022, as a whole, is unique unto itself, as all classes usually are. Selected from among 9,560 applicants by a team of 12 admissions officers — 1,200 were accepted — they averaged 730 on the SAT evidence-based reading and writing test and 739 on math. The ACT test average was 33.
Thirty-seven percent of students in the incoming class are U.S. students of color, and another 8 percent are international students. Of the 540 incoming students, 254 identify as men, 265 as women. Three incoming students identify as trans or transgender, and one as another gender.
The students come from 41 states and represent 53 foreign countries. Seventeen percent of them are first-generation college students. Fifty percent will receive financial aid, with an average aid award of $60,055.
When the students arrive, they will reside in either Williams Hall, Sage Hall or the Mission Hall complex, according to Sulgi Lim, director of admissions for Williams. Many will have their own room, while some will have a roommate.
They will be split into entry groups of 40 or 50 students, living in close proximity to each other, with a trained junior classman as a mentor and resident assistant for each group. The entry groups will become a quasi-community for them, and will likely provide them with a number of lifelong friendships, Lim said.
"It's a starting point to create that community," she said. "And I think we've been really lucky that we have great support to make their first year successful."
Indeed, the effort to welcome and orient the incoming freshmen involves a significant portion of the school's staff and many of the older students, Lim noted.
"We involve many in the school community to allow students to make the transition away from home and family to ease that experience," she said.
At the end of the year, Lim said that, judging from past statistics, 98 percent of the Class of 2022 will likely return for their sophomore year.
The tradition of First Days introduces first-year students to the college through meetings with academic advisers and opportunities to learn about academics and the campus. There will be placement exams and the school's mandatory swimming test.
The second half of the week, freshmen will participate in "EphVentures," a program that offers opportunities to build friendships and a better understanding of the campus community. They will choose among several programs that will develop their leadership skills, knowledge of the Berkshires, awareness of arts and culture in the region, and understanding of the connections between environmental sustainability, identity and social justice.
On Sept. 2, students will return from EphVentures for a picnic dinner on Paresky Lawn.
Monday they will participate in Williams Reads. This summer, each student received a copy of "Sing, Unburied, Sing," the National Book Award-winning novel by Jesmyn Ward. Faculty and staff will set up conversations about the book to introduce students to intellectual life at Williams. On Oct. 11, Ward will come to campus to discuss the book with the entire campus community.
"I'm looking forward to the arrival of our first-year students and welcoming the Class of 2022 to the Williams community," said Marlene Sandstrom, dean of the college and professor of psychology, in a statement. "This beloved annual tradition not only introduces our newest students to the rich academic and social life they'll experience at Williams, but it also deeply engages them in the campus and local community right from the start."
Scott Stafford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-629-4517.