My experience with the COLL curriculum has been really unique, as I feel it is for every William & Mary student. My class was the first to be on the new system, so I think a lot of us were unsure of what it would be like. Yet, I think it more than successfully accomplishes its job.
The COLL curriculum works to not only expose you to different subject areas outside of your intended major (or what you believe it to be) but also different ways of thinking. Your freshman seminars, or COLL 100 & 150, cover the different forms of communication. The COLL 100 discusses non-written forms, such as presentations and websites, while the COLL 150 focuses on writing, including research papers and projects. The subject matter of these courses is completely interdisciplinary; you cannot take a class in any one subject because the curriculum calls on multiple disciplines. My COLL 100 was called Archeology of the Anthropocene; a class that I thought would involve historical digs in the Wren yard and analyzing broken pots and artifacts. Yet, it turned out to discuss our current geological period, the Anthropocene, and how it was named after humans, as we are the greatest geological force currently on the planet. Through emissions and pollution, we have changed almost every naturally occurring cycle – a shift that can be recorded through geology and studied in archeology. While I was interested in business as an incoming freshman, this introduced me to conservation and sustainability in an eye-opening way, so much so that I have incorporated it into many of the marketing projects I have done.
The COLL 200s really focus on this different way of thought in that you are exposed to science, culture, and active learning – hands-on learning in the arts. My favorite experience within the COLL 200s has been my time with studio art. My first class was my freshman year, and I’ve taken an art class almost every semester since then. The curriculum really affords you the time to take classes in subjects that you might not major or minor in, but still want to be a part of your experience. I’ve really found an outlet in art that I didn’t think would be a part of my college experience, but it has been incredibly rewarding.
The COLL 300 level is called “In the World” and is fulfilled by a study abroad course, or an on-campus option with a lecture series. I chose not to study abroad in my time, so I explored the on-campus option, taking VA Plantations: Then & Now. This course studied the history of Slavery in Virginia and the nation, how it is discussed in Plantation sites, and how slavery is captured in museums and history. I had never taken a history class in college before, so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity, especially in a course so relevant and important to society today. For the COLL 300 side of the course, we heard from three lecturers that discussed the topic of the semester, sustainability, and then we created a research project that followed that topic in the scope of our class. I wrote about the sustainability of photography of slavery and how that spread/continues to spread knowledge of that part of history.
Finally, the COLL 400 is your capstone – it is specific to your major and gives you the opportunity to be hands on in even an independent study, research, or honors project. For my Marketing Major within the business school next semester, I am taking Global Strategic Management, a course that focuses on strategy in the global market.
The COLL curriculum is a really incredible academic experience, and it enhances the William & Mary journey ever much so. As a student, you will ascertain your passions in college and gain perspective into what you may want to do once you leave these walls. I urge you to take risks and pick and choose as many diverse interests as possible – the school has so much to offer. Never be afraid to take a risk, because it might lead to the most meaningful experience you have inside the classroom.
The Office of First Year Experience is responsible for creating an engaging transition experience where new students, both first-time in college and transfer students, are empowered to optimally thrive at William & Mary.