An unparalleled education, outstanding faculty and a strong sense of community: Those are just a few of the unique attributes that drew William & Mary’s newest students to the Alma Mater of the Nation.

For Sabina Mohanty ’27 of Richmond, Virginia, the size of William & Mary – with a student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1 – was among the many things that set it apart from other possible universities.

“Junior year, we toured it, and it just really felt like my place,” she said. “I really liked the vibe, the campus – all of it. … It just felt a lot like home to me.”

On Thursday, Mohanty joined the rest of the Class of 2027 as they moved into residence halls, assisted by family members and cheered on by current students and staff members who will help guide freshmen and transfers through orientation over the next few days.

“I want to create a sense of community and belonging on campus, and I think that orientation really sets that foundation for students,” said Nash English ’25, an orientation aide. “I think it really is a great way to show off William & Mary to the new students and get them excited through their first year. So I just love being part of it.”

While some graduate programs – such as the law school’s J.D. and LL.M. programs – are already in session, undergraduate classes begin Aug. 30, the same day that the university will officially welcome all new students to campus as part of Opening Convocation.

Meet the new students

William & Mary is welcoming about 175 new transfer students this fall along with about 1,630 students in the Class of 2027. The freshmen were selected from a pool of 17,548 applicants – up nearly 25% from 2020, the last admissions cycle prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pool also included a record-breaking number of Early Decision applicants.

“William & Mary offers an unparalleled educational experience and outstanding community, which attracts some of the best and brightest students in the world. The Class of 2027 is no exception,” said Tim Wolfe, associate vice president for enrollment and dean of admission.

“We are thrilled to have such an impressive group join us at William & Mary this fall and to see them begin partnering with our world-class faculty and staff to make an impact in the classroom, throughout campus and around the globe.”

An info graphic shows stats related to the Class of 2027 at William & Mary
Graphic by Jaron Davis

The class boasts a number of academic accomplishments. The average weighted GPA was 4.3, and the middle 50th percentile for SAT scores was 1370-1510. 

The class is also diverse. This year’s freshmen include 14% more Pell Grant-eligible students than last year. Beginning this academic year, William & Mary is guaranteeing scholarship aid to cover at least the cost of tuition and fees for all in-state, undergraduate Pell Grant-eligible students.

Among U.S. students in the class, 36% are students of color. International students make up 4%, representing 30 countries. Additionally, a total of 40 states and Washington, D.C., are represented by members of the Class of 2027.

Along with academic accolades and diverse backgrounds, the new students bring with them a variety of interests and experiences. The class includes a stand-up comedian, a race car driver, a Junior Olympics fencer and a nationally ranked Super Smash Bros. competitor.

Moving in

Dressed in neon yellow T-shirts, orientation aides lined Richmond and Jamestown roads, playing music, waving and holding signs to direct students to their new on-campus homes. Parents and other family members offloaded vehicles and toted belongings ranging from mini fridges to golf clubs into residence halls. 

Trish Buswell of Alexandria, Virginia, stayed next to a collection of items outside of the Bryan Complex while her daughter, Piper, visited her new room for the first time.

“It’s been really lovely,” Trish Buswell said. “The communication has been great, and the webinars have been extremely helpful. And then we walked around yesterday and figured out where everything was.”

She said the family first toured the campus during Green & Gold Days and that her daughter chose W&M because of its outstanding academics plus its club offerings.

“I like that it’s a really good school and it’s kind of close to home, but it’s far enough away where I’m not like right next to everything,” said Piper Buswell ’27. “I’m looking forward to joining clubs – I’m going to swim – and meeting all of the people in my dorm. I’m talking to a lot of them on their Instagram or GroupMe, so it’s really exciting to meet them all in person.”

Catie Bennett ’27 from New Kent, Virginia, said that meeting new people and joining clubs were among the many things she looked forward to doing at William & Mary, too. 

“I feel like the community set itself apart a lot and just the surroundings of it,” Bennett said of her selection of William Mary.

While new undergraduate students moved in on Thursday, returning undergraduate students will move in Saturday. Graduate students began moving into residence halls Aug. 14 and will continue to do so through Aug. 30. While there was a waiting list for housing earlier this year, Residence Life has now been able to offer housing to all students who had applied by the deadline and remained on the waiting list.

This summer, the university began phase one of a $700-plus million comprehensive housing and dining facilities project that will renovate or replace 80% of its campus residences and provide two new, modern dining spaces. The first new student housing is anticipated to open in fall 2025.

Creating community

Julianne Abenoja ’26, who is from Alabama, said she came across William & Mary on a college tour and particularly liked its size, among other attributes.

“And then I just, you know, fell in love and ended up here,” she said.

A neon yellow shirt says Welcome to the Tribe
Orientation aides welcome the Class of 2027. (Photo by Stephen Salpukas)

Abenoja said she wanted to share that love of W&M with others as an orientation aide because of the experience she had herself at orientation.

“Especially coming from out of state, I felt like my orientation aides did a really great job of making sure that I felt included in the William & Mary community – and like an insider, not an outsider. So, I want to do that for more students.”

Over the next few days, Abenoja, English and the other orientation aides will aim to do just that, along with staff and faculty across campus as the university enters the 2023-2024 academic year.

English’s advice for new students: Keep your mind open and be ready for new experiences.

“I think a lot of people come in with a set idea of how college is going to be, and most of the time, it turns out not to be that – and, you know, sometimes it’s a good thing; sometimes it’s not,” said English. “But I think keeping your mind open to a bunch of new experiences will make sure that you have a really fun time here and that you really get a lot from campus because you’re willing to try new things.”

, Senior Associate Director of University News