A commentary on the value of differences

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” -Stephen Covey

As a student in the William and Mary / St. Andrews (B.A.) International Honours Joint Degree Programme, we are a part of two different institutions, two different cultures, two different systems. Furthermore, we are each different individuals, with diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, interests, career aspirations, and even study techniques. … That’s a lot of diversity.

Joint Programme students use the differences—whether personal, academic, or professional—to challenge, enhance, and encourage their university experience. This is just one of the many reasons we are different from your ordinary four year degree. At the same time, this is one of the many reasons we are chosen for the programme in the first place.

In order to thrive in this program, you must be comfortable with differences—living in, celebrating, and working with them. Among other things, you should be ready to challenge yourself to understand new perspectives, meet a variety of people, immerse yourself in two institutions, and appreciate different cultures. However, this program does not expect you to be ready to act like this from the get go. Instead, the program encourages you to identify, and guides you to reach, your potential. You were chosen by admissions because they recognize your ability to adapt and to be flexible—they recognize your ability to succeed in this programme. As an incoming fresher/freshman (apply whatever terminology is appropriate to the institution you are attending), you may not think you are ready for this. However, there are support systems in place, such as Peer Advisors or the WaMStA Student Partnership, to assist you. Further, your admission in itself shows that you are a student that can take on the experience that is the Joint Degree Programme.

 

By: Hannah Petrie

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