By Jacob Manvell and Tye Brown-Wolf
Most courses at St. Andrews are composed of large lectures that occur three times a week coupled with a more intimate “tutorial” once a week. Students receive most of the class material in lectures and either discuss the information (humanities classes) or solve relevant problems (STEM classes) in tutorials.
At St Andrews, the title of ‘Professor’ is reserved for the highly-esteemed members of each department—usually no more than 10% of the staff of a St Andrews ‘school’, or department, is a Professor. Lecturers, assistant lecturers, and researchers populate the rest of the department generally at St Andrews. In general, when you are taught by anyone at the University of St Andrews, they are your ‘instructor’, rather than your ‘professor’. These all are referred to as tutors when they teach during a 1000 or 2000-level tutorial, and usually as lecturers or seminar leaders at the 3000 to 4000 level, depending on the school.
St Andrews instructors give feedback written on a specific rubric set by the school, and understanding this feedback is essential to doing future assignments for that tutor. Generally, this feedback is formal, and refers only to the assignment it claims: using this feedback to improve on the next assignment requires you to seek more specific information from the St Andrews instructor who provided it in the first place. Office hours are occasionally published, but more commonly, one will have to contact the instructor to receive instruction by email, or to set up a meeting.
St Andrews is very much a University town, and a town in a University. The buildings owned by the University of St Andrews are spread throughout the town as a result of the uni’s peculiar history (thanks Medieval History 3309!), but the defined ‘campus’ feel so prevalent at W&M is limited to a small courtyard beside the library. Casually running into the people you go to class with is not as likely at St Andrews. Each dorm, or ‘hall’, has a well-defined sense of community as a result of their isolated locations.
At St Andrews, nightlife is primarily house parties put on by clubs and sports, hanging out at a pub with your mates, and going to the student Union to hear various DJs and bands. These spaces are not university run, and it can be enjoyable to find yourself part of the town’s local rhythms and charms.
Extracurricular sports at St Andrews are much more collegiate. These sports are split into an A team, B team, and so on. The A team is the equivalent of a varsity sport at W&M, while lower teams are less competitive. The most popular sporting event is the rugby match between St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh in the fall. This match is played at Murrayfield, the professional Scottish rugby stadium. American students get a taste of home sports when the student union hosts a party for the Super Bowl and shows the NBA playoffs.
St Andrews has for-profit bus companies that run much more frequent and distant service—getting to the Edinburgh airport requires only a £7.50 Student Day-Rider pass, and that’s a two-hour bus ride away. Beyond that, there are private shuttles to the airport, a plethora of taxi options to and from the Leuchars train station, and even an electric car rental point near the gym.
The College of William and Mary
Classes at W&M can vary greatly, ranging from 300 person lectures to small seminars. This system is similar to most American universities and allows for students to select classes with a size and structure that works for them.
Anyone who teaches a class at William & Mary is addressed as a ‘professor’. Beyond this, there are grades of professor, such as assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor.
At William & Mary, feedback can take many forms—individual emails are common, but so is dropping by a professor’s office hours for clarification. Like so much at W&M, this feedback can be casual and very personalized to one’s individual improvement.
William & Mary campus life certainly feels bustling and alive. It’s hard not to stop and say hi to a half dozen people on your way to class at any hour of the day. Many students live in the dormitories around the edges of campus, and it is here where many W&M students socialize, sleep, and chill. Unifying spaces such as Sadler and the Terrace provide a central point for student life. Whether you live off campus or on, Williamsburg is dominated by its collegiate atmosphere.
Most nightlife at W&M revolves around fraternity/sorority parties and events put on by clubs and sports. Some of the most popular evening activities are “Wren 10s”, where very Wednesday at 10pm an acapella group performs at the Wren building. Older students also take advantage of bars and restraints in greater Williamsburg.
W&M boasts a wide variety of sports that can be played at the intramural, club, or varsity level. Fall football matches are a social event to behold, and basketball events in Kaplan draw huge numbers of students throughout the academic year.
Getting Around Campus
The Williamsburg Area Transit Authority runs buses free for students throughout town. However, getting further afield than Newtown will require private transport: cars. American car culture is very much in force at W&M, and upperclassmen use cars to get around on a frequent basis.