Transfer Students

To the Incoming Transfer Students:

Welcome to Williams! Williams is a wonderful community and living among classmates and other students will come to mean much more than just living in a room in a residence hall. All of us here want you to feel at home and to contribute positively to campus life. To that end, we have compiled the following list of resources with transfer students in mind. This informational guide is intended to supplement The Bell Book, a so-called “Cliffnotes Guide to College Living” created by a Williams alum, Christopher Bell ’98, for first-year Williams students. As a transfer student, it is possible that not all of the sections of The Bell Book will be applicable to you. We have excerpted portions of it below, though you are more than welcome to peruse The Bell Book in its entirety—it is filled with useful advice from former and current students!

We recognize that there is no typical transfer student at Williams. Transfer students come from different parts of the world, different backgrounds, and different kinds of academic institutions. If you do not find the answer to any of questions below, please do not hesitate to reach out to Dean Tamanika Steward.

We send our best wishes, and we look forward to welcoming you to Williams!


Tamanika Steward
Associate Dean of Students
Dean of Sophomore Year Students
Director of  Transfer and Non-traditional Student Services

  • To get a great overview of all of the existing student clubs & organizations right off the bat, be sure to attend the Student Jamboree and the Purple Key Fair, typically held around the first day of classes. The Jamboree showcases many performing student groups (like a cappella groups, dance, etc.), and the Purple Key Fair gives all student organizations an opportunity to show what they do and how to get involved, and you can sign up then or later on. And if you don't see a group that fits what you're looking for, you can start a new one!

    After the Jamboree & Purple Key Fair, the Office of Student Life is the place to go to seek out these opportunities and to participate in leadership development workshops. You can also visit the Davis Center to explore opportunities, as well as the Center for Learning in Action to explore ways to get involved in the community beyond the campus here in the Berkshires, such as through the Lehman Council.

    There are also some popular weekly/monthly meetings on campus to look out for, and they often include food & snacks! Some examples:

    • Gaudino Lunches
    • International Studies Colloquiums
    • Career Center brunches
    • Kaplan Council
    • JRC Friday night dinners
    • Log Lunch every Friday - $4 each time, or you can buy a semester pass (first-year students get a discount for the semester pass)
    • Language Tables for lunch
    • WASO discussion lunches
    • Williams Teaching lunches
    • Weekly harvesting at Sustainable Growers' garden - can pick food for yourself if you help at their work parties
    • Chapin weekly music performance lunches
  • Williams has its fair share of insider terminology. We're sharing some of it here with you, so you can hit the ground running in August, sounding like you've been an Eph for years & years... 

    Brunch Night (a culinary dream-come-true), n. Breakfast for dinner is the concept, while you can get the usual grub in one food-line, who can pass up on freshly baked bagels, waffles-while-you-whistle, Egg McGreylock and more. Be sure to befriend the Omelet Man (official title) for the ultimate omelet experience.

    Claiming Williams, n. An opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to take a break from the rigors of everyday Williams life and talk with (and listen to) each other about how each of us comprises an important part of the Williams community. Typically held the day after the first day of spring semester classes, and classes are canceled that day.

    College Council, n. The student-elected governing organization for the student body, one of the primo ways to fine-tune and expand your leadership skills. CC gets involved in nearly all aspects of student life on campus and assigns students to important college committees to work with faculty & staff on important issues. Student organizations are recognized by CC and receive funding from CC; CC also provides oversight and accountability for student organizations as far as their roles, responsibilities, and financial management, with assistance from the Office of Student Life.

    Common Room, n. A much loved and used room that will replace the old family den, living room, or room that you generally hung out in before you came to college. As relaxation spaces go, it is the best. With you and your dorm-mates’ help, it is usually replete with a comfy couch, some bean bags, an old TV, and several outdated issues of People (William & Kate had another baby?? No way!).

    Do-It-In-The-Dark, v. The act of turning out the lights and unplugging unused electrical devices to do homework, shower, hang out or whatever it is you do. n. A competition between houses to see who can save the most electricity over a given month. This competition was praised by Thomas Friedman once he found out it was not, in fact, a nosy question. Winning houses receive, in addition to fame and glory, a night of fun activities and food and maybe even a chance to play with puppies. Plus, saving the environment is cool.

    Entry (from the Latin term “habitus froshness”), n. As a frosh (slang for first-year - get used to it), you will live with a surrogate” family” which we at Williams call an “entry.” Imagine a house filled with a group of impressionable frosh and a couple of enthusiastic and seasoned juniors that bring everyone together. Entries can be either vertically or horizontally arranged, so you will either have these individual, yet connected “houses” next door or up and downstairs from you.

    Eph (your newest nom-de college), n. The abbreviated title given to those who reside in the Purple Valley of Williamstown, and the name of the Williams College mascot, Ephelia the Purple Cow (if you haven’t figured it out yet cows are kind of a big deal here). It stems from Col. Ephraim Williams, who had commanded the northern line of defense in the French and Indian wars and left money for the founding of a school on the condition that the town be named after him. Today it is pronounced like “beef” and is used freely from “that’s Eph-tastic!” to Geology 101, where, on the first day of class, students are asked to locate “The Great Barrier Eph” on a map.

    Junior Advisors (mum and pop), n. Juniors at Williams College who have devoted themselves to the absolute well-being of their frosh. A JA’s duties may include but are not limited to late-night discussions, organizing large-scale bowling events, academic/career counseling and ruling over the infamous Pumpkin Game. It may sound hard to believe, but they will become a HUGE resource for you during your first year, to be sure.

    Lee Snack Bar (birthplace of the Ephburger and the grilled honeybun), n. Located in the Paresky Center and affectionately known as "Snar,", this space is a campus favorite. Many people will grab dinner here if they get back late from rehearsal or a sporting event. It is also a great place to read with some subtle background noise. Many believe strongly in the snack bar for purposes of a “first date.” One could suggest a meeting at the Snack Bar and there would be no connotations. Simple, good food and fairly neutral territory.

    The Log (a rustic gathering place), n. An incredible log-cabinish space on Spring Street which is filled with old pictures, dark wood, food, and large, crackling fires (in fireplace). Why is it called "The Log?" Google "log Mark Hopkins" to find out. If you want a cheap slice of pizza or garlic knots, you can get them there - but you don't need to buy anything to just hang out & enjoy the place by yourself or with your best buddies. Also, home of the “Log Lunch,” a Friday event involving soup, freshly baked bread and a guest lecturer speaking on some interesting topic like “Biking up Mt Everest Barefooted” or “Recent Trends in Rainfall at Hopkins Forest.” The lunch is vegetarian, and speakers are environmentally focused.

    Lyceum Dinners (stu-fac eat & greet), n. Extremely popular with students & faculty alike, these dinners are opportunities for students to invite their favorite faculty members to a fancy dinner at the Faculty Club (yep, this is how you get to see the inside of that building as a student!) to get to know each other better. When the email comes out, respond fast or you'll have to wait until the next one - the spots go fast!

    Mountain Day (surprise!), n. A random special Friday in October, when the bells toll at 7:00am, classes are cancelled all day and students gather for celebrations and hiking in the Berkshires. Students, faculty, and staff gather on the Hopper to sing songs, eat apples, and enjoy the nice weather.

    "The Mountains" (not just our location), n. The Williams alma mater song that you will be expected to know all fourteen verses of by the time you graduate (well, at least the first couple of verses). Your JA's will direct your Entry Choir in tribute to our beautiful location nestled in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

    Neighborhood, n. Not to be confused with Mr. Rogers or with Harry Potter, the Neighborhoods are the organizational structures for residential life for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Here you'll have opportunities to engage in leadership opportunities and to participate in fun events & programs, for your years after your entry experience. Won't you be my neighbor?

    Purple Cows (The Four-Leaf Clover of Cows), n. The bovine of choice around these parts. First developed here in Williamstown in the ‘30’s by the same WPA scientists who brought you Purple Horseshoes (Lucky Charms). They happen to be our mascot (the cow, not the marshmallow), as we compete against other mammals like the Camels (Conn. College) and the Jumbos (Tufts).

    Spring Fling & Williams Day (the snow is almost melted), n. A weekend of fun student events to celebrate the beauty of the season in the Berkshires and to remind ourselves that there are only a handful of weeks of studying before finals - so enjoy it while you have the time!

    Spring Street (urban Williamstown), n. The geographical and commercial hub of Williamstown, the Village Beautiful (yep, that's how we define it). From the honest grub of Papa Charlie’s Deli to the sublime offerings of Blue Mango Thai, the Street will satiate everything from your caffeine intake to your falafel needs. Restaurants and hair care happen to be Williamstown’s specialty: in both cases there is 1 (restaurant or hair specialist) for every five residents (or 1 for every cow).

    Winter Carnival (embrace the cold & snow), n. A long weekend in February when Williams students brave the weather and enjoy snow sculptures, ski races, chilly outdoor hikes, and hot chocolate in their entries & houses. We love the winter so much, we cancel classes that Friday to pay tribute.

    Of course, there are more but we don’t want to ruin the fun of finding it all out for yourself!