Williams vs Grinnell: A Look at the Pros and Cons

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Two students talking to each other.

Williams vs Grinnell: A Look at the Pros and Cons

If you’re thinking about attending college, you may be wondering which one is the best fit for you. Williams and Grinnell are both excellent schools, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we’ll compare Williams vs Grinnell so that you can decide which one is the best choice for you.

Introduction to Williams and Grinnell

Williams and Grinnell are both selective liberal arts colleges that are highly regarded for their academic programs. Williams is located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, while Grinnell is located in Grinnell, Iowa.

Both Williams and Grinnell have a strong commitment to undergraduate education and offer a wide range of majors and minors. Williams is known for its strong programs in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, while Grinnell is known for its strong programs in the natural sciences and mathematics.

Both colleges have small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio, allowing for personalized attention and mentorship from professors. Additionally, both colleges have a vibrant campus life with a variety of extracurricular activities and opportunities for community engagement.

History and Background of Williams and Grinnell

Williams was founded in 1793 and has a long history of academic excellence. It is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Grinnell was established in 1846 and prides itself on promoting social responsibility and community engagement among its students.

Both Williams and Grinnell have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Williams has implemented various initiatives to increase diversity among its student body and faculty, including a need-blind admission policy and a faculty recruitment program aimed at hiring more underrepresented groups. Grinnell has a similar commitment to diversity and has been recognized for its efforts in promoting inclusivity on campus, such as its LGBTQ+ advocacy and support programs.

Location and Campus Facilities of Williams vs Grinnell

Williamstown is a picturesque college town nestled in the Berkshire Mountains. The campus is spacious and features modern facilities, including a state-of-the-art science center, performing arts center, and athletics complex. Grinnell’s campus is also known for its beauty, featuring a variety of architectural styles and lush green spaces. Its facilities include a science center, art museum, and athletic complex.

Aerial scenic shot of Williams College

Both Williams and Grinnell offer a wide range of extracurricular activities for students to get involved in. Williams has over 150 student-run organizations, including a radio station, a debate team, and a community service club. Grinnell also has a diverse range of student organizations, including a student-run coffeehouse, a literary magazine, and a social justice advocacy group. Both campuses also offer opportunities for students to participate in research projects and internships, providing valuable hands-on experience in their fields of study.

Admission Process and Requirements of Williams vs Grinnell

Both Williams and Grinnell are highly selective colleges that receive thousands of applications each year. Williams has an acceptance rate of around 9%, while Grinnell’s acceptance rate is around 11%. Both colleges require applicants to submit transcripts, test scores, recommendations, and essays.

In addition to these requirements, Williams also offers an optional alumni interview for applicants. This interview is conducted by a Williams alum in the applicant’s area and provides an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions and share more about themselves. Grinnell, on the other hand, encourages applicants to participate in an interview with a member of their admission team. This interview can be conducted on-campus, off-campus, or virtually.

Academic Programs Offered at Williams vs Grinnell

Williams offers a wide range of academic programs, including majors in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Its most popular majors include economics, political science, and biology. Grinnell also offers a variety of majors, with a particular emphasis on the social sciences. Its most popular majors include economics, psychology, and biology.

In addition to its majors, Williams also offers a number of interdisciplinary programs, such as Environmental Studies, Africana Studies, and Cognitive Science. These programs allow students to explore topics that span multiple fields of study and provide a unique perspective on complex issues.

At Grinnell, students have the opportunity to design their own majors through the Individualized Concentration Program. This program allows students to create a personalized course of study that aligns with their interests and career goals. Additionally, Grinnell offers a number of off-campus study programs, including opportunities to study abroad and participate in domestic exchange programs.

Faculty and Student Ratio Comparison Between Williams vs Grinnell

Williams has a student-faculty ratio of 7:1, meaning that students have ample opportunities to work closely with their professors. Grinnell has a slightly higher student-faculty ratio of 9:1, but still boasts a small class size and personalized attention from professors.

students listening intently to a class discussion

However, it is important to note that the student-faculty ratio is not the only factor that determines the quality of education. Both Williams and Grinnell have highly qualified and experienced faculty members who are dedicated to providing their students with a top-notch education. Additionally, both colleges offer a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities that cater to the diverse interests of their student body.

Student Life at Williams vs Grinnell

Both Williams and Grinnell have vibrant student communities that offer a variety of extracurricular activities. Williams has over 150 clubs and organizations, including a highly competitive athletic program. Grinnell also offers a wide range of activities, including music and theater groups, and a strong athletics program with a focus on social responsibility and service.

Aside from extracurricular activities, both Williams and Grinnell have a strong academic culture that encourages intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. Williams has a tutorial system where students work closely with professors in small groups, while Grinnell has a unique individually advised curriculum that allows students to design their own course of study.

Furthermore, both colleges have a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Williams has a Center for Learning in Action that connects students with community organizations and promotes social justice initiatives. Grinnell has a strong commitment to internationalism and has a high percentage of international students, as well as a robust study abroad program.

Athletics Programs at Williams vs Grinnell

Williams is known for its strong athletics program, particularly in sports such as football, basketball, and swimming. Grinnell is also known for athletics, with a particular emphasis on its basketball program, which has gained national attention for its “Grinnell System” of fast-paced play. Both colleges offer a wide range of varsity and club sports.

In addition to varsity and club sports, both Williams and Grinnell offer extensive intramural sports programs. These programs allow students to participate in a variety of sports and activities, regardless of their skill level or previous experience. Intramural sports at Williams and Grinnell include everything from traditional team sports like basketball and soccer to more unique activities like ultimate frisbee and inner tube water polo. These programs provide a fun and inclusive way for students to stay active and engaged in campus life.

Career Prospects for Graduates of Williams and Grinnell

Both Williams and Grinnell have high job placement rates for their graduates, with many going on to careers in fields such as finance, education, and healthcare. Williams has a strong alumni network that can be helpful for job opportunities and career guidance. Grinnell also has a strong record of graduates going on to graduate school.

Additionally, Williams and Grinnell offer career services to their students, including resume and cover letter reviews, mock interviews, and job search resources. These services can help students prepare for the job market and stand out to potential employers.

Furthermore, both colleges have partnerships with local and national companies, providing students with internship and job opportunities. These partnerships also allow students to gain real-world experience in their chosen fields and make valuable connections in their industries.

Affordability Comparisons Between Williams vs Grinnell

Williams and Grinnell are both expensive colleges, but they offer generous financial aid packages to help make them more affordable for students. Williams is particularly known for its commitment to meeting the financial need of all admitted students. Grinnell also offers a no-loan policy and meets 100% of demonstrated financial need.

It is important to note that while both Williams and Grinnell have high tuition costs, they also have high graduation rates and strong career outcomes for their graduates. This means that the investment in a degree from either institution can pay off in the long run, making the cost more manageable for students and their families.

Diversity on Campus at Williams and Grinnell

Both Williams and Grinnell have made efforts to increase diversity on campus, with a particular focus on attracting students from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Williams has a student body that is 46% students of color, while Grinnell has a student body that is 27% students of color.

Group of students working together and talking.

Williams has also implemented a number of programs and initiatives to support and retain students from underrepresented backgrounds. These include mentorship programs, affinity groups, and a diversity and inclusion office that provides resources and support for students.

Similarly, Grinnell has a number of resources and programs in place to support diversity on campus. These include a multicultural center, a diversity and inclusion office, and a student-led diversity task force that works to promote inclusivity and equity on campus.


Both Williams and Grinnell are excellent schools, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. Williams may be a better fit for students seeking a more traditional academic experience with a strong emphasis on athletics, while Grinnell may be a better fit for students looking for a strong community and a focus on social responsibility. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on each individual student’s priorities and preferences.

Want to learn more about comparing Williams with other top and well-known Universities and Colleges in the country? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.

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