>A friend of mine (who went to Harvard) once told me that Williams was the type of school for people who were smart enough to get into Harvard but were social misfits.

Thatís an interesting comment. I can think of two reasons for her statement.

 

1. Your friend is wrong; itís only an error of perception. The size effect of a small college means that everything is magnified out of proportion

 

1a) the perception of an individual (e.g. reputation) both in other people's as well as their own mind is intensified by the microscope, creating a sort of distortion feedback, like Hendrix in front of an amp.

 

1b) fewer people means fewer opportunities for individuals to find their place in a group of like-minded people. Hence, a freak at Harvard joins some club, it might even be called "freak club" in which they are able to "fit in" and "grow" in relative safety and solidarity. At Williams, in contrast, a loner just stays a loner. Simple math.

 

2. Your friend is right. People who gravitate toward Harvard are more attune to the society around them, basically because they want to dominate it. Harvard people tend to be more about status and prestige more than personal development. Whereas Williams people just want to explore themselves and learn things. I suspect this is basically just the difference between a small college and a university. Only both schools are in Massachusetts and both require good grades and some totally fabricated extracurriculars to get in. Actually wait, as I think about it. There were a damn lot of really strange people at Williams. In fact, the only people who fit in were the athletes, who fit in with each other. And future investment bankers, who could just as well have been at Harvard. But other than that, misfits. Yeah. Your friend is right. They are misfits. But theyíre my misfits.