A College Sophomore’s Reflection on the College Sophomore Problem

Introductory Psychology, a class most all college students end up taking. A typical Intro class at William & Mary is anywhere from 75-200 students. Part of every intro psych course is the “required outside study participation”; in essence professors make their intro students participate in their own, their colleagues, or their grad/undergrad students psychology experiments. By requiring this of every psych student, the department is able to guarantee that they will have a large population from which to pull their experiment data, and they can get participants for free (because it is required by intro classes). But there has to be a catch, it can’t be this easy to get a representative sample of people to accurately extend the findings of an experiment to all of humankind!

Well, its not.

From personal experience I can tell you that sophomores at William & Mary are anything but a representative sample for the rest of the US. To say the least a T.W.A.M.P. (typical W&M person) is not a typical person. For one, William & Mary students are high-stress, high-strung, and very competitive. We as students live from deadline to deadline, trying to make it through the semester one paper at a time. We interact with other people our age with the exception of professors and the nice ladies that swipe ID cards at Sadler. We all live in a bubble.We see the world in 15 week intervals (semesters).┬áMost of us we are still learning to live independently of our parents. We live in Williamsburg, an area with very little crime. We all have the same job, being students. And we can all speak at length about our own personal struggles to register for classes on Banner. Ultimately, the William & Mary student (or any college student for that matter) lives in a very unique time of life, a time of self discovery, independence, and transition into “adult” life which ultimately makes the college student population an unrepresentative sample.


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About wjevans01

Will is a Sophomore at William & Mary. He plans to pursue a degree in either Government or Public Policy. This is his first year doing research. He is currently working with Professor Settle on the project concerning newspaper and online discourse regarding the Affordable Care Act. Will is primarily interested in how political opinion is formed by the general public and how these opinions shape the actions of voters. Outside of the lab, Will plays on the William & Mary Men's Ultimate Team, tutors local elementary school students through College Partnership for Kids, and is actively involved in William & Mary's Intervarsity chapter.