The College of William and Mary (W&M) is elite, not elitist, according to a recent information session we attended, and we agree with this assessment. The school has a reputation for being a strong academic school, and professors expect students to do good work. Students work hard, and there is a strong honor code at W&M, run by the student council, which students take seriously. Most social life takes place on campus, and about 1/3 of students participate in Greek life, which was started at W&M.
W&M is set amidst the historic “village” of Williamsburg, VA, a small town about 2.5 hours from Washington, DC. Being in a historic area (located at the foot of the “largest living history museum in the US”), many of the buildings reflect this, with some dorms and classrooms housed in brick houses over 200 years old. W&M is small for a state school (about 6K undergrads) and thus average class sizes are smaller than at larger state universities, and professors are accessible (99% of courses are taught by professors). Because of its suburban location, students tend to take advantage of internship opportunities during the summer.
In addition to regular study abroad opportunities, W&M also has a unique program with University of St. Andrews, where students spend 2 years on each campus, and get degrees from both schools. W&M would be a great school for an academically minded student who would enjoy living in a historical setting and taking advantage of a close community feel while enjoying the benefits of a research university.