As one of the oldest institutions in the US, Washington and Lee has a reputation for academic excellence and unwavering tradition. The classes are small, and the students can participate in spontaneous and in-depth discussions with their professors because of this. Professors serve as mentors and provide as much guidance as possible to students that take the most career-oriented classes.
The school has developed a distinct image of being a classical institution throughout the years, and many students understand just how accurate this image is. The honor system, long established to serve as a guide to any student’s moral compass, is still recognized as the one rule that everyone must follow.
The University comprises three different units: the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics; the Law School; and the liberal arts college. Statistically, Washington and Lee is one of the most selective schools in the country. Deserving students that get in are expected to excel in whatever course and program they take. Many graduates of Washington and Lee have moved on to become industry leaders, and join the ranks of the school’s impressive alumni.
Washington and Lee University was originally called Augusta Academy, a classical school founded in 1749. The school was renamed in in 1776 in the spirit of the revolution, and the campus was transferred to Lexington in 1780. In 1782, the school underwent yet another name change, to Liberty Hall Academy, and constructed its first facility adjacent to the town proper.
The turning point for this small school came in 1796, when George Washington donated $20,000 in stock to the school, the biggest endowment given to an institution during that time. With the generous donation, the school was able to recover from economic troubles and was renamed Washington Academy in honor of its benefactor. During 1813, it was chartered and subsequently called Washington College. Interest from Washington’s initial donation served as a part of the financial aid given to students of this college.
Robert E. Lee became the president of this college after the civil war. He took over from 1865 to 1870. Lee’s presidency turned out to be historic for the school because of the changes he made in the educational system. The classical school turned progressive-minded college underwent several changes under Lee’s leadership. Lee established business and law schools to the curriculum, insisting that both fields are linked with the liberal arts. After his death, the trustees of the school changed the name to Washington and Lee University, and the school motto “Not unmindful of the future,” was patterned after the motto of the Lee family.
Students are encouraged to be ambitious, both by their mentors and by their peers. The community is close-knit as upperclassmen and most of the faculty members seem to know everyone by name. Professors and students strive for excellence, which leads to oftentimes lengthy classroom discussions that everyone participates in.
Study load is heavy, and students take it all in stride. Despite the workload, professors are constantly available, so students can ask questions or clarify unclear discussions with the faculty members at any time, even through email. Each class has something to offer, and some students claim that the most challenging part of being in Washington and Lee is choosing from a wide variety of interesting classes outside one’s major.
Greek fraternities and sororities, as well as the other organizations and clubs, make socializing easy. There are parties and events that any student can attend, and most of these are sponsored by one of the organizations. Students interested in human rights, law, politics and investment can find organizations where they can put their skills into use. There are many opportunities to lead, even if a student decides not to join a sorority or a fraternity.
Washington and Lee University stands by its pledge to help needy students get the quality education they deserve. The university grants scholarships and awards to financial aid applicants, no matter what the income level is. Eligibility for a scholarship or grand is determined after a thorough assessment of the student’s and their family’s income.
2017 College Rankings