Washington and Lee University


On a crisp fall afternoon in Virginia, students walk up the grassy slope to Washington and Lee’s colonnade, rows of white columns that define the face of the campus’s red brick buildings. The students walk in the shadows of the columns and climb the worn steps of Payne Hall. Just inside their classroom is a bronze plaque commemorating the space where General Robert E. Lee took his oath of office as president of the school in 1865. The open windows frame more students passing along the back campus. Some enter Leyburn Library, a wide complex of concrete and brick. Others open the doors to the Great Hall of the Science Center; vaulted, sky-lit ceilings expose balconies for each of the floors above, where more students move to and from completely modern classrooms and laboratories.

As these students cross Washington and Lee University’s picturesque campus, they see its balance of the old and the new—traditions and changes. Founded in 1749, the university boasts a long and rich history. The school won critical support in 1796 when George Washington donated $20,000 to its endowment. (Washington’s gift was the largest ever made to a private American school at the time, and the sum continues to pay a portion of every student’s tuition.) The school was known as Washington College at the end of the Civil War, when Robert E. Lee assumed its presidency. Lee led the college through far-reaching changes until his death in 1870. Washington and Lee students cherish Lee for his educational reforms: joining the college with a local law school, instituting classes in business and economics, creating the first college-level journalism program, and establishing the seeds of the student-governed Honor System. Those century-old innovations are now traditions that make Washington and Lee the fine liberal arts institution it is today. The university maintains these traditions and follows Lee’s example, always initiating change. The last decade has witnessed additions to the curriculum, complete revitalization of the fraternity system, and construction of new facilities for the fine arts, athletics, and the sciences. A new fitness center opened in Fall 2002, along with the newly renovated journalism school, and the new John W. Elrod University Commons opened in Fall 2003. The year 2006 saw the inaugural season of Wilson Hall, the new music and art facility. The renovation of Wilson Field, the stadium for football, lacrosse, and track and field, was completed in 2008, finishing the Richard L. Duchossois Athletic Complex.

Students at Washington and Lee call their school “W&L,” and their love for W&L is as loyal as their love for Lee. One former student admits:

I called home crying a few times during my freshman year because I was so grateful to my parents for giving me the opportunity to come to W&L.

National surveys routinely rank W&L students among the happiest in the country. When naming what makes them happy, every student generation names the same strong traditions: a small student body of 1,770 that is truly a community, intimate classes averaging around sixteen students, a faculty dedicated to students and to teaching, and an Honor System that creates a society of trust where no student will lie, cheat, or steal. The small town of Lexington, Virginia forms the backdrop for all of this student bliss.

Although only 7,000 residents live in Lexington year-round, students from Washington and Lee and its neighbor, the Virginia Military Institute, add substantially to the town’s true population. (The two schools add much to the town through their cultural and athletic programs as well.) One politics major notes:

The scenic, safe surroundings have allowed me to make W&L a home away from home, to enjoy the college experience without the worries and distractions of a big school or a big city.

W&L students become active citizens of Lexington as “big brothers” or “big sisters” to local youths, as coaches for Little League teams, as members of church congregations, and as participants in outreach groups such as Habitat for Humanity and the Nabors Service League. Although all W&L students call Lexington “home,” they journey from all corners of the United States to get there. Only eighteen percent of undergraduates hail from Virginia. Other well-represented states include Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. It surprises many to learn that the student body includes nearly twice as many from California as from Kentucky. W&L truly has a national student body to match its national reputation. An intensified effort to recruit international students has resulted in attracting young men and women of nearly fifty citizenships.

Washington and Lee’s first-year residence halls are clustered on the edge of campus. With a renovation of the University’s historic Colonnade slated to begin in 2009, Baker Hall, a former residence hall for first year students, has been turned into offices and classrooms. So students now live in Davis and Gilliam Halls and in nearby Gaines Hall as well as Graham-Lees, which is across the street. An arched breezeway passes through Graham-Lees; on the left, a marble step between two columns is clearly worn more than the rest. Superstition holds that freshmen must walk up this step, between the columns, or risk failing their first test. Millions of feet have kept that tradition.

Just next door to Graham-Lees dormitory is the Lee House. Robert E. Lee built this home when he was the president of the school, and presidents of Washington and Lee have lived there ever since. Freshman voices can be heard in the Lee House as they echo from the dormitories. A past president joked that, although he preferred classical music, he could not help becoming familiar with the musical tastes of each freshman class. That the president of the university lives so close to the freshman class demonstrates something wonderful about Washington and Lee: The person who runs the school shares the same block with those who are just learning the school’s nuances. There is a continuity from the top of the administration to the bottom of the student body, and this continuity permeates the entire university. There is a sense of familiarity and camaraderie. Washington and Lee students cherish this camaraderie and guard it closely long after they leave the quaint streets of Lexington.

Information Summary

Ranks 1st in Virginia and 28th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 98.2
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $70,500
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 34 / 1490
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 9 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 96% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 2,223


Nothing shapes life at Washington and Lee more than its Honor System. The Honor System dates back to Lee’s simple demand that all of his students act honorably. Today, a committee of elected students (known as the Executive Committee) administers the Honor System, informing freshmen of its guidelines and enforcing its principles. The system is built upon trust; it holds that students who lie, cheat, or steal are not trustworthy and, therefore, not welcome in the Washington and Lee community. For that reason, there is only one sanction for any student found guilty of an honor violation: permanent removal from the student body.

Because the Honor System works so well, Washington and Lee students enjoy freedoms that would be impossible at other universities. All academic buildings on the W&L campus, including the library, remain open twenty-four hours a day. Since professors trust that cheating will not occur, students take unproctored tests and exams. Students even schedule their own exams during week-long exam periods. It is possible that every student in an English class could take the same exam in a different place at a different time; students are trusted not to discuss the content of their exams with their classmates. These freedoms extend beyond the classroom as well.

I constantly leave money in my backpack right in the middle of campus without giving a moment’s thought to its security.


If there is one thing that defines all colleges, it must be the classroom. Today, many college classrooms are cavernous, badly lit lecture halls. A professor or, more likely, a teaching assistant speaks through a microphone to hundreds of students seated in row after row of identical chairs. W&L defines the classroom differently. Its students enjoy small, intimate classes that are never taught by a graduate student or a teaching assistant. A large class at W&L might contain thirty-five students. Average classes number fourteen to seventeen. Many upperclassmen take seminar classes with fewer than ten other students. They all might sit around a single table with their professor, creating the kind of personal, in-depth interaction that is a W&L hallmark.


Despite Washington and Lee’s small size, the university offers a startlingly varied curriculum that a Washington Post article described as “the envy of many larger institutions.” Committed to the ideal of a liberal arts education, W&L requires all students to meet general education requirements in composition; literature; a foreign language; the fine arts, history, philosophy, and religion; science and mathematics; the social sciences; and physical education. Most students meet these requirements by the end of their sophomore year. They spend their junior and senior years fulfilling a major course of study and exploring elective classes. Students divide their time between the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, which includes the School of Journalism (or “J-School”), and the Ernest Williams II School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics (or “C-School”). W&L’s broad curriculum allows it to offer majors in subjects not commonly taught in outer top colleges, such as accounting, business, engineering, East Asian languages and literature, geology, and neuroscience. Students may earn Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees, in addition to Bachelor of Science degrees with Special Attainments in Chemistry and Bachelor of Science degrees with Special Attainments in Commerce. The Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty as well as the Society and the Professions Studies in Applied Ethics are among W&L’s unique, crosscurricular courses of study, along with formal non-major programs in African American studies, environmental studies, global stewardship, and women’s studies. Undergraduates also benefit from the presence of W&L’s top-ranked school of law. Some law courses are open to undergrads, and most special events and guest lectures welcome them, as well.

Study Areas

W&L students spread all over the campus to study. Carrels in Leyburn Library may be reserved on the first day of classes. Confident in the Honor System, students leave texts and notebooks in their carrels for the entire school year. Other students study in the libraries located in the Science Center, Journalism School, or Commerce School. Because academic buildings stay open twenty-four hours a day, an occasional student may “pull an all-nighter” while working in a classroom. Students compose their papers on computers in computer labs located in most academic buildings. Every dormitory room is connected to the university computer network, and wireless zones around campus allow students to get on-line wherever they might be studying.

W&L classes typically demand considerable reading and writing. Students quickly learn that no skill proves more valuable than the ability to write clearly and concisely; professors expect nothing less. Classes and workloads may be tough, but the academic mood at Washington and Lee never becomes cutthroat.

W&L may have competitive admissions, but students here enjoy learning more through cooperation and collaboration with peers.

This mood may be due, in part, to the Honor System. Students trust one another. They do not compete against one another; they compete against themselves.

The Academic Year

W&L has a unique academic year consisting of a twelve-week fall term, a twelve-week winter term, and a six-week spring term. Most students take classes in the fall and winter and have taken two classes in the spring. But beginning with the 2009–2010 academic year, a revitalized spring term will be introduced and will be four weeks in length and focus on a single course. This new spring term offers innovative, intensive, and challenging student learning experiences in ways that differ markedly from the experience of the two twelve-week terms. Students and faculty benefit from a focused learning environment that allows them to devote undivided attention to the subject matter of one course. Through a range of pedagogies including experimental, interdisciplinary, international, and interactive approaches, the spring term accomplishes the university’s stated mission of developing students’ critical thinking and promoting their growth in honor, integrity, and civility.

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Word is out—magazines rank W&L one of the nation’s premiere liberal arts institutions year after year. Its academic reputation, small size, and pure beauty attract an increasing number of applicants with increasingly stronger credentials. Because space in Washington and Lee’s student body is limited, gaining admittance to the university has become increasingly difficult.

A glance at Washington and Lee’s admissions statistics confirms just how selective the school has become. Of the 6,386 students who applied for admission in 2008, 1,074 were admitted, yielding a first-year class of 454 (230 men, 224 women). These enrolling students achieved remarkable scores on their standardized tests. The middle fifth percent range of their SAT scores spanned 1320–1480; the same range of ACT scores was 28–31. These students earned an average rank in class above ninety-four percent of their high school classmates. Thirty-four were valedictorians or salutatorians; twenty-three were National Merit Scholars or Finalists.

These facts certainly portray W&L’s selectivity, but they do not illustrate the great care that its Admissions Office takes in reviewing all applications. Washington and Lee believes that the high school record is the surest sign of a student’s potential for success in college. Admissions officers read every student’s transcript, weighing grades against the difficulty of the curriculum. Successful applicants typically have strong grades in rigorous college-preparatory or Advanced Placement classes. Standardized tests are used as a uniform measurement in comparing students who often come from schools with drastically different curricula and grading scales. W&L also strives to evaluate each student’s character and personality through essays and recommendations. In hopes of finding future members of the school’s athletic teams, cultural groups, and student committees, W&L’s Admissions Office further judges applicants by their extracurricular pursuits.

The Johnson Program

Arare opportunity has been created at Washington and Lee University for a select group of the nation’s highest-achieving students. A $100 million gift from an anonymous alumnus, as well as the generosity of numerous individuals and corporations, have allowed W&L to offer scholarships of at least tuition, room and board to approximately ten percent of each incoming class. Students who wish to be considered for a Johnson Scholarship—or any merit-based award—must submit a complete admission application and the separate Johnson Scholarship application no later than December 1. It is not necessary to apply under the W&L binding Early Decision 1 plan in order to be considered for the Johnson Scholarship or other merit-based awards.

After reviewing Johnson Scholarship applications, up to 200 finalists will be invited to campus at the school’s expense for the Johnson Scholarship competition. Finalists will be selected on the basis of academic achievement and demonstrated leadership. They will be judged on their potential to contribute to the intellectual and civic life of the W&L campus and of the world at large in years to come. Writing sample, teacher recommendations, and records of leadership, citizenship, and involvement in non-academic activities will be weighed.


Proof of Washington and Lee’s genuine interest in getting to know applicants lies in the fact that it continues to offer personal interviews. Interviews and student-guided tours may be scheduled by calling the Admissions Office. For students who cannot travel to Lexington for a meeting with an admissions officer, interviews with alumni admissions program representatives are available in most major cities in the United States (http://admissions.wlu.edu/app).


W&L’s admissions requirements are clear and straightforward. Applicants must submit the Common Application (www.commonapp.org), or they may use W&L’s own paper forms. Those using W&L’s paper application should complete Part I of the application for admission, this preliminary application asks for biographical information. After receiving Part I from applicants, W&L then sends Part II of the application. It includes transcript forms, two teacher recommendation forms, and guidelines for the submission of supplemental information (including an essay). Applicants should submit the SAT or the ACT with its writing section, plus two SAT Subject Exams in different subjects. The Regular Decision deadline for submission of applications is January 15. Students can expect replies from Washington and Lee in early April. All application forms are available online at http://admissions.wlu.edu.

Early Decision

For students who want to attend Washington and Lee above all other schools, there are two binding Early Decision options. Early Decision applicants must acknowledge that Washington and Lee is their first choice and that they will attend if admitted. Early Decision applications are due by November 15 for Early Decision I or January 2 for Early Decision II. W&L delivers notice by December 22 for E.D. I or February 1 for E.D. II. Admitted students happily claim a coveted place in the freshman class. W&L defers consideration of those who are not admitted until the regular admissions process.

Another admissions deadline remains for applicants who want to vie for the university’s many generous Honor Scholarships. These students complete an additional essay and submit their applications by December 15. W&L invites finalists to visit the campus during the late winter; the Admissions Office notifies scholarship recipients in early April.

Financial Aid

Washington and Lee uses student tuition dollars as efficiently and fairly as any university in the country. At many schools, students and their families pay inflated tuitions; one fullpaying student’s cost of attending school also includes a portion of the fees necessary to educate another student who receives financial aid. In other words, students subsidize other students’ tuitions. At W&L, most financial aid dollars are drawn from grants and endowment, so the cost of attendance at W&L is often lower than the cost of attending other highly selective colleges. For a small school offering a world-class education, W&L is clearly a tremendous value. W&L students and their families find that the university possesses an intimate academic setting that rivals any other—at an extremely competitive cost.

During the current academic year, Washington and Lee will provide more than $21 million in financial aid and scholarships, making it possible for many students to attend who would be unable to do so without the university’s help. W&L encourages students to apply for both need-based aid and merit-based aid to ensure that they explore all possible sources of W&L funding. Doing so may increase the total amount of aid a student may be awarded. In 2008, more than 150 scholarships were awarded through the Johnson Scholarship Program, including the Johnson Scholarship, the Heinz, Lewis, and Weinstein scholarships, and a number of alumni and regional scholarships. Each year 44 enrolling students—nearly ten percent of the incoming class—will receive the prestigious Johnson Scholarship, covering a minimum of tuition, room and board.

To be considered for any form of merit-based aid, students must complete the Johnson Scholarship application and submit it, along with their complete admission application, by December 1. Contact the Office of Admissions with your questions about the Johnson Scholarship Program.

At W&L, all admitted students meeting the need-based financial aid priority deadline will receive an aid package that covers their family’s institutionally determined need entirely with grant funds, with no loans. Early Decision applicants should note their preferred financial aid deadlines.

In order to reach its goal of meeting a student’s financial needs, W&L’s Financial Aid Office requires that a student’s family fill out the College Scholarship Service Financial Aid Profile. The CSS Profile may be found online. The Financial Aid Office strongly recommends submission of the profile by mid-January. Doing so will ensure receipt of all student information by mid-February. Additionally, W&L’s Financial Aid Office requires a student’s family to provide tax returns from the two previous tax years. W&L’s priority deadline for submitting all required Financial Aid application materials is March 1st. Applicants and their parents are strongly encouraged to review the detailed instructions about making application for financial aid on W&L’s Web site—http://financialaid.wlu.edu. It is Washington and Lee’s objective to provide students who are admitted at early decision and who have completed financial aid applications by the priority deadline (Dec. 8 for ED1 and Jan.16 for ED11) a preliminary, estimated financial aid award prior to the submission of the admission deposit fee.

Because any college financial aid process may prove frustrating and confusing, W&L’s Admissions office recommends early, careful planning for any student’s family. The Financial Aid Office takes great care in addressing each family’s personal and individual needs.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 3414th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Virginia.


Phil Flickinger, a 1997 graduate of Washington and Lee, has published a collection of his cartoons that appeared in W&L’s student newspapers. Entitled Invasion of the Bug-Eyed Preppies, the book captures many of the quirks of social life at W&L. Flickinger’s most revealing cartoon juxtaposes two groups—“Generation X” and “Generation Lex.” “Generation X” is a frowning, shaggy group of tattooed and pierced slackers. “Generation Lex” is a group of Lexington, Virginia’s W&L students—straitlaced and smartly dressed. One W&L male in the cartoon asks, “Has anyone seen my Duckheads?”

Like most humor, this cartoon evokes a great deal of truth by use of stereotypes. Of course, every member of Generation X does not have a skateboard and a navel ring. Likewise, every student at W&L does not fit the cartoon’s notion of a preppy. For every rule or stereotype, there are exceptions. It may be true that most W&L students are more conservative than their peers at other schools. Nevertheless, W&L’s student body contains a strong mix of “ambitious, on-the-ball” individuals who pursue differing interests with differing attitudes. Somehow, they all seem bound by a single thread.

I still maintain that in no other school can one find such a classy group of well brought-up individuals. Everyone respects one another to an amazing degree.

All W&L freshmen live in one of four freshman dormitories and take their meals in a contemporary common dining room in the Elrod Commons, the Marketplace. Sophomores live on campus, too, in upperclass dorms and apartments, fraternity houses, and separate residences for groups such as the Outing Club, International Club, and Spanish Club. Juniors and seniors may live on campus, though many choose to live off campus. Apartments above downtown stores provide many options for students, as do legendary student homes with colorful names like Fishbait, Munster, Windfall, the Batcave, Jacob’s Ladder, and Amityville. All students enjoy the majestic beauty of the surrounding Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, which provide every imaginable outdoor activity.

The Greeks

Seventy-five percent of W&L men and women are in one of thirteen fraternities or five sororities. Many fraternities and sororities engage in volunteer efforts, such as tutoring elementary students, cleaning up nature trails, organizing food blood drives, and working for the local emergency services. Their social events aren’t exclusive affairs, but welcome all students, Greek and non-Greek alike. Friendships between members of different organizations are common, as are friendships between Greek members and independent students. Fraternity and sorority houses are owned by the university and are clean and well-maintained.

Other Organizations

For a small school, Washington and Lee supports an impressive array of civic, cultural, and athletic organizations to meet every student’s interests. The Society for the Arts, for example, sponsors dramatic performances and readings of student poetry and fiction. The General Activities Board brings bands and comedians to campus. W&L’s many journalism majors contribute to two rival student newspapers, the traditional Ring-tum Phi and the more winsome Trident. The Contact Committee presents debates and lectures by nationally-known visitors.

Through club and intramural sports, choral groups, an orchestra, college Democrats, college Republicans, religious organizations, and service groups, any W&L student finds fulfilling diversions and relationships outside of class.

Popular Events

Among W&L’s most popular events are two campus-wide bonanzas: the Fancy Dress Ball and Mock Convention. A black-tie ball attended by students, alumni, and faculty, Fancy Dress (or “FD”) is a yearly affair that celebrated its centennial in 2007. A student committee sponsors a concert on a Friday evening, followed by the ball on a Saturday night. Festivities fill the weekend, making for a marathon that only the most excited students can complete. Mock Convention (or “Mock Con”) occurs with equal flair every four years. Organized to predict the presidential candidate for the political party out of office, Mock Con approximates an actual political convention on a grand scale. Students form state delegations and spend countless hours in research. They succeed in predicting candidates at an uncanny rate. The 1992 Mock Democratic Convention accurately selected Bill Clinton as its nominee. The 1996 Mock Republican Convention garnered live coverage on C-SPAN. House Speaker Newt Gingrich addressed the crowd of Washington and Lee students, and Bob Dole spoke to the assembly via phone when he accepted the convention’s nomination.

The 2000 mock convention predicted the nomination of George W. Bush, and the 2004 convention correctly chose John Kerry, but the 2008 convention had a rare miss when it incorrectly named Hillary Clinton.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Many Washington and Lee students also choose to participate in varsity sports. W&L’s Generals compete in Division III sports through the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, maintaining sterling academic and athletic records. Recently, 194 of W&L’s 400 varsity athletes achieved GPAs of 3.5 or better. The Generals have had ten conference championship teams, seventeen All-American athletes, nine conference players of the year, and seventy-nine first-team all-conference players. For twelve of the last fourteen years, W&L teams won the ODAC Commissioner’s Cup for the best all-around athletic program. Football and lacrosse remain the perennial favorites of spectators at W&L, attracting large and vocal crowds.

Women’s Varsity Sports

  • Cross-Country
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Swimming
  • Indoor Track
  • Lacrosse
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Equestrian
  • Field Hockey


The percentage of freshmen who return to Washington and Lee for their sophomore years stands as a sure, impressive sign of student contentment: typically ninety-five percent of freshmen return to W&L as sophomores. A more impressive sign is the number of W&L students who enter as freshmen and graduate four years later. Typically between eightyfive and ninety percent graduate on schedule.

Clearly, Washington and Lee students stay at the university, and they stay happy. In an age when many college students need five years to earn a degree, the vast majority of W&L students find both adequate advisement and access to the classes they need in order to graduate in four years.

Traditionally, W&L produces a high percentage of history, biology, and economics majors. That so many students should favor history at W&L, given the university’s own long history, should be no surprise. The university’s numerous biology majors include many who regularly establish a stellar record in gaining admittance to medical schools. Economics majors typically carry their expert training from W&L’s Commerce School into the business world.

All Washington and Lee students receive excellent advice from the Career Services Office. The Career Services Office provides mock interview and résumé-review services. Students use the office’s complete resources to research potential employers. The Office welcomes over 100 companies to interview W&L students for jobs and summer internships every year. It further organizes off-campus interviews and enlists students in job fairs through the Selective Liberal Arts Consortium and Big Apple Recruiting Consortium. These job fairs enable W&L students to meet employers in major American cities. The Career Services Office has an internship exchange with twenty-five top liberal arts colleges, which produces over 6,000 internship listings each year.

The Career Services Office also tracks W&L students as they leave W&L for employment and graduate school. Its report for the class of 2007 shows fifty-nine percent of graduates in employment, along with twenty-seven percent seeking postbaccalaureate degrees. A slim eight percent either were seeking employment or were content taking time off after graduation. The report reveals that large numbers of working graduates found positions in business, banking and finance, government, journalism, or education. Of the 2007 graduates who decided to pursue advanced degrees, thirty-nine percent entered general graduate schools, thirty-six percent entered law school, and twenty-three percent entered graduate studies in the health professions.

Because students come from all parts of the country to attend Washington and Lee, they also disperse themselves across the map after graduation. Recent trends show increasing numbers of W&L graduates moving to New York City, Washington, Charlotte, and Atlanta for work. In every city, existing alumni association chapters support and welcome new graduates. Washington and Lee alumni share a unique experience that creates “an immediate bond” between them. They treasure their undergraduate memories and remain fiercely loyal to their alma mater. One graduate describes a revelation about the nature of Washington and Lee alumni this way:

I have a W&L trident decal on the back of my car, and I was at the gas station one day when a stranger asked me what it was. I explained that it was the symbol for my school, Washington and Lee University. The stranger said, ‘Oh, I thought maybe it was a sign for some kind of cult.’ I laughed, and then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the stranger wasn’t necessarily wrong. W&L is a kind of cult—but in a good way. We all believe very strongly in the same ideals and we all have a strong sense of belonging to a very special place.”

Prominent Grads

  • Lloyd Dobyns, News Commentator
  • Joseph Goldstein, Nobel Prize Winner
  • Bill Johnston, President of the New York Stock Exchange
  • David Low, Astronaut
  • Roger Mudd, Journalist
  • Cy Twombly, Artist
  • Tom Wolfe, Author


Small classes allow students to get to know their professors as people, and vice versa.

Teachers here seem to relish the opportunity to get to know the students, even if they realize that that particular student will only be taking that one class from them. Within your major, every professor knows you and begs you to take their classes. It’s rather flattering.

An alumnus remembers similar experiences:

I never lost my awe of my professors, but I really came to rely on many of them as friends. Of course, that made the stakes higher. I always felt that I had to do my best work because I didn’t want to disappoint them.

Professors keep long office hours so that they can meet with students outside of class. Most professors do not have strict attendance guidelines, but, because classes are so small, every student learns that an absence gets noticed. Although it may be unheard of at other universities, W&L students enjoy eating dinner occasionally at professors’ homes.

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