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Because 40% of the students are accepted early decision, there is a common pride in W&L that anyone who visits can feel. Because it's small, it creates the opprotunity for everyone to connect and truely feel a part of the community; infact the small size makes the school feel BIGGER because everyone does know eachother and can get along with a wide variety of people. Continuing with the idea of school pride, outside of W&L the connection is even stronger. For example, last summer I saw an alumni (who I didn't know) wearing a W&L visor and I went up to talk to him and we had an instant bond. If I'm wearing W&L gear outside of school I will--without fail--have someone stop me and have a conversation about W&L and compare our experiences. That also is a testement to our Speaking Tradition, which says that all students should say Hi to everyone in passing... In or out of school. Basically, being a student at W&L is like being in a secret club. There are little secrets and understandings. Everyone feels proud and honored to be a part of the club and once you're in, you're in for life.
The best thing about Washington and Lee is the faculty and the quality of the academics. The school is definitely too small--everyone knows everything about everyone. But if you want to graduate high school only to go to a college that is just like high school, you'll be right at home. Unless you are from the South, no one knows anything about Washington and Lee. It's almost like the best-kept Southern secret. In any event, people end up thinking you're either at William and Mary or at Washington University in St. Louis. Or, my favorite, William and Lee University.
The best thing about W&L is the relationship between professor and student. Every professor I've ever had on campus -- and sometimes those I haven't had, too -- all know me by name. They know where I'm from, they know where I'm going, they know my strengths and my weaknesses, my passions, my friends. I house-sit for them. I baby-sit for them. I meet them for coffee or meals to discuss life. I'll always remember -- my professor's daughter was facing chemotherapy last year. Some of the students wanted to do something nice for the family, and the word spread. We even had professors volunteering their help. We organized a huge potluck dinner at their house in her honor. The broadcast students volunteered hours interviewing her friends and family, finally piecing together a very slick film compilation of her friends' encouraging messages. I've never been prouder of my school than at that dinner -- looking around and seeing my peers initiate and collaborate so selflessly, working after-hours hand-in-hand with our professors. It's truly unlike any other school. I am exceptionally proud to be a part of this community.
W&L is in rural Lexington, VA, so there isn't much to do besides go to frat parties, which I enjoy. There is a major gender relations problem on campus, and I think it has to do with the dynamic of Greek life, to a certain extent. Guys and girls generally don't interact outside of frat basements, and this leads to at best an awkwardness on the Hill, and at worst, objectification of women, and sexual assault. That said, I have experienced exceptions to this problem, and I do have guy friends with whom I feel comfortable. One aspect about W&L I love is the honor system. Everyone has to act like a gentleman or a gentlewoman, and lying, cheating, and stealing (an honor violation) has one punishment: expulsion. Students leave laptops, books, clothing, etc. around, and I haven't known of an instance in which anything was taken.
The best thing about the University is its academics. There is a work hard, play hard attitude, but the work that students do is remarkable in its quality, and you get a great education. The social aspects of the school are limited, students must make their own fun because the town is small and offers more for those interested in hiking or arts and crafts than for those looking for a night life. The school is about the right size, I'd say. The biggest problem with the school is the limited diversity, not just in terms of background but also in terms of viewpoint. It is a very conservative place. At the same time, minority recruitment has made strides over the years but there is still much room for improvement. Also, the way gay and lesbian students are treated here by other students, as well as the way women are treated, is extremely disappointing. The culture is still male and hetero-centric, and there are a large number of students who aim to keep it that way, whether it means resisting calls for change or actually engaging in harassment or verbal degradation of women and minority students. The Administration means well. They are in the inenviable position of any administration: trying to please all the students and faculty and trustees at the same time. They try hard, and I think many of them would like to change things more than they have, but they do not want to take the risk of acting in a bold manner.
It's a very good school full of self-motivated people. The professors are incredible and are always available to help. Academically, it would be difficult to find a more challenging and stimulating school. However, to survive at Washington and Lee you have to have thick skin. Gossip is rampant and it is difficult to succeed socially if you are not ready for it. The small size and isolated location augment the feeling of being in a social bubble. In general, it is a wonderful place to be, but not for the weak of heart. The school pushes students both mentally and socially.
Allie SeniorReviews provided by: Unigo