I highly recommend embracing the town. Some people argue that it's boring ... and it does entirely shut down at 5:00pm. However, don't miss out ... My pharmacist knows my name, my prescriptions, and my medical history. I know every barrista at both coffee shops, and they all know my name and my order. I know the owner of almost every shop in the downtown area. I've been actively welcomed by so many families to both churches I've regularly attended. Walking down the street, you're constantly waving at everyone you pass -- your roommate, your friend, your professor, the sheriff, your favorite waitress, the postman, your church pianist, your Spanish t.a. -- it's like Mayberry, you know and trust everyone. On Wednesday mornings, around 8am, random characters will show up at the coffee shop. A kid with an electric guitar. An old man with his banjo. A professor with his saxophone. A local artist with her fiddle. A couple of people who happened to bring harmonicas. They pick a key and start improvising together over their coffee. A girl starts singing along in the back corner. Pleasantly surprising experiences like this are hidden all over Lexington. I can't say that W&L embraces them, which is why I think a number of people take too long to realize the lovely quirks of the town. My friends seek these gems out and will greatly miss this precious town.
Sometimes I have to get away from the school and the town because it gets to be too small for me. But as soon as I leave, I can't wait to get back. There is no other place like W&L; it's strange to go just an hour away to a large state school where everything is different. I can't imagine walking on campus and not recognizing a single face. The reason W&L remains so prestigious is because its students are so close. People love the school because it brings together so many interesting and real people. There's a special bond W&L students form, and it can be seen in the strong alumni association. There is no way you can fail here--socially, academically; you direct your life, and you learn how to make it perfect for you.
The most striking aspect of Washington and Lee is its strong honor system. The students here are simply expected to act like gentlemen or women, and are treated as if they are. Thus, we are allowed to take tests without a proctor in the room, and sometimes are even permitted to take the tests back to our dorm. In these cases, the University simply assumes that we are honorable enough to be trusted not to cheat. However, if any student is discovered breaking that trust, the only punishment is expulsion, as the standard fo trust does not allow for exceptions.
Washington and Lee University is an excellent educational experience for the comitted and intelligent student. Be prepared to spend five hours a day outside of class on schoolwork on a regular weekday, and more when preparing for tests. The social life is unparalelled, with a highly involved Southern greek scene that you will find nowhere else in the United States. The alumni are comitted to the university and its students, and have no problem either helping you find a job after college or sitting on the porch reminicing upon their days at Washington and Lee.
You have to be tough, and love to socialize to have fun here. It's important to know that the social scene, specifically the Greek Life scene become nearly insignificant by senior year and begins to dwindle considerably Junior year. As long as you remember that the reason you are in college is to learn, you will be able to keep things in perspective, W&L offers a great education with a wild-ride of a social scene to match.
The sense of community - both on campus and around the country. The alumni network is very strong, as are the bonds forged with students during their time on campus. We recognize the value of our school and the educational advantages it allows us. Students here feel fortunate and connected due to the very selective admissions as well as the sense of honor and tradition that pervade the entire community.
W&L is on the upswing. Students are getting smarter, more dedicated and more diverse. The University has spent quite a bit of time and money making sure that everything a student will ever need is available. In combination with the amazing history, legacy and record of the University, I believe its the ability of the individual students that make this place amazing.
Washington and Lee is like any school. It has had its ups and downs and is currently working to make the institution the best that it can be. It won't take a year, two years, or even a decade to get there, but the point is, we are trying to get there, wherever there is. The school is amazing and if you want to come here, you have got to come visit ahead of time.
The school goes a great job of playing down the negatives, spinning them to positives and making it look like there's a lot of diversity on campus. There's not. Spend time here, talk to people and really try to figure out if you can live here for four full years. If you can deal with all the bad (or you thin the bad is good), you'll have the time of your life.
W&L is a great school and I am definitely happy with my choice. That said, I highly recommend visiting and staying with a student for a night to make sure it's a good fit, because it's not a place for everyone.