Washington and Lee University Top Questions

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Jesse

About 90% of the time, these stereotypes are true.

Jarrett

Just like any stereotype the ones at W&L have some truth to them. Many of the students here do fit that mold pretty well. However there are many students from states all along the east coast, the College Democrats have a solid presence on campus, and racial diversity is somewhat improving. I don't want to give the wrong impression though. The majority of the people here are White and well off.

Rebecca

To a limited degree. Although many students at Washington and Lee do still come from the South and from wealthy families, the face of the campus is definitely changing. The new Johnson scholarship has welcomed a lot of smart and talented students from different backgrounds to our campus, but even before that, our campus was already changing. The Shepherd Program for the Study of Poverty and Human Capability plays an important role on campus. Because of the Shepherd Program, students are more committed to the community, demonstrated by student-run clubs such as the Nabors Service League and English for Speakers of Other Languages. So yes, to some extent the stereotypes are true. If you keep your mind closed, that's all you will see. However, our campus offers so much more.

Kristin

Not really--students come from all over the country (and world). With the recently added Johnson scholarship, the student body is becoming more and more diverse every year.

Erika

No, students definitely come from all walks of life and have opposing views, which they are not afraid to express.

Shelby

While a large number of students fit the "white, preppy, conservative, wealthy, southern" stereotype, that does not in any way mean that everyone is that way or that people who do not fit that mold are not welcome. I, personally, am not at all that way and I do not feel like an outsider. I am not ostracized because I do not fit the W&L stereotype and while some of the fashion was a bit of a shock when I first arrived, I've warmed up to it quite nicely. As for Greek life and the party scene, it is pretty dominant, but not in an intimidating way at all. More on that later though.

Ryan

Sure, you have some students that fit the mold, but most students can't be pigeon-holed by the stereotypes. There are students from all over the globe, and a lot of people are from places like NJ or the DC area--not exactly super-Southern. The newly-instated Johnson Scholarship program is really increasing socioeconomic diversity on campus.

Lauren

There is diversity on campus if you take time to look for it you will find it. If you only want to be friends with rich white kids you can but if you take time to become friends with everyone you will see it is a pretty diverse campus. About the way people dress it is true most of the time. Dressing nicely is not a bad thing and during finals and exams when people are really stressed they wear sweatpants and tee shirts.

Jordan

Yes.

Austin

Not at all. While we are not as diverse of a school as some in terms of skin color, I think diversity means a whole lot more than that. We have kids from not only all over the country, but also from all over the world. Everyone here has their own story, thier own background. I've been exposed to so many different types of people and have had no problems with anyone. Everyone is extremely friendly, eagar to go out of their way to help you and very considerate as well.

Stephanie

About 80 percent of the population fits this "stereotype." 20 percent are chill people with a diversity of thought and backgrounds.

Alex

To some extent, but only in a positive way. The main reason I chose this school was because I saw it was a group of kids who were intelligent and took academics seriously, but were also well rounded and know how to have a good time.

Emily

While W&L is more "southern" than some neighboring Virginia schools, it is not completely so. There are many people from the Carolinas and Georgia, but there is also a large concentration from the North. Due to the fact that it is a private school, many people who come here are wealthy, but the great financial aid they give is helping to bring in students from all income levels. The school is really working on increasing diversity. Greek life plays a prominent role on campus, but the Greek system is different here in that it is not exclusive, and you have friends all across the Greek system. Not rushing is also a definite possibilty, and the university is developing more weekend activities not centered around fraternities and sororities.

Alex

To a degree. There's a pastel section of campus, but for a small school there's also a startling diversity of opinon.

Kara

Not at all. I don't find that I fit those stereotypes, and I have found a wonderful, extensive group of friends.

Bobby

There definitely are a lot of students at this school who exemplify the "southern prep" stereotype, but this is not necessarily negative. Southern hospitality is great. And W&L students are very smart and very active on campus and in the community, although social life is one of the most important features of life at Washington and Lee.

Elizabeth

To a certain extent yes, however, the number of northern students is growing rapidly, and I would say that the campus is about 50/50 republicans to democrats

Alicia

No! Yes, the typical student sports croakies and sperries sometimes, but our dress unfairly garners us this stereotype. Behind the popped collars and Lily there are students with diverse backgrounds, controversial opinions, crazy ambitions, and even liberal values. The conservative notion probably comes from both our appearance and our tradition as a small, Southern school. But speaking with faculty and fellow students will instantly prove that not everyone leans to the left -- being a liberal thinker at W&L necessitates only one thing: that you can back up your ideas. It isn't a school where you go and are given free reign to promulgate absurd liberal ideals without any weight. Nor is it one where you can rally behind the conservative platform without reason, either. W&L forces you to be able to defend your ideas -- liberal or conservative.

Kelly

No, W&L does a great job of attracting students from all different backgrounds, parts of the country, and from around the world.

Torry

Yes and no. (1) W&L has a majority of white students, but other non-Caucasian, especially international students, come to W&L. W&L acknowledges that diversity is an issue and actively works to increase diversity. (2) Some students are preppy, others are not. I don’t’ know anyone who will care if you’re not wearing the latest Lilly Pulitzer or Lacoste to class. (3) While it may have been true in the past, students do not need to be affluent in order to come to W&L. In fact, many scholarships, such as the Johnson Scholarship, as well as financial aid make it easier for students of all socio-economic backgrounds to come to W&L. I honestly don’t know of many students who aren’t on one or another type of financial aid. (4) Another stereotype of the past, W&L students are not all Southern. Students come from nearly all fifty states and a myriad of countries. We have a strong New Jersey population, as well as a surprising amount from California, just to name a few. (5) The majority of students do decide to “go greek” at W&L. Some students decide it’s not for them, others fully embrace the “frat lord” lifestyle, but most live in the happy medium. You don’t’ have to join a fraternity or sorority in order to be happy and have friends on campus.

Jen

This stereotype is not totally false. A lot of people are rich, white, and Southern, but W&L has its fair share of Northerners and kids from all over. Diversity is somewhat lacking, but it's increasing with each class.

Claire

I think the predominant stereotypes of Washington and Lee students are accurate.

Allie

I would say the stereotypes are mostly accurate, but there is a growing minority that are the exact opposite.

Harper

yep

Karen

Washington and Lee is definately a small school, in the best way possible, and it does have a Southern feel. While some students have money, there are plenty of people there who are not rich or Southern. I would say the party atmosphere has definitely decreased during my four years at Washington and Lee (from 2004-2008).

Sarah

No. While the vast majority of the kids here are from rich southern families, there are some people from all over. Can't really disagree about the snootiness Yes. Alcohol is a huge problem.

John

There is some truth to any stereotype. I would say there is a bit more racial diversity than one would expect, given the school's reputation. Still, the majority of students are white and conservative. Anecdotally, I would say there are a lot of wealthy people on the undergraduate campus, but the University, and the Law School, both tend to be generous with financial aid. One of my friends comes from a pretty economically deprived background in western Maryland but got a full scholarship to W&L for his academics.

Tripp

for the most part, yes; however, as all seterotypes are, it is blown out of proportion.

Mel

Yes. But to be extensive, the princeton review additionally names several cliches that still hold relevance: "Preppy" "Exclusive" "Country club-esque" "Republican" "Heavy drinking school"

Hunter

pretty much, but W&L is working hard to diversify and incorporate students from all over the country, we're on the brink

James

Yes

Kendall

Some of these stereotypes were once acurate, but as the times are a-changin', we are starting to see a lot of these stereotypes phase out and a much different face of Washington and Lee emerging.

Stuart

Some individuals choose to follow this mantra, but the school has become a lot more diverse in the past four years and now you can see individuals wearing their favorite local team jersey to class after a big win. Also, the social scene is not as preppy as everyone makes it out to be. It is a close knit community so the variety of individuals is not that extreme, but it is encouraging that the school has encouraged individuals to not fall into a sample mold and to independently seek out their own opinions and views.

Mel

The school is definitely small, and that has its pros as well as its cons. You choose to be as involved as you like, but it is almost impossible to stay out of the social bubble. Although the students tend to dress similar, by no means are they close-minded: classes are typically discussion-oriented, and no student holds back his personal opinions. The professors are just as diverse in their own opinions as the students, but they allow the class to be non-judgemental and are open for new ideas. There are just as many liberals as conservatives, and rarely will you find someone sticking to just one idea--students range all across the political spectrum.

Liz

Of course.

John

The school is diversifying more and more, which might be a bad thing.

Lexi

Only superficially, if you get to know the university and the students there is much more to our community.

Marisa

somewhat.

Dale

Yes

Jordan

To some extent. Every school with a Greek system is going to have a lot of money, drinking, and social hierarchy. But I feel like W&L is slightly worse than other schools. Some people feel that they can't even talk to another based on a srat or frat label. If you feed into this, then it will be terrible. But if you don't let it get to you, then it isn't much worse than any where else. Also, it is a very white school. But there is a decent amount of diversity of thought, which I think is more important in a college anyway. And lastly, the drinking is huge. It is not necessary to drink, but it is huge, especially during Spring Term. That term most people drink during the week as well as during the afternoons.

Emily

mostly

Emily

Not necessarily. There is much for depth in the student body than people think.

James

To a certain extent, yes--as at any competitive small school, there are lots of affluent kids, lots of preppy kids, competitive students. The Greek system is huge (despite the school's best efforts) and the party scene is popular. However, now more than ever, the student body is far from monolithic--diversity is increasing rapidly, and the "standard" W&L student--Southern or elite Northeastern prep, rich, fratty--while still there is no longer nearly as dominant.

Nico

These stereotypes are roughly 70%-80% accurate.

Catherine

W&L students work really hard during the day, but all work is finished by 7 or 8 to take full advantage of the night. Preppy doesn't even come close to describing the amount of vera bradley, croakies, jcrew/polo outfits, rainbows, etc, that are seen on campus.

Brian

The school is predominately white but the minority population has been increasing a lot in recent years...Most students are middle-class, some poor, some uber-rich. Most people do dress preppy, but it's not required, of course. Lastly, while the majority of the population is from the South, close to half of the student body is not.

Dan

No. There are the frat guys, and sorority girls... but as far as the guys go, the frat scene really doesn't matter. I'm independent, and I'm not barred from the social scene at all... I just end up hanging out with more people. And although many of the students are white, rich, and conservative, the professors certainly aren't and there are many others who are not who add spice. It's not a monolithic university by any means.

Lauren

It is true that most of the people here are white kids who went to prep school...but I don't know if I'd call everyone "preppy". I guess we are kind of preppy, but not in a trendy way like everyone's trying to be cool. Everyone's just very laid back and just is who they are. As far as the money thing goes, a lot of people do have a lot of money, but no one parades it around. And it is true that most people, at least all of my friends, drink a lot. But what's not said is that while we do play hard, we work that hard, too, and do well in our classes.

David

The stereotypes are only accurate to the extent that one believes in them. We do have a lot of preppy kids on campus who are very smart but enjoy partying and drinking a lot, but we also have a wealth of diversity that many people overlook. I have found myself having conversations about the rise of the Maoist party in Nepal with a friend who has lived his entire life there, or been at a frat party discussing the difference between the English and German Romantics.

Anne

yeah - for the most part.

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