Washington and Lee University Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?


Credit load compared to other colleges is really low - 12 or 13 credits per semester, with one 4-credit mini semester at the end of the year. It's easy to get B+s, kind of hard to get As.


The classes here are small, but you still have to make an effort to get to know the professors because they will not seek you out. The small community is overrated, and I often feel like I have missed out on the resources and opportunities of a big university. I was astonished at how easy the classes were compared to high school, and I often wonder how many of the students here managed to get in. I thought this was supposed to be a top-notch school, but so far it reminds me more of a community college in the caliber of its education.


Most professors are passionate about what they teach and definitely know their stuff. The classes are tough, and the workload is heavy most of the time. Fortunately the professors are great about being available through office hours and will answer any e-mail you send them. Since we're a liberal arts school we get to take a wide variety of classes outside our major. I think this school does a good job of preparing students for succesful careers while exposing them to subjects that provoke some deep thought. I'm an Econ major, but one of my most interesting classes here was a course in Acting. Generally though most classes are interesting, students are heavily involved in discussion, and everyone here works hard for good GPAs.


The academic life may be my favorite part about W&L, though of course it's only a fraction of what the school has to offer. There are no TAs and professors always have their doors open to talk, and I've been to some of their houses for dinner. Yes, classes are very hard, but it's worth it.


My largest class was 27 students (Macro Economics). The professors will always know your name and they will remember you for your entire W&L career. They are personally interested in your growth and success. It is very common for students to go to coffee with professors or to even go over to their houses for dinner on occasion. This does not mean that classes are easy--in fact they are quite difficult. I have never worked so hard, but it is manageable. I have time to double major, teach riding lessons, and be involved in my sorority and other clubs on campus. Students are competitive, but not in a cut-throat way. They all want to do well, but they will bend over backwards to help others who are directly competing against them. We're a community here and we act like it in all aspects of our life, including academics.


The small size of the student body lends itself to an intimate academic atmosphere. Professors actually care about you and get to know you. Since all classes are taught by full professors, students never skip class because they feel it's "not worth it to go." There generally exists an open door policy, meaning that professors will drop what they're doing to meet with you whenever their office door is open.


My Poverty 101 class last year had 9 students, and it met every day so I got to know the students in my class and my professor very very well. We all joked with each other and were a tight, close-knit family by the end of the term. It was also an intensely discussion-based course, so the 55 minutes of class flew by each and every day. The professor did a fantastic job of getting us to work out our opinions on our own, rather than spoon-feeding us what he wanted us to learn. He challenged our beliefs, made us think, and taught us so so much. The quality of teaching at W&L is unrivaled. Profesors are all extremely qualified and many have been published and are well-known names in their field. While many conduct research during summers or even during the year, they are primarily at W&L to teach. At W&L you will not find yourself in class with a professor who is at the University to do research and teach on the side, teaching is very much the first priority for all Professors. Along the same lines, there are no TAs at W&L. The only classes with any kind of teaching assistant are the introductory level language courses, and those assitants are international students studying at W&L employed by the university to meet with students individually and aid them in language development process. They do not teach the class but are there for development of conversation skills and other important aspects of the languge learning process. Students at W&L care a lot about success in their classes but that doesn't stop students from helping each other out. Even though classes are a challenge, the atmosphere is not competitive. Study groups are common, students often edit each other's papers, and discussion of class matter outside of class is a typical occurrence. While W&L has a reputation for a raging party scene and consistent underage drinking, students also take responsibility for their studies in as passionate a way. If there was a school that epitomized the phrase "work hard, party hard", W&L would be it.


Professors at W&L are amazing. They know your name, have you to their homes for dinner, and give you their personal phone numbers in case you need help with the assignment for that night. One of my best classroom experiences at W&L was Philosophy 142: Modern Philosophy with visiting Professor Terjesen. I had never taken a Philosophy class before coming to Washington and Lee and have to admit that I was afraid I would find the subject matter boring or irrelevant. I was surprised when the exact opposite occurred. Professor Terjesen, a movie and pop culture buff, is able to relate all the material we learn to movies or other media relevant to the present-day. For example, when we were learning about Descartes’ metaphysical solipsism, a complicated name for Descartes’ belief that he can only prove his own existence, Professor Terjesen stopped his lecture to show the class a brief clip from Family Guy in which a character “watches” everyone in town through a cardboard TV. So, in that character’s mind, he was the only one who really existed, and thus he could only prove his own existence. The crazy examples Prof. Terjesen comes up with really help me to remember philosophical concepts that I would probably otherwise find too complicated to grasp. He makes sure everyone in the class understands even the most difficult of subject matters by presenting it in both a unique and informative manner.


At the end of the term the professors will know everyones name even in the largest classes (which are around 40 people). Professors are usually very willing to work hard with you outside of class to make sure you are getting everything. Most classes in the history department are small and discussion based. Class participation is crucial but also makes the classes dynamic and engaging. Students are not super competetive, they are willing to talk outside of class and work together-when it is permitted. The academic requirements are easy to fufill and interesting. The teachers really teach you how to learn, analyze, and argue. As a result almost everyone gets a job or into a graduate program.


overshadowed by the fraternities. don't go there for the academics.


Academic life at W&L is intense. The small class sizes help the students, however, and it is easy to develop relationships with professors. The professors know your name, will email you when you miss class, and generally care about your performance. My favorite classes have been interactive, requiring preparation prior to class as well as in class participation. It is common to meet and become friends with students in your classes because most of the out of class work is done in groups. Homework is rare but difficult. Most of the classes I have taken have required lots of reading but the reading really helps the classroom move smoothly. The liberal arts requirement ensures that students take classes in all areas, and I've actually found that the classes outside my major are interesting. One of my favorite classes was my Geology lab I took during Spring term, where it was my only class. We were in the field everyday and learned geology through hands on experience. It is much easier to remember and understand topics when you've seen them firsthand. The education at W&L both prepares students for real world jobs and it also promotes students to explore areas that they are interested in.


Professors are great but there are exceptions. In the journalism department, everyone is a kind, giving person who wants to know about you and your life. Teaching does not stop after the class bell rings. I'm biased, but I think anything in the C-School sucks. Students study a lot, but that doesn't mean it's the only thing that happens (by far not true). Career services is a good resource, but if you're not a c-school major or planning on going to grad school, there's not much they can do to help you get a job.


Professors are always available and invested in your academic progress because classes are small enough that they can focus on you as an individual. Classes are often combine several disciplines, professors bring current events and campus issues into class discussions, and wide range of materials are used in studies. There is also a large amount of opportunity for creativity and specialized study. Anything that interests you, no matter how obscure, there is bound to be a professor


Academics are tough at W&L and a main focus of students. During the week the library is a very lively place. Being a liberal arts university, students are able to take a broad variety of classes. I'm an econ/politics major, but I have taken courses such as geology, environmental studies, discrete math, and an english lit course. We also don't declare our majors until the end of sophomore year, which allows students freedom to take courses and figure out what subjects they would like to pursue.


I've never had a class over 30 people. I've never had a t.a., even for lab. I know the students in my major and all the professors, and what's more, I like them.


I do not have a single complaint about the academics at W&L. I have had a wonderful education thus far, and KNOW that I would not have gotten a more indepth, hands-on education at any other school. The one on one connection with the professors is outstanding, the professor knows every students name. My largest class was twenty people. I have found myself endless challenged, but more fulfilled than I knew was possible. I have found myself enlightened and intellectually stimulated, everything I had hoped for out of college.


Last year I had an independent study. I don't know what that means at most schools, but here it is literally just you and the professor. Most of my friends still don't believe that the school would "waste" resources by offering a 3 credit course for just one person, but it happened. Of course I found both pros and cons for the class. The pros: 1) I really got to know the Professor, 2) I studies something that only I was interested in, 3) I was able to ask questions without the fear of embarrassment... The cons: 1) skipping was impossible, 2) it was very noticeable if I hadn't studied. The pros definitely outweigh the cons.


Academic life at W&L is very rigorous- W&L has a reputation for academics and professors hold students to very high standards. Everyone at W&L takes schoolwork very seriously, despite any stereotypes claiming that W&L students are just out to have a good time. Students come to W&L to get a quality education and to maximize their opportunities, and they take a lot of initiative in doing so.


Class participation is very common, and students take their academics seriously. The library is usually busy almost every day of the week. Professors are invested in their students, and often prefer to work with undergraduates doing research over the summer. My favorite class at Washington and Lee was a Biopsychology class called "Brain and Behavior," it is a "must-take" class at W&L for non-science and science majors alike!


The professors are tough and the workload is heavy. The academics are not, however, impossible. The small size makes it really easy to talk to professors and get help when you need it. Also, the work load isn't so demanding that you can't have a social life or get involved in extracurricular activities.


W&L has some of the best professors in the world. Every professor I have had knows each of his or her students by name. Professors at W&L are also very accessible. Every W&L professor is required to have office hours, though they are always willing to see their students. My professors have gone so far as to give students their home phone numbers in case students have questions late at night. W&L, put simply, has some of the best academics and professors in the world.


One expectation in every class at W&L is attendance, even in that 8 am, four-day-a-week math class. Professors expect a lot out of their students: active class discussion, group projects, insightful research papers. But professors also give a lot back. My professors have given me their personal phone numbers if we have questions about a take-home test, meet with me for extra office hours if the numerous hours they have already set up don’t fit with my class schedule, and are always willing to listen about non-academic subjects as well. This also helps if you’re looking into graduate school (recommendation letters), since you truly get to know your professor by name, and he knows yours, since some of the largest classes at W&L are twenty students. I have taken two classes with only four other students, which means I better be on top of the assignments and have something to say. Not only interaction with professors, but with your peers, is almost necessary for some courses. What I enjoy about the other students is the lack of competitiveness, nothing petty happens and if you miss a day, someone will always lend you their notes. I felt that at some other schools, the atmosphere was cutthroat, but you don’t see that at W&L. Not to say W&L students aren’t highly motivated, because we are, and we are all used to being the best in high school, and to be the best at W&L, you have to work with your professors and other students.


Professors are extremely involved and dedicated to their students and willing to help you with anything. I've eaten dinner at my professors houses and I've talked with every professor I've had outside of class time. Professors encourage and sometimes even require you to visit during office hours. They are eager to get to know you and talk with you about anything. We even had speakers for my statistics class who came in to talk about fantasy baseball and another who talked about how statistics mattered in the upcoming '08 election. Classes of 25 students are actually considered large. Participation is usually a major part of your grade and seminar-type classes are very typical. A professor just standing at the front of the room lecturing is uncommon. My favorite class at W&L has been my business class call Puzzles and Critical Thought. We learned how to solve puzzles, both tic-tac-toe type puzzles and real-life scenarios. It was an extremely interesting class and taught me how to think out seemingly unsolvable problems and develop ways of breaking them down so they seem more feasible. Students here are all very intelligent and do spend a lot of time studying. But, it is not a harsh or extremely competitive environment. The academic calendar at W&L is unique. It consists of a 12-week fall term, a 12-week winter term and a 6-week spring term. This schedule opens up a lot of unique opportunities for students to do what they want with the spring term. Many students, like those in the science majors that find it difficult spend a whole term away, use that to study abroad. W&L also has the NY Term that starts students in an Accounting or Investment Banking Internship in New York City during the 6 weeks that lasts through the summer, giving them a jump on other students. Washington Term is similar for political internships in DC. These give students great connections.


Classes at W&L are small and professors are accommodating and extremely knowledgeable. Taking into account that the majority of Washington and Lee students feel positively about learning and succeeding academically (and that the university draws in a multitude of "type-A" individuals,) it is no surprise that classes can rigorous and competitive. But, students are friendly and a diversity of opinion in discussions is highly valued, which makes for a less competitive feel. While the Washington and Lee School of Law is located directly off the main campus, contact between undergrad students and law students is rare.


The classes are all challenging and time consuming, but the availability of professors and the willingness of fellow students to offer help makes every challenge surmountable. The smaller departments are especially strong in offering personal help and to tailoring the classes to students' needs. Overall, it is a highly intellectual campus full of very driven students.


the professors are very accessible, will know your name, and offer guidence for things regarding topics from inside and outside of class. you will gain a relationship with most fo the professors for your major and they will all expect you to use them as resources. you should become comfortable speaking in class. students often carry on intellectual conversations outside of class and act on their convictions through various club activities. im very happy with the politics and religion departments and i know that the expirience that i get here could not possibly be immitated anywhere else.


Every professor will know your name within the first two days of class. Classes are incredibly small. As a freshman, I took a class in which I was one of only three students. We took fieldtrips in the professor's car, even a weekend trip to Virginia Beach to go birdwatching. Also, if you are a science major, you will find Washington and Lee provides excellent research opportunities. Since there are no graduate students, undergrads get to help the professors with their research projects. I worked in the genetics lab for two years and used equipment I would never have even seen as an undergrad if I had gone to another school.


I love the classes here! There are so many options, and professors truly care about the topics they are teaching. They are so cool, I want to hang out with them outside of class-discussing, joking, etc. The workload is challenging, but interesting. (Usually) Favorite classes: Geomorphology (Geology) Reading Lolita in Tehran (Womens Studies) Sainthood in 4 Traditions (Religion)


W&L education is great. It is geared more towards an overall education than towards job training. On the undergrad side, I think the students are well prepared for employment and place respectably well. The Law School has had a weaker record on employment, but new staff in career services there have taken new initiatives that are starting to pay off. Class participation is indeed common and encouraged, and there is a lot of discussion about class and other intellectual issues outside of class. W & L may not be a perfect community, but it is a highly engaged community in the intellectual sense.


very challenging. everyone is very intelligent, but not necessarily very intellectual. as a politics/ classics double major, I have been very satisfied with all my professors; however, some grade a bit too harshly. although it offers a liberal arts education, W&L conveniently also invests a lot of time and money making sure its students get jobs as well.


Just as aggressive on the dance floor as in the library. Not ridiculously competitive but everyone wants to genuinely do well. Honorable crowd. At the end of the day, if you don't land the investment banking job, youre in the minority.


Academics at Washington and Lee are quite rigorous and challenging. This school really shapes you into a well-rounded and strong student. The greatest thing about the curriculum is how it offers you a vast opportunity to learn about subjects that don't necessarily have to be in your major. My favorite classes have been classes that are culturally-based such as African American history and Environmental issues as they pertain to Chinese literature and film. The academics at Washington and Lee are also spectacular because you can always count on being able to go to your professor for help whenever you need it. All of my professors knew my name and I, theirs. Some professors even invite their students over for dinner to discuss class work. I truly believe an education at Washington and Lee is the best money can buy.


All of my professors knew my name from freshman year and on. When I would pass my Geology teacher from freshman year at Lowe's during my senior year, he would greet me and ask how I was doing and if I was able to go spelunching in the cave that wewhitewater rafting in West Virginia lately. Often times during spring term you can mix your major background with other topics that interest you. Since I am an Accounting and Finance major, I am interested in the general marketplace and many other facets that affect a value of a business or commodity. I was able to combine my interest in Chemistry with my major to take "Chemistry in the Marketplace," which went into the oil and gas business and the future that it holds. We went into basic economic principles and applied it to our findings in the actual chemical bonds found in the energy sources that we use today to formulate our theories on the future of the industry.


If you've never liked to talk much in class, you will now. It's hard not to voice one's opinon when everyone has so many different ideas. The professors are wonderful--they care about your progress, your understanding, and your well-being. I've had professors know my name by the second day of class--there is no hiding in the back. Students really take advantage of small class sizes, and professors do as well. Talking to your professor outside of class is common and encouraged--not only will you improve in the class, but you will form a bond that only provides beneficial results. Classes can range from an 8 person Religion seminar to a 35 person Intro Chemistry class. But even in the larger classes you are expected to participate, and your individual achievements will not go unnoticed. The greatest thing about W&L is its liberal education. Without it, I may never have taken a Religion class, and never found what I truly excell at studying. And with W&Ls open-ended education I am able to major in Religion and still take all the science classes I need and want in order to prepare for med-school. In fact, I even have time to double-major, and that is not uncommon. The greatest thing about the liberal education though, is that it unites the student body by requiring each person to be well-rounded. You meet so many different people in your classes that you would never meet at another school because they would be concentrating on one subject. The professors are very good at incorporating their own liberal education: I have Biology professors talking about philosophy, I have Religion professors discussing politics, I have Philosophy professors talking about genetics. The professors provide you with a background necessary for life and a mind geared for the future.


Academically, I think Washington and Lee offers much more than people tend to assume. Without the dedicated, earnest interest of my professors, I would be a completely different--and disinterested--student. Class sizes are small and office hours are frequent; talking with professors about everything from the last test, the next paper, to that time THEY shaved their head in college, means that you develop strong relationships. You are held accountable for your performance because the professors pay attention to it, and for me, this made all the difference between starting as a B- student and finishing as an A student.


Small classes, often with discussions. Some of the older, great professors are being forced out to make way for the new, liberal ones. Students are competitive, but not in a bad way. The business department is great, and the majority of the professors are great.


I know all of my professors and can really only name one that I didn't love. My favorite class was Grave Matters (Anth 290B) with Dr. Means. Least favorite, Global Politics (Pol 105) with Professor McCaughrin. Class participation is absolutely necessary in most classes. Students are competitive, extremly bright, motivated and exceptional.


All of my professors know my name. Studying is a part of every day here. We are all academically enriched- even on spring break the conversations are intellectual- its who we are. I've heard great stories (mostly from my dad) about eating with professors outside of class. I havent had that opportunity yet, but I sure hope I will. Being a liberal arts college, W&L makes sure that each student gets a taste of everything (which means lots of requirements before you settle on a major!)


It is not easy. Teachers demand a lot out of you but it is worth it to work hard. I love seeing teachers off campus and outside of class and having them know my name and say something to me, it just gives W&L a sense of community...which I love. Education at W&L will help you get a job but that is definitely not the primary objective. The school is about the education of the whole individual which is why we have to take classes in all academic areas.


The professors knew my name. I suppose it helped that most of the time I was the only Asian in my class, but nevertheless most classes are small enough that there is some kind of relationship between the students and professors that is built throughout the semester. My favorite class… I don’t know. I think would have rather just been given the reading assignments and have a one on one conversation about the specific topic with the professor. Least favorite classes were the introductory classes. How often do students study? I don’t know. Studying depends on the requirements for the class. Join a frat or sorority and get the inside information on how professors conduct their classes. It is a huge untold benefit of joining a fraternity or sorority, granted one goes out of ones way to join one (meaning going through pledgeship). Class participation depends on the class. W&L students, in my opinion, regurgitate what they hear without thinking twice about it. There was a comment from the Princeton Review (I think…) that said something like, “W&L students have a lot of intelligent students, but not very many intellectuals”. In my opinion, I felt this comment was not fair (whatever “fair” might be) because I found this comment true for most academic institutes. I’ve attended a class at Williams College (in MA), Seattle University (Summer), Harvard Summer Program, and Binghamton University (Fall). I think it would be safe to say that I’ve had the opportunity(?)/circumstance of getting a broader firsthand experience of the tertiary educational process. Students are competitive, some are cold hearted, others are friendly and beneficial. It’s a mixed bag, probably like most any other place. The most unique class I’ve taken at W&L was during my senior year during spring semester. Economics of Race and Ethnicity. I was the only Asian student in the class, no African American students, one Hispanic descent but looked Caucasian, and the rest was Caucasian. Just a coincidence? I think not, but if it was, it was quite a coincidence. This class did not have any text books. It had a great professor. All the required reading was from recent economic journal articles, and the homework was to systematically analyze the reading. Community service was required. My major was economics. The department... well it's ok. I'm not quite sure what you want to know. As far as my understanding goes "C-School", as it's called amongst the students, is comprised of Econ, Business, and Accounting Majors. I though the education I received was pretty good. Some professors are better than others. All professor are reachable, prompt in responses, and have time to meet with you after class. The academic requirements, well there are some policies that I don't understand why they are there, but I think the school's academic requirement is strongly influenced by the composition of the student population structure and "tradition". Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing is something you have to experience, and arguments that are based upon subjective, personal experiences are hard to rationally justify as "good arguments" (read derrida, or was it someone else... i forget). I'm not sure whether an W&L education is geared towards getting a job or learning for its own sake, but the way I think has been more theortical ever since.


Class participation is required to pass most classes. People are randomly called upon in class and if the class is not a lecture class, discussions most normally do not include input from the professor. Be prepared to speak up and learn to think on your feet. Geology has been great for me. It's a lot of hands on/outdoors activity and the department is so excited for its majors. They have picnics, cookie/soda days, and personally know all students in the major.


The academics are excellent. Lots of personal attention, difficult classes, but do well here and you'll be able to get pretty much any job you want or into a top grad school.


It's hard. But the professors are always there if you need help. Every class is taught by a professor, and it allows a bit more freedom in the classroom, because you're on an almost equal footing. My only regret is that I don't go for help as often as I should with professors.


The academics are hard, but doable...if you get in here, you can handle it. Professors are great. They know your name and are always available for help; I go to all my professors' office hours for help whenever I need it and they're great about help. People do study really hard. Normally, you'll stay on the hill until around midnight if you're doing work, but you go out just as hard the next night. During exam week, the library is like a social scene...everyone's in there working hard. Students want to do well, but we're all always willing to help each other with anything.


The academics here are rigorous but rewarding, and provide the students with a lot of flexibility for what they want to study. I am a neuroscience major who is also on the premed track, but I also plan on getting a concentration in African-American studies, and I feel like that epitomizes the opportunities that the University allows. The professors are incredibly friendly and you know them as people, not just doctors and distant researchers. Also, because of the small size of the University, many students will assist professors in their research, and oftentimes if the professors do publish their findings, the undergraduate students will be listed as coauthors, which is an amazing opportunity for an undergraduate student.


The student to professor ration at W&L is about 10-1, so professors almost always know your name. They care a lot about your success and are always willing to make time for you. My favorite classes have been those in my majors - politics and studio art. I have especially enjoyed my drawing classes and international politics classes. I would say students study about 20-25 hours during a none exam week. Class participation is very common at W&L. Because of the small class sizes and the emphasis on seminar-style classes, students are often expected to speak up as part of their final grade. There is certainly intellectual conversation outside of class - not an obnoxious amount, but the students here are extremely intelligent. Students are relatively competitive. I would say we are more competitive with ourselves then with our classmates. The most unique class I have taken was Islam and Politics last semester. It was a seminar elective class that focused on the resolution of politics and religion as one of the most important foreign policy issues today. As I said, my majors are politics and studio art. Most people would think that they are two very different subject, but I am finding interesting ways in which the two complement each other and interact. I am enjoying them both very much. Every professor at W&L is available for office hours or time outside of class to meet with students. I have often taken advantage of this time to talk with teachers and further discuss topics in class. I don't mind W&L general education requirements, but I do wish they were a few fewer, especially in science/math! However, the GEs do allow students to get a taste each discipline at W&L.


students are very hard workers and takee their work very seriously. the professors are absolutely fabulous, and i don't believe that any other school has professors who are as available and willing to help. because classes are so small, professors make time for everyone and pay close attention in making sure each student can and will succeed. they really couldn't be better.


There is a great relationship between students and professors. Professors are always easy to meet with and you actually get a chance to know them. My most interesting class was a recent macro econ class. I got to know my professor well and he was definitely one of the smartest teachers I've had. He taught us practical economics and offered different perspectives to our nation's economics than is mainly depicted in the media. Classes are small and comfortable. Students are competitive, and there is very little grade inflation. Professors will do as much as they can to help you out - they don't want students to fail. Many of the major departments are like big families, and students get to know their advisers and professors very well. Education is great.


A high point is the experience in the classroom. The teachers, especially in the humanities, really want you to learn, and this is evident in their curriculum and their office hours. They are very available. The sciences are also helpful and engaging, but the classes tend to be bigger, probably due to essential classes for the MCAT, etc. Although I'm an English major (and a freshman), I'm researching this summer with a biology professor, which is a really unique experience. I am taking an anthropology class with 5 kids, and it's really engaging and interesting. Obviously, with such intimate class sizes, participation is key. In every class I'm taking, it's at least 25% of the grade. This makes you do your homework, and it forces you to think critically. The English department is very conducive to students who want to double-major, or who are going pre-med or pre-dent, etc. They want you to receive a well-rounded education that will benefit you in the future.


I love my classes. I love my professors. W&L has exceeded my expectations in offering challenging yet extremely engaging classes which I have applied myself to 100%. I am very motivated by the interesting professors and classes offered. My main problem is the FDR (required core classes) which prevent me from taking the endless list of classes that interest me. Why should I be wasting my time with a math requirement when I'd rather be enjoying a class discussion and studying one of the highly fascinating humanities courses offered?