Washington and Lee University is about three hours from Washington, DC. There are many opportunities for students to excel in and outside of the classroom. The rural campus on about 430 acres of land was founded in 1749, and has a small undergraduate student population that is just over 1,800.
The school is rich in history. It was named after George Washington when he made a donation. Robert E. Lee was one of the presidents after the Civil War, and that’s how the college acquired the second half of its name. The school was actually all male until 1972 when women were allowed into the law school. Female undergraduates were first admitted in 1985.
There are two undergraduate programs: the College (which focuses on liberal arts, humanities and sciences) and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics. There are 37 majors and 29 minors offered at Washington and Lee. The most popular majors include: social sciences; business/marketing; biological/life sciences; and foreign languages, literatures, and linguistics. Some students choose to complete interdisciplinary majors in topics like neuroscience, medieval and Renaissance studies, and Russian studies. There are also programs for those interested in environmental studies, poverty and human capability studies, and women’s and gender studies.
The student to faculty ratio runs low at about 8 to 1, and about 75% of classes have fewer than 20 students. One difference from larger schools is that faculty members teach every course. No classes are taught by teaching assistants or graduate students.
Washington and Lee places a large importance on the honor system that was developed by Robert E. Lee. Students are required to act “honorably in all academics and nonacademic endeavors.” The Executive Committee of Student Body can find students guilty of honor violations, but there is also an appeal process. Many graduates note that the honor system was a significant and positive part of their undergraduate years.
Outside of the classroom, there are many opportunities for an active social life. Greek societies play a very large role in Washington and Lee activities. About 75% of students are involved in one of the 21 fraternity or sorority groups. There are also more than 120 recognized student-run organizations to choose from. Washington and Lee even has several secret societies, including the Mongolian Minks, the Cadaver Society and the Sigma Society.
More than a quarter of all students take part in one of the 24 varsity sports teams. “The Generals” compete in NCAA Division III levels in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and the Centennial Conference. Whether it’s taking advantage of internship opportunities or excelling in the classroom, Washington and Lee University students have the chance to create a memorable undergraduate experience.