There is no formula for a successful application to Washington and Lee. We strive to be thoughtful and careful as we individually review every application we receive. Each application is read by several admissions committee members, and most applications are read by the entire admissions committee. We are looking for an exceptional group of 470 students who are passionate about learning and will enliven our classrooms, who will excel on the playing fields and in the arts, who will produce high quality newspapers and magazines and who will participate in the 160+ clubs and student organizations on our campus. We read your application looking for what impact you will have on Washington and Lee and what W&L can offer you.
Our review process is holistic rather than formulaic. We consider each piece of every application in our admissions decisions. The most important part of your application is your daily record - what courses you have taken and how well you have done in them. We are looking for students who have a superior record of achievement in the most challenging curriculum available to them. This does not necessarily mean that you should take every AP class your school offers, but it does mean that you should push yourself in every subject. We recommend that you take four or more years of coursework in English, math, lab science, social science and a foreign language. Beyond the core subjects, take "academic" electives, courses that contribute to the overall rigor of your studies, versus those which provide a break in your schedule.
Although we do not put undue weight on test scores, they are an important tool that helps us distinguish between similarly qualified applicants. We realize they reflect your performance on one Saturday morning, and we want to give you every benefit of the doubt. It will never hurt your application to take both the SAT and ACT, and to take them multiple times.
In a typical admissions cycle, we receive applications from a few thousand applicants who are well qualified to succeed academically at Washington and Lee. In order to select the thousand students whom we will admit, we consider a wide range of non-academic factors in addition to your academic record. These include: extra-curricular involvement (quality is much more important than quantity), character (revealed by letters of recommendation, your essay and your accomplishments), your interest in attending and "fit" with W&L, and other personal qualities. To help us get to know you, be honest, be yourself and schedule an admissions interview.