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February 12th, 2005

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11:35 am
Hello, I'm new to this community and am a high school junior currently considering (falling in love with) Washington and Lee.

I've been getting ridiculous numbers of letters from Washington and Lee for about a year now (through the information I provided on the PSAT, no doubt), but recently my interest has really grown to the point of it becoming my first choice college.

I hope it's not inappropriate for me to ask questions of current (or even future students), here. There are a good number of reasons I'm attracted to WLU, but I also have some concerns.

What are average SAT or ACT scores at the school? What sorts and what numbers of extracurriculars are needed to get into a college such as this (not that I'm suggesting there's a fixed number, but what were some of you current students involved in in high school)? Average high school GPA? Class rank? The list goes on. I'm not a stellar student (probably only in the top 20% of my class with a 3.87 GPA) and am involved in only a moderate number of extracurriculars and no sports, and before I dive whole-heartedly into this, I want to know that it's achievable.

I love the idea of the honor system because while most private colleges have them, none of them seem to put an emphasis on the system at all. How big of a deal is the system, really? (i.e. Are they overemphasizing it in the letters I'm receiving on a monthly basis?)

Looking over statistics on the Princeton Review, I'm also mildly troubled by the fact that it looks like something of a party college. Is that label true or false and to what degree?

Campus and community-wise, what is it that makes WLU different from other small, private colleges?

What has been your experience with the financial aid program?

Thank you in advance to anyone who can help answer these questions.
Current Mood: concerned

(11 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:February 12th, 2005 06:53 pm (UTC)
There's nothing wrong with having a clear first choice emerging during your junior year. The same thing happened to me with W&L (and later with Dartmouth joining it, and now I'm still just totally unsure).

It's also reasonable to have concerns about your favorite colleges, and the best thing to do is visit while the students are there.

Good luck.
Date:February 12th, 2005 06:56 pm (UTC)
By the way, your icon is hilarious.
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Date:February 13th, 2005 11:20 pm (UTC)
I totally know what you mean about the unsure thing. W&L was my clear cut first choice for the last 6 months but now everything is up in the air ( I fell in love with Syracuse on my trip) AHHHH
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Date:February 13th, 2005 12:21 am (UTC)
DAILY SHOW!!!!! Steven Colbair yeah!

W&L emerged as my first choice late in junior year (beating out Dartmouth and Georgetown).
It is an absolutely amazing school.

Although I haven't gotten to W&L yet (I'm a HS senior) and so can't talk about the school as well as current students, I can tell you that my aid package from W&L was AMAZING. Everything I could've wanted. They told me that my financial package would probably be helped rather than hurt if I applied ED and oh boy were they right, it was all I needed.
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Date:February 14th, 2005 03:07 am (UTC)
"This brings up the issue I have with the admissions/financial aid/scholarship process at W&L. All of the processes are separate, which means someone who gets full boat through financial aid can also be eligibile for the GWH, which makes things terribly inefficient. Of course keeping the scholarships need-blind and the financial aid need-based is important, but there should be something put into place that prevents one student from effectively "taking" a GWH nomination from another well-qualified student who does not possess as much financial "need.""

I almost felt bad about being one of those kids after reading this, but I'm not going to. Even people who qualify for full financial aid have some obligations that wouldn't be present if the same person was a full GWHS winner. It might be hard for someone who doesn't qualify for financial aid to understand, but even the couple of thousand dollars that schools expect all students to earn each summer and the percentage of the "full financial aid" that is loans, not grants, is a tough thing to pay. Plus, the GWHS event sounds like a lot of fun and I'd rather not give that up.

You also have to remember that giving merit aid is a way for colleges to hook the RD applicants that aren't sure where they will go. Even for people who won't have a large financial obligation at any school that guarantees nearly 100% of need to be met, a merit scholarship is a nice vote of confidence and extra bit of money that could help seal the deal.
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Date:February 17th, 2005 03:11 am (UTC)
That's not very nice Morgan, since you're probably talking about me with the $2,500.

Simply put, I don't know if I can rely on aid for all four years, because who knows what could happen. Tuition rises, aid doesn't or aid is recalculated and I need the scholarship to pay.

I'm not going to be sorry for getting a lot of financial aid, I need it, if you think it's fun being in my position, I'd love to trade. I'm also not going to feel sorry for being a finalist in the competition, I've worked hard all my life even in the poor NYC public school system and I spent quite a bit of time on my essay, I earned it.

And trust me, it is not fun to have your dad actually volunteer to drive 14 hours rondtrip to pick you up and bring you home for vacations (and another 14 back) just because you can't afford to keep paying airfare. And my dad HATES driving when he doesn't have to. He wants to force me to take the NYC subway into the city at 4:30AM this Friday, which is hell.
Date:February 15th, 2005 10:55 pm (UTC)

1. your gpa and class rank are likely fine if you've got some leadership roles in high school and your ACT/SAT are good (i had a 32 and a 1340 and i got in ED just fine)

2. the honor system is more just something that is part of everyday life here. i love being able to throw my bag down whereever i want and know nothing is going to be stolen. i love that i never lock my dorm room door.

3. honestly, i love the fact that we're a party school. i love having an active social life because i personally need a balance between work and play to function. i really don't know what it would be like to be here if you didn't like to go out, so i guess i can't really help there, i guess i'm a bit of a party girl.

4. w&l is different because we're so tightly knit. i feel like i know a good percentage of people on campus and i'm only in my second semester. this is especially important at parties, because i feel like everyone looks out for each other. i feel like i walk around campus with a bunch of genuinely nice, intelligent people that i feel a kinship with. but i'm also a cheeseball.

5. i didn't get any financial aid because i didn't apply for any so i'm zero help there.
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Date:February 25th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC)

I know this is kind of late, but...

I'm a second-term freshman, and it's definitely been an experience. Being from California, the culture at W&L was quite a shock.

The class of '08 has the best credentials yet, compared to the other classes. If you want my stats...
SAT - 690M 760V (note, I only took it once)
SAT II - 800 Writing, 730 US History, 740 Lit, 680 Math IC
GPA - 3.65 unweighted, 4.3 weighted

Also note that I had two Cs and a good amount of Bs on my transcript, apparently only two years of math (statistics doesn't seem to count as a gen-ed math class), 3's on the majority of my AP tests. I did have a lot of extra-curriculars and community service (or "leadership", as some colleges like to call it) to my credit. It is true when they say that most people here haven't gotten a B -- I know people who were crying over a 3.0 average.

Yes, W&L has a reputation as a party school. Yes, the administration is beginning to crack down. No, you don't need to be in a fraternity or sorority to have fun -- many of the girls join srats only because of the "everyone else is doing it" mentality (please note that I chose to be an independent). Drinking is a big thing, though if you get on a substance-free hall, there is more of a chance that you'll be with people who don't drink -- around half of the girls on my hall drink.

It doesn't really matter if you participate in all the parties or not. I have not "gone out" to a frat house or an off-campus house since I got here. Granted, I didn't go to Homecoming or Christmas weekend, but I've still found ways to have fun with my other sober friends.

I've become disillusioned with the honor system lately, for reasons I would prefer not to disclose. Yes, there are huge benefits -- self-scheduled finals are awesome -- but it's not nearly as big of a deal as some may suggest. It is nice to be able to leave your bag/jacket/purse somewhere and have it still be there when you get back; however, there have been a few thefts (you see notices like "Apparently, my backpack grew legs and walked off while I was studying in the commons last night. If you have seen it, please give me a call or email me." about once a month), and I've heard of a few cheating incidents. On the whole, though, it appears to be a workable system, and I've never had any trouble with it.

I don't have any experience with financial aid, unfortunately.

Campus-wise, W&L doesn't seem to be too different than other private colleges. It has a gorgeous campus, and Virginia's a very pretty state. Community-wise -- there's nothing. We're in the middle of nowhere. If you get the opportunity to bring a car, BRING ONE. Or, if that doesn't work, find a friend with a car. Trust me, during the winter it's hard to not go crazy when you're stuck on campus and in "historic Lexington".

In addition, there seems to be a rivalry with the "townies" and W&L students. Personally, I haven't experienced any animosity towards me, but I've always been polite and nice to the people in town. As long as you're nice and polite, they won't bother you.

Anyways, I hope at least some of that helped. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Date:February 25th, 2005 10:15 pm (UTC)

Re: I know this is kind of late, but...


just a note so you don't get scared off...
i don't have a car and i miss it sometimes but there's so much going on with the frat/srat scene and such that i don't feel like i need it to go out. i'm bringing one next year, but honestly as long as you know someone who has a car (i.e. i borrow my boyfriend's a lot) it's really not an issue.

even though lexington is small there are still some great shops, a movie theatre (albeit a tiny one) and restaurants that are within walking distance. it is nice every once and awhile to go to roanoke for chick fil a and target, but i honestly like being a bit isolated. i feel like its one of the reasons we're all so close here. i feel like i live in this nice rural utopia that still has a mcdonald's. i do get starbucks withdrawals though, i'm not going to lie.

and also, i joined a sorority for the social aspect, because my friends and i were all doing it together, not just because everybody does it. everyone has their own scene, but i think it's a great opportunity here.
Date:February 28th, 2005 02:22 am (UTC)
I don't go to W&L, but I live in Lexington and hang out with the students a lot. It is a huge party school, mostly because Lexington is such a small town. I've heard that there were only 4 girls that didn't rush a sorority this fall. But that doesn't mean that the school doesn't provide other organizations and stuff to do. It's just that the greek system is huge and because of that everyone, even people you wouldn't expect to be, is in a sorority or fraternity.
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Date:May 12th, 2005 09:12 pm (UTC)
i got in off the wait list...i called and sent letters and did everything i could to try to gain admission.

you have an excellent gpa...especially if you've achieved it with honors or ap courses.

my stats were:
SAT I: verbal: 710, math: 700
SAT II: math 2 c: 620 (should have never taken it), math 1 c: 650, spanish: 620, writing: 790

and my gpa was about a 3.62 with all honors/ap courses.

like i said, i got wait listed...but your gpa is considerably higher than mine and one of my biggest mistakes was letting the pressure get to me during my first semester of senior yr...which helped make my gpa plummet.

just don't stress out about it too much and you'll be fine. and if you know w&l is definitely where you want to go, then apply early decision. i think that definitely would have helped me.

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