How to Write the Washington and Lee University Essays 2023-2024
Washington and Lee University was established in 1749 in Lexington, Virginia. The institution is split into two undergraduate divisions: the College and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. Staying true to the fathers who founded the institution, Washington and Lee University has produced a myriad of prominent politicians including three Supreme Court justices, 27 Senators, 67 U.S. representatives, and 31 State Governors.
Students applying to Washington and Lee must submit a personal essay through the Common App, along with an additional supplemental prompt. Responding to this prompt can only benefit you, as admissions officers will see your dedication to the school. Here, we will walk through the most effective ways to respond to the supplemental prompt.
Read this Washington and Lee essay example to inspire your own writing.
Washington and Lee Application Essay Prompt
Please describe how you have familiarized yourself with Washington and Lee University and what aspects of W&L’s community are most exciting to you. (250 words, optional)
This is a standard “Why This College” prompt, where you have the opportunity to expand on the reasons that you are applying to Washington and Lee.
The key to this type of essay is to avoid generic statements like “the campus is beautiful,” or “the students have a tight-knit community,” that apply to hundreds of schools across the country. Your answer should not be able to be copied, pasted, and used for any other school. Here is an example of a generic response and a specific response that a student might write when emphasizing Washington and Lee’s commitment to history:
As someone with a strong interest in history, Washington and Lee’s commitment to studying the past stands out to me. Even with its name, which honors the patriots who came before us, Washington and Lee highlights the value of seeing history as an avenue for improvement.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve enjoyed history museums. Being surrounded by strangers who also see the immense value of studying the past—what could be better? When I get to Washington and Lee, I will be surrounded by like-minded strangers every day. But it doesn’t stop there. At Washington and Lee, I will take my interest in history to the next level by participating in the Internship in History program. Working at an institution will give me a new perspective on the past, as I curate others’ experiences instead of experiencing myself.
You may be wondering how you can build such a specific response:
Take a minute and think about why you are applying to Washington and Lee. What is appealing about the school? Will their programs help you achieve your goals? Do you think you will feel at home in the community? Do the school’s programs align with your interests? Just think!
It’s research time! Your reasons for attending Washington and Lee should be genuine, but you probably are not completely aware of all of the resources the school has to offer. That’s perfectly normal—just look on the school’s website to find programs, courses, professors, community events, traditions, campus organizations, and more that are appealing to you.
Get writing. The key is to connect the specific and unique features of Washington and Lee to your specific and unique interests, goals, and values. Here are some examples of how this could play out:
- A student who grew up in poverty, but has worked hard to overcome the system writing about their interest in the Shepherd Program. Washington and Lee is clearly committed to helping others, which has always been this student’s top priority.
- A student who was obsessed with insects as a child writing about the importance of passion when learning. They are interested in the Spring Term Immersion program because faculty are encouraged to teach their “dream class”—whatever they are obsessed with! Though it probably won’t be bugs, this student is ready to learn about their professor’s passion for rocks, primates, botany, or whatever else.
- A student who will be studying Political Science writing about the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics. They have always been the friend who brings up the train dilemma at parties but have never found a place where these conversations are accepted. To further their career goals, they need an open space for casual theoretical conversation and the Mudd Center will be just that.
As you research, keep your goals, interests, and values in mind and ideas will start popping out at you. Then, write your essay in a clear and engaging way that focuses both on Washington and Lee as a university and you as an individual applicant.
Where to Get Your Washington and Lee Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your Washington and Lee essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!