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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Washington and Lee University Essay Example by an Accepted Student


Washington and Lee University is a pretty selective school, so it’s important to write strong essays to help your application stand out. In this post, we’ll share an essay a real student has submitted to Washington and Lee University. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).


Read our Washington and Lee University essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.


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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.


I love the lasers from Star Wars. As a child, they glowed behind my eyelids while I lay in bed at night, and their force powered my dreams. They filled my life with wonder and longing. “I will grow up to wield this thing,” I promised.


As I got older, I began to love the stories -the Jedi’s wisdom, Han Solo’s strength- almost as much as I loved the lasers. I was intrigued by Nnedi Okoroafor’s fantastic worlds and the powerful realities Chimamanda Adichie told, and promised, too, to wield worlds.


At this point, W&L’s role in fulfilling my dreams comes into play. I can study the lasers I loved to see on Star Wars with the Fabry-Perot interferometer at the Science Center and explore my fascination for literature by taking an active part in the Shannon-Clark lectures.


I was privileged to research with W&L’s Professor Abrams during the summer, and as I worked, I witnessed the relationship between math and art first hand. I found geometric harmony in my bathroom wall’s patterns during each shower and arithmetic harmony in the sequence of my favorite books’ words during each reading session. W&L gives me an excellent opportunity to continue to work with Professor Abrams and discover more novel ways of seeing the world.


I see my W&L experience as being crucial to my development as a wielder of words and science, and what better opportunity to channel my inner Hans-Solo than after a refreshing dinner at Café 77?


What the Essay Did Well


This essay does a great job of establishing the student’s dual interests—that are sometimes considered mutually exclusive—and explaining how Washington and Lee can address both those interests. The use of Star Wars to establish both an interest in science and literature is a very personable and relatable topic to use. The reader can appreciate the child-like wonder and curiosity for science this student had, as well as the mature fascination in how stories are crafted and told.


The student also includes references to specific resources Washington and Lee offers that will further their education in these two topics. The mention of the “Fabry-Perot interferometer at the Science Center” shows that this student has done their research and is excited to study lasers in a hands-on format. Since the student had a previous connection to Washington and Lee, it was also smart to mention that in the essay to demonstrate they have been aware of the college and its faculty for a while.


In the paragraph that discussed previously working with a professor, the essay did a good job of reiterating the connection between math and art. The continued thread running throughout the essay is the unique combination of science and literature this student wants to pursue, and the continued callbacks to this idea remind the reader of the student’s passion. At the end of the essay, the reader is left with a positive impression of a student who doesn’t want to be defined by one thing and wants to learn as much as possible—exactly what any college wants to hear.


What Could Be Improved


There honestly isn’t much that could be improved in this essay. It’s very strong and does a good job of answering the prompt while also revealing a lot about the student.


With that being said, the student could have gone a bit more in depth into describing how Washington and Lee would be beneficial to them. They mention the “Fabry-Perot interferometer” and “Shannon-Clark lectures” but don’t explain what either of those are in detail, or how they would help this student grow and further their interests. Given the word limit, it is understandable that they weren’t able to go into detail, but if they could have explained the significance of these two aspects of the college to their education it would have made the essay even stronger.


More Free Essay Resources


How to Write the Washington and Lee University Essays: See our in-depth guide of each supplemental essay prompt for the Washington and Lee University. 


All of Our Essay Guides: Don’t miss our essay guides for all of the top schools.


How to Write the Common App Essays: Learn how to write a strong Common App essay for each of the prompts, with examples.


Free CollegeVine Peer Essay Review: Submit your essay and get feedback from another student. Editing other students’ essays will also help you improve your own writing skills!



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Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.