Early Decision When W&L is Your First Choice

What is Early Decision?

Washington and Lee offers applicants the opportunity to signal that W&L is their first choice college by committing to enroll through our binding Early Decision program.

In applying ED, applicants receive an admission decision within a few weeks of the ED application deadline, along with the details of any need-based financial aid award for which they qualify. However, the binding nature of our Early Decision program requires students admitted ED to withdraw all their applications to other colleges immediately after confirming their intention to enroll at W&L with a reservation deposit.

There are two Early Decision deadline options (November 1 for ED I and January 1 for ED II). Together these options comprise our ED program. The admission committee does not favor ED I applicants over ED II applicants.

Why Apply Early?

Early Decision may be the right option for you if Washington and Lee University is your clear first choice at the end your college search. W&L's applicant review process is highly selective, and while the admissions committee's expectations regarding academic and personal credentials are essentially the same for both Early Decision options and Regular Decision, as a part of the Early Decision review, we take into consideration each student's desire to attend Washington and Lee. This occasionally leads the admissions committee to act in favor of a candidate whose academic credentials are at the competitive margin.

Typically, approximately forty percent of each entering class at W&L is composed of Early Decision candidates.

What About Financial Aid?

It is also important to understand that W&L is committed to making a Washington and Lee education affordable for all admitted candidates, regardless of socioeconomic background. Students who meet the Early Decision financial aid deadlines, and are found to have financial need will receive financial aid awards made up of grant funds and a small portion of work-study, but no loans.

Separate from the need-based financial aid process, the Johnson Scholarship competition does not take place until well after the Early Decision process. If your enrollment at W&L depends on winning a Johnson Scholarship, then you should not apply under our binding Early Decision options.

How Do I Proceed?

Submitting an Early Decision application to W&L takes careful consideration and we suggest that you confer with your parents and secondary school counselor, in addition to our admissions and financial aid staff, before choosing this option. Since both Early Decision options are binding, if you are accepted, you must withdraw all other applications to other colleges and universities immediately after confirming your intention to enroll at W&L with the required reservation deposit.

A complete Early Decision application for admission consists of:

  • A completed Common Application or QuestBridge Application
  • A signed Early Decision Agreement - this is included in the Common Application for ED applicants
  • An official copy of your high school transcript
  • Official score reports from the SAT or ACT
  • Two Teacher recommendations
  • One recommendation letter from your guidance or college counselor
  • The Common Application Secondary School Report form, completed by your guidance or college counselor