What Are We Looking For?
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. We are looking for an exceptional group of 460 - 470 students who are curious, 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 100+ 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 admission 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 advanced 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, the lab sciences and social sciences, and a world 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.
For the Class of 2026, we understand that there might have been significant changes to your junior year during the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have had disruptions in the courses available to you, or changes in your grading system and the method in which you are engaged in your classes. Our holistic review allows us to adapt to these changes and we will respect the official decisions made by your high schools.
In a typical year, we receive applications from a few thousand applicants who are well qualified to succeed academically at Washington and Lee. When reviewing an application, we consider a wide range of non-academic factors in addition to your academic record, while taking into account your personal background and community environment. We review your extra-curricular involvements, which may include school clubs, community service projects, jobs or family responsibilities. We value quality over quantity of commitments, and we recognize that circumstances out of your control may limit your ability to consistently participate in these activities throughout your high school career. We also consider your writing (the writing skills and voice you share in your essays and optional supplemental statements), your 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, if possible, schedule an admissions interview.
Standardized Test Scores
While we do consider standardized test scores in our applicant review process, we know students are more than the sum of their scores (and submitting test scores is optional for applicants for the Class of 2026). That's why our review process takes scores into account, without being the sole determination in your application. For more information — as well as instructions on submitting test scores — please review our Standardized Testing policy.