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Washington and Lee Receives Record Applications for Class of 2014

For the second time in the last three years, Washington and Lee University has received a record number of applications for admission.

“At this point, we are 6 percent above a year ago and 3 percent above our all-time high,” said William Hartog, dean of admissions and financial aid at W&L. “We are extremely pleased, especially given the economic environment in which we are recruiting.”

As of Friday, Jan. 22, the University’s Office of Admissions had processed 6,588 applications for the Class of 2014. That compares with 6,222 applications a year ago and 6,386 in 2008, which had been the previous high.

W&L expects to enroll between 455 and 475 first-year students from this applicant pool.

Hartog attributes the increase largely to Washington and Lee’s aggressive financial aid program, along with a new partnership with Questbridge, a non-profit organization that assists low-income, high-achieving students with college applications.

“As far as we can tell, the uptick in the applicant pool is directly attributable to the availability of our financial aid resources, particularly the Johnson Scholarship Program,” said Hartog, referring to the program established in 2007 as a result of the historic $100-million gift to the University.

The Johnson Scholarship Program attracts students with exceptional academic and personal promise regardless of their ability to afford tuition and other expenses. About 44 entering students, or approximately 10 percent of the entering class, received the scholarships, which are awarded on a competitive basis. The scholarships provide at least tuition, room and board, and allow students to graduate debt-free. W&L invites up to 200 students to visit campus for the scholarship competition.

“The Johnson gift has enabled us to reach into communities and socio-economic levels that had been beyond our recruitment strategies in the past,” Hartog said. “As a result, we’ve been able to form new partnerships. One of these is with Questbridge, which this year has generated almost 500 applications.”

Questbridge is a private foundation in Palo Alto, Calif., which works with 27 partner colleges and universities around the country in its College Match program.

“We were actually rather late in finalizing our partnership with Questbridge and were not one of the students’ options until halfway through the program’s normal recruitment cycle,” said Hartog. “Consequently, we are most pleased to have had this kind of success this soon. The students who have applied, both during the early decision period and regular decision, are really quite remarkable, and we have enjoyed the chance to work with them.”

Applications for regular decision were due on Jan. 15, and students will be notified of admissions decisions on April 1.