The Columns

Washington and Lee Welcomes Largest-Ever Entering Class

— by on September 3rd, 2011

Washington and Lee University welcomed the largest entering class in its history on Saturday, Sept. 3, when 497 members of the Class of 2015 arrived for a five-day orientation.

The entering students and their families unloaded their cars and, with the help of upper-division student “movers,” hauled their possessions into the residence halls on an especially hot and humid September morning.

Classes start on Thursday, Sept. 8.

W&L selected the 259 men and 238 women who compose the class from a pool of almost 6,400 applicants. Although the University offered only 18 percent of those applicants a place in the class, the “yield,” or the number who accepted the University’s offer, was a remarkable 44 percent. That is 6 percent higher than a year ago, and accounts for the record class size.

The largest entering class to date was the Class of 2005, which had 487 students when its members enrolled in the fall of 2001.

“We are delighted to be welcoming another exceptionally strong class to W&L,” said William Hartog, dean of admissions and financial aid at Washington and Lee. “It was especially gratifying to have such a high percentage of our admitted students accept our offer of admission. For our yield to jump from 38 percent last year to 44 percent this year is remarkable, and the quality of these students is extraordinary. We’re also very pleased that this will be such a diverse class in terms of the economic, racial and ethnic, and geographic profiles.”

Members of the class come from 43 states and 14 countries. The top five states are Virginia (60), Georgia (42), North Carolina (38), and Texas and New Jersey with 31 each. The top countries are Korea (4) and the Philippines (3).

In terms of their academic credentials, 77 percent of the entering class ranks in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating classes, while the average SAT score was just under 1400 on critical reading and math sections.

• Listen to W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio’s remarks to Parents of the Class of 2015

An unprecedented 53 percent of the first-year class received more than $10.1 million in grant assistance from the University. That includes 53 recipients of a Johnson Scholarship, the University’s prestigious program that recognizes students with exceptional leadership potential, personal promise and academic achievement regardless of their ability to afford tuition and other expenses. This is the fourth class of Johnson Scholars to enroll at W&L since the University received the $100 million gift that established the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity.

Almost 10 percent of the class comprises children of W&L alumni, and more than 20 percent are members of American ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college students or recipients of Pell Grants.

More than 200 students, about 40 percent of the entering class, participated in a week-long pre-orientation program, The Leading Edge. Twelve groups backpacked on the Appalachian Trail, while six other groups worked on volunteer programs in six different cities.

After all the members of the class move into their residence halls on Saturday, they will attend formal and informal events to introduce them to the many aspects of campus life.

In addition to meetings with first-year resident advisers and faculty advisers, there is a mandatory, student-led session on the University’s Honor System. An academic fair will display the different courses, subject disciplines, majors and minors. The Study Abroad session will show students the wide array of opportunities for overseas travel. The Campus Activities Fair will tout the many campus organizations and other extracurricular activities. And for the second year, the students will participate in Sodalis, a team-building program run by upper-class students to welcome the incoming students.

The University will celebrate its Fall Convocation on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 5:30 p.m. prior to the first day of classes on Thursday.