W&L's Class of 2016 Dives into College Life
Dodging intermittent rain showers courtesy of the remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac, Washington and Lee University’s Class of 2016 officially arrived in Lexington for the annual ritual of unpacking cars and vans, moving into residence hall rooms and adjusting to their new status as college students.
The entering class numbers 479, divided almost equally between men (238) and women (241). They will spend the next five days in an intensive orientation before classes begin on Thursday, Sept. 6.
The orientation is filled with mandatory and voluntary sessions that acquaint the students with their new surroundings. In addition to meeting with the upper-class students who will serve as their resident advisers and with their faculty advisers, they will attend a mandatory, student-led session on the Honor System, a central feature of the University, and learn about W&L’s emphasis on student self-governance. The Academic Fair will acquaint them with 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. During a physical education orientation, the students will take the University’s required swim test. There is also a team-building program, Soladis, run by upper-class students to welcome the incoming students.
A Common Book Event will engage the entering students in small-group discussions about the concepts and implications of the book “Stumbling on Happiness,” which W&L asked them to read prior to arriving on campus. Those sessions will be co-led by faculty and staff and resident advisers.
W&L selected the Class of 2016 from a pool of almost 6,000 applicants. The University offered only 19 percent of those applicants a place in this year’s class.
“This class, like others before it, will bring a great deal of energy to the campus,” said William Hartog, dean of admissions and financial aid at Washington and Lee. “We have the kind of geographic diversity to which we’ve become accustomed. We also have the kind of personal diversity that we’ve been hoping to achieve. And we have a class with outstanding academic credentials. We want extraordinary students who provide rich experiences outside the classroom, and I’m confident that this class will be the equal to any class we’ve had at Washington and Lee.”
Members of the class come from 39 states, plus Guam and the District of Columbia, and 14 countries. The top states are Virginia (59), Pennsylvania (37), Texas and New York (31 each), Georgia (27), New Jersey (26), Florida (25), North Carolina (23) and California (22). The top countries are China (5) and Costa Rica (3).
In terms of their academic credentials, 81 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 1390 on critical reading and math sections.
Almost half of the first-year class (48 percent) has received more than $9.1 million in grant assistance from the University; the average grant for students receiving an institutional award is $39,931. That group includes 41 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 fifth 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.
Children of W&L alumni compose just more than eight percent of the class. More than 22 percent of the class are members of American ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college students or recipients of Pell Grants.
About half of the students participated in a week-long pre-orientation program, The Leading Edge. Twelve groups backpacked on the Appalachian Trail; six other groups worked on volunteer programs in six different cities; and 12 students were selected for a new Leadership Venture that included on-campus sessions plus a visit to Washington, D.C., where they met with W&L alumni who work in key leadership positions.
The University will celebrate its Fall Convocation on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 5:30 p.m. when Arthur H. Goldsmith, the Jackson T. Stephens Professor of Economics at W&L, will present the opening address, “Finding Your Path to a Life Well Lived.”
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs