Student Testimonials

“I think there are a million different versions of a successful first-year, but the one commonality would be feeling at home at W&L. If you enjoy your classes (for the most part), are able to reach your academic goals, meet tons of new people, try new things, and grow as a young adult, then you are a successful first-year. And, if you don’t do all of those things but still feel at home at W&L, then you are also a successful first-year. There will be a different version of success for everyone, so remember to not compare!”

Gretta Syrett ‘24

“One thing I wish I had known before coming to W&L is that the best way to make friends is to take a risk and put yourself out there. I avoided my common room for a lot of the first semester because I felt like I didn't really know anyone in the friend group who hung out there. Second semester I decided to just go sit out there and have met some of my best friends simply because I took a chance. Everyone feels as awkward as you, I promise. Don't let the fear control you. I think a successful First-Year looks like someone who has found a balance. They should focus on their schoolwork and get a good head start into their four years here, but also look to grow and try new things. They get outside their comfort zone and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them. A successful first year will face challenges head on and keep going no matter what.”

Kayla Monaghan ‘24


“One piece of advice I have for incoming first years is that the opportunities are quite literally boundless here, so get involved early and often -- something you like doing will be available! I think control of one's life is an important first-year aspect -- that can look different for different people, but at the end of the day, a successful FY should be happy with his or her setup for the day-to-day.”

Duncan Hart, '24


One piece of advice I have for incoming first years is to get to know the upperclassmen! Odds are, you'll have lots of questions about what to do for fun or otherwise (especially for registration). They've been in your position before and have learned what to do, or even what not to do. They will also be more than happy to help you when it feels like the world is hitting you all at once. Make time for self-care and prioritize sleep so that when this does happen, you'll be able to successfully conquer that overwhelming feeling. A successful First-Year student throws themselves into any opportunity of interest, invests the time to get to know their peers deeper than surface level, and stays true to their values! Stay true to who you are, be honest and genuine, and don't change for anyone!”

            Molly Pennisi ‘24


“I wish I had known how much support I was really going to have. Just in Graham-Lees I have my RA, the RA on the hall next door, and some of my best friends. That's not to mention the Peer Counselors, the professors, my faculty advisor, and so many others willing to help with whatever I need. A successful First-Year student is one who is doing what they love. Whether that's a sport, hanging out with friends, exploring campus, studying hard, joining every club or just one, or even all of the above, a successful First-Year is doing what makes them happy and comfortable in their new community.”

            Jess Kishbaugh ‘24


“One thing I wish I knew before coming to W&L was that I didn’t need to plan out every class and extracurricular. Some of my favorite classes and experiences are things I came across unexpectedly. I think a successful first-year knows how to manage their time well and work efficiently. I think they also are taking classes in subjects that truly pique their interest and are involved in extracurriculars they are passionate about.”

            Kate Nelson ‘24


“My advice to you is to focus on pursuing the things that spark your passion and bring you joy, regardless of if those things are similar to the interests of the person next to you. Your college experience is a time for you- specifically, uniquely, you- to learn and grow within our diverse community, and that will be so much richer if you focus more on your personal growth than on comparing yourself to others. A successful first year student at Washington and Lee is excited and open minded. You have some of the best years of your life ahead of you, ones that will bring difficult challenges but also incredible opportunities, and they will be greatly enriched if you have an attitude of positivity and a willingness to try new things!”

            Emma Poole ‘24