The Successful First-Year Student

Academic Advisement

Life at Washington and Lee centers around an exciting academic experience with excellent faculty and resources that will allow you to become a successful student.

First-Year Advising

The academic success of a First-Year student begins with the academic advising process. First-Year advisers are trained to work with students in all of their Foundation and Distribution requirements (FDRs) and to assist the First-Year student as they begin to choose a major. Each First-Year adviser has no more than six other First-Year advisees.

The summer before enrolling, incoming First-Year students receive a password to access WebAdvisor where they can begin building a preferred sections list for their fall academic schedule. Then, during Orientation Week, First-Year students are trained to use registration and have opportunities to meet with their faculty adviser to review their fall schedule and finalize fall term registration. A dinner is hosted by students' academic advisers where students can also meet other advisees who share the same adviser.

The faculty adviser remains the same for students until the declare a major, usually in the winter term of sophomore year. Faculty advisers are not major specific; they are trained to work with all incoming students. If a student would like a different faculty adviser, he or she should complete a request in the University Registrar's Office.

Before coming to W&L, First-Year students should carefully review the information in the New Student Guidebook, the University academic catalog, and the Curricular Advice for New Students regarding curriculum here.

Placement Tests

Please review the Curricular Advice for New Students for information about Placement Testing.

Tutoring Services

The academic peer tutoring program is available to all students at Washington and Lee University, free of charge. Upper-division student tutors are available to all students in most entry-level courses. Students can request a tutor through their faculty member, faculty adviser, resident adviser, or the Dean of First-Year Students. All peer tutors undergo a rigorous departmental application and screening process followed by a training program to help them assess the best way to work with students.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is an additional service available to all Washington and Lee University students. It is highly recommended for First-Year students. The Writing Center can be accessed online at

Study Skills Programs

Washington and Lee University sponsors the Baldridge Reading and Study Skills Program. This program emphasizes reading and study techniques designed for the highly competitive college or university and is taught by licensed educators. The cost of the program is $159 and the oneweek, five session course can be taken as many times as a student desires. Students register for this course through the Office of the Dean of First-Year Students.

As First-Year students face similar issues at other colleges and universities, below you'll find links to sites at Virginia Tech, the University of St. Thomas, the University of Virginia and Southern Methodist University which provide excellent study skills advice particular for students in their first year of college. Students are encouraged to explore this site:

Tips on How To Study

Summer Readings

While Washington and Lee University does not have specific summer readings for incoming students there are some steps the successful First-Year student will take to get a little head start.

Think about the kinds of courses you might be interested in taking (course offerings lists and catalog list) and then go to the home pages of faculty members who might teach such classes. Look at what texts have been used in these courses. For example, if you have an interest in Politics as a possible major or field of study, then you could reference Professor Morel's home page and that find he teaches a course called Comparative Government, referencing several texts he uses for this class. While it cannot be guaranteed that the professor will use the same book used in previous terms, the background knowledge can be invaluable.

Know your current events - if you are not regularly reading the newspaper or news periodicals, you should be doing so.

Enjoy some pleasure reading! Go to your local bookstore and ask to see a list of recent Pulitzer Prize winning books. Or, if you've never read poetry, give it a try. Summer is a time for personal development and can also be a time for academic enrichment. Enjoy!