Why I Came to W&L
By James Goettee ‘21
Coming to Washington and Lee seemed to be a natural and logical decision. Despite living in Houston, a considerable distance from the school, I had heard a multitude of positive praises from various alumni and family members revolving around the university's prestigious academics and strong sense of community. Washington and Lee embodied everything I had looked for in a school. It was in a new, unfamiliar environment faraway from Houston, presented tremendous academic opportunities, and possessed a strong and energetic body of alumni.
During an exhausting long stretch of summer college tours with my father, I arrived at Washington and Lee- the final college on our summer tour. Despite being drained and irritated, Washington and Lee managed to make a strong impression on me. The campus was smaller than I had originally expected but was charming and welcoming. Our campus tour guide was genuinely excited to show off Washington and Lee and possessed a strong sense of pride in his university. Unlike many of my high school peers, I did not have a difficult process looking and searching for colleges. I had my sights set on Washington and Lee and hoped to be admitted.
As I progressed through the fall of my senior year of high school, my interest for the school only intensified. People I met always went out of their way to applaud the school, regardless of the situation. Anytime I mentioned that I was applying to Washington and Lee or even wore a Washington and Lee shirt in public, I was met by enthusiastic alumni that celebrated their school. I had not been admitted to the school yet, or even finished my application, but I was already startled by the school’s strong sense of community and pride.
As I set foot on the campus the fall of my freshman year, I was not disappointed. Washington and Lee was everything I had envisioned yet offered even more. The entire campus and community operated off respect and the long-lasting honor system that was ingrained by Lee. I was somewhat aware of the honor system before setting foot on campus, but I was unaware of the depth and intricacy of the system. The entire campus respected the honor system. I could leave my belongings in the library for hours at a time without worry and even schedule my own midterm and final exams. I was not viewed solely as a “student” by the faculty and administration, but rather, a member of the greater Washington and Lee community.