Today, much like any other day of the week here for me at Washington and Lee, I went to office hours. As a math major, this part of my day is crucial to my academic success. Whether I’m working on a weekly problem set or studying for the next big Real Analysis test, my professor, just like any other professor at W&L, is more than accessible and really eager to help. This part of my day is where I can solidify the class lectures and ensure that I understand what we’ve covered. To me, this is one of the major benefits of coming to a small liberal arts college like Washington and Lee. All of our professors here really want us to do well and are certainly willing to lend a hand to make it happen.
I overslept this morning. I could blame it on daylight savings or a long weekend, but really I just plain overslept. I woke up right as my first class was ending and immediately felt both confused (why did I hit ‘off’ and not ‘snooze’?) and very, very guilty.
You see, when you sleep through your alarm or miss class at W&L, your professor’s notice and that is because when you walk into the first day of class, your Professor’s learn your names right away. Having small class sizes at W&L not only allows for an excellent learning environment and vibrant discussion, it also means that you establish real relationships with your Professor’s. The academic experience at W&L is very much a two-way street, or better yet, a partnership. If you seem to be having an off week or two, it is very common to get an e-mail from a Professor or Advisor checking in to make sure everything is ok. Have your grades taken a hit? Professor’s will open their doors for extra help and office hours.
Knowing my Professor’s truly care instills in me a feeling of responsibility. I matter in the classroom, and that class time matters for my learning. You can’t phone it in at W&L, but once you get here, you won’t ever want to!
It’s that time of year: the time for sophomores to declare an initial major. I was fortunate enough to come into W&L knowing that I wanted to major in journalism. I also knew that I wanted a second major to explore another interest to complement my journalism major.
At the academic fair during orientation week, a professor encouraged me not to rush into choosing a second major. He suggested that I take a variety of classes and find subjects and professors that interest me the most. I took a variety of courses from art history and literature to mathematics and economics during my first year at W&L. This past fall term, I took a course in politics that was very interesting and useful to my study in journalism and taught by a great professor. I decided to take a seminar with the same professor this winter term and I really liked working with her.
Now that I am required to officially declare an initial major in journalism, I have also decided that I want to add politics as a second major. I am fortunate enough to get to work with my politics professor even more as an advisor for my politics major.
Because W&L is such a small school, students get to choose their advisors when they declare their majors. I feel very fortunate that I not only get to create my curriculum around topics that interest me, but that I also get to pick the professors that I get to work with.
We have just returned from February Break. Personally, I spent mine relaxing and visiting my friends. It was a great time and I am thankful to have had the break, but I am also excited to be back at school with everyone. The nice thing about being back on campus and even being in classes is that the atmosphere, though serious, is relaxed. Every student works hard along with all the teachers and thanks to the honor system there is a huge amount of trust and a great relationship between the two. I was immediately reminded of this yesterday when my teacher taught us about Combinatorics (Math) with the aid of her dog. Yes, she gave her lecture while letting her dog roam the room. The feeling in the classroom was very relaxed and it was a nice way to ease back into school and the rigor of classes, and the dog was very cute. But it is not all fun and games, in that same class I have a problem set due tomorrow, so better finish that up. At least I have that dog to motivate me!
“Ponder the possibilities of time travel. Apply number theory to crunch through codes. Explore the structure of Hilbert space. Study abroad in Budapest or Scotland. Engage in research projects with faculty. Consider the opportunities that the study of mathematics has provided recent majors who have pursued careers as analysts with consulting firms, as actuaries, as financial analysts in the banking and finance arenas, as teachers, and as software developers; other majors have pursued advanced degrees in mathematics, computer science, economics, engineering, law, and medicine.
During their four years at W&L, mathematics majors learn to “walk and talk” in such fundamental areas of mathematics as single and multi-variable calculus, linear algebra, modern abstract algebra, real and complex analysis, ordinary and partial differential equations, geometry, topology, mathematical statistics, graph theory, and numerical analysis. By “walking and talking” we mean that our goal is for our students to be not only technically sound, but also conversant in mathematics. Each year, several of our majors participate in summer research, either here at W&L or at other universities. Since 1990, our students have written four software packages, developed five websites, published seven expository papers, and authored or co-authored twelve articles appearing in prestigious professional journals such as the American Mathematical Monthly, Linear Algebra and its Applications, and the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society.”
Editors note: The Mathematics Department also runs The Math Center, which is open 8-10 Su-Th and is staffed by upperclassmen Math majors who are available to assist any students who need help in their Math Classes. This was a big help for me freshman year!
For more information on the Math Department, click here.
From ‘The Honor System’ on the W&L website:
Honor is the moral cornerstone of Washington and Lee University. Commitment to honor is recognized by every student, faculty member, administrator, and staff member of the University. Honor provides the common thread woven through the many aspects of this institution and creates a community of trust and respect affecting fundamentally the relationships of all its members.
The centrality of honor at Washington and Lee is contained in its Honor System. The Board of Trustees has granted to students the privilege of overseeing the administration of the Honor System. The sole penalty for an Honor System violation is dismissal from the University. These responsibilities are administered by the Executive Committee of the Student Body, a group of students elected annually by their peers.
Academic life is essentially shaped by the commitment to honor. Assuming that students will behave honorably, the faculty grants flexibility in the scheduling of most final examinations, and all are taken without supervision. Take-home closed book examinations are a common occurrence. The pledge, “On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unacknowledged aid on this (exam, test, paper, etc.),” expresses the student’s promise that the work submitted is his or hers alone. Students’ dedication to honorable behavior creates a strong bond of trust among them and between them and the faculty. This student dedication and the bond that it engenders also provide the basis for the faculty’s commitment to accepting a student’s word without question.
The dedication to behave honorably is not confined to academic life. It is expected that students will respect each other’s word and intellectual and personal property in the residence halls and the Greek houses, on the playing field, in the city of Lexington, or wherever Washington and Lee students take themselves. This principled expectation provides the foundation for the community of trust which students seek to create not only in the academic sphere but in life outside it, as well.
The Honor System has been a unique feature of Washington and Lee University for well over a century. Thousands of students have lived under it while in residence, have been morally shaped by it, and as alumni and alumnae, continue to be guided by it in their professional lives. Current students are as committed to it as were those who lived and studied here before them, and they maintain with firm conviction this distinctive ideal of the University.
“On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unacknowledged aid on this blog post.” -Ali
As the nation’s only accredited journalism and mass communications program in a highly competitive liberal arts university, we remain committed to our first and highest mission: to educate, to broaden minds, to inculcate habits of honor, careful analysis, reasoned discourse and excellent writing in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic culture.
The Department of Journalism and Mass Communications is among the largest programs at Washington and Lee. The department faculty believe journalism is the ideal liberal arts major, combining a deep grounding in the liberal arts and sciences with solid experience in research, analysis and clear communication. Its majors have an excellent reputation throughout the news industry, in the law and in advertising and public relations.
Since the total renovation of the department’s building, Reid Hall, students and faculty have worked in an environment perfectly designed for the convergence that is sweeping the professional media world. The W&L journalism program had been among the first in the nation to fully computerize all reporting and editing classes, and now it is among the first to create totally digital classroom and laboratory systems.
All students must have at least one internship, perhaps the most important criterion for a job in journalism. That experience and the demanding professional courses they take mean that journalism majors are well positioned for excellent jobs upon graduation and rapid advancement.
As graduates, they have been highly successful professionally as journalists and lawyers, in advertising and public relations, and in a wide variety of other communications-related fields. They are valued in virtually any field for their ability to gather information and present it compellingly, with precision and clarity, in any medium.
For more information about our Journalism and Mass Communcations Department, click here.
The German section of the German and Russian Department offers its students a varied, stimulating choice of courses in beginning, intermediate and advanced German language, German literature from the Middle Ages through the 20th century, German culture and civilization, and specialized courses, including Performing German, Business German and literature in translation. We also offer a minor in German.
We strongly encourage all German majors and minors to avail themselves of an opportunity to study in a German-speaking country. The Washington and Lee “Bayrische Studienwochen” (Bavarian Study Weeks) is a total immersion academic program in southern Germany directed by the department faculty. Students wishing a longer experience abroad may take advantage of the semester-long program with the University of Bayreuth or arrange with the Director of International Education to have credits transferred from another university’s study abroad program. The Department is committed to helping qualified students obtain internships or other work experiences in German-speaking countries.
The German and Russian Department encourages promising German students by presenting six endowed awards annually, two each at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels, for academic accomplishment. German majors with high overall academic averages are invited to cap off their degrees by writing a thesis to earn the “Honors” distinction. All German majors and minors are encouraged to participate in the annual production of a full-length play in German in the Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts. Finally, the German Club provides social activities within a German cultural context.
Recent graduates with German majors are enjoying exciting and varied careers in such areas as publications, industry, law, international banking and teaching. Some have held internships with German companies which have led to employment after graduation.
For more information on the German Department, click here.
Talented and dedicated faculty engage students in the study of the languages, literatures, and cultures of the diverse populations that once spoke the Latin of the Roman Empire. Majors in Spanish and French learn to speak a second language fluently, explore the history and culture of its speakers through coursework and study abroad, and gain expertise in the literary arts by reading and analyzing texts produced from the medieval to the post-colonial periods. We also offer a minor in French.
Students may combine two languages in a Romance Language major, as well as study Italian and Portuguese language and culture. The affiliated Latin American and Caribbean Studies program provides the intellectual excitement of an interdisciplinary approach to the exploration of multicultural societies that speak French, Portuguese and Spanish.
Casa Hispánica, where students live and speak Spanish, annual dramatic performances in French and Spanish, ESOL outreach, Poetry Night, and the National Symposium on Theater in Academe, all provide unparalleled opportunities for students of Romance Languages to actively prepare for the multicultural world that awaits them.
For more information on the Romance Languages department, click here!
Washington and Lee University has offered courses in geology for more than two hundred years and was one of the first institutions in the United States to offer formal programs in the study of the Earth. The department currently offers a broad range of programs that include most of the important disciplines of the earth sciences. A number of alumni have made significant contributions as academic geologists, as geoscientists in the energy industry, and as environmental scientists.
Lexington is surrounded by some of the most interesting and classical geology of the entire Appalachian Mountain system. Our programs take advantage of our location. The campus lies right in the middle of the Great Valley of Virginia within easy reach of the Blue Ridge Province and the Allegheny Mountains. During the fall and winter terms, many of our courses run field trips for “hands-on” study of this superb geology. In the spring term, we offer more intense field experiences. Some of these spring courses emphasize the geology of the local area and provide familiarity with modern methods of field mapping. Other courses deal with the geology of a specific region and/or the study of the environment. Recent extended field trips have been run to such diverse areas as the Great Smoky Mountains, New England, the Colorado Plateau, Hawaii, New Zealand, the Pyrenees, the Pacific Northwest, and coastal Virginia.
Our faculty are active in a variety of research areas in which students play a central role. Current faculty research includes long-term plateau incision by escarpment breaching and capture, the modeling and growth of fault-related folds, Holocene climate variation as recorded in coral growth, weathering and water chemistry, and the growth and erosion of mountain belts.
The Geology Department is also a member of the Keck Geology Consortium, which includes 18 of the best undergraduate geology departments in the country. This program allows our students to join undergraduates and faculty from other consortium institutions in summer research projects in such diverse locations as the Apennines of Italy, the Bahamas, the Cascades, Mongolia, Australia, Ireland, and Cyprus.
For more information on the Geology department, click here.