Home Class of 2026 welcomed at Washington and Lee University

Class of 2026 welcomed at Washington and Lee University

Rebecca Barnabi
Courtesy of Washington and Lee University.

Washington and Lee University welcomed 478 new undergraduate students to campus over several days leading up to the beginning of classes on September 8.

The Class of 2026 features the highest number of international students in an entering class at W&L, according to a press release, with 26 countries represented, and a continued increase in the number of domestic students of color. Ten percent of the incoming first-year class are the first generation in their family to attend college, and the same percentage are the children of W&L alumni. Ten students are attending Washington and Lee through the Yellow Ribbon program, the post-9/11 GI Bill that funds tuition at any school at a rate equal to the highest public in-state tuition and fees.

The Class of 2026 represents a pool of well-rounded and academically gifted leaders. More than 95 percent enter the university with Advanced Placement (AP), Advanced International Certificate of Education, or International Baccalaureate (IB) coursework. Eighty-five percent have studied four or more years’ worth of laboratory science, and 68 percent studied four or more years of at least one world language.

Honor council members, student body presidents, state champion athletes, concert masters, community servants, interns, editors in chief, Gold Award recipients and Eagle Scouts are among the class, as well as individuals whose high school extracurricular activities included archery, founding podcasts, serving as an EMT/fire fighter, raising money for charitable foundations and performing as their high school’s mascot. They have diverse job experiences, including as ukulele instructor, escape room game master, HVAC apprentice and head “snow-ista” at a shaved ice shop.

“In particular, one of the things we see in this class is an element of civic engagement in an election year,” Washington and Lee’s President for Admissions and Financial Aid Sally Stone Richmond said in the press release. “Students who were investing time in their local communities by volunteering for candidates, serving as poll workers and just being invested in what was going on in their communities.”

Augusta Weaver ’26 said that her Leading Edge and orientation experiences showed her tight-knit community that makes up the university’s campus.

“Everyone knows someone you know. This is such a small campus that circles of people overlap everywhere,” Weaver said. “This school is full of the most wonderful people I have ever met, from Dining Services staff to faculty and deans, and everyone is happy to talk to you and help you in any way you might need.”

Leading Edge trips, offered at no additional cost to students, are designed to provide an introduction to the campus community, as well as a bonding experience in an inclusive environment that allows students to learn about themselves, engage with people from diverse backgrounds and begin developing the necessary skills to thrive at W&L.




Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.