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Washington and Lee University

The Johnson Scholarship Program

Please Note:  This Johnson Scholarship application form is for the use only of applicants who opted not to submit their Johnson Scholarship essays with their W&L Writing Supplement to the Common Application.
Washington and Lee University is putting an unprecedented $100 million gift to work, opening the doors of this remarkable community to students of exceptional leadership potential, personal promise, and academic achievement – and allowing them to graduate free of debt. Up to 200 applicants to W&L and the Johnson Scholarship Program will be selected to interview on campus for the prestigious Johnson Scholarship. Ultimately, 44 Johnson scholars will be named, nearly ten percent of each incoming class, and each will receive a scholarship of at least tuition, room, and board.
To apply for a Johnson Scholarship, students should submit their complete Common Application, including transcripts, recommendations, and test scores (SAT or ACT with writing scores) by December 1, 2014, along with the additional Johnson Scholarship application essay (below). Finalists will be named with particular attention given to their records of academic achievement, demonstrated leadership and civic involvement, and their Johnson Scholarship application essays.  Applying for the Johnson Scholarship ensures your consideration for any other merit-based scholarship for which you might be eligible, including regional or departmental scholarships.
Please respond to one of the following prompts, and limit your response to two to three pages of double-spaced text (1,000 words maximum):
  1. “Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or to keep one.” (Robert E. Lee, President of then-Washington College, 1865-1870) Discuss a time when you were tempted to do a wrong thing or when you actually did a wrong thing. What was your motivation? What lessons did you draw from this experience? Do you believe that there is always dishonor in doing a wrong thing? Why or why not?
  2. “I have in mind a Washington and Lee graduate entering the arena of public debate. Off to one side is a cacophony of voices, loud and harsh. On the other side are the silent ones, wracked by self-doubt, who avoid the great issues of our time. It would be easy to gravitate to one or the other. I wish for you a more difficult life, somewhere in the complicated center, where the courage of your convictions blends with humility and respect for others.” (Kenneth Ruscio ’76, current President of Washington and Lee University) Discuss your engagement in an issue that faces your school, community, or another group of which you are a part.
  3. Consider the meaning of “fair.” What impact does fairness—perceived or actual—have in society and your life? Has fairness ever helped or hurt you personally? At what cost or benefit to you or others?
  4. “To promote literature in this rising empire and to encourage the arts, have ever been amongst the warmest wishes of my heart.” (George Washington, 1798, first president of the United States and first major benefactor of Washington and Lee University) What do you value enough to promote to a wider audience? Why is it important to you?
    Describe a work of art that has influenced you, and discuss the impact it has had on you.
  5. Why does the United States have among the highest rates of poverty and income inequality of any developed nation, and what, if anything, can and should we do to reduce the prevalence of these problems in our country?


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