Academic Life

Being at a Liberal Arts college, you will have the opportunity to sample courses from all academic disciplines. This is extremely beneficial, because in the United States there is a great emphasis on developing multiple skills that will prepare you to be analytical and critical thinkers, successful in your chosen field and citizen leaders.

Undergraduate students are classified in the following way:

  • First year students are called Freshmen
  • Second year students are called Sophomores
  • Third year students are called Juniors
  • Fourth year students are called Seniors

Methods of Instruction

The quality of teaching is very important at Washington College, and only faculty members (with Ph.D. or Master Degrees) teach the courses. There are no teaching assistants filling the professors’ shoes. Only the Foreign Language laboratory classes are taught by language assistants who are native speakers and who will help you further develop your skills in any particular language. You might even becoming as a language assistant!

The method of instruction for you classes varies. Your courses will be in the form of lectures from the professor, laboratory sessions, and discussion classes. Your input is highly valued and every professor will expect you to share ideas, reflections and/or comments with the rest of the class. For students who feel that their skills need improvement, there is a peer-tutoring program in which the student is paired with another student who can help solve the problems at hand. For information on how to request a peer tutor, please contact the Office of Academic Skills at 410-778-7883 or via email at

Methods of Evaluation

During the semester your professors will evaluate your academic abilities. This can be done either through papers, taking an exam, a presentation or another method that the professor deems appropriate.

Papers are the most common form of testing at Washington College, and during your undergraduate career you will write a varying number of papers for the courses you will be taking. When you are writing your paper, you are expected to research your topic unless otherwise specified, and to present it in a very well edited format and refined format. The Writing Center is your best resource in figuring out what constitutes a well-edited paper in that particular discipline.

Because at Washington College, writing is highly valued, if you are an incoming freshman or sophomore you are required to fulfill the writing obligation. This consists of several sessions with the staff in our Writing Center. The staff will read your work, comment on it, and help you improve your writing skills. Each student will be assigned a writing instructor with whom he or she will work for the duration of the semester. All students who want to have their papers proofread and commented on by specialists are more than welcomed to make appointments with the Writing Center, located on the first floor of Goldstein Hall.

Exams can be in the forms of quizzes (the simplest form), in class exams (take the exam during class time), take home exams (where you are given the exam and are expected to turn it in to your professor by a deadline), and open book exams (where students can consult their textbooks during the actual test). Other forms of evaluation include class projects, homework, class participation/attendance and performances (if you are a music or drama student). Class participation and attendance often times constitutes 10-15% of your final grade. Make sure you understand your professors’ class attendance and participation policies.

In order to graduate from Washington College, you will have to write a thesis, which is a comprehensive paper on a subject related to your major. An advisor, who will be a professor within your chosen field of study, will guide you throughout this process.

Grading System

Washington College uses the following letter grades which, except for the F, may be modified by a minus or a plus:

  • A Excellent
  • B Good
  • C Fair
  • D Passed
  • F Failure

The following system is used to determine a student’s grade point average:

  • A+/A = 4.00                                      C = 2.00
  • A- = 3.67                                             C- = 1.67
  • B+ = 3.33                                           D+ = 1.33
  • B = 3.00                                             D = 1.00
  • B- = 2.67                                             D- = 0.67
  • C+ = 2.33                                           F = 0.00

Other notations used on student records include:

  • W: Withdrawal from course
  • P: Pass, in courses where the student uses the pass/fail option
  • I: Incomplete
  • Au: Audit
  • Cr: Credit
  • NC: No credit
  • R: Replaced

You need to have a 2.0 GPA (Grade Point Average) or above to maintain good academic standing. If your GPA falls below that, you will be put on academic probation. If you are not satisfied with you grade, talk to your professor first. There may be a way to improve it. However, as a general rule, professors will not change a grade unless there are extenuating circumstances that merit a grade change. If after talking to your professor you still feel that your grades do not reflect the quality of your work, please contact the Dean of the College.

Expectations and the Syllabus

Every professor has expectations of you; these expectations will be outlined in the syllabus that you will receive at the beginning of each course. Generally speaking, attendance, class participation, and note taking is required for all classes.

The syllabus should also contain:

  • A course outline
  • The date of your exams (sometimes the dates change, but you will be notified in advance)
  • The deadlines for your papers and projects (they rarely change)
  • The office location and office hours of your professor (you are encouraged to make appointments with them and discuss your work or ask questions)
  • The breakdown of how your assignments will be graded.
  • The necessary texts (books, articles) for the course (please make sure you buy the right edition)


Before you arrive, you will be assigned an academic adviser. This will be a member of the faculty who will meet with you during orientation and help you plan or make changes to your course schedule for the upcoming semester. Four-year international students will work with a dean from the Provost's Office until they are assigned an advisor within their major.

Advisers are more than happy to discuss general matters that may concern you, such as college life, choosing a major or your future career. Please do not hesitate to contact them if you have questions or concerns.

There will be two advising days per semester, and you are expected to make appointments with your adviser to discuss your class progress, your course schedule, and any other issues or concerns.

Adding and/or Dropping Courses

You must complete a form available at the Registrar’s Office to drop or add a class.  If for some reason the course you want is closed, and you want to add it, you will have to obtain your advisor’s signature and then the instructor’s signature on your add/drop slip. Once you have permission to add the course, take the slip to the Registrar’s Office. On the other hand, if you are not satisfied with a course, you have to obtain your advisor’s signature to drop the course. After that, your course schedule will be adjusted. You can add or drop a class within the first two weeks of classes at the start of each semester. There is a deadline for dropping or adding the classes. You can either obtain the drop/add date by checking the academic calendar, by contacting the Registrar’s Office or your academic advisor. Remember that you cannot take less than 12 credits/semester or more than 24 credits/ semester.


If you believe a course you have taken is too difficult for you, and the deadline for dropping the class has passed, you may opt for pass/fail. If you receive a passing grade at the end of the course (at least a C), your transcript will indicate that you passed the course. The letter grade you received will not appear on it. Otherwise, your report will indicate that you failed the course.  For students earning their degree at Washington College, please refer to the Course Catalog for rules governing how many and when you can take course pass/fail.

Honor Code

The Washington College Honor Code states the following: “We at Washington College strive to maintain an environment in which learning and growth flourish through individuals’ endeavors and honest intellectual exchanges both in and out of the classroom. To maintain such an environment, each member of the community pledges to respect the ideas, well being, and property of others. Thus, each member of the Washington College community abides by an Honor Code.”

The majority of professors will require you to write the Honor Code and sign your name on your assignments and tests to indicate that you have abided by the Honor Code. You can write the Honor Code two ways on assignments, both require your signature:

  1. Honor Code
  2. “I have abided by the Washington College Honor Code while completing this assignment.”

Any violation of the honor code (academic or social) will bring you in front of the Honor Board, a body comprised of students and faculty members, who will decide upon a penalty, if you are found in violation. Make sure to review the honor code to ensure you understand the standards you are held to.


The Washington College community defines plagiarism as “the unauthorized use of another’s intellectual property, including: published material online and student, staff or faculty documents on desktops, hard drives, disks or web pages.” Plagiarism and Academic Honesty are taken very seriously at the College and if you are found in violation, you will be in jeopardy of failing the course and/or taken to the Honor Board. If you are unsure of whether you are plagiarizing or not, ask your professor.