How students are “spring optioning”

Virginia Laurie

While many students are taking four-week courses during spring term, others are using the time to get ahead on personal and professional goals.

Tash Gengler, ‘22, is planning to apply to medical school next spring and is using this spring term to study for the MCAT exam.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend four weeks studying intensely for this exam and still have a full summer break,” she said.

Gengler will be spending her summer do-ing clinical research at a pediatric hospital in Delaware.

Gengler using Kaplan materials to study. Photo by Virginia Laurie ‘22.

Merrina Lan, ‘22, is also studying for the MCAT now before beginning a machine learning research internship with a Stanford professor and Washington and Lee alumni.

Lan said she enjoys being in charge of her schedule.

“I’m enjoying playing volleyball and having time to do fun stuff as well as focusing on the MCAT,” Lan said.

Lexie Paxton, ‘22, who is also on campus studying for the medical school entrance exam, agreed.

“Although I am studying a lot in the mornings, I have really enjoyed getting to spend the afternoons playing tennis with my friend and also playing some occasional spikeball,” she said.

Others are studying for the LSAT with the intention of applying for law school like Cooper Whitehead, ‘22, who is spending his term at home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

“I decided to option because the last two semesters have been difficult balancing aca-demics, a year-round sport and long-distance relationship on top of COVID-19 and all the hardships of a pandemic,” Whitehead said.

Optioning has allowed him to study for the exam without other academic distractions and spend time at the beach or with friends from other schools that get out earlier than Washington and Lee.

“The best part of optioning has been the flexibility it has granted me for these four weeks,” he said. “I’ve set goals for myself but how I pursue those goals is not rigid or limited by a location or a strict schedule. I can study and socialize in any order I see fit, as long as I get an appropriate amount of work done.”

Some seniors like Alexis Feidler, ‘21, who have already completed their graduation requirements are using the time as a respite before entering their graduate programs or moving on to postgraduate life.

Feidler will be moving to Rochester, New York this summer where she will pursue a Ph.D in neuroscience.

“I’ve been using this time to apartment hunt and just relax. Spring term is a great opportunity to really enjoy my last few weeks on this campus before I graduate,” Feidler said.