University of Virginia
Visited by Lisa Bleich and Beth Cassie
The University of Virginia, Virginia’s flagship university is arguably one of the top public universities in the country. Walking around UVA’s colonial red brick and white, center-quad campus, you can feel the legacy of Thomas Jefferson emanating from the buildings. From the highly coveted lawn rooms, which surround the large central grassy quad, to the building across the lawn where the most esteemed debate club practices, traditions abound. Our tour guide regaled us with stories about the “secret” societies on campus, that are truly secret, in that students do not know who belongs to them. However, she also talked about how many societies provide grants for students on campus to pursue research or develop programs.
The students looked as if they stepped out of central casting for preppy college students, well-dressed in boots, dresses, khakis, polos, and sweats (not many). The students we met were articulate, engaged, and ambitious. Our tour guide was a resident advisor for two years; the first year she was in the Echols scholar dorm and this year she was in regular dorm. She definitely saw more stress related issues in the Echols scholar dorm than in the regular dorm. Not surprising since most UVA students are incredibly bright and high achieving. She was majoring in international politics with a minor in landscape architecture and found working in the campus garden incredibly satisfying.
Students rush for Greek life during the spring of freshman year to give them a chance to acclimate to campus. Approximately 30% of students participate in Greek life, but our tour guide said it was a loud 30% as they host a lot of parties and are very involved on campus. Some parties are closed and fairly exclusive, but others are open.
There is great spirit and pride among students along with an active, proud alumni network driven primarily by the honor code and system of self governance rather than large sports teams. The town of Charlottesville is close to campus and boasts numerous shops, restaurants and bars. UVA’s medical school is also located there along with several hospitals.
Academics are strong across the board. Some top programs include engineering (grown in popularity over the past five years), business, architecture and nursing. UVA has introduced several interdisciplinary programs including Global Development Studies and Political and Social Thought.
Students like to engage in debates and have a strong intellectual curiosity. They are also bound by the honor code, which informs the campus environment.
Approximately 30% of students are from out-of-state; UVA competes with the top 25 universities, many of which are private institutions, for stellar students. UVA prides itself on having one of the most robust financial aid programs among public universities remaining need blind and meeting full demonstrated need. (Although it meets that need with a combination of loans and grants.)
UVA takes a holistic review, however test scores are more important for out-of-state applicants. Typically out-of-state applicants have SATs in the 700+ in each category or 32+ on the ACTs. Those scores vary for in state applicants. Out-of-state legacy candidates are treated the same as in-state applicants; legacy is limited to siblings and parents who graduated from UVA. The top 10% of the incoming freshman class are invited to join the Echols Scholars program.
UVA is a great school for highly engaged and ambitious students looking for strong academics, school pride and pretty campus steeped in tradition.
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400160
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4160