Impressions Of
University of Virginia

Academic Experience

Female Applying For A Global Public Health Major C/O 2021

How was transitioning to UVA academically as a first-generation student?
I always knew I was going to go to college, so when I was in high school applying to colleges, I mentally prepared myself to have more independence from when I was home. Something that helped me transition was having a lot of close friends from my high school also go to UVA, so I didn’t have the struggle of trying to make new friends. I had other friends who were also first-generation college students, so they were people who I could really lean on when I was stressed out. It was nice to talk to them because I knew that we were going through the same experiences and we weren’t completely alone.

Is there anything that you feel UVA has done especially well or especially poorly so far academically?
One thing they do well is the Global Studies Program will have a forum once a semester with people from different majors in that program. I went to one the spring semester of my first year, and I ended up talking with a girl that got into the major that I want and it was really informative. One thing that I don’t like so much is that applying to the major is very nerve-racking because the majors are so competitive to get into you need to have a backup, but why would I want to be in the backup? Nobody has really told me about the application process, like if there’s a waitlist, the best ways to get in, or what you do in the major.

Female Undeclared Major C/O 2021

Is there anything that you feel UVA has done especially well or poorly academically?
Something they do especially well is we have so many resources available to students when they’re picking their classes. One of the professors named Lou Bloomfield created something called Lou’s List where students can go and see the different courses, see other students’ comments, and the average grade distribution. A lot of students use it if they need a class to help their GPA.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s a healthy mix of both. It’s definitely competitive in that there are very intelligent students. Some students are outwardly intelligent and competitive, but then there are a lot of people who are more collaborative who don’t necessarily come across as being super intelligent, but then you find out there are some of the smartest people here. People are competitive in the sense that they’ll ask you what grade you got on the final and enjoy knowing that they’re one of the people doing best in the class.

Female Psychology Major C/O 2019

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s competitive. For Psychology especially, a lot of people plan to go to graduate school. Also, it’s UVA. There are a lot of overachievers at UVA, so it’s hard to not be competitive in an environment like that.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I think the whole environment in the Psychology department is pretty moderate. I don’t think they lean towards any sides. It’s not as liberal as my Women’s, Gender and Sexuality department. They keep things in the middle.

Social Opportunities

Female Applying For A Global Public Health Major C/O 2021

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Going in, I didn’t know much about Greek life. I didn’t know how much of a big deal people make out of rushing. It was hard for me because they’d talk about how their mom or dad was in a certain fraternity or sorority, and I didn’t share that experience. The second semester during my first year is when people rushed, and I had just never experienced anything like it and didn’t realize how seriously people would take it. I’ve never been that into Greek life before, so I don’t understand why people make that big of a deal of it.

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
My first year I went to parties way more than I do my second year of college. Most of what I do is hang out with my friends in their apartment and stay in and watch movies, or sometimes on Saturdays I go to parties with people.

Female Undeclared Major C/O 2021

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
The nightlife at UVA is really great. It has Greek life, but the Greek life parties here are very monitored. They have lists, and if you’re not on the list or you’re not an invite of someone you’re not allowed in. I thought that was really interesting. On The Corner there are a bunch of restaurants and bars that people go to at night, and they’re so close. Those are the two biggest types of nightlife people tend to do, they’ll start at bars and then go to frat parties and then go back to bars or do some other combination of the two.

How happy are you with the nightlife at UVA? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m very happy. The one thing is sororities are very expensive, and it factors in enough to make you wonder if you need to be in a sorority because it’s not necessarily needed for a social life. You also wonder if it’s worth paying for after you’ve already made all of your friends. I’m very happy that I joined my sorority because it was a way to make a bunch of different friends that I probably wouldn’t have been introduced to otherwise.

Female Psychology Major C/O 2019

What have been some of your favorite times at UVA?
This might sound weird, but streaking the lawn is a lot of fun.

How happy are you with the nightlife at UVA? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I feel like there’s maybe four places to go out dancing, and they usually get pretty crowded. I feel like there needs to be more places to go dance because that’s something that a lot of people like to do here and they get crowded really easily.

Campus Culture

Male Applying to the Creative Writing Major C/O 2021

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
One problem with UVA is it is relatively white. The school has only about 6% African-American students, which is not representative of a 20% Virginia demographic. I think there’s a measure of self-segregation at UVA. If you go to a fraternity house, it’s many more white people due to the demographics [of the fraternity]. However, there still are queer alliances, [like the Queer Student Union]. I’m friends with people who identify as gay, queer, or have more fluid gender or sexual identities, who have found a home in alliances or theater or music productions. There are Black and Hispanic fraternities and sororities. However, as I said, it’s self-segregated and these groups might not mix with the predominantly white fraternities. It’s unfortunate, but it’s how it’s worked out.

Female Cognitive Science Major C/O 2021

How did you meet your closest friends?
A mix of things, but it’s definitely been through being involved in organizations. I’ve met a couple of my closest friends through the Muslim Students’ Association. Also, I met people through classes because you meet people and end up working with them. Everybody’s first-year experience is different because the freshman dorms are different. I was in one of the Old Dorms and the way the hall was designed it was really easy to get to know the people, so I got really close with the people in my hall and in my buildings. To this day we still all talk and hang out.

How would you describe the social scene?
The first thing that comes to mind is that people go to a lot of bars and frat parties and things like that. People do other things throughout the week as well. For example, basketball is a big deal here so when there’s the first basketball home game a lot of people will go and it’s really hype. That’s a social thing people will do together.

Female Undeclared Major C/O 2021

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I know a bunch of people in frats who are gay. Going down to Virginia I wasn’t exactly sure what I would encounter, but, as far as I’ve seen, people are very open and very accepting of everyone. I mean, I’m a straight White female, so I don’t encounter much adversity when it comes to that, but, as far as I know, people are accepting.

How would you describe the social scene?
Greek life is very big, but in my opinion your social circle is very small. I feel like most nights I go out and see a lot of the same people. It’s a very big school but it can feel very small because there are large portions of people who don’t want to go out. If you don’t want to go out, it’s very easy for you to surround yourself with people who don’t want to go out or do different things. I’ve found a nice mix of people who do enjoy going out and also don’t. I like that it’s so easy to do what you want at UVA. You don’t need to be in Greek life, you don’t need to enjoy going to bars, you don’t need to have a fake ID because there are so many aspects that cater to different people so you can still have the social life that you came to college hoping for.

Charlottesville, VA

Pros of

  • “There are so many restaurants, it has the [14th] most restaurants per capita in the United States.”
  • “My roommate was from Charlottesville. About [2/3 of the class of 2020 are from in-state], which makes it cool for me coming from out of state because there are a lot of people from Virginia who can show you around and show you the ins and outs of the town.”
  • “There are hiking trails around Charlottesville.”

Cons of

  • “It’s less suburban than I’m used to. To go to Wal-Mart, I have to find somebody to take me or take an Uber. There’s no other way to get there. I feel that I’m kind of secluded away from everything.”
  • “I feel like there are fewer things to do because I am secluded form things. I don’t have a car, I don’t always have money to pay for an Uber, and the buses aren’t very time efficient, so I feel like I’m sometimes stuck and can’t go anywhere.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Cognitive Science Major C/O 2021

Something you wish you knew about UVA before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew more about the resources that are available and I think that would have made my life a lot easier now. I know that experience is not uncommon for students like me. Also, everyone has a common experience that the transition to college is challenging and that it’s okay if your grades aren’t all A’s your first semester.

Something a prospective Indian or South Asian student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
For students who come here who are part of a minority group, it might be very obvious that it’s a predominantly White school at first, and that might be overwhelming and make you wonder if there’s a space for you, but it’s important for you to know that there is a space for you. For some people it’s harder, and for some people it’s not. For me, it took a while to be a part of that community, but when I did it was a good experience for me. A lot of Muslims here are part of the Muslim Students’ Association, but some are not and they’ve found their space elsewhere.

Female Applying For A Global Public Health Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about UVA before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I had known more about how Greek life does play a big part in going to UVA and how people interact with each other. [31% of undergraduates participate in Greek life.]

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
One thing I think people miss out on is going to Arts Grounds. If you’re a student at UVA you can go to plays for free as long as you reserve a ticket 24 hours before. I don’t think that’s a well-known fact around campus. I like the fact that UVA is a big school and you can be independent, but it’s important to know that people don’t find their place for a while. Not knowing where you belong is okay because that is part of the learning process of college.

Female Psychology Major C/O 2019

Something you wish you knew about UVA before entering as a freshman?
It’s so fast-paced and I wish I knew about that. I waited until my fourth year to apply to a lab, and I wish I did that in my third year. I wish I had more knowledge of the things that students do. Being a transfer student, I didn’t know about them, but I have gotten involved this year.

Something a queer student may want to know about UVA that we haven’t touched on?
There is a Queer Center in Newcomb Hall in the basement. Definitely go there because it can be hard if you’re a queer student and you don’t have a support network. You’re probably not going to just run into those people unless you actively look for them because there’s not that many.

Reasons to attend and not to attend University of Virginia

To Attend

  • “There’s a lot around Charlottesville to visit if you’re into doing things outdoors. It’s a beautiful place.”
  • “There is the College of Arts and Sciences. It’s great because it’s a big liberal arts school where if you’re not sure what you want to major in, you can try a bunch of classes. We also have a lot of really strong specialized schools.”
  • “UVA is a very good school. The name carries some weight and sets you apart from other people.”

To Not Attend

  • “Depending on what kind of student you are, there are a lot of overachievers at UVA so I can imagine for some people that’s not the kind of environment they want to be in.”
  • “It’s competitive, and there can be some individualism here.”
  • “I feel like UVA sends a message that they are working on diversity and being inclusive, but I think they just say it and don’t actually do it.” [See article, skip to “UVA’s History of Slavery and Racism.]
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